the best scalp moisturizers

The 7 Best Scalp Moisturizers That Relieve Dryness & Itching

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If you find your scalp itchy, flaky, or dry, you may benefit from using one of the best scalp moisturizers. The best picks will contain nourishing ingredients such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, or shea butter to hydrate your scalp, and will leave out ingredients like sulfates that can exacerbate dryness. Be on the lookout for picks with other beneficial ingredients for your unique scalp needs, like pyrithione zinc to fight dandruff or cooling peppermint and aloe vera to soothe irritation.

Beyond checking out the ingredients list, you’ll also want to think about which product formulation makes the most sense for you. Many scalp moisturizers are designed to be massaged directly into the scalp, and you won’t need to rinse them out. Lotions and creams designed specifically for the scalp tend to be thicker and less greasy, while thinner oils and serums can feel greasier but may stay on the skin longer, which could be ideal if you’re experiencing dryness. Some leave-in conditioners have ingredients that are designed to hydrate the hair and scalp (since they are applied to both), so be on the lookout for those if you’re seeking a two-in-one solution. If you prefer a pick that’s designed to be washed out, opt for a hydrating scalp mask that’ll moisturize in a matter of minutes — these are also ideal if you have fine hair, since leave-in picks may weigh down your hair. If you have braids, a wig, or a weave, look for picks that are designed specifically to hydrate these styles — oftentimes, they feature ingredients that can help relieve tightness, too.

The majority of products that are marketed as scalp moisturizers contain a combination of beneficial ingredients. However, if you’d rather go with a simpler pick, many Amazon reviewers have found it beneficial to moisturize their scalps with pure coconut oil. If this route appeals, make sure to not use too much at once to avoid excess greasiness (a little goes a long way!) or consider applying it at night and rinsing it out in the morning.

While all of these products can be used on their own to help moisturize your scalp, some people have found added success when using them in combination with a hydrating shampoo and/or a conditioner formulated specifically for dry scalps.

Amazon reviewers back up these seven dry scalp remedies, indicating that they're tremendously nourishing and hydrating.

1. A Lightweight Moisturizing Lotion

This moisturizing lotion from LivSo is packed with hydrating and nourishing ingredients for the scalp, including willow bark extract, coconut oil, ceramides, shea butter, German chamomile flower, soybean seed, and honey extracts. All that plus some soothing aloe vera and you’ve got yourself a truly moisturizing and calming lotion. Super lightweight, the sulfate-free lotion should be applied to your scalp post shampoo/conditioner, but before you dry or style your hair — it’s a leave-in treatment, so no need to wash it out.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Love this lotion! Winter always makes my hair dry and scalp itchy. [...] I apply this to my scalp right after showering so it doesn’t leave a greasy feel to my hair (a little goes a long way.) [...] It really helps!”

2. A Hydrating Scalp Mask That Rinses Out

Don’t want a leave-in treatment? This hydrating mask from Briogeo is designed to be rinsed from your scalp after up to 10 minutes, providing stellar moisture without excess greasiness, making it a particularly great option for those with oily or thin hair. The mask has a variety of scalp-benefitting ingredients such as nourishing tea tree and soothing aloe vera and peppermint. This pick leaves out sulfates, silicones, parabens, and phthalates. Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “When it’s on your wet scalp it is Cooling and refreshing. I have auto immune issues and recently my scalp has become itchy and dry. I tried washing my hair less but it hasn’t helped much, so using this every 2-3 days has helped with itchiness.”

3. A Fan-Favorite Budget Scalp Treatment

A whopping 13,000-plus reviews and a solid 4.3-star rating overall are evidence that this scalp oil from OGX is certainly a good one — and it costs less than $10 to boot! This pick features ingredients like tea tree oil and witch hazel that can do wonders for hydration, and peppermint is a soothing ingredient that’ll feel amazing on an itchy scalp. The lightweight oil is easy to work with — it should be massaged directly into your scalp and not washed out. This pick is sulfate and paraben free.

OGX also sells a coordinating shampoo and conditioner, in case you’re looking to round out your hair-care routine with nourishing products.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Love this stuff especially in the winter! It smells great and a little bit goes a long way so the bottle lasts! I get super dry skin and it’s awful during the winter this helped my scalp so much. [...] I didn’t get a greasy scalp from it either which is important to me.”

4. A Hydrating Scalp Serum With Anti-Dandruff Ingredients

If you deal with dandruff, you may want to opt for this scalp serum from Head & Shoulders since it’s designed to both hydrate the scalp and treat flakes, thanks to ingredients like vitamin E, argan oil, and pyrithione zinc. The leave-in serum can be applied directly to your scalp whenever you feel itchiness or irritation. This pick is free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, phosphates, and dyes.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This definitely helped keep my scalp clean and clear. Feels really good going onto scalp. Adds moisture and nourishment necessary to soothe dry scalp and prevent dandruff.”

5. A Highly Rated Leave-In Conditioner For Scalp & Hair

Wildly hydrating for both the hair and the scalp, this leave-in conditioner has the approval of more than 11,000 Amazon reviewers who collectively give this pick a solid 4.7-star rating overall. The creamy formula features ingredients like tea tree oil and jojoba oil to moisturize, with peppermint serving to soothe any irritation that you may be dealing with. This pick is free from sulfates and parabens.

To use this pick, simply apply a small amount to any problem spots — in addition to being helpful for the scalp and hair, it can also be used on other areas of your body, and it actually works great as a shaving cream, too. If using this product on your hair specifically, you’ll want to get it damp first before applying the conditioner, then style your strands as desired. This pick is sold in 10.14 ounce and 33.8 ounce sizes — the larger size is cheaper per ounce.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “i have been looking for moisturizer for my extremely dry scalp. and this cream does its job. it is not greasy, which is great. also smells good!”

6. The Best Moisturizer For Those With A Weave Or Wig

This scalp serum from SheaMoisture is specifically designed for those with a weave or wig, and helps to relieve tightness associated with protective while providing amazing hydration thanks to ingredients like tea tree oil and borage seed oil. Additionally, this pick contains aloe vera, which is said to help soothe irritation. The scalp serum doesn’t contain any parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or mineral oil. To use, apply a drop or two of serum to the affected area a minimum of one time per day and gently massage it in. This leave-in treatment can be reapplied any time you need it.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I recently started wearing wigs and needed something for my sensitive scalp. This stuff is amazing. It's soothing and moisturizing and smells great.”

7. The Versatile, Natural Option

Hundreds of Amazon reviewers swear by this coconut oil from Nutiva as a natural solution for dry scalp woes. The virgin cold-pressed coconut oil can be massaged directly into the scalp for amazing moisture — just be sure to start with a small amount and work up from there, since it can be quite greasy if you use too much. Some prefer to apply the coconut oil at night and wash it out in the morning. (A shower cap helps to keep it off your pillows.)

And since it’s pure coconut oil, this purchase has loads of other uses besides hydrating your scalp: It can be used for cooking, as a moisturizer for your face, as a natural deodorant option, or even to help soothe sunburn. This pick is USDA-certified organic, plus non-GMO. The packaging is BPA-free and contains 54 ounces of coconut oil, but this pick is also sold in 12-, 15-, and 78-ounce sizes, too, as well as multi-packs.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Nutiva coconut oil is a very good quality oil. The aroma it gives compared to other products makes it seem that the production of the oil was done right. I am finding more and more uses for this coconut oil, beyond that of cooking. [...] Nutiva works well on the scalp when I find those days when I get flaky skin (dandruff?). I rub some into the scalp a few minutes before washing my hair. Doing this a couple days in a row solves the dry scalp for weeks.”