Is It Dandruff or Dry Scalp?

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If you’ve once experienced a flaky scalp, you know how embarrassing it could be

Don’t dash immediately to the nearest drugstore to grab an anti-dandruff shampoo. You may experience the above-mentioned symptoms because of the dry scalp. 

Dandruff and dry scalp can be a sign of the condition called seborrheic dermatitis. Both conditions can affect the sebaceous gland-rich regions of the scalp.

And here’s the thing: if you have a dry scalp and you use an anti-dandruff shampoo, your scalp condition will keep deteriorating after every hair wash.

How to tell dry scalp from dandruff?

Read on to review dandruff and dry scalp most common symptoms


  • Itchy scalp and/or eyebrows
  • Large white or yellow flakes
  • Potential redness

The most common sign of dandruff is when you start to notice white flakes falling from your scalp to your shoulders and back as you brush or tousle your hair.

Dandruff Treatment Tips

The intention is to balance the scalp microbiome. 

  • Use a medicated shampoo

Make sure that the following ingredients are presents at the label:  salicylic acid, ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide

  • Increase your Omega 3 intake

It’s scientifically proven that omega-3s help to regulate oil production,which can in turn reduce the amount of fungal growth and flaking. 

  • Make sure you add tea tree essential oil to your scalp treatments

Tea tree essential oil is known for its antifungal and antimicrobial properties making it a perfect pick for those who want to balance the scalp

Dry Scalp

When it comes to dandruff we say that it’s triggered by the overproduction of sebum. Alternatively, dry scalp means there is a depletion in sebum, its moisturizing agent. Insufficient sebum production can be caused by: genetics, lifestyle, diet, hair styling habits, weather, environment, health, stress, hormones, and medications.

Dry Scalp Symptoms:

  • Tightness, soreness like flakiness
  • Scalp itchiness
  • Dry brittle hair
  • Dry skin in other parts of the body
  • Small barely seen flakes

The key thing here is that in the majority of cases the flakes are visible only to you.

Dry Scalp Treatment Tips:

  • Do not neglect pre-shampoo scalp treatments

If you have dry scalp, it actually means that your skin is not moisturized enough. Use scalp oils  prior to shampooing to relieve the tightness

  • Use gentle shampoo rich in emollients

With dandruff, it’s crucial to use a shampoo with strong cleansing properties whereas when it comes to a dry scalp, you should steer clear from sulfates and Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate

Swapping out any harsh shampoos for ultra-gentle ones can seriously pay off.

  • Eliminate products with short chain alcohol

Many hair care products are made with short chain alcohols. These ingredients can make your scalp dryness even worse

  • Invest in humidifier

Running a humidifier pulls moisture back into the air and helps to  improve dry, itchy scalp condition. 

Use this table to diagnose your scalp condition

Stay tuned! In the next blog posts we’ll review the best products and DYIs against dandruff

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