Do you have a sensitive scalp caused by dandruff, acne, allergies, psoriasis, and/or frequent styling? Do you have naturally sensitive skin that may or may not have been worsened by sunburn, stress, lice, hair loss, and/or infections like folliculitis? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider switching from your current shampoo to the best shampoo for sensitive scalp! With proper and regular use, you will find considerable relief, even complete resolution, from the symptoms of a sensitive scalp including itchiness, tenderness, and pain, perhaps even numbness, throbbing, and/or tingling. You can say hello to a healthier scalp and a better quality of life.
Tips For Choosing the Best Shampoo for Sensitive Scalp
First of all, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of your sensitive scalp before deciding on a specific shampoo for sensitive scalp. Some shampoos treat dry scalp and dandruff while some treat greasy or oily scalp; their formulations and effects will obviously be different. Regardless of which scalp sensitive shampoo chosen, remember that it should be gentle on the scalp and hair.
In this regard, it’s also important to carefully look at the product label to determine if there are ingredients that must be avoided by people with sensitive scalp (and maybe consider the best shampoo for hair loss):
- Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulphate, selenium sulfide, and ammonium laureth sulfate, are used to create more foam. But these ingredients can also increase the risk of scalp irritation and damage.
- Sulfur, a common ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos, can irritate the scalp resulting in more discomfort. This isn’t to say that it should be entirely avoided but it’s best to look for a non-sulfur shampoo in case of severe sensitive scalp.
- Parabens, such as ethylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben, are used as preservatives in bath and body products. Studies in recent years have linked them to increased exposure to estrogen and cancer.
- Artificial fragrances are added to make the shampoo and, thus, the hair smelling great after a bath. But many of the substances used have been linked to reduced sperm count and interrupted hormone activity.
On the other hand, there are plenty of ingredients that you should look for in a shampoo for sensitive scalp.
- Essential oils like rosemary, lavender, and yarrow are great for soothing the inflammation or irritations in the scalp. These are usually diluted when used in shampoos so there’s no risk of allergic reactions.
- Oils derived from nuts and seeds, such as tea tree oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil, can remove oily build-up on the scalp and hair, add moisture to them, and aid in the relief from the symptoms of dandruff.
Experts also suggest looking for organic shampoos since these are largely made from naturally-derived ingredients, such as honey, essential oils, and herbs. These shampoos are then gentler on your scalp and hair so there’s lesser risk of further inflammation. The best folliculitis shampoo has a gentle formulation for this reason, too.
If you also have problems with dry hair and split ends, we recommend reading our best shampoo for split ends reviews.
Even shampoos for sensitive scalp should create a relatively rich lather without the sulfates and other foam agents. Read reviews if you want to determine whether a certain brand of shampoo has a satisfactory lather yet still leaves the scalp and hair feeling light, clean and refreshed after a thorough rinsing.
These gentle-on-the-scalp shampoos should also have either a neutral smell or a pleasant smell after rinsing. Stay away from shampoos with strong after-smells since these are likely to contain artificial fragrances that worsen scalp irritation.
Don’t be taken in by words on labels that tout the shampoo as “for sensitive scalp” and the like since these can be misleading. Again, read the list of ingredients and decide whether the shampoo is suitable for your scalp condition or not.
Even after you have initially decided on a shampoo, you have to observe your own reactions to it for a few days, perhaps a week. If your scalp becomes better, then you have made a good decision. If it gets worse, then stop using it lest you end up with more scalp issues than before.
Our Picks For The Best Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
We chose these eight shampoos for sensitive scalp and skin based on their ingredients, as discussed above, as well as on their rich lather, clarifying properties, and pleasant smell, among other properties.
The Max Green Alchemy shampoo is a shampoo without sulfates, parabens, and petrochemicals, among other potentially harmful ingredients, which makes it among the safest to use for people with sensitive scalp. It’s also suitable for use for all hair types from naturally straight to wavy and curly, as well as for men and women because of its woodsy citrus aroma.
Since it has moisturizing ingredients, it’s a safe and effective dry itchy scalp shampoo, too. Among its ingredients are hydrolyzed soy protein for improved shine and softness of the hair, increased moisture retention, and improved body; omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids for a nourished scalp; and oryzanol, a substance derived from rice bran oil and added for its ultraviolet protective property.
The ingredients make it also an effective adjunct treatment of several scalp-related conditions, such as psoriasis, dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and trichotillomania (i.e., compulsive pulling out of hair). In fact, many users say that it has significantly aided them in controlling their trichotillomania-related behaviors since their scalps aren’t as itchy as before.
