Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Dry Scalp and Hair

The Purpose of Sebum for Healthy Scalp and Hair

The right amount of natural oils is important to keep our scalp and hair healthy. The function of the sebaceous glands is to maintain scalp moisture by secreting an oily substance, called sebum. Sebum creates a thin oily film that protects the scalp against external elements and also protects your hair from getting brittle. Once this oily film is damaged, it fails to keep your scalp feeling moisturized and healthy. A dry scalp is susceptible to irritations and flaking.

Once the lipid barrier on the scalp has been stripped, harmful substances from the environment can penetrate through the damaged skin and cause scalp micro-inflammation. This may lead to irritation coupled with redness and itchiness.

The skin responds to irritation attempting to repair itself by producing more and more cells. Dead skin cells accumulate on the scalp and form flakes, which can clog the hair follicles and stop the production of natural oils. This can result in increased dryness of the scalp. Small flakes of dry skin, then fall from the scalp and create an unsightly mess on the shoulders that are particularly obvious on dark clothing.

Girl with dry coarse hair

Why Should you Switch to a Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

Repeatedly washing hair with harsh sulfate-based shampoos can harm the protective oil barrier of the scalp. This can result in an itchy, flaky scalp and dry and dull hair.

Sulfate-free shampoos ensure the retention of a thin oily layer on the scalp. High-quality sulfate-free shampoos contain conditioning ingredients that nourish the scalp and hair.

Despite lacking high foaming capability, sulfate-free shampoos efficiently wash dirt and excess oil from the hair. They do what they need to without harsh synthetic cleansers.

Below is a list of several sulfate-free shampoos formulated to gently wash your scalp and hair.

Shampoos Brands for Dry Scalp and Hair

1. Moisture Control Shampoo by Maple Holistics 

This all-natural hydrating shampoo is designed to help alleviate dry scalp symptoms. This dry scalp shampoo formula uses plant oils to restore the moisture balance of the scalp and to relieve itching and flaking.

Lavender has mild antiseptic and pain-relieving properties. It also calms scalp irritation, reduces inflammation, and inhibits infections. Carrot and Parsley Seed stimulate cell growth to regenerate skin tissues. Jojoba and Argan Oils moisturize and add smoothness and shine to hair. Naturally derived botanical keratin replenishes lost keratin, reduces frizz, and restores damaged hair.

2. V76 by Vaughn Hydrating Shampoo for Men

This mild men’s shampoo is formulated to hydrate the scalp and strengthen dry and damaged hair. It gently cleans the hair, leaving it soft and hydrated.

This vegan shampoo formula is free of sulfates and other harsh chemicals. Almond Butter, Sage Leaf Extract, and Chamomile nourish and soothe a dry scalp.

It has a pleasant Blue Cedar scent.

3. TriDerma Soothing Shampoo for Dry and Scaly Scalp

This shampoo is made with pure natural ingredients including Aloe Vera, vitamins, and soothing botanicals. Botanical essentials help exfoliate the dry, scaly scalp. The formula is gentle and has a nourishing and moisturizing effect on the scalp. It is made without chemicals that can strip away the natural oils from your scalp and hair. This conditioning shampoo has a nice smell and leaves your hair shiny and manageable.

The Common Causes of Dry Scalp

There are several factors that can bring about dry scalp; however, the most basic reason behind it is the lack of natural lubrication. Here are the most common factors that can cause dry scalp conditions:

1. Reduced Sebum Production

The sebaceous glands are small oil-producing glands present in the skin. These microscopic exocrine glands produce an oily substance that lubricates the hair and scalp. Our scalp tends to get dry when Sebaceous glands don’t produce enough natural oil to keep the skin moist.

2. Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, a pure diet, or not drinking enough water may be responsible for the dryness of the scalp. Dehydration in the body can result in the loss of large amounts of moisture from the skin which will result in scalp dryness. A healthy and balanced diet is important for the sebaceous glands to function properly. Insufficient production of sebum may also be a sign of zinc deficiency, vitamin B, or fatty acids.

3. Changes in Temperature or Humidity

During the cold season when the humidity drops, the moisture from the body and the scalp surface is absorbed into the atmosphere. Dry air from indoor heating is another common cause of hair dryness. Prolonged sun exposure is also one of the factors that may affect the health of your scalp and hair.

4. Hard Water

The dry scalp may also be caused by the type of water being used. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium ions that can react with detergents in hair shampoos and lessen their effectiveness. Hard water requires much more shampoo to clean your hair than soft water. This can cause the skin to become dry and may lead to irritation. Mineral elements gradually build up on the scalp and hair and may cause blocked hair follicles and hair thinning.

5. Hair Products

Repeated chemical treatments and excessive use of hair products that contain harsh synthetic ingredients can strip the natural oil from the scalp making it dry and sensitive. If you continually wash your hair with harsh sulfate-containing shampoos this can strip moisture from your hair and scalp. In such a case, using mild moisturizing hair care products can help to restore the protective lipid layer of the hair and scalp.

6. Exposure to Excessive Heat

Washing the hair with hot water or using hot tools on a regular basis can weaken and break down the protective lipid layer, living your scalp and hair overly-dry. You should avoid washing your hair more than necessary and make sure to use the appropriate heat setting when styling your locks.

Girl with dry scalp and hair

Dry Scalp but Oily hair!

It may look like the two conditions negate each other; however, it is quite common to have dry scalp and oily hair.

When the scalp is dry as a result of moisture loss, the sebaceous glands may try to compensate for the dryness by producing more oil. The excess secreted oil can make your hair look greasy, soon after showering. This is especially noticeable if you have fine hair.

Due to itching and irritation that usually follow dry scalp, you may be tempted to constantly touch your hair and scalp unconsciously. This will spread the excess secreted oil throughout the hair, giving it a greasy look.

If you notice that your hair feels greasy, this may be the result of the hair care product buildup. Most hair conditioning products contain silicones that are supposed to smooth the hair and boost shine. However, some types of silicones are not water-soluble and may build up on your hair over time, causing it to look flat, greasy, and weighed down. Using a shampoo with sulfates will remove silicone build-up, but this can dry out your scalp and hair. The cycle is endless…

Jojoba oil can regulate sebum production and can be of great help to people with oily scalp and dry hair. This lightweight oil helps control overactive oil glands while keeping your scalp and hair properly moisturized.

woman with dry hair drinking water
Medical Disclaimer

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