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Best Shampoos for Dry Itchy Scalps in 2022

Best Shampoos for Dry Itchy Scalps in 2022

Beyond driving you crazy, a dry itchy scalp can be downright painful. Read on for our top picks for the best solutions.

What’s the Best Shampoo for a Dry Itchy Scalp?

Is there anything worse than a dry itchy scalp? Not only is a dry itchy scalp bothersome, but it can also hurt. In worse-case scenarios, the dryness spreads and can morph into something more serious.

We recently reviewed several shampoos for dry itchy scalps. Here you’ll find our top picks for stopping this bothersome problem dead in its tracks!

Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Shampoo for Dry Itchy Scalp:

  1. Best Overall Shampoo for a Dry Itchy Scalp: Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special
  2. Best Value: Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care
  3. Best for Color-Treated Hair: Jupiter Shampoo for Itchy Scalps
  4. Best for Balancing pH Levels: pHat 5.5 Dry Scalp Shampoo
  5. Best Moisturizing Option: Selsun Blue Natural Care Shampoo
  6. Best Dermatologist Recommended: T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
  7. Best 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner: Dove Dermacare Scalp 2-in-1

You might be amazed to learn how many shampoos are available for treating a dry itchy scalp. Perhaps you never realized how widespread the problem is. Never fear; you’re not alone in searching for a solution to this bothersome problem!

How Shampoo Help Prevent Dry and Itchy Scalps

Guy in need of the best shampoo for a dry itchy scalp

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If you’re suffering from a dry itchy scalp and continue to use the same old shampoo you’ve always used, you’ll soon realize that the same-old-same-old probably won’t cut it anymore. Your old shampoo might even be making things worse!

Get proactive and explore the options. You’ll find an array of choices ranging from medicated to all-natural botanicals and some choices that are somewhere in between.

If one shampoo doesn’t work, don’t give up hope. A dry, itchy scalp is a tricky problem to solve, but with patience and the commitment to choose a quality product, eventually, you’ll find a great solution that works for you.

The 7 Best Shampoos for a Dry, Itchy Scalp

In compiling this list, we knew that there are a lot of drug-store options as well as premium options on the market. In fact, our best overall winner started exclusively as a salon shampoo!

That said, we included a mix of both premium, lesser-known brands and a few big brand names. We’re sure you’ll find something here to love!

1. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special  Best Overall Shampoo for Dry Itchy Scalp

Best Overall
Tea Tree Special Shampoo
Pros:
  • Fresh minty smell
  • Uses tea-tree oil, a natural remedy for scalp irritation
  • Vegan and paraben-free
Cons:
  • Some call the smell “menthol”
  • Some users report a drying effect
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This timeless classic from Paul Mitchell is ideal for all hair types, especially oily hair. It’s formulated to soothe dry itchy scalps and eradicate flakes. Special ingredients, along with the tea tree oil, give your hair a deep, gentle cleanse without stripping away its natural moisture.

With its signature tea tree, peppermint, and lavender smell, Tea Tree Special shampoo washes away the scalp blues. We love it because it’s vegan, color-safe, and paraben-free.

Reviewers love not only how this shampoo smells but also how it rejuvenates the scalp. Some users report that itching stops after one wash.

The only real drawback of this shampoo is that some users report dryness after using it. However, that’s a problem that can be easily solved by following up with a conditioner. Overall, this shampoo’s a real winner!

2. Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care  Best Value

Best Value
Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care
Pros:
  • Highly rated
  • Pleasant eucalyptus scent
  • Good value for the money
Cons:
  • Some prefer the classic Head & Shoulders formula
  • No matching conditioner
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Head & Shoulders is one of the most recognizable names for a dry itchy scalp and dandruff care. This Itchy Scalp Care product gets rave reviews on Amazon, with most users saying it does what it says it will do—fast!

If you’re looking for a medicated option, this one is right up your alley; it contains pyrithione zinc, one of the most common and effective over-the-counter treatments found in medicated shampoos.

Most reviewers say Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care relieves itch and flakes quickly. However, at least one said they had been using it for a month and had detected no difference. For the most part, though, reviewers found fast, long-lasting relief. 

3. Jupiter Dry Scalp & Dandruff Shampoo  Best for Color-Treated Hair

Best for Color-Treated Hair
Jupiter Dry Scalp & Dandruff Shampoo
Pros:
  • 100% vegan, cruelty-free
  • Natural fragrance
  • Named one of Vogue’s “best dandruff shampoos”
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Some users wish it wasn’t medicated
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People with dry itchy scalps who have color-treated hair pose a special challenge when it comes to selecting a shampoo.

