Those "dandruff flakes" you've been worrying over might not be dandruff at all but a common condition known as dry scalp. Sometimes, it can also be accompanied by oily hair which is an indicator that the natural balance of the scalp needs stabilizing. As frustrating as it can be to try and fix these two hair problems at the same time, finding the right balance of moisture is actually simpler than you may think.

Here's what may be behind your dry scalp and oily hair, along with a holistic approach for bringing balance back to your scalp and hair STAT.

First, Is Your Scalp Dry?

For any scalp condition, consult a doctor or licensed dermatologist for diagnosis. Your doctor may choose to treat dandruff with medicated dandruff shampoo or salicylic acid treatments to rid the scalp of the yeasts that cause dandruff. Another medical condition, seborrheic dermatitis, can cause itching of the scalp. Other causes of itchy scalp conditions could be parasitic infections such as head lice or fungal infections like ringworm which is treated by ointments with antifungal properties. If left untreated, extreme itching can damage follicles and even contribute to hair loss.

So, before you run to the drugstore to get something for treating dandruff, consider this: your itching scalp may not be dandruff. Furthermore, most dandruff shampoos contain chemicals and sulfates that could worsen your dry scalp condition by stripping your hair of oils, which in turn can cause excessive sebum production and an oily scalp, creating a cycle of imbalance for your scalp and your hair.

Shop: Best Selling Scalp & Dandruff Products

Symptoms of Dry Scalp

When the scalp does not have enough moisture it can become dry, flaky, and itchy. You can treat a dry scalp skin condition or a flaky scalp by cleansing the hair regularly with the right shampoo and by using a light moisturizer and regular scalp detox treatments.

Itchy scalp is the primary symptom of dry scalp but other symptoms include:

  • Tight or dry feeling of the scalp
  • Light but visible flakes – these are dead skin cells shedding due to increased dryness on the scalp
  • Mild scalp irritation

Dry scalp is caused by the normal sebum produced by the scalp's sebaceous glands being washed away too fully and frequently by using shampoos that are too harsh, too alkaline, stripping or drying. Like dry skin, your dry scalp can be soothed with the right care, and this begins by using the right hair care products.

Symptoms of Oily Hair

Oily hair has a greasy, shiny, and oily feel to it and may appear limp or dull and lifeless. Excessive oil from the scalp or heavy oils from hair products could cause this condition, but also genetics play a role. Oily hair requires delicate cleansing to correct the oily overload without drying the scalp.

A healthy follicular environment produces the right amount of sebum to lubricate the scalp and hair – but some hair care products can throw off this natural balance. In short, if you have dry scalp and greasy hair, then what you are currently doing to your hair is not working and it's time for a change.

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Balancing a Dry Scalp and Oily Hair

VEGAMOUR spoke with Dr. Cheryl Rosen with BowTiedLife. Rosen is a board-certified dermatologist with over 15 years of experience practicing cosmetic dermatology. We asked how she advises her clients with dry scalp and oily hair and she shared her expertise based on her own clinical research.

Rosen said that dry scalp is often the result of "using products that are too harsh and strip the scalp of its natural oils, or it could be caused by an underlying condition such as psoriasis or eczema." She also advised that for oily hair, specifically, to "avoid using heavy products that will weigh down your hair and make it look even greasier."

VEGAMOUR agrees that using the right hair products will not only take excellent care of the hair and scalp, but will also help maintain the perfect moisture balance for healthy scalp and beautiful, healthy hair. Finding a balance of sebum production can help to resolve the itching and light flaking of a dry scalp without exacerbating the oily hair problem. The key word here is: balance.

Your dry scalp and oily hair solutions are multifaceted: You'll want to see a dermatologist to rule out medical conditions, replace your current hair products, and begin shampooing your hair on a regular schedule to help encourage a natural balance of sebum produced on the scalp. You can also do a weekly rinse with cool water and white vinegar to clarify the hair strands if the oily issue is overwhelming the hair. You can discontinue the vinegar rinses once the hair and scalp are more balanced.

Switch Out Your Shampoo

Replace your old shampoo with a vegan clean beauty option such as our GRO Revitalizing Shampoo, which is safe to use every day if needed. This shampoo is sulfate free (so it won't strip your scalp of precious moisture) and is formulated with vegan Karmatin™ protein rather than animal-based keratin proteins. It also has wild harvested marula, baobab and ximenia oils which help to nourish and moisturize the scalp without leaving behind pore-blocking residue.

Some environmental factors can also kick your sebum into overdrive – like hitting the gym more often and sweating a lot, or dry air that's pulling moisture from your hair and scalp. For these times, you need a second cleansing option on hand: GRO Dry Shampoo, which can be used to cleanse the hair without adding water to the scalp. This lightweight talc-free formula absorbs the excess oil in your hair without over drying it. 

Use the Right Moisturizing Conditioner

Use a light-moisture conditioner that partners well with your shampoo, such as GRO Revitalizing Conditioner. This lightweight conditioner nourishes the hair strands with the same moisturizers you love from GRO Revitalizing shampoo: wild harvested marula oil, organic murumuru butter and ximenia oil to balance moisture throughout the strands without leaving an oily or greasy residue.

For a complete hair and scalp routine in one, try the GRO Foundation Kit, which features GRO Revitalizing Shampoo & Conditioner plus GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum!

Detox the Scalp Weekly

To help balance your follicular ecosystem, the GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum gently removes persistent buildup while locking in moisture to help prevent dry scalp and protecting the scalp from pollutants. Not only that, but this scalp treatment the Epilobium Angustifolium (Willowherb) extract safely reduces the appearance of adherent and non-adherent flakes.

When In Doubt, Balance It Out

If you're experiencing both a dry scalp and oily hair at the same time, your scalp's ecosystem is off balance. A dry, flaky scalp could be caused by factors like dry conditions in your environment or over washing your hair, but a flaky itchy scalp could also be a sign of dandruff or another scalp condition. Be sure to see a dermatologist or trichologist who can accurately diagnose what's going on, and treat your scalp with some TLC be incorporating gentle all-natural products into your routine.

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Photo credit: Guillaume Bolduc/Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.