How to Fix a Dry, Flaky Scalp in Under 5 Minutes

Updated 06/02/19
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Confession: We'd be lying if we said that dandruff didn't completely freak us out. In fact, we liken it to the rather unfortunate scenario of noticing pesto in our teeth mid-date—unavoidable, but cringeworthy and something we'd rather not happen. And while we know we shouldn't let an innocent sprinkling of flakes on our favorite black sweater send us into a tailspin of worry and frustration, a dry, flaky scalp is not our preferred accessory for any season.

However, as annoying as dandruff is, it's one of those pesky problems that at one point or another happens to just about everyone. And according to dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, the founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care, there's not a lot you can do to actually prevent it—especially when fall and winter's cooler temperatures come around. (According to Tanzi, the frigid air will exacerbate a dry, flaky scalp, which is an annoying side effect of dandruff, scientifically known as seborrheic dermatitis.) The key, as it turns out, is all in how you manage it. Tanzi explained to us that the best thing you can do is look for a shampoo or scalp treatment that specifically targets dandruff and the accompanying dry, flaky scalp. If you go with a scalp treatment, Tanzi recommends letting it sit for a while prior to rinsing, and if you continue to have problems, it might be advisable to go in and see a dermatologist for a prescription.

In the meantime, however, Byrdie HQ has some suggestions in the form of a master list featuring our favorite, tried-and-true remedies for a dry, flaky scalp. Keep reading for the ten products that never fail to save our skin.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt $53
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Great for any hair type, this purifying scrub is infused with sea salt and specially formulated to detoxify and hydrate even the most sensitive of scalps. The sea salt supports healthy blood circulation while simultaneously nixing product or chemical buildup. You can use it in lieu of your normal shampoo, but be sure to follow with a moisturizing conditioner on your ends.

True Moringa Face, Hair, and Body Oil $26
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Intensely moisturizing, but surprisingly lightweight, this nourishing oil is thoughtfully made from pure moringa oil, which is one of nature’s best natural moisturizers. Remember those hot oil treatments from back in the day? Think of this as the 2.0 version. While still in your warm, steamy bathroom post-shower, massage three to five drops into your roots and work gently down through your ends. Your dry, flaky scalp will thank you for it. Feel free to leave it in, or wash it out after a daylong Netflix binge.

R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub $38
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This scalp scrub from R+Co is one of our favorite products from the brand. The packaging alone is to die for, but we’re also pretty excited about the formula’s purifying and rebalancing properties. Add on the lush scent—a vivid combination of Sicilian lemon, tangerine, eucalyptus, green tea, tree moss, and crisp amber—and (cue Lorde) you’ll rule, you’ll rule, you’ll rule… without a trace of flake in sight.

Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo $24
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As much as we love our dry shampoo, too much of anything is hardly ever a good thing, and the same goes for our product addiction. An overload of buildup can exacerbate dandruff and worsen (or even encourage) a dry, flaky scalp. However, this one from Briogeo is a game changer. It’s infused with white charcoal, which helps detoxifiy your scalp for a much-deserved refresh.

Aveda Pramasana Exfoliating Scalp Brush $20
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Nothing feels better than a scalp massage, and when your schedule or S.O. is unwilling, this exfoliating scalp brush from Aveda does the trick beautifully. In fact, it’s basically dry brushing for your head. Intrigued? Before you wet your hair, work the brush over your scalp and through your strands. Not only does it feel amazing, but it will increase circulation and effortlessly loosen any buildup or impurities, making your shampoo way more effective.

Solu Clarifying Solution Shampoo, 8.45 Fluid Ounce
Davines Solu Clarifying Solution Shampoo $28
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Great for a dry and flaky scalp, this rich, clarifying shampoo is great for reviving hair and scalp that’s having a midsummer (or winter!) breakdown. Gentle buckwheat extracts deeply cleanse your scalp, while still leaving strands manageable and moisturized.

Superbalm Scalp Treatment
Lush Superbalm Scalp Treatment $25
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The Rolls-Royce of scalp treatments, this supremely nourishing ointment specifically targets even the most stubborn scales and dandruff-ridden skin. Simply massage into your scalp, leave on for 20 minutes, and then shampoo it out. Infusions of coconut oil, candelilla wax, and chamomile blue oil help calm irritated skin while naturally forming salicylic acid softens buildup pre-cleanse.

IGK Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scrub $36
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From overdosing on color treatments to spending too much time out in the sun, a dry, flaky scalp can be caused by many a culprit. Lucky for us, this cheeky scrub from IGK covers all the necessary bases. It will remedy and restore your skin’s natural pH to create the ultimate scalp environment—banishing itch and scales and encouraging healthy growth. It's also salt-free, so you don't have to worry about your hair drying out.

PHYTO Phytodensia Plumping Serum $40
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When it comes to hair health, Phyto always has our back. Chock-full of vitamins, this non-oily elixir is a savior for an over-stressed scalp. Veronia and grape polyphenols wake up your skin and nix scalp scales, all the while contributing to denser strands.

Reverie CAKE Restorative Scalp Tonic $72
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Borderline legendary, this restorative scalp treatment is worth the investment. It's a Byrdie office-favorite and has just shy of 2,000 'loves' on Sephora's website. Not only will it hydrate dry skin, it will also restore a balanced pH and promote hair future growth. Plus, it smells amazing (with notes of frankincense, sandalwood, and ylang ylang) and since it's a leave-in, the application couldn't be more effortless. 

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