Coal tar shampoos, for example, may cause colored hair to fade more quickly than usual. Jupiter Dry Scalp & Dandruff Shampoo is a color-safe, sulfate- and paraben-free option for dry, itchy, oily, or flaky scalps.

Medicated with 1% pyrithione zinc, Jupiter has been tested to be safe for color and chemically-treated hair, and the company’s testing has shown that it reduces hair breakage by 30%.

Reviewers love Jupiter’s natural scent, a combination of vanilla, mint, rosemary, tangerine, sage, and lavender essential oils.

The formula includes coconut oil to protect the scalp from dryness while moisturizing the hair. Some reviewers reported their dandruff and itch cleared up completely within two weeks.

4. pHat 5.5  Best for Balancing pH Levels

Best for Balancing pH Levels
pHat 5.5 Shampoo
Pros:
  • Sulfate- and paraben-free
  • Unscented
  • Made with New Zealand Manuka honey
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Can dry out hair
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pHat is a skin and hair care brand that has been around for 25 years. pHat 5.5 products are designed to maintain a pH level of 5.5, the skin’s natural pH level.

pHat 5.5 is made with medical-grade New Zealand Manuka honey, aloe vera, orange peel oil, coconut oil, tapioca, and Australian Cehami. It is designed to battle dry itchy scalps, seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, flakes, scaling, and keratosis.

Reviewers say the product does take time to work, but once it kicks in, the results are noticeable, especially in terms of reduced flakiness and less itch. Others noticed results after just one or two treatments.

Be aware that it doesn’t lather much because this product is sulfate-free. That doesn’t mean it isn’t doing its job, though. Some users said the shampoo made their hair dry, but the conditioner helped resolve any dryness issues, leaving the hair soft and manageable.

5. Selsun Blue Naturals Itchy Dry Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo  Best Moisturizing Option

Best Moisturizing Option
Selsun Blue Naturals Itchy Dry Scalp Shampoo
Pros:
  • Provides moisture
  • Pleasant scent
  • Relieves itch quickly
Cons:
  • Can be easy to confuse with other Selsun Blue products
  • Reported drying if left on for too long
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Selsun Blue Naturals Itchy Dry Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is medicated with 3% salicylic acid, which helps exfoliate the scalp to eliminate flakes and itchiness.

The extra-hydrating formula is formulated with vitamins B5 and E, moisturizers, and botanicals such as lavender and aloe. Reviewers, including those with scalp psoriasis, report itch relief in as few as one or two washings, along with the eradication of flaking dandruff.

A pleasant surprise for some is how soft, silky, and manageable it leaves their hair. Some users say the formula leaves their hair feeling dry, but that could be due to how long they’re leaving it in their hair.

If you choose this product, be careful to check the label twice before purchasing it. There are many varieties of Selsun Blue, and it can be easy to get them mixed up.

6. T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo, Extra Strength  Best Dermatologist Recommended

Best Dermatologist Recommended
T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo | Extra Strength
Pros:
  • Starts working after one use
  • Trusted brand name
  • Highly rated
Cons:
  • Strong, medicated smell
  • Can be difficult to wash out
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T/Gel’s packaging states that it’s the number-one dermatologist-recommended brand for medicated shampoos.

This extra-strength version is designed to control severe issues such as intense itching, redness, flaking, and scalp conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. This formulation contains coal tar along with a patented ingredient for dandruff control.

The extra-strength version contains double the amount of medication as found in the original formula. T/Gel has long been a favorite among those who suffer from dry itchy scalps and dandruff.

While it may not work for everyone, it has a pretty darn good track record for helping the majority of Amazon reviewers who have used it. One of the only downsides is the smell, although some people like it.

It can also be challenging to wash out if left in for too long. Follow the directions closely to avoid any issues and follow up with a conditioner.

7. Dove Dermacare Scalp 2in1 Shampoo and Conditioner  Best 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

Best 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner
Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner
Pros:
  • Gentle and pleasant smelling
  • Medicated for quick relief
  • Eliminates the need to use two separate products
Cons:
  • It might not offer enough conditioning
  • Can weigh hair down
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Dove Dermacare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo comes in this 2-in-1 version for those who don’t want to bother with a separate shampoo and conditioner. It contains 1% pyrithione zinc for medicated relief.

