If You’re Flakey And You Know It, Try This Stuff

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo
Kiehl’s Scalp Purifying Pyrithione Zinc Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Aesop Calming Shampoo
Lush Superbalm Scalp Treatment
Phyto Paris Phytopolléine Botanical Treatment
Restørsea Revitalizing Scalp Treatment
Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask

I have a flakey scalp. I’ve had it for ages. It sucks, but hey, whatchya gonna do? “Hey Emily, get yourself some Head & Shoulders and move on with your life!" Sure, there's the Head & Shoulders route—tried, tested, true, and kind of unattractive all at the same time. Does anyone feel good about using that stuff? Or T-Gel for that matter? Both are soulless enough to make me not want to get rid of what is a pretty pervasive problem, especially for someone who wears as much black as I do.

And so brings us to a list of products eagerly awaiting to restore your vanity in several regards—rid yourself of white flakes hanging in your hair or on your shoulders and make your shower ledge look a little fancier with products you actually want to use. It’s a win-win.

The Shampoos: Two things of note in this category: Brands I already use and trust on my hair tended to work better on my scalp than the more medical options, and skip the coordinating conditioners—let the shampoo take care of your scalp and use whatever conditioner actually keeps your hair manageable. Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo deserves an expediency award of some sort. In less then a day, there were results. Honorable mentions go to Kiehl’s Scalp Purifying Pyrithione Zinc Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Aesop Calming Shampoo—both are easy to work into a really satisfying lather (a feature that’s oft overlooked in the world of medicated shampoos). Also they’ll leave you with really satisfied head skin.

The Spot Treatment: Specifically formulated for people with psoriasis or stubborn scalp spots that refuse to get better, Lush Superbalm Scalp Treatment is not messing around. It’s a light green paste chock full of goodness: coconut oil, salicylic acid, rose wax, lavender… Use sparingly, trust.

The Oil: Drop some Phyto Paris Phytopolléine Botanical Treatment on 20 minutes before you shower not so much for your scalp, but for your hair. All this itching and sudsing can wreak havoc on your hair follicle, so best to not forget about it in this journey we call “Getting Rid Of Dandruff.”

The Spray: Potentially a very good desk accessory for someone who works in a free-wheeling office that wouldn’t bat an eyelash if you started spraying your head and neck from a bottle with an atomizer, the Restørsea Revitalizing Scalp Treatment alleviates tightness and discomfort associated with scalp grime, rashes, or other maladies on contact.

The Exfoliator: Stick with predominantly chemical exfoliants for this job—anything with beads or too much sandy stuff is bound to get stuck in your hair or fall into your eyes. Leave Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask on for 20 minutes and it turns into Pac-Man for your head (which is probably the least gross metaphor I can think of for something that eats away scalp buildup).

—Emily Ferber

Photos by Tom Newton.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    I have been looking for a scalp exfoliator for ages. I'm going to have to give that Philip Kingsley one a try. I have a Vatika coconut and olive oil thing (that's really the only way I can explain it - and smells delicious!) that is really good at hydrating the scalp. Massage it onto the scalp and leave on for several minutes.

  • http://vanitypresse.com/ Amanda Raponi

    My husband has really dry, flaky scalp and I got him this one from Kerastase, seems to be working really well for him. It has granules that exfoliate. http://www.kerastase.ca/en/collection/sp%C3%A9cifique/BAIN-EXFOLIANT-HYDRATANT.html

  • Liz

    I swear by the Phyto scalp serum!

    Other shampoos to try: Fekkai Apple Cider shampoo has Salicylic Acid, which also exfoliates the scalp. Aveda Scalp Balancing shampoo is very calming.

  • celisabeth

    A pretty un-glamorous drugstore find on my part, but I've fallen in love with Clear Scalp & Hair shampoo...coming from another fellow dandruff-plagued scalp, this works.

  • Haiku Jew

    I'm hooked on coffee
    and grounds are good for the scalp
    Starbucks in bathroom!

  • kifferthegreat

    Any sulfate-free dandruff shampoos for the curly girls out there?

  • http://www.intothegloss.com ITGFerber

    Do it! Or ask a derm. Good derms can be very helpful in regards to scalp things.

  • http://www.intothegloss.com ITGFerber

    I have naturally curly hair and since I used these products MAX once a week, I ignored the whole sulfate issue...BUT! I've heard super good things about Regenepure DR, which is effective for both hair loss and dandruff (http://www.regenepure.com/regenepure-dr-doctor-recommended.html/). If you try it, drop me a line!

    • kifferthegreat

      Oh that is a good point! And I will definitely check it out. Thank you very much!

  • http://ragsrougeandrockyroad.blogspot.com.au/ Gemma McFarlane

    Ooooh also just a note, i find the problem is seriously exacerbated when i straighten my hair, if i leave it curly i don't have anywhere near as much itchiness and flakiness.

    • http://www.intothegloss.com ITGFerber

      I can't say that I've had the opposite problem, but now that I wear my hair straighter (and therefore down instead of tied in a bun) I'm definitely more cautious—flakes become more noticeable when not covered by layers and layers of curls.

      I also think that putting my hair up when wet probably wasn't helping matters...and I did that. A lot! Don't do it!

      • http://ragsrougeandrockyroad.blogspot.com.au/ Gemma McFarlane

        Yup my flakes sure show more when my hair is straight. Yup putting your hair up wet ive heard is pretty bad cz a kinda mould can grow on your scalp. Looking forward to trying these products though to see if i get any improvement!

