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15 shampoos dermatologists and other pros recommend to combat a dry, itchy scalp

Wash your way to an itch-free scalp.
Woman washing her hair in the shower with shampoo
Getty Images/iStockphoto
/ Source: TODAY

There are few beauty woes more annoying than an itchy scalp. Sure, it starts off innocent enough, but a slightly dry scalp quickly seems to turn into an itch you just can’t scratch enough.

If you’re hoping to kick that itch to the curb, finding the right shampoo to soothe your scalp can make a world of difference. To help you along the way, Shop TODAY tapped some top dermatologists and hairstylists and asked them to share their top picks for combating an itchy scalp. We also looked at products that have mostly positive verified customer reviews, include ingredients that both target itchy scalps and improve scalp and hair health, and are great for a variety of hair types, styles and textures.

How often should I wash my hair if I have an itchy scalp?

"If you have trouble with an itchy scalp, you can wash your hair every other day or every day, if necessary, but make sure to use shampoos that contain hydrating components so that your hair doesn’t lose its moisture," said Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York City board-certified dermatologist and author of the book “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist." She added, "If you don’t use a shampoo with some moisturizing ingredients, you’ll find that your strands will be in a constant cycle of dryness."

With all that said, all you have to do is lather up! Here are the 15 best shampoos for itchy scalps, according to our experts and research.

Best anti-itch shampoos and treatments for your scalp

Derma E Psorzema Scalp Relief Shampoo

Best for | All hair types, including color-treated hair

Why we like it | Nice lavender scent, gentle enough for daily use, very inexpensive

Something to note | A bit tricky to squeeze product out of bottle

This 100 percent vegan and all-natural shampoo is formulated especially for cleansing, calming and de-flaking dry, itchy scalps, thanks to active ingredients like tea tree oil, menthol and salicylic acid. Plus, it nourishes hair thanks to vitamin B5 and is safe for color-treated hair. The cherry on top: It's under $10.

Native 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

Best for | All hair types, including color-treated hair

Why we like it | Helps with hair body and fullness, fresh scent

Something to note | A few reviewers say it left hair feeling a bit greasy

You may know the brand from its natural, skin-friendly deodorants, but Native also offers a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner that is free of sulfates, dyes, and other unwanted ingredients, so it's gentle enough for sensitive, itchy scalps, particularly those prone to eczema. It also contains citric acid that helps balance your scalp's pH levels.

The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo

Best for | Sensitive and flaky scalps, those with product allergies

Why we like it | Comes in bottles made from 100 percent recycled plastic, soothing tingly sensation, gentle on the scalp

Something to note | Ginger scent may be strong for some

This fragrant shampoo is made from 90 percent natural ingredients and stored in fully recycled plastic, so your scalp and the environment can feel good. The active ingredients are purifying ginger essential oil and two kinds of birch bark extracts, which help get rid of loose flakes and soothe your scalp.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo

Best for | Straight, wavy, curly and coiled hair types and all hair textures

Why we like it | Delightful minty smell, works without ruining curls, cools while it lathers

Something to note | Microbeads take a while to fully wash out

Specially formulated for those with itchy, red, and flaky scalps or those with product buildup, this shampoo has "revival" in its name for a reason: The brand claims this scrub hydrates, detoxifies, exfoliates, balances and calms your scalp with natural, plant-based ingredients. These include Binchotan Charcoal, which helps clear out follicles, and coconut oil to moisturize your skin.

TPH by Taraji Master Cleanse Scalp Treatment

Best for | All hair types and textures, weaves and braids

Why we like it | Easy application, a little goes a long way, feels refreshing

Something to note | Tingling and scent may take getting used to

An Allure Best of Beauty 2020 winner, this rebalancing treatment from Taraji P. Henson's hair care line specifically targets your scalp with its tri-touch applicator. Made with a refreshing blend of eucalyptus and tea tree oils and witch hazel water, it's also perfect for every hair style, texture and type.

Rene Furterer Astera Fresh Soothing Freshness Shampoo

Best for | Sensitive and inflamed scalps, damaged hair

Why we like it | Smells amazing, soothes immediately, lathers well

Something to note | Some say it works better combined with other products

"The peppermint and eucalyptus oils in this shampoo relieve and soothe an itchy, flaky scalp, leaving hair soft, smooth and shiny," said Stephanie Brown, hair colorist at IGK Salons in New York City. "Peppermint oil helps with dandruff because it has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps strengthen hair roots, which will help with hair loss."

Head and Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care

Best for | All hair types, especially color-treated hair

Why we like it | Pleasant minty scent, nice soothing sensation, suitable for daily use

Something to note | Can make hair dry or tangled

"The main ingredient in this shampoo is pyrithione zinc 1%, and it has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties," said dermatologist Dr. Marcelyn Coley, based in Brooklyn Heights, New Jersey. "Even better, it's affordable, effective for mild cases and comes in a variety of fragrances and formulas."

