1. Your Scalp Is Dry
“Many people think that dandruff is dry. However, it is almost always oily,” says renowned trichologist Anabel Kingsley. If the flakes from your itchy scalp are small and white, similar to dry skin, it’s likely that dryness is the cause. A dry scalp can be caused by using harsh shampoos and styling products, as well as washing your hair too regularly and stripping away the natural oils.
You might find that your scalp feels drier in the winter too. “Like any skin, the scalp can become dry and flaky in colder weather,” explains Anabel. “Central heating can worsen this.” If your scalp feels dry and itchy regularly, it might be worth swapping to a sulphate-free shampoo, such as Living Proof Perfect hair Day™ Shampoo, £12 or the aptly named Aveda Scalp Benefits Shampoo, £23.5.
Depending on your hair type and thickness, you might also benefit from massaging oil into your hair and leaving it for at least an hour before shampooing as usual. The technique has been used for centuries to help nourish the hair and scalp, but it’s found a new lease of life via the hair slugging trend on TikTok. Jonathan Van Ness created JVN Hair Complete Pre-wash Scalp Oil, £25 with this in mind and unsurprisingly it’s absolutely brilliant.
2. You’ve Got Dandruff
Dandruff is one of those subjects we tend to shy away from, despite more of us have experienced the unbearable itch and flood of white-yellow flakes than would care to admit. “Dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast naturally found on the scalp, called Malassezia furfur,” Anabel tells us. “When levels rise (which is commonly due to stress and hormones), skin cells on the scalp divide too rapidly. Cells are replaced much faster than they can be shed, leading to a build-up of tell-tale flakes and itching.”
Reducing your stress levels will help prevent the recurrence, but to rebalance the bacteria and rinse away the excess dead skin, you need a good anti-dandruff shampoo. Fortunately, hairstylist and brand founder Jen Atkin has come to the rescue with Ouai Anti-dandruff Shampoo, £32. Formulated with salicylic acid to help irritation, as well as propanediol caprylate, which helps to rebalance the bacteria, and gentle surfactants to cleanse, this anti-dandruff shampoo was made to ease your itch.
3. There’s A Product Build-Up
If dry shampoo or hairspray are one of your most used hair styling products, it’s likely that you have a build up of product on your scalp. As this happens, the natural process hair shedding is hindered which can lead to a dry, flaky, itchy scalp. Some experts recommend opting for silicone-free formulas to help prevent product build-up. Using a clarifying shampoo once a week, or monthly depending on your hair type and needs, will help to rinse away the build-up.
What are the best clarifying shampoos? Olaplex No. 4C Clarifying Shampoo, £28 is a good place to start as the formula is pH-balanced, so it provides a deep cleanse without causing dryness. If you want more of a gritty scrub that you can gently massage into your scalp to get rid of leftover product and excess oils..
Read More• How To Look After Your Scalp
• Clean Haircare Products You Need In Your Routine • Bread Beauty Supply's Founder's Haircare Routine
• The Skinification of Hair