Best Shampoo For Dry Scalp And Color-Treated Hair

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BIOLAGE Scalp Sync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Best Overall
  • Soothes dry itchy scalp with one or two uses
  • Safe on color-treated hair
  • Antibacterial and calming to irritated skin
Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Best Rx-Grade
  • Prescription-strength anti-dandruff shampoo
  • Clinically-proven
  • Powerful but gentle on colored hair
Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo
Best Exfoliator
  • Exfoliates dead skin cells and product buildup
  • All naturally-derived ingredients
  • Safe for colored and chemically treated hair

Most of us don’t pay attention to our scalp unless it’s itchy or irritated. Then it has your full attention!

And if you have color-treated hair, you’ll notice it a lot quicker if you have a dry scalp that’s flaking.

So how do you get rid of flakes, itch, and irritation without screwing up your color? The right shampoo will go a long way towards soothing and calming the skin on your head and keep your color intact.

Best Shampoo For Dry Scalp And Color-Treated Hair

BIOLAGE Scalp Sync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

BIOLAGE Scalp Sync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Controls Dandruff with Pyrithione Zinc and Mint Leaf
  • Pleasant, Non-Medicinal Scent
  • Paraben-Free
  • Cooling Sensation

BIOLAGE is a well-regarded brand in hair and scalp care, and they live up to that reputation with their Scalp Sync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

The company uses natural ingredients in their products to protect and restore your hair’s natural strength. This shampoo is specially formulated for dry, flaking scalps with zinc pyrithione as the active anti-dandruff ingredient.

I like that it has mint leaf in the formula too – which works as an antibacterial agent. It does a great job of calming and soothing irritated skin with a cooling sensation.

It works great on colored hair too – there’s no noticeable change or fade if you’ve recently dyed your locks.

You’ll still want to alternate use with your regular color-safe shampoo to preserve your color, but otherwise BIOLAGE is a superb addition to tame dandruff and an itchy scalp.

  • Made with natural ingredients 
  • Pleasant scent 
  • Noticeable results after one or two applications
  • Doesn't change or fade color
  • Contains sulfates

Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Clinically Proven
  • Made With Ketoconazole 1%
  • Clinically Proven Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Helps Maintain A Healthy Scalp

Nizarol’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is a highly effective shampoo for dry scalp and dandruff.

It’s got ketoconazole 1%, an anti-fungal ingredient that’s prescribed to treat and prevent dandruff. The blue-colored shampoo does wonders where most other dandruff shampoos fall short.

Most people try Nizoral in desperation after they’ve tried pretty much every other anti-dandruff shampoo on the market.

And the vast majority find it to be an absolute game-changer. If the usual zinc pyrithione or tea tree oil dandruff shampoos aren’t doing anything for you, Nizarol might just be your ticket to flake-free hair.

But…is it safe on color-treated hair? By all accounts, dyed hair keeps it’s color, though some experience a bit of fading and drying out of their hair.

The key is to use it only when needed between washes with your regular shampoo.

  • Only need to use a dime-sized amount
  • Contains prescription-grade medication for treating dandruff
  • Pleasant smell
  • Very effective at eliminating dandruff
  • Can make hair feel dry

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo
  • Exfoliating, Sulfate-Free Scrub Shampoo
  • Works on All Hair Types
  • Ingredients Are 95% Naturally-Derived
  • Detoxifies and Removes Impurities

Besides soothing and calming down irritated skin, it’s important to exfoliate your scalp if it’s dry and flaking.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo uses natural ingredients – including coconut and tea tree oil – to exfoliate dead skin and remove excessive product build up from the scalp.

Itching, irritated scalps benefit from the tea tree oil, which helps cool down the surface and reduces inflammation. It gives your skin a cool tingling sensation while you scrub. 

The shampoo itself is a grayish paste that removes excess skin flakes and soothes irritated, itchy skin. You can use this once a week during drier seasons, or more frequently if you are more prone to a dry scalp. 

It even works well on normal to oily scalps too – if you use dry shampoo between washes, you know how it can buildup on your skin and cause irritation if you don’t wash it out often enough.

