The thing that I love most about beauty is its versatility—a colourful eye shadow that sparks joy, that transformative feeling of stepping out of a hair salon with a fresh haircut, the products we seek out when in need of comfort. But alongside the transcendental, beauty’s other role is that of a problem-solver: offering practical solutions to a whole host of universal concerns. From hair-thickening solutions to spot-soothing ingredients, beauty products can tackle a multitude of worries with ease. And while I wholeheartedly believe that we should all love the skin we’re in—no improvements necessary—I’d be dishonest in saying there aren’t days when I look to certain products to bolster my confidence and help me feel a little better in my own skin.
This is why today, I’m talking about the least alluring of concerns: dry, itchy scalps.
Anyone who is used to dealing with regular bouts of flakiness and irritation on their head will know just how frustrating it is. I’ve experienced dandruff on and off since I was a teenager (yes, acne and a flaky scalp—I am truly blessed) and know firsthand how incredibly annoying that prickly scalp feeling is. However, over the last few months, there has been an influx of new hair treatments landing on my doorstep with the sole focus of improving scalp health and keeping irritation at bay. And ever since Margot Robbie’s hairstylist recommended a new scalp serum to me, I’ve made it my mission to hunt out all of the products that will genuinely combat a dry, itchy head.
It’s important to note here that even if you’re lucky enough to have never experienced dandruff or irritation, scalp health is well worth taking notice of. Experts agree that having a clean, healthy scalp is key to promoting cell turnover and optimising hair growth—particularly useful if you’re dealing with hair loss or thinning strands. By exfoliating your scalp specifically, you remove any potential follicle-clogging skin cells and boost blood flow to your head, so both your strands and scalp should be healthier than before. It’s a win-win. Ahead, keep scrolling for the best scalp hair treatments to nourish dryness, soothe itchiness, banish flakiness and generally get your head feeling a whole lot healthier than it did before.
Strand is an Australian scalp care brand which landed in the UK at the end of last year, and I’ve been blown away by their products. There’s a shampoo, conditioner and scrub, but it’s this prebiotic serum that has impressed me the most. You apply it post-hair wash (or to a dry scalp throughout the day) and it instantly alleviates itchiness while hydrating and protecting stressed skin. With regular use my scalp definitely feels less dry which means less dandruff.
This is truly one of the best scalp products I’ve ever tried. Philip Kingsley is renowned in the beauty industry as one of the go-to brands for hair-and-scalp care, and this leave-in toner provides immediate relief from an intensely itchy scalp. Just massage it into damp, clean hair to leave your head feeling soothed and to prevent flakiness over time.
Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as one of the best natural ingredients to use for detoxifying congested scalps, and it’s the star ingredient in this trending product. It cuts through follicle-clogging product buildup and deeply cleanses your scalp to leave it clean and healthy, while provitamin B5 and rice seed protein leave it nourished and flake-free. Simply apply it after shampoo, leave it for a few minutes and then rinse away to reap the benefits.
I’m lucky to receive a lot of products to try for my job, but I happened upon Aveeno’s new line of scalp-soothing haircare while I was in Boots a while back and picked up this shampoo. I have to say I’m really impressed and will definitely be checking out the other products in the line. Just like the product above, it contains the holy-grail ingredient apple cider vinegar to clarify the scalp but is also enriched with colloidal oats and botanical ingredients to leave hair feeling soft and seriously shiny.
It might not be the most luxe of brands, and I could be going out on a limb here, but when it comes to tackling dandruff, Head & Shoulders really works for me. The brand’s deep-cleansing formulations in particular are brilliant, and I really like this itch-prevention one with its invigorating peppermint scent. It’s refreshing, leaves my scalp feeling soothed, and keeps flakes at bay, and my hair was so clean after using it that I could actually stretch the days in between washes.
Taking a gentle approach to scalp-care, Gallinée’s pre- and postbiotic serum is specifically formulated to balance your scalp’s microbiome to prevent itchiness, dandruff and even hair loss, and it also contains gently exfoliating lactic acid. You can spray this on to your scalp before bed to let the ingredients work overnight before washing it out in the morning, but I’ve found it works just as well applied onto a clean scalp at the start of the day for a more intense treatment. Plus, it leaves hair nice and glossy.
This pre-shampoo treatment contains exfoliating lactic acid to gently slough away dead skin cells and Ameliorate’s unique LaH6 skin hydration complex, which improves the texture and clarity of the scalp. Massage it into your head, and then let it sit for a few minutes before shampooing it away. It’s slightly gritty—which I love—so you might need to shampoo twice to get rid of any residue. My scalp is always left squeaky-clean without feeling stripped after using this.
This leave-in scalp treatment is specifically tailored toward anyone dealing with hair loss or breakage. It’s infused with Japanese knotwood and tangerine peel to support the hair’s natural keratin and lifts hair at the roots to leave your strands looking thicker and fuller. Spray it daily onto your scalp for best results.
