Skip to main content
Ask the experts

How To Treat A Dry Scalp

Trifonia Asmar
Writer and expert1 year ago
View Trifonia Asmar's profile
Woman treating her dry scalp

Feeling itchy, prickly, and dry? Don’t worry we’ve all been there. While a stressed-out scalp may be uncomfortable, it’s not uncommon.  

Subject to the same environmental aggressors as your face and body, your scalp care needs to be just as consideredas your skin care (if not more). With each hair follicle attached to a sebaceous gland, the living tissue contains a greater number of sweat glands than any other area of your skin and therefore is prone to produce more sebum and oil.  

With healthy hair starting at the scalp, it’s important to understand what causes its irritations, how to treat a dry scalp and what the best products are to prevent it from recurring. With that in mind, we’ve enlisted the help of our Cult Concierge experts, Lena and Connor, to round up the best dry scalp treatments and answer those commonly asked questions.  


Essentially, it’s the flaking of scalp skin. Caused by irritation, a dry scalp is a result of your scalp’s inability to create enough sebum and natural oils to keep it hydrated. Without the essential moisture to keep the cells healthy, the scalp naturally becomes dry, leading to shedding. 


To put it simply, a dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture but, like many hair care concerns, this can be due to several different reasons – from a build-up of products to over-washing. A typical trigger is dryness. Like the rest of your body, your scalp needs protecting from UV and seasonal shifts. If not properly protected from the sun’s rays, discomfort and (you guessed it) dryness can occur. Likewise, the winter weather can intensify a flaky scalp.  


You heard it here first… a dry scalp and dandruff are not the same thing. And dandruff is not a symptom of a dry scalp. While they might seem similar and both result in itchy, flaky skin, dandruff is due to the excess of oil while a dry scalp is caused by dehydration.  



Don’t worry — we’re not asking you to give up your favourite glass of red (or white) – instead avoid alcohol in your hair care. Causing drying and an imbalance in pH levels, alcohol can cause unwanted build up and lead to the growth of fungi and dandruff.  


Like the rest of your skin, washing your hair at a piping hot temperature can cause your scalp to feel sore, tight, and itchy. Instead, opt for lukewarm water during your wash days. 


Over-washing your strands can strip your scalp of the natural oils it needs to stay nourished. With that in mind, it’s best to stretch out the in-between days by reaching for the dry shampoo. 


Woman rubbing dry scalp serum into her hand



Powered by a B3-based complex, Living Proof’s Scalp Care Dry Treatment works hard to balance your microbiome for long-term equilibrium. Providing instant relief, the leave-in formula soothes irritation while delivering intense hydration. The results? Lasting relief from scalp flaking, itching and irritation. 

How to use: Section clean, damp, detangled hair. Apply directly to scalp, massage in, and do not rinse. For best results, you should use the products three times per week


Designed to be part of your weekly hair ritual, Fable and Mane’s Holiroots Pre-Wash Strengthening Treatment Hair Oil acts a dual-purpose pre-wash and scalp saviour. It’s not-so-secret ingredient? Ashawanganha – an Indian ginseng that enhances scalp circulation while smoothing your strands from root to tip. What’s more, flourishing with the sweet-smelling scent of jasmine and patchouli, this oil awakens your senses too. 

How to use:  Apply desired amount of oil to parted, dry hair and massage into roots in a circular motion, creating warmth for better absorption and circulation. Leave on for at least five minutes or overnight for best results. Rinse well before cleansing with your shampoo and conditioner.


Formulated with the brand’s signature cold-pressed extraction,RANAVAT's Mighty Majesty Fortifying Hair Serum blends each and every ingredient at the highest potency. Fused with a high concentration of oleic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E, the multi-tasking treatment helps to nourish the scalp while managing breakage by protecting your strands from heat damage. Discover fuller, thicker, and healthier hair in just eight weeks.  

How to use: Apply generously as an overnight scalp and hair mask. Then wash and style as usual the next day. For superior results, it's recommended that you should do a weekly hair oiling ritual to hydrate the scalp and soften the strands.


Creating the optimum environment for your mane to flourish, MONPURE London’s Nourish And Stimulate Scalp Mask not only improves your scalp health to encourage stronger strands but also soothes and hydrates your skin to relieve itchiness. Built with a refreshing blend of aloe vera and vitamin-rich camellia tea oil, the treatment gives stressed out scalps the TLC they deserve.  

