Dry Scalp vs Dandruff – How to get rid of flaky scalp

How to get rid of dry flaky scalp and retain oil and moisture for all hair types. We also discuss the best products and organic home remedies for dry scalp treatment.

Against popular belief, dandruff is not synonymous to dry scalp and it is often not the reason but a resultant of pre-existing conditions.

So if you have been buying and using multiple dandruff shampoos with no results, maybe it is time to try something else or better yet, read this post!

Ever had your scalp look like this?

Instragram video:

This could be as a result of different scalp and or skin conditions like;

Scalp Conditions that may cause Flakiness

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes inflammation, oily scaly patches and flakiness on skin.

It could occur on eyebrows, elbows, smile lines, armpits or scalp.

A consequence of this skin condition could be stubborn dandruff that would usually build up on the scalp and can be scratched off.

According to a post by the Greatist, dandruff is a term not necessarily recognised in medical professions but has been long used as a blanket cover for all things itchy and flaky from your scalp.

The article goes on further to say dandruff medically could be termed as mile seborrheic dermatitis.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a chronic auto immune disease caused by the immune system attacking your own skin cells resulting in an over production of skin cells.

The newly produced skin cells rise to the surface of the scalp before the old one sheds leading to scalp build up.

Something to note with scalp psoriasis is that extreme temperatures could affect flare up. This is something to watch out for if you are relocating from a cold to a temperate place especially if you have Type 4 hair.

Psoriasis vs Dandruff?

Is it ‘Dandruff’ or Scalp Psoriasis? Look out for these tell tale signs.

  • Dandruff tends to be oily greasy scales on scalp while psoriasis is usually thick inflamed patches.
  • Dandruff tends to improve immediately after shampooing as excess oils are removed. Psoriasis tends to stay with the scalp shedding after a wash. With scalp psoriasis, there could be cracking and bleeding of the scalp.

High Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is simply how easy hair strands can soak up and retain moisture. Hair Porosity is classed into low, medium and high porosity.

A simple at home trick to figure out what your hair porosity is is the ‘glass’ trick.

  • Take a strand of your hair and drop it into a glass of water
  • Low Porosity – The hair floats for a while and sinks slowly
  • Medium Porosity– The hair sinks to the middle of the glass before finally sinking to the bottom
  • High Porosity – The hair strand sinks to the bottom immediately

Hair porosity is also proportional to hair cuticle size. Low hair porosity means your hair cuticles are close together and high hair porosity means the cuticles are wide spread.

Because of the wide spread cuticle size in high porosity hair, it is harder for this hair type to hold on to moisture.

Leaving the hair and scalp to become flaky and dry if not properly taken care of.

How to get the best dry scalp dandruff treatment

1. Use Salicylic Acid Shampoos

Use shampoos, conditioners and hair products that have Salicylic Acid as an active ingredient.

Salicylic Acid is a really known active ingredient in skin care as it is key to fighting acne but it crosses over and really works as an anti dandruff treatment for the scalp.

Salicylic acid on the scalp basically helps to unclog the pores and aids moisture retention which in turn gets rid of excess build up of dead skin cells.

I had checked best reviews from different hair care blogs and websites (Style Craze, Allure and MindBodyGreen)

These are the top salicylic shampoos to try for dandruff treatment.

MG 217 Psoriasis Therapeutic Shampoo & Conditioner
MG 217 Psoriasis best dry scalp treatment.
Also great for treating seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis
  • Rated #1 for treatment of seborrheic dermatitis, scalp psoriasis and dandruff.

  • Extremely affordable

  • Available on Amazon for $9.79
Neutrogena T/SAL Therapeutic Shampoo
Neutrogena T Sal dandruff treatment. Dry Scalp treatment for treating seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis
  • 3% Salicylic Acid (Highest amount in over the counter shampoo)

  • Amazing for removing excessive scalp buildup and can treat seborrheic dermatitis, scalp psoriasis and dandruff.

  • Available on Amazon for $12.40
DHS SAL Shampoo
DHS Sal Shampoo best dry scalp treatment. Dry Scalp treatment for treating seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis
  • Extremely affordable salicylic acid shampoo.

  • Relieves itching and flaking and combats scalp conditions in dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis.

  • Available on Amazon for $9.98
Matrix Biolage R.A.W Scalp Care Anti Dandruff Shampoo
Biolage RAW Anti Dandruff Shampoo. How to get rid of dandruff 
Dry Scalp treatment for treating seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis
  • Contains the highest concentration of salicylic acid (2.9%) in a shampoo you can get over the counter.

  • One of the best dry scalp treatments. Effectively tackles all flaky scalp conditions.

  • Also contains several natural ingredients; Willow Bark and Rosemary.