I adore Living Proof as a brand, and this lightweight scalp treatment is truly brilliant if you’re currently dealing with that horrible itchy feeling. It uses hyaluronic acid to tackle dryness at the roots as well as vitamin B3 to rebalance your scalp long-term. I tend to massage it directly onto my scalp and find that not only does my head feel instantly more comfortable, but my hair looks softer and shinier too.
This is the very product that Margot Robbie’s hairstylist recommended to me a few years back, and I’m now totally obsessed with it. I’ve raved enough about it here already, but effectively, it’s an AHA-based, exfoliating toner that nibbles away at all the dead skin cells on your scalp to leave it clear and healthy. I normally whack it on about 10 minutes before my hair wash, but you can leave it on for even longer for a more intense exfoliation treatment.
I’m a tiny bit in love with the Vita Coco hair range because it smells so good, but this scalp scrub is genuinely great if you suffer from sensitivity on your head. Basically, it’s like a body scrub for your head—just massage it into your scalp, and it will work away any flaky skin to leave your head feeling refreshed and smelling incredible.
Chemical exfoliators are all well and good, but when only a truly gritty scrub will do, this sea salt one from Christophe Robin is top of my list of recommendations. Yes, it’s scrubby in the truest sense of the word, but the addition of sweet almond oil means it isn’t abrasive in the slightest. Massage it generously in to wet hair—I actually use this in place of shampoo—then rinse it away for a lovely, moisturised scalp.
Just reading the ingredient list of this scalp mask is enough to make me feel soothed, but the good news is that it genuinely works. Charcoal, tea tree and aloe are the star ingredients thanks to studies proving that they’re all brilliant at rebalancing, nourishing and detoxifying. Plus, it contains a healthy dose of hyaluronic acid and a cooling mint oil blend to instantly deal with itchiness while preventing future cases of flakiness.
After I was lucky enough to visit the Amika salon in Brooklyn a few years back, where the stylist used this shampoo as my first wash, I’ve always had a tube of this in my bathroom cupboard. Just like the name suggests, it has a jelly-like texture with just the right amount of grit to slough through dry shampoo and product buildup with ease. While the sea salt gets to work with the scrubbing, a calming blend of magnesium, calcium and salicylic acid gently exfoliates and pampers irritated scalps. It’s a brilliant weekly treatment to maintain scalp health.
Not only does this scalp treatment smell incredible, it’s perfect for hydrating and cleansing a dry scalp. The formula includes sage, cedar and rosemary for their soothing and clarifying benefits. Simply apply to detangled, dry hair, massage in and allow it to sit for around fifteen minutes before you wash your hair. Using pre-wash a few times a week will help to keep your scalp feel more hydrated.
It’s so easy to forget your scalp when loading on SPF on sunnier days but if you’re easily affected by the sun you might want to think about protecting your hairline and partings. This mist gives your scalp UV protection without weighing down hair. In fact, if you want you can mist on to the lengths of your hair too as the spray will also help prevent colour fading.
JVN Hair is one of the best haircare ranges I’ve tried in a long time and the scalp oil is a standout. It contains basil root to help prevent hair loss and bisabolol to soothe an irritated scalp. Use weekly to keep your scalp and your roots as healthy as possible.
Who doesn’t love a multi-tasking product? This scrub by Ouai can be used on the scalp and body for a deeply cleansing and exfoliating experience. I love that it foams so you can cleanse and exfoliate in one go– definitely a good pick if you have an oily scalp but not one for dry hair.
Apple cider vinegar is clearly a favourite when it comes to scalp care. This rinse is excellent for cleansing when your hair is in protective styles such as braids or cornrows to lift build-up and flakes without disrupting the scalp’s PH Levels.
With peppermint, rosemary, jojoba, hemp seed, tea tree oils and salicylic acid this scalp treatment has a blend of the best ingredients for maintaining a healthy scalp. This oil emulsifies into a cream when met with water making it easy to rinse out.
Scalps that are feeling congested from product build-up will love this detoxing scalp serum. The concentrated formula includes rosemary, mint and witch hazel and you only need 3 or 4 drops massaged into the scalp for you to feel the difference.
This is one of the best scalp serums I have ever tried. Aloe vera strengthens and nourishes dry scalps and the vitamin E cools itchiness. The formula is lightweight and sinks into the hair so it’s comfortable to wear overnight before rinsing out to reap the full benefits.
Created specifically with curly hair types in mind, this vegan formula is designed to care for fragile scalps. It contains conditioning seabuckthorn oil and castor oil beads that stimulate your hair follicles to boost growth at the same time as it works away dead skin cells. Plus, it smells incredible—a rejuvenating mix of spearmint and grapefruit oils. Up next: 17 Effective Products for Hair Growth, According to Editors Who’ve Tried Them.