Tips For Combating A Dry And Flaky Scalp

Dry scalp. Flaky scalp. Those are both issues I've battled with off and on over the years.

Now that I've been on my hair journey, I've noticed that it tends to pop up when the seasons change or I don't drink a good amount of water each day. I've also noticed that I tend to have flakes around my front hairline more which I think could be resulting from the products I wash and moisturize my face each day.

With these possible causes for my dry flaky scalp in mind, I decided to do some digging online to find the causes and treatments for a dry flaky scalp. Armed with this information I want to share my findings. Here we go.

Tips to manage a dry and flaky scalp | A Relaxed Gal
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Some of the top common causes for a flaky scalp that I found are
  1. Dandruff
  2. Product build-up
  3. Chemicals and heating tools 
  4. Skin conditions

Cause 1: Dandruff

There are two common causes of dandruff. The first is an oily scalp. Oil glands can create an excess of oil making the scalp tender, red and inflamed. The second cause is a fungus that can grow under the scalp causing itching and scaling. Dandruff flakes tend to be larger and whiter than flakes from a dry scalp.


Apple Cider Vinegar rinse: Apple cider vinegar contains natural acids that help fight some of the causes of dandruff - bacteria, viruses, and yeast. To prep, mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water or honey. Apply the mix to the scalp and let it sit for 30+ minutes. When rinsing use lukewarm to cool water.

Honey mask: Honey has moisturizing and antibacterial properties making it a good treatment for dandruff. Apply the honey directly to the scalp and leave it for at least 30 minutes before rinsing with cool to warm water.

A dry and flaky scalp can be annoying and can be seen quite often if you have relaxed hair. See how you can treat the common causes of a dry and flaky scalp at

Cause 2: Product build-up

Constantly layering on too many hair care products and not properly cleansing can clog or choke off hair follicles. This results in product buildup which dries out your scalp and causes flakes that are a mix of dead skin cells and the conditioners, oils, etc. used.

Additionally, product build-up can be caused by improper rinsing of shampoo and conditioner. The leftover products can form a flaky residue on the scalp and cause irritation.


Clarifying: Using a clarifying shampoo once in a while helps to remove product buildup and give your scalp a fresh start.

Apple Cider Vinegar rinse: Apple cider vinegar contains natural acids that help to clean residue buildup on the scalp that can cause irritation. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water or honey.

If desired, add some essential oils like tea tree or lavender to it. Spray or apply the mix to the scalp and let it sit for 30+ minutes. When rinsing it's best to use lukewarm to cool water as hot water can irritate the scalp and undo the good done with the apple cider vinegar mix.

Cause 3: Chemicals and heating tools

Yes, hair colors, relaxers, blow dryers, and curling irons can cause scalp issues. Excessive heat from a blow dryer can irritate and dry out the scalp. As well as repeated use of chemical treatments with no replenishment of moisture to the scalp.


Reduce the use of chemicals and heating tools: The simplest treatment for this cause is to just reduce or stop the use of things that will dry out your scalp or cause irritation.

Take in more liquids: A moisturized scalp is a healthy scalp. By drinking more water you're helping to add moisture back to your scalp that may have been removed by heating tools and chemicals.

If your body is not getting enough liquids one place it's really noticeable on the skin. The best way to determine if you have a low liquid intake is to see if there are dry skin patches in places other than your scalp.

Cleansing: Regularly cleansing the scalp with moisturizing shampoos or co-washing helps to keep your scalp clean without drying it out. Also using cool or lukewarm water instead of hot water helps to not strip moisture from the scalp.

Cause 4: Skin conditions

This can be anything from seborrheic dermatitis to eczema. These conditions can cause redness, itching, and flaking of skin including the scalp.


See a dermatologist: Seeing a medically licensed skin specialist is the best way to combat these issues. The specialist will be able to properly diagnose the condition and provide the appropriate treatment. Treatment options could include prescription-strength shampoos, creams, or other medication.

My action plan

After doing research I think I'm just suffering from plain and simple dry scalp from not drinking enough liquids and using hot water when washing my hair. To combat this I'm going to
  • Alternate between moisturizing shampoos and co-washing
  • Drink more water each day
  • Use cooler water when washing my hair
  • Continue spraying down my scalp with an apple cider vinegar mix
  • Incorporating Jamaican Black Castor Oil into my regimen for scalp massages

How do you combat a dry, flaky scalp?


1 comment

  1. Ah, I think you hit on a point that I can really relate on...not rinsing product completely out my hair. I notice this time to time after completing a co-wash and I just simply take a wet towel to wipe excess conditioner from my hairline. This may be a culprit to my itchy scalp around my edges. Thanks for pointing this out! I will be more mindful to gently massage hairline as I rinse that area to ensure product has been fully removed. I am definitely #teamhotwater. It is too easy in the winter time to enjoy a little extra heat. I do try to tolerate a cool rinse at the very end of my wash.


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