  • http://al-write.blogspot.com Alice

    If you're flaky and you know it clap your hands.
    If you're flaky and you know it clap your hands.
    If you're flaky and you know it then you hair will really show it,
    If you're flaky and you know it clap your hands.
    Half sung, half cried as yet another shampoo proves no match for my impossibly chlorine-wrecked scalp. Please do excuse me as I push/shove/run (not walk) my way towards any shampoo that will help. Since these shampoos are touted as helping with flakiness, any comment as to whether or not they're also helpful with buildup? I've tried clarifying shampoo to help with chlorine buildup in my hair but I feel like it just makes my scalp way flakier and itchier.

    • http://www.intothegloss.com ITGFerber

      In this case, I'd try baking soda. Coupla reasons:
      1. It's cheap. And if nothing has worked thus far, don't overspend searching for a miracle product.
      2. I've been hearing baking soda come up more and more in the clarifying shampoo/scalp exfoliator chat, and a lot of people think it seems to work. Have not tried myself, though (but for no other reason than I don't wash my hair than much and have yet to buy myself a box of the stuff).

      • http://al-write.blogspot.com Alice

        Thanks for the suggestion! I'll have pick up some baking soda next time I'm at the grocery store.

  • rebecciiy .

    Kérastase Sensidote Dermo-Calm Bain Riche Shampoo is the one and only thing I've found that helps. Flakes were gone after one or two uses. And it isn't heavily scented. :)

  • Emily

    Hi! Are any of these recommendations safe for color-treated hair? I color every 8 weeks or so and I'm nervous about what dandruff shampoo may do the shade/tone/texture etc. Thanks!

    • http://www.intothegloss.com ITGFerber

      Valid concerns, Emily (hey great name btw). If you're not averse to sulfates, Biolage Scalpthérapie Antidandruff Shampoo is safe for color treated hair. Otherwise, I'd direct you back to Regenepure DR, totally sulfate free, gentle, and good for a number of issues your scalp could be suffering.

  • Danielle

    I have product build up and some dandruff because I only wash my hair 1x a week or longer when I am lazy. I bought head and shoulders last week after months and months of trying other shampoos that promised a clear scalp (I even went the ACV route and it didn't help). I was going to hide it from my fiancé and forgot.. when I noticed I left it out I was mortified. Then I realized he will love me regardless of the stigma H&S has. Unfortunatly it still left my hair dry and still had buildup. I might have to try Philip Kingsley.

  • Court

    I'm with others who've already said it: ACV works. My boyfriend has had chronic flaky scalp all his life. It is so so bad and so so itchy, I really feel for him, and nothing ever seemed to work until I recommended he try diluted ACV. It calms it down immensely, cleans the scalp, and the smell isn't strong unless I stick my nose in his hair—still, I use ACV in salads so the smell is pleasant to me. He has really thick wavy hair, and although he really shouldn't wash it more than 1x/week, the scalp will get bad if he waits that long, so at the very least he rinses with ACV 2x/week. I may recommend that he try to baking soda as shampoo, too. I use a regular all-natural shampoo and tons of dry shampoo (for my baby fine locks), and an ACV rinse helps to clarify and remove all residuals from the scalp.

  • Becky

    My scalp has been a mess pretty much all my life, and no shampo (or no-poo, for that matter) has seemed to change that. I have dandruff, but my scalp is also sensitive to a wide array of products (things containing alchol especially, like most dry shampoos and hairsprays, but also a lot of surfectants, sls and others. and baking soda. omg baking soda is the worst on me). I've tried oils, using conditioner on my scalp, scalp gels and creams, dandruff shampoo of all kinds - and nothing works. It's extremely frustrating, because I'm also in a situation where I can't afford spending money on something like Kerastase or Phil Kingsley..... :(( might just go full circle and retreat to H&S next time my bottle runs out. Phew. sorry, rant over.

  • Patricia

    Often a flaky scalp is caused by seborrheic dermatitis, a fungus. To differentiate it from psoriasis, or just standard "dandruff", dermatologists will ask if your scalp is itchier just after washing (likely psoriasis) or a few days after washing (dermatitis). If your flakes are yellowish and oily, you probably have dermatitis. Also, sufferers of dermatitis often get flaky skin on their cheeks and nasolabial folds. Treating it with medicated products is recommended. It tends to flare up with changing seasons and with stress.
    As a longtime sufferer, I urge anybody with similar symptoms to go to the dermatologist because it can be really horrible and I've found some relief by treating it properly.

  • lick

    What are you diluting the baking soda in? Plain ol water?

  • http://www.intothegloss.com ITGFerber

    let me know how it goes!!

  • Mire

    Thanks so much -- I've recently been very stressed and it's caused my psoriasis to flare up really bad, especially in the form of dandruff. Heads & Shoulders has never worked that well for me so I'll be making sure I get Lush and Kiehl's products at least, I don't know if the other ones are sold in Scotland.

    • LNA

      You can buy the Sachajuan shampoo in Net a Porter. Did the Kiehl's work for you?

  • chantal r.

    Now if I only could find the answer to eliminating a stinky scalp...

  • leahneumann

    Best I have ever used is the Karmin :D

  • constanceelston

    I personally think the Karmin 4 Step System is the best ♥