Dry, itchy, irritated scalps are common in the winter months but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with one. These specially formulated shampoos can help…
Our skin goes through a lot in winter. Constant fluctuations in temperature and the dry air produced by central heating mean that breakouts and irritation have become a thing to expect when the cold weather rolls around; so much so that many of us use a whole specific winter skincare routine to combat it.
But what about the skin on your head? While you might think that your scalp is more connected to your hair than your skin, it behaves in the same way as the skin on the rest of your body – meaning that those winter weather gripes our skin goes through, our scalp often does too.
So what does a winter-ravaged scalp look like? Dry, flakey, itchy scalps and dandruff are all common complaints at this time of year. Add wearing wooly hats to the mix and scolding our heads with hot showers after a long winter walk – it’s no surprise our scalps aren’t too happy with us.
But you don’t have to put up with a dry, itchy scalp for long if you know how to care for it. We asked trichologist Hannah Gaboardi for her top tips when it comes to choosing the best shampoo for dry scalps.
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What causes a dry scalp?
While environmental changes can often be the cause of a dry, irritated scalp (think cold weather, sweaty headwear and central heating) certain ingredients in our shampoos and styling products might also be leading to an irritated scalp.
“Parabens are major perpetrators of scalp irritation,” says Gaboardi. “These synthetic chemicals are often used as preservatives, keeping shampoos and conditioners free from bacterial build up. But they can also irritate your scalp and have even been linked to hair loss.”
Sulphates and silicones are other common ingredients that should be avoided if you’re suffering from a dry scalp. “ALS and SLS (common terms for sulphates) are often used to help meld the chemical compounds of a product together. These chemicals create that sudsy, foamy component to every great bath product. But sulphates are also responsible for a ton of scalp and strand damage. These chemicals strip your hair of necessary natural oils, making your scalp highly susceptible to bacterial build up and extreme dryness. As a result, they can exacerbate skin conditions like dandruff and psoriasis.
“Silicone on the other hand is used to seal the cuticle for shiny, smooth-looking tresses. Silicones like dimethicone can clog your pores, leading to increased scalp irritation, flake build up, and hair shedding. Product build up is one of the primary causes of dandruff, so it’s a good idea to also avoid silicones if possible.”
The best shampoo for a dry scalp
Ouai Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Want an anti-dandruff shampoo that still feels luxe on your bathroom shelfie? This is the one for you. The gel formula helps to reduce flakiness and itching, while still smelling gorgeous and indulgent.
Shop Ouai Anti-Dandruff Shampoo at Harrods, £32
Klorane Galangal Anti-Dandruff Mask-Powder Treatment
Soothe sensitive scalps while combatting flakes with this clever powder treatment mask. Powered by galangal extract and gentle grains, the innovative formula helps to cleanse, exfoliate and nourish in one. Use two sachets per week in replacement of your normal shampoo for one month. Dandruff, be gone!
Shop Klorane Galangal Anti-Dandruff Mask-Powder Treatment at Lookfantastic, £16
Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo
Give your scalp a much needed refresh with this weekly clarifying shampoo. Like a mega-cleanse for your hair and scalp, it expertly washes away any product build-up, pollution, dirt and grime that could be irritating your skin and dulling your colour.
Shop Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £28
La Roche-Posay Kerium Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Take care of your scalp as you would your skin with this clever scalp targeted shampoo. It’s enriched with a micro-exfoliating LHA which helps to banish flakes. Plus, the purifying formula cleanses away dead skin and impurities while helping to freshen up your hair and scalp.
Shop La Roche-Posay Kerium Anti-Dandruff Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £13
The Powder Shampoo Exfoliating & Balancing Shampoo
Providing over 100 washes per bottle (thanks to its clever water-free formula), this sustainable shampoo is enriched with a blend of white willow tree, birch and tea tree oil, which work to exfoliate the scalp and help remove dead skin cells and impurities.
Shop The Powder Shampoo Exfoliating & Balancing Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £24
Aveda Scalp Benefits Shampoo
Free from sulphates, this shampoo is enriched with burdock root, echinacea and sage to lift away dead skin, oils and product build-up from the roots, leaving hair looking fresh and revitalised.
Buy Aveda Scalp Benefits Shampoo at Feelunique, £22.62
Ameliorate Clarifying Shampoo
Ameliorate’s Clarifying Shampoo uses the innovative LaH6 Skin Hydration Complex that Ameliorate body products are famous for. It works to clear up dry scalp flakes while gently conditioning the strands, leaving hair feeling nourished and replenished. There’s also a powerful blend of prebiotics, lactitol and xylitol to help create a natural protective barrier.
Shop Ameliorate Clarifying Shampoo at Lookfantasic, £16
Living Proof Dry Scalp Treatment
Designed to be used alongside your scalp-friendly shampoo, this leave-on scalp treatment is enriched with hyaluronic acid and a blend of vitamin B3 to provide instant hydration to the scalp, helping to alleviate irritation, itching and flaking skin. Think of it as your scalp’s very own serum. Clever.
Buy Living Proof Dry Scalp Treatment, £28
Löwengrip Anti-Dandruff Sensitive Shampoo
Löwengrip’s sensitive shampoo is blended with piroctone olamine; an active substance that fights dandruff and reduces itching. Peppermint oil also helps to sooth and cool a stressed out scalp while effectively cleansing hair strands.
Shop Löwengrip Anti-Dandruff Sensitive Shampoo at Lookfantastic, £17
Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo
This ultra hydrating shampoo hydrates and softens the hair while utilising the benefits of glycerin and olive oil to moisturise the scalp. Peppermint extract also helps to cleanse and refresh itchy scalps.
Shop Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo at Space NK, £19
Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
An oldie but a goodie, this iconic shampoo is used to treat the symptoms of dandruff, psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis on the scalp. It harnesses the power of Neutar Solubilised Coal Tar extract, which offers a soothing feel to treat itchy and flaking skin, to leave the scalp comfortable.
Shop Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo at Boots, £6.99
Percy & Reed Anti-Dandruff I’m No Flake Shampoo
This vegan and sulphate-free formula harnesses chamomile and aloe vera to calm itchiness and protect against inflammation. Not only does this clarifying cleanser work to rid you of flakes in the short term, but it actually helps protect against dandruff for good.
Shop Percy & Reed Anti-Dandruff I’m No Flake Shampoo, £21
Redken Scalp Relief Soothing Balance Shampoo
This gentle formula helps to soothe, calm and de-stress your scalp while cleansing and removing impurities from the scalp and hair. Eucalyptus and liquiorice extracts provide an instant cooling and soothing effect, perfect for irritated scalps.
Shop Redken Scalp Relief Soothing Balance Shampoo at BeautyFlash, £19
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