Dove is a trusted brand name, and this shampoo and conditioner combo is no exception. Users love the way it leaves their hair feeling bouncy and full, plus their scalps feel better, too.

If you’re looking for something that eliminates flakes and provides relief for your dry itchy scalp without stripping your natural oils, you really can’t go wrong with Dove Dermacare.

Finding the Best Shampoo for Dry, Itchy Hair

Best shampoo for a dry, itchy scalp on lathered soap

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Before you take our word for it and buy our recommendation for the best shampoo for a dry, itchy scalp, you should know what we’re looking for when selecting our top picks. Some of the criteria we looked at are as follows:

Look for a Shampoo That Targets Multiple Problems

Most people who have a dry itchy scalp also have dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, or other dermatological problems. Look for a shampoo that addresses multiple issues.

That way, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck. Most shampoos for dry itchy scalps also have conditioners that go with them.

If you don’t use a conditioner, you may find that your hair is difficult to manage, especially while it is wet. If a separate conditioner isn’t for you, consider trying a 2-in-1 product like Dove Dermacare Scalp 2-in-1.

Try a Medicated Shampoo

There are lots of options for medicated over-the-counter shampoos that contain pyrithione zinc, coal tar, salicylic acid, and ketoconazole. You’ll probably have to experiment to see which ingredient works best for you.

Your scalp changes over time. Something that once worked for you no longer may. You may have to look around again until you find something that will address your current problems.

A Shampoo Doesn’t Have to Be Medicated to Be Effective

Our overall best winner, Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special, contains tea-tree oil as its secret weapon. In fact, you’ll notice that most shampoos for a dry itchy scalp that do NOT contain medication contain tea tree oil instead.

Other shampoos for dry itchy scalps use ingredients like manuka honey, aloe, coconut oil, and other botanicals. All can be good options.

Give the Shampoo Time

It’s only normal to want instant relief when your dry itchy scalp is painful and driving you crazy. While some of the reviewers for some of our top seven picks reported itch relief after just one wash, more commonly, it can take around two to four weeks to see results.

If you’re in a hurry to get itch relief—and really, who isn’t—follow the directions for your shampoo carefully. The directions will tell you exactly how long to leave the shampoo on your scalp. Some advise a lather-rinse-repeat process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best shampoo for a dry, itchy scalp on a white layflat image

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While there are countless questions you can ask when buying a shapoo for dry, itchy scalps, we’ve rounded up 5 of the most frequently asked to help you buy the best product for you.

Can Shampoos For Dry Itchy Scalp Make Matters Worse?

Unfortunately, yes. The wrong shampoo can irritate your scalp and cause burning, redness, and itching. That’s why it’s so important to pick a high-quality product.

How Long Does It Take To See Results?

It depends on the shampoo. Some people say they experience itch relief after one wash. Typically, it takes two to four weeks to see results in terms of scalp relief and fewer flakes if dandruff was present.

Does The Shampoo Need To Lather Well To Do A Good Job?

No. Some of the options in our buying guide are sulfate-free, which means they are low lather shampoos. Coal tar shampoos are low-lather as well.

Do I Need To Use A Conditioner, Too?

Yes, you should use a conditioner after you shampoo. If you don’t, your hair may tangle if it’s long and be difficult to manage. If you find that using a separate conditioner is a pain, consider using a 2-in-1 shampoo plus conditioner formula like Dove Dermacare.

Will These Shampoos Leave My Hair Looking Healthy?

As long as you pick a quality shampoo and use it as directed, your hair should look just as good as it usually does. But as with any other shampoo, certain formulations can make your hair feel greasy, weighed down, or dry. Also, if you have color-treated hair, choose a shampoo that specifically mentions that it’s safe for use on color.

So, What’s the Best Shampoo for Dry Itchy Scalp?

Overall, we think the best shampoo for a dry itchy scalp is Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special Shampoo.

Best Overall
Tea Tree Special Shampoo
Pros:
  • Fresh minty smell
  • Uses tea-tree oil, a natural remedy for scalp irritation
  • Vegan and paraben-free
Cons:
  • Some call the smell “menthol”
  • Some users report a drying effect
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It contains tea tree oil and other special ingredients to give your scalp that tingling, soothing feeling when you wash. While medicated choices are great, Tea Tree Special eliminates the risk of medication side effects, making it a terrific first choice.