Shampoos and Conditioners Designed to Soothe Dry, Itchy Scalps

Do away with dryness for good.

woman washing her hair
(Image credit: Getty)

Everyone's experienced it: Without warning, you find yourself with a dry scalp that leaves you itching at your skin or picking self-consciously at flakes. Whether due to diet, illness, a change in hair products, or a sudden drop in temperature, scalp dryness can ruin your day and simply make you feel self-conscious. There are a variety of effective dry scalp treatments on the market that soothe irritation, but you may also want to combat dryness by tackling it at the foundation of your haircare routine: with your shampoo and conditioner.

By opting for a nourishing, soothing shampoo and conditioner set, you can tackle your dry scalp at the root (pun intended) and banish any flakiness or buildup that could be worsening the situation. Ahead, we consult Mayraki Professional's in-house hair expert, Eliza Pineda, about the causes of scalp dryness. She also provides advice on how to handle a dry scalp and which products are best for mitigating the dreaded condition.

What Causes Scalp Dryness

Lack of Moisture

The first cause of scalp dryness, of course, is a simple lack of moisture due to styling, sun exposure, and cold, dry temperatures. While she reassures us that dryness happens to just about everyone, she points out that the way you treat your hair directly impacts the state of your scalp

"The scalp’s moisture balance can decrease over time, especially if you frequently apply heat styling, use harsh hair products, or undergo chemical hair treatments like dyeing, relaxing, or perming," she says. "This can cause dryness, flaking, and dandruff."


Similarly, she notes that neglecting your hair can also impact the health of your scalp.

"A dry scalp can also be caused by product, dirt, and sebum buildup in the scalp," she warns. "This happens when the scalp isn’t properly cleaned, multiple styling products are used, the hair is naturally oily, and there is daily exposure to environmental factors. The buildup can cause skin irritation, leading to eczema, rashes, seborrheic dermatitis, and more. This can make the scalp extremely dry, flaky, itchy, and sore."

If you're particularly concerned about buildup, or if your haircare routine regularly involves the use of multiple gels and stylers at once, consider using a clarifying shampoo once to twice a month in order eradicate flakes, dandruff, buildup, and excess oil. Clarifying shampoos are notoriously drying, though, so consider the cause of your scalp irritation before use, and be sure to only employ a clarifying shampoo occasionally.


Finally, Pineda reminds us that what we put in our bodies impact how they look on the outside.

"Your hair and scalp depend on the nutrition of your diet," she says. "If you have a dry scalp, it might be because your diet lacks the vital nutrients your hair needs." This means ensuring that you consume a well-balanced diet filled with water, Vitamin B, collagen, protein, and other essential nourishment.

"Boost your diet with amino acids, antioxidants, and protein-rich foods," agrees Pineda. "Think fatty fish, avocados, berries, eggs, and lean meats while avoiding processed food. If your diet falls short, you can supplement it with vitamins. Consult a healthcare professional to know what you can take."

Best Shampoos for Scalp Dryness

Best Conditioners for Scalp Dryness

Meet the Expert

Eliza Pineda
Eliza Pineda

Eliza Pineda is a hair, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle journalist and an internal expert for several organic, earth-focused personal care brands. She currently works with Mayraki Professional as a content specialist and internal expert to spread the word about the benefits of natural ingredients and impart traditional and innovative solutions for clean and sustainable skin, body, and hair care.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at