BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Beauty & Personal Care

Best scalp moisturizer

The top products for scalp dryness and itchiness

Everyone has a variety of items they prefer to use in their hair and skin care regimens; however, many people often overlook one of the most critical steps. Whether you realize it or not, the well-being of your scalp plays a significant role in the overall health of your hair and body. A hydrating cream, oil, or spray can work wonders for alleviating scalp irritation or flakiness but can ultimately exacerbate dandruff. The right scalp moisturizer can help prevent and relieve your symptoms.

What are the differences between having a dry scalp and dandruff?

If you have a dry and flaky scalp, you may think you suffer from dandruff, but it could simply be signs of regular dryness. Although symptoms of dandruff and dry scalp can be similar, they are separate conditions that require different treatments.

Dry scalp

People with dry scalps have skin that flakes off due to irritation. Lack of moisture, cold or dry environments, old age, and contact dermatitis can all trigger such a reaction. Signs of a drier scalp also can mean other skin on your body is suffering from the same condition. Dirty hair doesn’t cause scalp dryness but can cause flakes to develop. Unlike dandruff flakes, dry scalp scales are small and less oily and can easily be treated with hydrating conditioners.


For those with dandruff, excess oil buildup on the scalp causes skin cells to shed. Although your skin cells naturally multiply before shedding off when dead, dandruff allows this cycle to happen at a faster rate. Seborrheic dermatitis causes dandruff and causes the skin to be oily, scaly, and red; an abundance of fungi can also lead to dandruff. The condition isn’t curable and has to be efficiently managed over time.

Different types of moisturizing products


Not all shampoos are created equally — some have more hydration capabilities than others. Avoid formulas with harsh ingredients that can strip hair and skin of natural oils. Also, ensure that you don’t constantly wash your hair several times a week, even if you shower each day. Applying conditioners directly on your scalp will cause clogged pores that lead to more itchiness unless the product is specifically formulated to combat dryness.

Scalp exfoliators

Although not a well-known product, scalp exfoliators help break up oil and dirt buildup on your scalp that can cause excess hair loss and skin discomfort. Some products even offer natural remedies such as walnut shells or apricot seeds. Outside of obvious benefits, you can also achieve lustrous and volumizing locks depending on which product you decide to use.


Hair tonics, also known as elixirs, differ from other products since they usually come in a liquid form, except for pomades, and will contain mineral oils or cold-pressed petroleum jelly as the main ingredient. Most are used for stimulating scalp massages that help stimulate blood circulation to hair follicles while deeply moisturizing and conditioning the hair and scalp simultaneously.


You can either add a few drops of oil to your shampoo or decide to apply different types on their own for a more aggressive form of treatment. First, start by looking for essential oils such as peppermint, jojoba, eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender, to name a few.

After choosing one, you will mix them together with a carrier oil, which can be either avocado, almond, or coconut. Make sure to dilute any mixtures if you have sensitive skin before massaging into the scalp. Overnight treatments work best and should be washed out with shampoo the next day.

What are the best scalp moisturizers to buy?

Best shampoo treatment

Vanicream Free & Clear Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

This shampoo’s formula is free of harsh chemicals such as lanolin, parabens, fragrances, and harmful dyes that can irritate the surface of the skin. It’s also a great option for those with different hair types and textures due to its pH-balancing properties. No redness or inflammation will occur for those who have very sensitive scalps and skin.

Sold by Amazon

Best conditioner treatment

Rahua Hydration Conditioner

Despite being an ultra-moisturizing conditioner, it isn’t too heavy on the hair or scalp when applied. The sulfate-free formula features a rich blend of tropical scents such as mango, aloe vera extract, and rare Amazonian oils. Added benefits also help leave hair healthier, smoother, and softer. Take care not to apply too much of this product due to its ultra-hydrating properties.

Sold by Amazon

Best duo treatment

Head & Shoulders Supreme Soothe & Strengthen Shampoo and Conditioner

Considered to be one of the most recognizable hair care brands around, Head & Shoulders offers a duo with great value and benefits. Despite being formulated specifically for color and chemically treated hair, this product effectively calms the scalp while fortifying hair strands. Its formula is derived from argan oil and infused with a sweet and light rose essence.

Sold by Amazon

Best oil treatment

JVN Complete Pre-Wash Scalp and Hair Treatment Oil

As a nutrient-rich oil treatment, this product is formulated with natural ingredients such as coconut oil and sunflower seed oil. It’s hydrating but works for both oily and flaky scalps. 

Sold by Sephora

Best leave-in treatment

Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment

Whether your hair is straight, curly, or wavy, this leave-in scalp treatment is perfect for delivering lasting itch relief and rich hydration to strands. The formula uses a groundbreaking Vitamin-B3 complex that works over a period of time to help naturally rebalance your scalp for long-term relief. It also features a hyaluronic molecular patch that expertly soothes scalp flaking and irritation.

Sold by Sephora

Best spray treatment

Bumble and Bumble BB Scalp Detox

This detox spray removes product buildup, impurities, and oils by fizzing up. Then, you rinse and follow it with shampoo and conditioner, as normal. Your scalp will be left feeling refreshed and rebalanced by its invigorating combination of salicylic acid, vitamin B5, vitamin E and panthenol.

Sold by Amazon

Best restorative treatment

It’s a 10 Scalp Restore Miracle Scalp Leave-In

This restorative treatment revives scalp health and reduces inflammation and irritation. It’s vegan and cruelty-free and also works directly on hair to soften and detangle. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty

Best scrub treatment

Kristin Ess Hair Instant Exfoliating Scalp Scrub

This exfoliator instantly removes deposits from the scalp, as well as dry skin and excess sebum. It’s a great choice for anyone with dandruff or dry skin on the scalp. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty

Best lotion treatment

LivSo Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Scalp

Any treatment that contains lotion can weigh down hair and clog hair follicles, but don’t worry. This lightweight coconut-infused formula deeply conditions dry scalps and is light enough to be used as a moisturizer separately. The nutrient-rich formula features willow bark extract that is powerful enough to prevent flakiness and is effective at preventing inflammation. Antioxidants and ceramides help reduce hair breakage and promote elasticity.

Sold by Amazon

Best elixir treatment

Sunday II Sunday SOOTHE ME Daily Scalp Serum for Dry Scalp Relief

This serum provides itch relief on scalps within 15 minutes. It is one of the best products to use on curly medium to thick hair if you desire to calm any irritation or inflammation caused by braids or overly tight ponytails. The peppermint oil-infused formula also helps combat dry and itchy spots caused by hair aging. The Alternsis Botanical Complex reduces scalp sensitivity as well.

Sold by Sephora

Best natural treatment

Derma E Scalp Relief Treatment

This 100% vegan and cruelty-free treatment will help encourage a more balanced scalp. Tea tree essential oils increase scalp health, while the sea kelp extract adds a dose of hydrating properties. The blue algae and alma oil extract work in tandem to increase moisture and hair thickness at the root. This water-based serum is formulated without any gluten, GMOs or soy-based ingredients.

Sold by Ulta Beauty

Best calming treatment

Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

As an anti-dandruff shampoo, it soothes and hydrates all scalp types without being harsh. The salicylic acid helps gently remove flakes while relieving any irritation and itchy feelings. It features bilberry fruit and sugar maple extracts that help prevent future free-radical damage and scalp tenderness. The Oribe signature complex also helps fight against oxidative stress, outside elements, and the loss of natural keratin in hair shafts.

Sold by Sephora

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Ashton Hughes writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: