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Dry scalp or dandruff? How to spot the difference

Dry scalp and dandruff have similar symptoms. Here are a few tips on how to tell one from the other.

The signs of a dry scalp

Whatever is causing dryness, the symptoms are almost always the same. These include:

  • a tight feeling on the scalp

  • itching

  • flakes

  • redness

Some people experience all these symptoms, while others will see just one or two of them.

Your skin keeps moisture locked in, but it becomes “leaky” when damaged

The skin on your scalp is actually an intricately arranged network of cells, packed like a brick wall. It’s your natural moisture defence and it keeps water locked in and the skin looking healthy.

The skin on your scalp is actually an intricately arranged network of cells, packed like a brick wall. It’s your natural moisture defence and it keeps water locked in and the skin looking healthy. As soon as that arrangement is disrupted, the brick-like structure starts to break down. The barrier becomes “leaky,” allowing essential moisture to escape and causing the dry, tight feeling you’ll recognize if you suffer from dandruff.

Dandruff chips away at your moisture defenses

While flakes get a lot of attention when it comes to dandruff, what you often can’t see is the damage happening on the surface of the scalp.

When you have dandruff, your skin cells replicate faster than usual, disrupting the protective cell walls. To make matters worse, satisfying the itch that accompanies dandruff with a good scratch can further damage the barrier.

All this undermines the brick-like structure and allows essential moisture to escape, drying out the skin.

Dry scalp is commonly caused by dandruff

A dry scalp is a symptom of dandruff. Dandruff damages the skin on the surface of the scalp, causing dryness and irritation.

If the root cause behind your dry scalp is this common condition, you should seek out the right shampoo to treat it.

The right shampoo needs to:

  • moisturise the scalp to relieve dryness

  • treat the root cause– dandruff

How to treat dry scalp caused by dandruff

Our Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil Shampoo with 3 moisturizers provides instant moisture to the hair and scalp, while protecting you from dandruff.

The formula delivers a deep hydration you can feel, starting from the first wash. It effectively relieves scalp dryness* and its symptoms, including itchiness* and redness.

Also try our Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil Shampoo. It’s specially designed for people with dry scalp and is ideal for restoring natural moisture and locking it in.

With regular use, your scalp can stay hydrated and visibly flake free.

To see if your dry scalp is caused by dandruff, we recommend using Head & Shoulders exclusively at least 3 times a week for 3weeks. Should the symptoms persist, consult your dermatologist.

There’s no need for lotions and moisturizers

When your skin is dry, you normally reach for the lotions and moisturizers to treat it.

When it comes to your scalp, that won’t work – especially if it's caused by dandruff.

First, these treatments can weigh the hair down and it can be hard to get them right where they’re needed – on the skin.

Second, they don’t treat dandruff, so the root cause of your dry scalp won’t be affected and it’s likely to come back.

The best treatment is a dandruff shampoo like our Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil Shampoo – it contains three moisturizers to hydrate your scalp fast, while effectively tackling dandruff.

And with your dandruff under control, your body will have time to repair the damage to your skin’s natural moisture defences.

Moisturize your scalp and tackle the root cause

If your hands were dry, you’d reach for hand lotion. If the skin on your face were dry, you’d apply a moisturizer. And it’s no different for your scalp.

Choose a shampoo that provides extra moisturization like our Dry Scalp Care shampoo with almond oil.

Adding ordinary moisturizing shampoo usually isn’t enough to care for a dry scalp. Unless you tackle the root cause, your dry scalp will likely keep coming back.

That’s where an anti-dandruff shampoo comes in. Use it regularly and you’ll help keep dandruff away for a strong, healthy moisture barrier, so your body can get back the moisture that it needs. In fact, Head & Shoulders shampoo has been shown to lock in up to 75 percent more moisture than ordinary moisturizing shampoo.**

Still got dry scalp?

If you’ve tried our dry scalp shampoo and used it exclusively for 2-3 weeks, your dryness worries should be forgotten.

But if they’re not, it could be that your dry scalp is caused by something other than dandruff.

If that’s the case, it’s best to contact your dermatologist to see if they can identify the cause and prescribe the right treatment.

* caused by dandruff

** relative to the baseline, with regular use vs. the leading competitive brand’s base variant

'Dry scalp or dandruff?' infographic comparing two scalp issues.

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