Scalp dryness and hair loss can be two separate conditions, or, they can be related (more on that below). Regardless, one of the most important things you can do for both of these things is make sure you're using the right shampoo. The best shampoos for a dry scalp and hair loss will treat your underlying scalp condition and make your hair appear more full. You can also try alternating between a shampoo for dry scalps and a thickening shampoo every other wash.
According to Dr. Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, M.D., there are a number of causes behind hair loss, so the first step is to speak with your healthcare provider to get to the bottom of it. Though Dr. Tonkovic-Capin says seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), psoriasis, and allergic contact dermatitis may cause scalp dryness, they typically won’t lead to hair loss on their own. However, he adds, “Due to itch and consequent scratching, there can be some transient hair loss" — something to keep in mind.
To treat a dry scalp, Dr. Tonkovic-Capin advises using shampoos that contain over-the-counter medications like ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, or tar. “Shampoo with cool to lukewarm water to reduce stripping natural and protective skin moisturizers from the scalp and the hair. If the scalp is too dry, then reduce the frequency of shampooing as well,” he adds.
As for hair loss, he says, “There are many treatments for hair loss, depending on the cause, but, for now, there is no cure." But the right shampoo can make hair look fuller, at least. Dr. Naana Boakye, a board-certified dermatologist, says that in some patients, the scaling and dandruff from their seborrheic dermatitis can lead to hair loss, so seek out products with anti-inflammatory properties to treat the condition.
For the best shampoos for dandruff, dry scalps, hair loss, and other related conditions, scroll on.
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1. The Best Shampoo With Ketoconazole For Dry Scalps
Dandruff and seborrhea on the scalp can not only cause flaking, itching, and redness, but also, secondary hair loss in turn. So stay on top of the condition with an anti-dandruff shampoo like Nizoral A-D, which contains the over-the-counter medicated ingredient ketoconazole (one of the ingredients Dr. Tonkovic-Capin suggested). Nizoral A-D is one of the most popular anti-dandruff shampoos out there; on Amazon alone, it has over 4,000 glowing reviews.
"After only two uses my dandruff is gone! I no longer get blisters either! I’ve been using this shampoo for about two and a half weeks and my hair is back to being shiny, healthy and smooth," commented one satisfied customer.
2. The Best Shampoo With Selenium Sulfide For Dry Scalps
Selenium sulfide, the key ingredient in this Selsun Blue shampoo, is another doctor-recommended dandruff-fighter. The maximum-strength formula starts working quickly to treat a range of scalp conditions, ranging from dryness to irritation. It also happens to be incredibly affordable, ringing in at just $7 for a big bottle.
"Not only did my hair become fuller/dry scalp free but it also has so much more volume to it," one Amazon reviewer reported.
3. The Best Shampoo With Tar For Dry Scalps
Another dandruff-fighting ingredient, coal tar, can be found in this Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic and Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, which works to clarify hair, reduce scalp inflammation, and relieve itching and flaking. Because of this, it's a great choice for anyone with eczema, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis on their scalp. (And of course, treating these conditions will help with your scalp dryness and, possibly, your hair loss, too.)
Keep in mind that the American Academy of Dermatology says that tar shampoos can discolor gray, white, or blonde hair, and make scalps more sensitive to the sun. So if you have light-colored hair and/or a fair complexion, you might want to choose another shampoo.
4. The Best Shampoo With Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree is a good choice for people who prefer natural remedies to harsher medications and chemicals. And according to Dr. Tonkovic-Capin, shampoos that contain 5% tea tree oil can help treat dandruff (and by extension, dryness and itching). This shampoo from Majestic Pure contains 5% tea tree, as well as nourishing and volumizing ingredients like argan oil, turmeric, biotic, ginseng, and vitamin E. And since it's sulfate-free, it's a safe choice for people with color-treated hair, too.
"Due to pregnancy, my scalp became really dry and itchy! I had never experienced that before and couldn't use medicated products," explained one Amazon reviewer. "After one day of use this product significantly reduced my dandruff and flakiness. My head no longer itched. Make sure to leave it on your hair for the recommended 2 to 3 min."
5. The Best Shampoo With Biotin For Hair Loss
Though there aren't many scientific studies proving biotin's efficacy at promoting fuller hair, anecdotal evidence points to it being extremely effective. Along with biotin, this sulfate-free shampoo uses ingredients like rosemary, aloe vera, hemp, and coconut oil to promote thicker, fuller, and generally stronger hair. It also helps remove product buildup and fight dandruff while restoring moisture and repairing damage.
While many Amazon reviewers have reported success with this shampoo at combatting hair loss, they do note you have to stick with it a while (about a month) to see results.
6. The Best Drugstore Shampoo For Hair Loss
This budget-friendly, sulfate-free thickening shampoo is an excellent choice if you're looking to spend less than $10 on a hair loss product. Using rosemary leaf extract as its hero ingredient, it works to promote stronger, fuller hair while simultaneously fighting breakage. Consider trying the conditioner and leave-in treatment from the same line.
"This shampoo is the best I've found for my fine, fragile, straight blonde hair and I've tried them all. It really does leave my hair feeling thicker, healthy, and shiny, and plus the scent is incredible," reported one Amazon reviewer.
Dr. Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and editor at DermBoard.org.