Safe for color-treated hair, it also smells great with a minty fresh scent. On the downside, it’s packaged in a jar that you have to scoop it out of.

  • Vegan, cruelty- and gluten-free
  • Good for all hair types
  • 95% natural-derived ingredients
  • Exfoliates and renews scalp
  • Comes in a jar - have to scoop out with your fingers
  • Expensive

First Aid Beauty Anti-Dandruff Shampoo With 1% Pyrithione Zinc

First Aid Beauty FAB Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Reduces Flakes and Appearance of Dandruff
  • Sulfate-, Paraben-, and Alcohol-Free
  • Safe for Sensitive Skin and Colored Hair
  • Formulated with Vitamin E and Calendula

Completely free from any possibly damaging ingredients, First Aid Beauty has a great shampoo for colored hair that helps with dry scalp. It is much less likely to cause fading and dull colors after washing.

It can help with an itchy scalp as well as flaking. 

  • Great for natural or colored hair
  • Enriched with vitamin E to promote healthy hair growth
  • Eliminates flakes
  • Safe on sensitive skin
  • Hard to dispense product out of rigid bottle

Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, 8.5 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • Safe For Color-Treated Hair
  • Dermatologist-Tested
  • Contains Salicylic Acid To Reduce Flakes
  • Relieves Dryness And Reduces Redness

This is a great high-end shampoo which is great for dry scalp and colored hair. It has a sumptuous look and feel to it, and has a delicious scent.

This shampoo contains salicylic acid, which is great for exfoliating the scalp and removing flakes. 

The sugar maple and bilberry extracts help create a luxurious feel for this shampoo, as it coats every strand of hair in antioxidants as well as hydrates and soothes the scalp. 

  • Sulfate-, gluten- and paraben-free
  • Great for damaged scalps
  • Luxurious, high-end feel
  • May not be as effective on severe cases of dry, itchy scalp

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo
  • Scalp and Dandruff Treatment Shampoo
  • Contains Rosemary Oil, Menthol, and Salicylic Acid
  • Created With Exclusive Algae-Based Extracts 
  • Manufactured In Sweden

If you are looking for a deep exfoliating treatment that will eliminate flakes and restore your scalp’s oil balance, Sachajuan scalp shampoo is an ideal choice.

It is also kind to the hair because it contains ginger, extract, rosemary oil, and menthol which are great for naturally cleaning the hair without stripping it of any color or oils. 

This shampoo can also be purchased unscented for those who want a more natural feel to their haircare. 

  • Safe on color-treated or highlighted hair
  • Effective at moisturizing and calming dry, irritated scalps
  • Eliminates dandruff with continued use
  • Pricey for a small bottle

Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo Supreme Color Protect

Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner, Supreme Color Protect with Argan Oil and Manuka Honey, 11.8 Oz, 9.4 Oz
  • Safe for Color-Treated Hair
  • Infused With Manuka Honey + Argan Oil
  • Paraben-, Ethanol-, and Phthalate-Free
  • Deeply Moisturizing for Dry Scalps

If any brand is known for dandruff shampoo, it’s Head & Shoulders. So of course they have an anti-dandruff shampoo made specifically for color-treated hair.

Like their standard dandruff shampoos, the Supreme Color Protect shampoo helps relieve a flaky scalp and calm itchy sensations, with special care towards dyed hair.

Locking in moisture and helping to cleanse scalp at the same time makes this an ideal shampoo for dry scalp and colored hair. 

  • Very moisturizing for dry scalp
  • Pleasant scent
  • More economical than luxury brands
  • Safe on semi-permanent color too
  • Contains sulfates

Dry Scalp Causes

Dry scalp is generally caused by low levels of sebum production, which leads to dryness and flaking. Sebum – your skin’s natural oil – is produced by glands located at the base of each hair follicle.

If these glands don’t produce enough oil, the hair shaft becomes rough and brittle, leading to dryness.

While some shampoos claim to treat dry scalp, they often contain harsh chemicals that can strip your hair of its natural oils. In turn, this can cause damage to the hair and dry out the scalp even further. 


Did you know that our scalp is sensitive to the weather and certain changes in temperature? It can actually become dehydrated pretty easily when it is a little colder and dryer.

Your scalp is particularly sensitive to temperature changes, and it is more likely that you will experience an itchy scalp that is flaking or dry during the winter months. 

Just like the skin can dry out when the weather is dry and cold, your scalp can do the same. However, it is much easier to apply lotion and moisturizer to the body and face than it is to the scalp.

That is why the shampoo used is even more crucial when dealing with a dry scalp. 


Another contributing factor that can result in a dry scalp is specific medications.

Dry scalp is a common side effect of many medications and treatments, which many people are unaware of.

As a general rule, any medication containing ingredients that can dry the skin are likely to cause dry scalp. 

These include antihistamines, statins, and diuretic pills which can lead to increased water loss in the body.

Harmful Hair Products

Ironically, some hair products which have been advertised for improving the health of your hair can actually make your scalp drier.

This is less likely to help preserve the quality of your hair in the long run, because the follicles can become blocked or obstructed. 

Some ingredients that can lead to a dry scalp, which are commonly used in hair care products, include parabens, selenium sulfide, phthalates, and triclosan.

Shampoos which claim to help tackle and prevent dandruff should not contain any of those ingredients, as they can contribute to a dry scalp. 

Additionally, some hair products actually strip the hair from its natural oils. With regular use, this makes it more likely that the hair will become damaged. It is more likely to break when you are not using hydrating hair products. 

It is also important to avoid harsh chemicals that can fade certain colors in order to keep your hair vibrant and make the color last longer. 


Another thing that can lead to a dry scalp is overwashing the hair. This is because the scalp cannot naturally produce the oils which protect the hair and promote a healthy shine. 

While shampoo has been designed to remove excessive amounts of oil, dead skin cells, and dirt, washing the hair too frequently doesn’t allow the hair or scalp to be strengthened by the natural oils produced.

In turn, this can lead to a dry scalp as well as brittle hair that is more vulnerable to damage. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Wash My Hair In A Week?

It really depends on what type of lifestyle you lead, and how thick or thin your hair is. It is generally recommended that you aim to wash your hair two to three times during a regular week.

Washing your hair more frequently can remove some of the natural oils which create a healthy shine and protect each strand. 

For those that have very tight curls of hair which form coils, it is recommended that you co-wash or shampoo every few days or even once a week. Deep cleaning which exfoliates the scalp should be done once a month. 

Are There Other Things That Can Help With A Dry Scalp?

Yes! There are a surprising number of scalp treatments that will prevent your scalp from drying out, hydrate, and protect the hair follicles.

Of course, you can choose to integrate a hydrating shampoo into your hair care routine, but other methods include adding small amounts of coconut oil to the scalp, exfoliating scalp masks, essential oils, and serums. 

It is all about trial and error when it comes to changing your hair cleansing routine. Make sure you have found something that works for you and that you can fit into your routine. 

Can I Make My Own Anti-Dandruff Shampoo?

If you are enjoying a particular brand of shampoo that protects the color in your hair, but you want to make it better for dandruff, then you can add aspirin. Crumble some aspirin tablets up until they are finely ground, and add them to your shampoo bottle. 

Alternatively, you could mix some of your shampoo into a small container with the crumbled aspirin. This would give your scalp a more focused exfoliation, which can help eliminate flakes and reduce inflammation on the scalp. 


The scalp can be a relatively sensitive area of the body, and it is often overlooked when it comes to both skincare and haircare.

Because it is a combination of both, there is a little gray area that exists when it comes to protecting and exfoliating the scalp on a regular basis. 

Make sure you are taking a closer look at your scalp and seeing how the changing weather can impact it. If you suffer from excessive flakiness or red inflammation, then it could be worth speaking to your doctor. 

Similarly, it is important to contact your doctor if you have existing skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

This can impact the health of your scalp and make you more vulnerable to irritation caused by certain shampoo ingredients. 

Emma Lee
As long as she can remember, Emma has been obsessed with beautiful hair. Her favorite look is pin-straight, sleek glass hair. She's had multiple styles from short and permed to long and natural throughout her life, and knows full well that how your hair looks can make or break your day.

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