Learn what ingredients dry out your scalp.

5 Ingredients Drying Out Your Scalp

Does it seem like no matter what you try, your scalp is always itchy, and you can’t seem to get rid of those embarrassing flakes of skin? It’s time to take a look at the ingredients in your hair care products. Here are five ingredients that are drying out your scalp. 


Sulfates are everywhere, and that includes the vast majority (over 90%!) of hair products on the market. For example, they’re the chemicals responsible for creating lather in most shampoos. But they’re also incredibly harsh on your hair and scalp. 

Sulfates strip your hair of its natural oils, and many people find them irritating. But since so many products contain sulfates, if you’re not actively avoiding them, chances are you’ve been switching from one product to another, not realizing they all had the same drying ingredients in common. Try steering clear of ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate. 


Yes, the same substance used to preserve all those lovely specimens from science class can also be found in hair products. And it turns out your scalp doesn’t always feel that great after coming into contact with formaldehyde. (Who could have guessed?!) Formaldehyde can cause scalp irritation in anyone and is particularly problematic if you already have conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Yeah, it’s best to skip this one. 


Parabens are another ubiquitous ingredient that makes an appearance on the majority of hair product labels. That’s because they allow products like liquid shampoos and conditioners to sit on shelves for long periods of time without growing mold or bacteria. But they’re not very friendly to your scalp (or the rest of you!). 

Parabens are easily absorbed by your body and can irritate your scalp. So if you have an itchy, flaky scalp, parabens could be to blame.


Silicone is often added to hair products to give hair an instant sheen. The problem is silicone also builds up on your hair and scalp and is difficult to wash out. And because it repels water, your hair and scalp can’t get the moisture they need. The end result is a dry, itchy scalp and dull hair. Instead, opt for natural oils like jojoba oil, rice bran oil, and shea butter for a natural shine. 


Hair product manufacturers can use the word “fragrance” without disclosing exactly what is used to give the product its scent. As a result, it can be difficult to avoid the exact compound that’s causing your scalp to be dry. If you want to see whether artificial fragrances are the culprit behind your dry scalp, switch to unscented products or products that use naturally-derived fragrances and see if the dryness improves. 

Having a dry scalp can be itchy, irritating, and embarrassing. Eliminating drying ingredients will help your scalp hold on to the moisture it needs. And don’t forget, you should also space out your wash days to avoid drying your scalp out even more.

Need to soothe your dry scalp now? Give your hair some extra TLC with these DIY moisturizing hair masks.
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