If we’re talking over-the-counter, the best scalp treatments should make your dryness, flaking, and itching go away without requiring a trip to the derm. But here’s the thing: itchy scalp treatments and shampoos for dandruff haven’t exactly been a thrill to shop for in the past. The packaging is usually clunky or the smell is always just slightly too clinical. So they’ve typically been reserved for that spot in the very back of your shower caddy.

But no longer: With more info than ever about the importance of scalp health, scalp products are stepping up their game. Every time we open Instagram, it seems like another brand is releasing a new scrub, mask, or elixir promising to deflake, balance, and nourish your scalp. It’s easy to be suckered into pretty packaging, but how many scalp products do you actually need? And should you be using them even if you don’t deal with dandruff? Actually yes, according to pros.

“Everyone, no matter their gender or age, can benefit from taking care of their scalp,” says Ariel Ostad, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. Your scalp is more prone to dryness than your hair, and a buildup of styling products and increased pollution can lead to irritation and flakiness. Hadley King, M.D., a dermatologist at Skinney Medspa in New York City, adds that excess dryness is something to keep your eye on, as it can eventually lead to hair loss.

Most experts will agree you don’t need a full arsenal of products, especially because too many products can lead to irritation. “We are conditioned to think we need more products than we do, often leading to overwashing, which actually irritates our skin by disrupting its natural barrier,” says Ostad.

A clarifying shampoo is something everyone can use once or twice a week to help get rid of buildup and deep-clean your scalp. King suggests scrubs for deeper exfoliation, but Ostad warns that they can be irritating, so ease in. Ostad also recommends incorporating a weekly oil or monthly mask to hydrate and strengthen your skin barrier and protect your hair follicles. More targeted serums and treatments are best if you’re trying to prevent hair loss or have seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff).

If you like shopping with a cheat sheet in hand, keep these ingredients in mind next time you add to your hair-care routine: tea tree oil, salicylic acid, argan oil, and anti-inflammatory botanicals like rosemary and lavender oil. And if you’re not sure where to start, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites below. Read on for the 13 best scalp treatments for soothing a dry, itchy scalp.

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Head & Shoulders Supreme Exfoliating Scalp Scrub

This gentle yet effective scrub took home the win for the best drugstore scalp treatment. As our judge Deanna Pai put it in her review: “At the start of every new season, my scalp goes haywire, releasing little flakes and getting itchy. This scrub takes care of the dry skin on my scalp before it turns into a snow shower, while vitamin E and argan oil hydrate. So. Satisfying.” 

$9 at Amazon


Leonor Greyl Huile Apaisante Soothing Treatment

Massage in a few drops of Leonor Greyl’s soothing deep treatment whenever your scalp starts feeling itchy or dry; the rinse-off blend of plant extracts and nourishing oils goes to work in 15 minutes. It’s specifically recommended for minimizing dandruff and helping restore barrier function if you’re experiencing inflammation. Even if you’re not, it’s the perfect pairing for a pre-shampoo head massage.

$48 at Leonor Greyl


Neutrogena Healthy Scalp Gentle & Soft Micellar Water Shampoo

This sulfate-free, nondrying shampoo is great for sensitive scalps. The pH-balanced formula gently cleanses using the same micellar water found in popular makeup removers, which removes dirt, sebum, and irritating buildup. With regular use, it also helps maintain your scalp’s natural barrier and keeps inflammation under control.

$9 at Neutrogena


TPH by Taraji Master Cleanse Scalp Treatment Wash

Keeping protective styles fresh requires a great scalp treatment, and this contains witch hazel water, eucalyptus oil, and tea tree oil–along with a pronged applicator—to do exactly that. Glamour Beauty Awards judge Brionna Jimerson says it’s also excellent when you’re strapped for time on wash days, since it pulls “double duty as a cleanser and nourishing treatment.”

$15 at Target

Courtesy of brand5/15

Kristin Ess Anytime Anywhere Scalp + Hair Milk Oil

It’s hard to find scalp products under $20 that don’t look clinical, but as always, Kristin Ess delivers. This bi-phase milk contains avocado, olive, jojoba, and castor oils to moisturize both your scalp and hair.

$14 at Kristin Ess

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Courtesy of brand6/15

Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Who could say no to this pretty pink packaging? Plus, the shampoo’s inclusion of salicylic acid works to gently exfoliate and cleanse scalp buildup while soothing irritation.

$46 at Oribe

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Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt

This gritty sea salt scrub has a cult following and hundreds of glowing Sephora reviews. While Ostad is in favor of salicylic acid to tackle dandruff, King says that if that kind of chemical exfoliant isn’t your favorite, scrubs like Robin’s could do the trick instead (by clearing out the buildup and dead skin cells that can cause inflammation).

$53 at Christophe Robin

Courtesy of brand8/15

Amika Reset Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil

If you have sensitive skin, this cleansing oil will degunk your scalp with French pink clay and charcoal without stripping your skin (thanks to the inclusion of sunflower oil). The oil emulsifies into a light milk, so all hair types can use it and be left with soft and shiny results.

$25 at Amika

Courtesy of brand9/15

Kérastase Resistance Length Strengthening Scalp Serum

If your biggest concern is hair loss, choose a targeted serum. This one uses Creatine R Complex and ceramides to strengthen your scalp and hair follicles, plus it smells like an expensive salon.

$51 at Kérastase

Courtesy of brand10/15

Davines The Wake-Up Circle Mask 

This rich, luxurious mask reinvigorates and moisturizes your scalp and hair with Rhodiola extract and purple clay. Keep it on hand for a once-monthly treat.

$10 at Davines

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Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo

This gentle scrub is perfect for keeping flakes at bay with minimal irritation. It draws on plant-derived micro-exfoliators to remove dead skin and buildup, and King says the addition of coconut oil will help you moisturize an itchy scalp and soften flakes.

$42 at Briogeo

Courtesy of brand12/15

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo

This super-chic bottle contains all the dandruff-fighting properties of a traditional flake-targeting shampoo. Sachajuan’s formula includes salicylic acid, piroctone olamine, and climbazole to exfoliate skin and kick-start healthy cell turnover. King says the combo keeps yeast levels in check—if left alone, bacteria feeds off of it to create more inflammation and flakes.

$28 at Sachajuan


Grande Cosmetics GrandeHair Enhancing Serum

Treat your hair from follicle to tip with this specially formulated serum that helps maintain both scalp and hair health. It’s formulated with vitamins, peptides, and amino acids, and a few drops go a long way in working their restorative magic.

$125 at Grande Cosmetics

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Courtesy of brand14/15

Aveda Pramasana Protective Scalp Concentrate

Aveda’s little turquoise bottle utilizes the powers of lactobacillus, which the brand says preserves your scalp’s natural protective barrier; seaweed extract, to help control and balance sebum levels; and tamanu oil, which protects your scalp from pollution and other free radicals.

$46 at Aveda

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Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment 

This treatment is ideal for soothing and moisturizing very dry scalps. Ostad loves it for its inclusion of argan oil, which is full of nourishing essential fatty acids to calm irritation.

$38 at Moroccanoil

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