Since it has the right pH balance, the Max Green shampoo can also be used for color-treated hair. But we caution people with sensitive scalp against color treatments since hair dyes contain ingredients that irritate the skin and scalp in susceptible people.
Even its pleasant – and unisex – aroma comes from a combination of naturally derived ingredients. These include lavender, geranium, and rosemary as well as tea tree and lemon essential oils. Your hair will feel smoother and softer to the touch, too, with every shampoo, a bonus since your scalp’s better than it ever was with other shampoos.
It’s also easy to apply. Pour a dime-sized amount on your palm, gently massage in into your scalp for a minute, and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Rinse well with cool water- warm or hot water cause further damage to the scalp and hair – and repeat, if needed, or follow with the Scalp Rescue Conditioner.
The Scalp Therape shampoo is the best dry scalp shampoo because it also doesn’t contain parebens and sulfates, among other harmful chemicals. Instead, its main ingredients have been chosen to provide intense relief from the symptoms of sensitive scalp for the first few days of use.
After several weeks of proper and regular use, most users say that it repaired and rejuvenated their scalps so much so that their feelings of scalp dryness, itchiness and discomfort were largely gone
Actual experience varies between persons but the overall consensus is that it actually works, as well as being safe and effective for use in irritated scalps.
Such efficacy mainly comes from its combination of ingredients. Neem oil and neem leaf extracts are known for their skin rejuvenating properties – these have been used in Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times due to its skin-nourishing properties. Peppermint, tea tree oil, and lemon essential oil have stimulant properties that leave your scalp and hair feeling refreshingly light after a good shampoo and rinse.
Furthermore, neem oil apparently has antiviral and antibacterial properties, too, which many people swear by. When added to shampoo, it can aid in the effective management of scalp acne, head lice, and parasites, which worsen the symptoms of sensitive scalp, too. So check out our reviews to find the best shampoo for scalp acne.
While a few people find its thin, nearly watery, consistency slightly weird, it isn’t once you start using it. The thinner consistency is an indication that it doesn’t contain ingredients that makes it heavy, so to speak, such as sulfates. Plus, it penetrates the scalp better than ordinary shampoos and, thus, it acts faster and better.
But it creates a good lather despite its thin consistency. You can use it daily as or needed depending on the severity of your scalp sensitivity.
The Garnier Whole Blends shampoo has oat milk, a common ingredient in many a sensitive scalp shampoo since it aids in the treatment of scalp conditions like inflammation, irritation and dandruff. Oat milk also increases moisture in the scalp and hair so it’s the best shampoo for dry itchy scalp, too – the more moisturized the scalp, the less dry and itchy, as well as prone to inflammation, it will be.
Yet another beneficial ingredient is rice cream extracts with scalp- and hair-nourishing properties, thanks to its rich nutrient content. But these extracts are light enough on the hair that your tresses will not feel too heavy afterwards. Be sure to rinse well to remove the shampoo residues, especially if you have fine or dry hair, to enjoy the refreshingly clean feeling afterwards.
Use it like any other shampoo, too. Use cool water to wet your hair, massage a small amount into your scalp and hair for a minute or two, and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then, rinse your hair thoroughly with cool water, twist to remove excess water, and follow with the Garnier conditioner; follow the instructions for its use.
Your hair will feel softer and look smoother while your scalp will have a clean and cool feeling. Within a few days of regular use, you should observe positive changes, such as decreased feelings of itchiness, dryness and discomfort in your scalp. You may also find that it’s easier to brush your hair since there are less tangles in your hair and tingling in your scalp.
The shampoo produces a rich, even soft, lather that feels really luxurious. But it also rinses quickly because there are no harsh and heavy chemicals in it. And it smells so divine, too.
The Tree to Tub Organic Moroccan Oil shampoo is the best shampoo for eczema and psoriasis because of its powerful ingredients. First, soapberry has high levels of saponin that creates a pH-balanced clarifying shampoo; it has a 5.5 pH level.
Take note that the human hair and scalp has a pH balance between 4.5 and 5.5, a naturally acidic environment that prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi as well as keeps the hair cuticles closed and healthy.
Second, aloe vera, argan oil and chamomile and olive leaves are added because of their beneficial effects on sebum production. When the scalp has sufficient moisture from sebum (i.e. oil), it’s less prone to dryness and itchiness – and these ingredients stimulate natural sebum production.
Third, the coconut cleansers nourish the scalp and hair, too. Coconut oil is known for its moisturizing and conditioning properties – in fact, it’s widely used as a natural conditioner.
More important, it doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, silicones, gluten, artificial fragrances, and DEA/MEA, among other toxins. It’s a natural anti-dandruff shampoo that provides relief from the symptoms without the harsh chemicals.