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Best for | All hair types with chronic scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff

Why we like it | Recognized by National Psoriasis Foundation, safe for daily use, effective for dandruff

Something to note | Slightly unpleasant tar smell

"The coal tar extract in this shampoo helps tackle a dry scalp and continues to work even hours after you have rinsed it off. It also helps those dealing with psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp," said Dr. Jaliman." Neutrogena also offers a version with salicylic acid instead of coal tar as the active ingredient, T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, that reviewers said has a lighter scent.

Denorex Extra-Strength Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner

Best for | All hair types with moderate itching and flaking

Why we like it | Pleasant cooling tingle, built-in conditioner, many reviewers say it acts quickly

Something to note | Strong and slightly unpleasant chemical smell

Dr. Jaliman also likes Denorex, another pick with salicylic acid, which she said, "helps to exfoliate and get rid of dead skin cells." This will help relieve itchiness and target dandruff, she added. This medicated 10-ounce shampoo-conditioner combo contains 3 percent of the active ingredient and also tackles seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis, the company claims. Plus, the provitamin B5 to give your hair that extra nutritious boost.

Dove Dermacare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Conditioner

Best for | All hair types

Why we like it | Very affordable, luxurious coconut and shea fragrance, may make hair silky and soft

Something to note | May leave hair tangled

"This is a great option for dry, flaky scalps as it contains pyrithione zinc that effectively tackles dandruff while gently restoring moisture to your scalp," said Dr. Shereene Idriss, cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology.

By Gina Pure BioGen Complex Shampoo

Best for | All hair types and textures

Why we like it | Color-safe, leaves hair very soft and frizz-free, thickens hair

Something to note | Doesn't foam as much as comparable products

"I love this shampoo for itchy scalps! Its formula contains biotin, collagen, wheat protein and peptides — all of which are super nourishing and aid in balancing the scalp without stripping it," said Kendall Dorsey, a celebrity hairstylist based in Los Angeles and New York City.

Vanicream Free & Clear Shampoo

Best for | Those with sensitive scalps, color-treated or permed hair

Why we like it | Scent-free, gentle enough for those prone to eczema, concentrated formula

Something to note | Not as moisturizing as traditional shampoos

"In some cases, shampoo and other hair products may cause an itchy scalp in patients with sensitive skin. To treat this, I would recommend a hypoallergenic shampoo like Free & Clear," said Coley. "It's a gentle cleanser that is fragrance-, dye- and sulfate-free, in addition to being free of other ingredients that may be potential allergens for people with sensitive skin."

Honey Skin Organics Hair and Scalp Therapy

Best for | All hair types and textures

Why we like it | Rich formula goes a long way, subtle orange scent, all-natural ingredients

Something to note | Very small bottle considering its price

"This conditioner is made with natural and organic ingredients, like coconut oil, aloe, manuka honey and Australian cehami, that help soothe and/or prevent an itchy, dry, flaky scalp. I like it because it’s great for people with allergies or sensitive skin, and because it’s sulfate-free," said Brown.

Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Best for | All hair types and textures

Why we like it | Gentle enough for color-treated or processed hair, helps with scalp fungus

Something to note | Smell takes getting used to

"This is a great alternative if you don’t have time to see your dermatologist. Formulated with 1% ketoconazole, it helps reduce the amount of yeast of your scalp, which contributes to inflammation, redness and flaking," said Idriss.

Oway Soothing Hair Bath

Best for | Those with sensitive and inflamed scalps

Why we like it | Lightweight, very gentle, no artificial ingredients

Something to note | Not available at a lot of online merchants

"This soothing bath is perfect for a sensitized, red or irritated scalp. It contains biodynamic fennel, which is cleansing and detoxifying. It also encourages micro-circulation of the skin and has smoothing properties," said Sal Salcedo of Nova Arts Salon.

The experts

  • Stephanie Brown was a master colorist at the Eddie Arthur Hair Salon in New York City. She now works as a hair colorist at IGK Salons in New York City.
  • Dr. Marcelyn Coley, MD, is a general dermatologist based in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
  • Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, is a dermatologist specializing in cosmetic and general dermatology practicing in New York City. She's also an assistant professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
  • Dr. Shereene Idriss, MD, is a dermatologist specializing in facial rejuvenation and minimally invasive body contouring. She is based in New York City, where she is also a clinical instructor in dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai.
  • Kendall Dorsey is a celebrity hairstylist who also specializes in male grooming and editorials. He works in Los Angeles and New York City.
  • Sal Salcedo is a cut artist at Nova Arts Salon and is based in Los Angeles.