  • Available on Amazon for $25.
Avalon Organics Anti-Dandruff Itch & Flake Shampoo & Conditioner
Avalon Organics Anti Dandruff Shampoo.
Dry Scalp treatment for treating seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis
  • A great product set with organic ingredients like Tea Tree Oil, Aloe Vera and chamomile.

  • Treats dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis.

  • Currently available on Amazon for $28.89

If you are allergic to salicylic acid or are looking for alternative active ingredients in dandruff shampoos, try pyrithione zinc.

A great shampoo to try would be the As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo & Conditioner.

However in my experience with anti dandruff products, products that had salicylic acid caused the fastest and long lasting results.

2. Use Herbal Oils

Oils can be a double edged sword when dealing with dandruff and other dry scalp conditions as oils could cause inconsistent results.

For example, certain hair oils could worsen dandruff as they could clog up the pores leading to dead skin cell build up.

Whereas for scalp psoriasis or high porosity hair that gets dry easily, using oils is highly recommended and could really help.

There are universal oils that help for both conditions so consider adding them to your hair care routine.

Tea-Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is an excellent organic dandruff and dry scalp treatment. It has multiple purposes as it is also used as spot treatment for acne.

Tea tree oil has anti fungal properties as fungus is a major contributor to dandruff. It also helps with anti inflammation which could help soothe symptoms of scalp eczema and psoriasis.

Look out for products also that have tea tree oil alongside using the oil itself on your scalp.

A good place to start is the As I am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Oil and Hair Masque. The active ingredients are Tea Tree Oil, Olive Oil and Salicylic Acid.

If you have sensitive scalp, mix tea tree oil with a light carrier oil like avocado, argan or almond oil.

Organic Pomades

For people with type 4 hair that tend to get dry easily, this tip is a complete game changer.

I know the days of Blue Magic and similar hair pomades with Petroleum Jelly are long over.

However, if you struggle with retaining hair moisture, look into organic pomades.

These are organic oils but in jelly texture and stay on the scalp longer making it excellent moisture sealants.

My favourite at the moment is the Soul Mate African Herbal Hair Grow where the ingredients are Lime, Orange Peel, Banana Jam, Rosemary, Avocado, Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.

The con is it is has trace amounts of Petroleum Jelly for pomade texture and it is hard to find online.

My recommended organic pomade to try out available on Amazon is Earth’s Enrichment Scalp & Root Pomade.

  • It has all natural ingredients; contains tea tree oil, lavender and rosemary.
  • Parabens, Sulfates and Petroleum Jelly Free.
  • Instead of petroleum jelly, it uses beeswax for texture.

3. Develop a hair care routine and stick to it

This is really key to getting rid of dandruff and flaky scalp.

You have to be consistent with treating it for it to go away long term.

And that happens with developing and sticking to a hair care routine that works for your specific hair type.

If you struggle with dandruff, product build up and excess oils, definitely develop a shampoo and conditioner schedule to unclog your scalp pores regularly.

You could also try other organic home remedies to improve your scalp.

Organic Home Remedies for Dry Scalp Treatment

Hot Oil Treatments

Pour light oils (Avocado, Almond, Jojoba, Tea Tree Oil) to a bowl and microwave for a minute.

Use a nozzle bottle and apply to scalp in sections.


Honey has anti microbial properties and could help combat fungal activity on the scalp.

To use honey, measure 2 table spoons of raw honey and pour into 3/4 cup of water. Stir the mixture and use to rinse hair.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a widely used ingredient for skin conditions like burns and sores and has a high moisture content.

It has high anti microbial and anti inflammatory properties that can help fight off dandruff while leaving your hair moisturised.

Try adding blended Aloe Vera or using Aloe Vera wash and leave in products to improve hair and scalp health.

Baking Soda

This is an amazing at home dandruff treatment to try out as it is an ingredient that is affordable and easy to access.

Similar to other ingredients, baking soda has amazing anti fungal properties that can significantly help with fighting dandruff and reducing flakes.

Apply baking soda to wet hair, let it sit for 2-5 minutes while massaging it into your scalp and rinse off.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has universal health benefits and can also be used as a dandruff and dry scalp treatment.

The malic acid in Apple Cider Vinegar helps to breakdown excessive skin cell build up. Acetic Acid in ACV also inhibits yeast and fungal growth on the scalp that result in dandruff.

Combine 1 Part Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Part Water and rinse your hair after washing. You could choose to leave it in or rinse it out.

And that’s it!

I hope this post was helpful in getting you answers to your next steps in deciding the best dry scalp treatment for your hair.

If you liked this , check out our Beauty page for similar content on skin, hair, makeup etc.

Do share scalp care tips that have worked for you in the comments.

Till next time. Ciao!

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