Just a small amount will suffice to produce a rich lather that penetrates well into the scalp without it feeling too heavy. After rinsing well, your hair will be easier to comb and your scalp will have a rejuvenated feeling with little to none of the tingling sensations. You may even find that your hair has more body and shine, too, but it’s a bonus.
The Sebamed Everyday Shampoo is a good choice for a scalp folliculitis shampoo since it won’t strip the scalp’s natural oils and aggravate its inflammation, unlike soap-based regular shampoos. Like all of the shampoos here, it also doesn’t contain soap, alkalis and parabens so it’s also hypoallergenic; even a person with extra-sensitive skin and scalp can use it almost daily for significant relief.
With its organic cleansing agents, it cleans the hair and scalp well, too, without the extra-dry and extra-stretched feelings in the scalp after a bath. It’s easy to rinse with water, too, since it isn’t as creamy and thick as regular shampoos. But it still has the right consistency and creaminess to make you feel that you’re using a good shampoo.
Even if you accidentally used too much of it, your hair and scalp won’t feel bogged down by too much product. It’s a great feature during the winter season when hair products seem to be frozen, so to speak, into the hair and scalp.
Many people with oily scalp even swear by its efficacy, especially since it won’t dry out the scalp. Ask your doctor about it if you have undergone a hair transplant surgery, too, as it’s mild and gentle enough on the scalp while still cleaning it of dirt, dust and the like.
Depending on your preference, it doesn’t have a strong smell, fruity or flowery. Instead, it has a more neutral smell that suits both men and women, as well as an indication that it doesn’t contain artificial fragrances.
The Designline Tea Tree shampoo is the best shampoo for dry frizzy hair because it rehydrates and repairs dry, damaged hair with regular use. After a few weeks of use, your hair will feel more hydrated so it feels bouncier, fuller and shinier – or in other words, it’s healthier, especially when you combine its use with other healthy hair measures.
Aside from moisturizing your hair and scalp, it also cleans them by stripping away the dust, dirt and detritus that build up in the course of daily life. It feels light on the scalp yet it gives a fresh feeling that makes the itchiness and dryness of before seem like a distant memory. But keep in mind that it should be used properly to get the best possible results.
Thanks to the tea tree oil ingredient, it also leaves a somewhat cool feeling on the scalp after rinsing. Think of it as mint gum on your scalp so you really feel rejuvenated.
In many people, it’s also a good shampoo for clearing up mild dandruff. But it probably won’t work as well on moderate to severe dandruff, which will likely require medication.
The Numis Med Vegan shampoo is a good product for sensitive scalp hair loss being one of its side effects. Indeed, it’s formulated specifically for highly sensitive scalp and/or dry, damaged hair. This is because its formulation focuses on two elements – first, rehydrate the scalp so that it doesn’t become prone to dryness, itchiness and redness; and second, protect it from the effects of poor lifestyle habits.
According to the manufacturer, there are two key ingredients in it – SymCalmin and Hydrolactol. The combination restores good health by soothing dry, irritated or inflamed scalp while also preventing inflammation and irritation. These ingredients also decreases moisture loss, increases moisture retention, and adds an extra protective barrier in the skin and hair.
In layman’s terms, it means that your scalp and hair will be healthier with proper and regular use of the Numis shampoo. Since it’s a vegan product, it doesn’t contain soap, parabens, paraffin oils, and dyes as well as it hasn’t been tested on animals.
Furthermore, it has a pH level of 5.5 and it means that the scalp’s protective acid mantle is maintained. Your scalp will then be less prone to bacterial inflammations.
The Zeitun Natural Sulfate-free Shampoo provides relief from sensitive scalp pain, thanks to its combination of amla and propolis. These ingredients are known to gently clean the scalp of its buildup of impurities, as well as unclog the pores of the scalp and stimulates circulation.
These actions contribute to a healthier scalp with less tendency to become irritated and inflamed.
Keep in mind that it’s a clarifying shampoo so its main benefit is in cleaning the scalp of the buildup of dirt and dust, even the residues from other hair products like regular shampoos, conditioners and gels. Your scalp will have an extra-clean feeling to it, which may or may not feel like it has been stretched.
This is also a vegan shampoo so parabens and the like aren’t present in it, not to mention that it hasn’t been tested on animals. Many people want these qualities in their products, be it regular shampoos or sensitive scalp shampoos.
Choose from these shampoos if you have a sensitive head and hair! You will agree that these are, indeed, specifically formulated to address the issues that come with these conditions, from the itchy scalp to the dry hair. Just be sure to use them as directed since too little and too much won’t do the trick.