4 Natural Solutions for a Dry Scalp

Woman putting her hair up
Shuji Kobayashi/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Natural remedies are often used in the treatment of dry scalp, a very common skin problem. In some cases, dry scalp may be triggered by environmental issues (such as dry outdoor or indoor air), while in other cases dry scalp is associated with conditions like dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis.

Natural Remedies to Soothe a Dry Scalp

Here's a look at several types of natural remedies said to be helpful:

Hair Oils

Applying hair oils may help treat dry scalp by restoring moisture to your skin. These remedies include:

  • Argan oil 
  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Neem oil

One of the lesser-known oils said to act as a dry scalp remedy, Brahmi oil has long been used to enhance skin health in ayurvedic medicine. This oil contains extracts of the herbs Bacopa monnieri and Gotu kola usually combined with sesame oil or coconut oil.

Tea Tree Oil

Although research on the use of any type of natural remedy in the treatment of dry scalp is lacking, there's some evidence that tea tree oil may be beneficial in treating dandruff. A type of essential oil long used in aromatherapy, tea tree oil sometimes appears as an ingredient shampoos, conditioners, and scalp moisturizing products.

While few studies have tested tea tree oil's effectiveness against dandruff, a report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2002 indicates that shampoo enriched with tea tree oil may help people with mild to moderate dandruff.

For the study, 126 people (ages 14 and older) used either a 5% tea tree oil shampoo or a placebo shampoo every day for four weeks. At the study's end, those given the tea tree oil shampoo showed a 41 percent improvement in scalp scaliness, itchiness, and greasiness. Those given the placebo shampoo, on the other hand, showed only an 11 percent improvement in such symptoms.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some practitioners of alternative medicine suggest that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can treat dry scalp by improving your overall skin health. Available in dietary supplement form (including cod liver oil and krill oil supplements), omega-3 fatty acids are also found naturally in foods like flaxseeds and in oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and herring.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is touted as a natural remedy for dry scalp associated with dandruff. Proponents suggest that apple cider vinegar can restore the pH balance of the scalp and, in turn, inhibit the overgrowth of Malassezia furfur (a yeast-like fungus thought to contribute to dandruff development).

A typical treatment for dry scalp involves combining a little apple cider vinegar in water. Once poured into a spray bottle and then spritzed onto the hair and scalp, the mixture is left on for 15 minutes to an hour and then rinsed from the hair. Proponents of this approach generally recommend using the mixture about once or twice a week.

What You Should Know Before Using Natural Remedies for a Dry Scalp

While not all dry scalp remedies may benefit your skin, treating dry scalp with natural products is generally considered safe. Try testing out several dry scalp remedies to find the solution that's best for you.

Although in many cases dry scalp is merely a cosmetic issue, it may sometimes result from conditions like psoriasis (a chronic health problem that can lead to severe itching and, in turn, increase your risk of bacterial skin infections brought on by frequent scratching).

If your dry scalp persists or is accompanied by such symptoms as swollen joints, ridged nails, and silvery scales on your skin, make sure to consult a physician rather than self-treating with natural remedies. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • Piccardi N1, Manissier P. "Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: Impact on skin health and beauty." Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Sep;1(5):271-4.
  • Satchell AC1, Saurajen A, Bell C, Barnetson RS. "Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo." J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5.