How to use: There are two ways of using the mask: either leave on for 15 minutes as a deep treatment before going into the shower. Or use in the shower after shampooing. Simply, massage into the scalp and let it work for 10 minutes before washing out. Apply on damp hair and scalp. Massage the product onto your scalp then smooth through the lengths and ends of your hair. Leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Use once or twice per week for best results.


Working hard to replenish your scalp’s moisture – that’s typically stripped away during hair-wash days – Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Balancing Scalp Serum dissolves dead skin cells while keeping your mane hydrated. Keeping your head happy, the addition of adenosine triphosphate brings a selection of soothing and balancing benefits too.   

How to use: Apply by using the pipette. Trickle the formula directly onto your scalp (on dry or wet hair) and massage in gently. Allow time for the serum to absorb. For best results, use the product in the evening to optimize scalp health.


Let your scalp thrive with OUAI’s Scalp Serum. Fuelled by its vegan formula, it mixes arctic roots, Siberian ginseng and chaga mushrooms to support and shield your scalp’s barrier. Plus, the unique addition of red clover extract works to reduce discomfort from overstimulation while peptides support full, thick and healthy hair. 

How to use: Apply in the morning or evening on wet or dry hair. Press and release the bulb once to fill the glass pipette. Use short, quick presses to release drops throughout the scalp. Massage in to help distribute and absorb into the scalp. You should apply this product daily for best results.


Getting right to the root of flakiness and excess sebum build-up,Act+Acre’s Cold Processed Scalp Detoxuses a blend of basil leaf, baobab and moringa oils to nourish your scalp, regulate oil, and repair hair damage. Re-balancing your barrier and soothing iteration, the vegan medley is just what your scalp has been itching for. 

How to use: Apply on a dry scalp weekly before showering. Use small drops through your scalp, massage in, and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner.


Laced with a nourishing cocktail of the brand’s renowned Mirsalehi honey, Gisou’s Honey Infused Scalp Treatment soothes, replenishes, and restores irritated, dry, and oily scalps. Enhanced with the Mirsalehi Bee Garden Oil Blend, the leave-on serum provides moisture to your skin’s surface while repairing your scalp’s microbiome.  

How to use: Shake before use and apply at night on dry hair. Twist the nozzle to apply a small amount directly onto your scalp in 1” (3cm) sections – working from the hairline to the crown. Gently massage in with your fingertips for five minutes to distribute and allow the active ingredients to absorb. Leave on overnight. Do not rinse. Use twice a month


Scrubbing away your scalp’s impurities and liberating your roots from dead and dry cells, KEVIN.MURPHY’s SCALP.SPA SCRUB uses sweet lavender oil, coconut oil and jojoba esters to deeply nourish your scalp. Extremely lightweight, the formula absorbs seamlessly and instantly hydrates your barrier to soothe irritation while calming your common concern.  

How to use: This product can be used as and when you need it. Apply to dry or damp hair. Part the hair to reveal sections of the scalp and apply directly to the areas that need treating. Gently pat into the scalp and leave to soak in.


Cultivating the right environment for your scalp to thrive, Aveda’s Scalp Solutions Overnight Scalp Renewal Serumreduces redness and dryness, leaving the scalp soft, supple, and nourished. Caring for your scalp while you catch some shut-eye, this overnight treatment is enriched with barrier-boosting heroes to ensure hydration from dusk till dawn. Now that’s what we call a good night’s sleep.  

How to use: Use the oil nightly or when you feel you need it. Apply directly to your scalp at bedtime and massage in. Hair may be damp or dry. It's recommended to part hair from front to back hairline into five or more sections to cover the entire scalp. Do not rinse.




Trifonia Asmar
Writer and expert
View Trifonia Asmar's profile
Cult Beauty’s Senior SEO Copywriter, Trifonia started out in the industry when bold brows were just becoming a ‘thing’, and shares a passion for all things fashion and beauty. Currently embracing her curly girl journey (after endless years of straightening her strands), she is finally reverting to her natural ways! When Triffy isn’t busy testing out the latest curl-saving solutions, you’ll find her binging the latest reality TV show or on a long walk listening to her ever-evolving country music playlist.