Can’t figure out what’s causing those flakes to form on your head? Learn the differences between dandruff vs. dry scalp so you can properly treat each.

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Dandruff Vs. Dry Scalp: How To Tell The Difference And Treat Each One

05/10/20228 min read

You work hard to keep your skin healthy. So, when it comes to that itch and irritation on your scalp, we know you want answers. Let’s start by discussing the differences between dandruff vs. dry scalp so you can get back to healthy, itch-free skin.

Table Of Contents

Dandruff Vs. Dry Scalp

If your head is irritated and flaking, you may be thinking one thing: dandruff. But is it just a dry scalp? The truth is that even though these conditions are different, the symptoms are extremely similar.

Dandruff happens when irritants are formed by the breakdown of the sebum (natural oils) on your scalp. Dry scalp, on the other hand, is a bit more common and self-explanatory — your skin becomes less hydrated, leading to common symptoms of dry skin.

Being able to tell these two conditions apart is the only thing standing between you and a flake-free scalp. That said, let’s talk about the causes of each and how we at Bodewell recommend treating both conditions.

Dandruff Causes

Dandruff Causes

Dandruff can be caused by a few things, but all of the factors boil down to this: Dandruff sufferers are sensitive to irritants produced by the breakdown of sebum on the scalp.

Malassezia Globosa

Even though the causes of dandruff and dry scalp can be pretty similar, there are a few outliers and subtle differences that make dandruff stand out. One is a fungus known as Malassezia Globosa.

Here’s the real tragedy: This fungus lives harmlessly in the top layer of everyone’s scalp, but it doesn’t create any issues for about half of the population. For the other half, the breakdown of sebum caused by Malassezia releases irritants that initiate dandruff.

Quality skincare products, like ours at Bodewell, are inspired by skin science and nature to help reduce the irritants caused by Malassezia.

Hormonal Changes

Life changes may also cause your scalp to flake. Whether it’s pregnancy or puberty, these bodily changes create stress, which impacts hormone levels. You’ve probably guessed what comes next — increased oil production, then dandruff.

It doesn’t have to be a major change to trigger those flakes. The release of stress hormones as a result of any bodily stress can cause your skin’s natural barrier to fail.

From first dates to job interviews, you might find that stress is doing more than making you anxious.

Dry Scalp Causes

Dry scalp is a lot more common than dandruff. If you notice that other parts of your body are dry and itchy also, then there’s a good chance your scalp is experiencing the same issue.


Just like the way stress hormones can cause dandruff, stress can compromise your skin’s natural barrier, too.

If you have eczema or psoriasis, you might notice that your scalp, hair, and various parts of your skin are drying out faster than usual. You can certainly satisfy your skin with some hydrating lotion, but your scalp requires a bit more care. We’ll offer treatment tips shortly.


Dehydration And Scalp Concerns

Dry skin — including on your scalp — can often be a result of dehydration. Staying hydrated throughout the day is one of the simplest ways to prevent a dry, itchy scalp.

Cold Weather

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is…probably irritating your skin more than it normally would.

When winter hits, dry scalp becomes a common issue. This is due to the cold weather drying out your skin. That dryness is only made worse when you’re inside with the heat cranked up.

Sudden temperature changes can cause your skin to become dry more quickly, which means it needs a little extra love and moisture.

Hair Routines

We’ve mentioned cold weather, but we should talk about heat as well.

We won’t say that heat is the enemy, but too much of it directly to your scalp isn’t doing you any favors. If blow drying with heat is part of your daily routine, try switching to cooler air or letting your hair dry naturally.

Other hair routines such as straightening can factor into a dry scalp as well. Even the shampoo you use can cause your skin to become dry.

Treatments For Dandruff And Dry Scalp

Although there are overlapping causes of dandruff and dry scalp, the specific treatments for each condition are critical for stabilizing your skin. Read on to learn more about properly treating both.

How To Treat Dandruff

Treating Dandruff And Dry Scalp

Since dandruff may likely be caused by a fungus, it can usually be tamed by over-the-counter shampoos or scalp treatments that get rid of the fungus.

Using gentle shampoos with ingredients proven to ease dry scalp can also make a huge difference. Our Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo is designed to reduce flaking, itching, and dryness associated with dandruff on the scalp.

With ingredients including almond oil for added moisture and pyrithione zinc packed with antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, we’ve carefully crafted our shampoo so you can ditch the flakes and start loving your hair.

If your symptoms persist after using a dandruff shampoo, consider consulting a board-certified dermatologist to help properly diagnose the cause of your condition.

We recommend speaking with a dermatologist to discuss ideal products for your hair type. Once you’ve determined which option is best, follow the instructions listed on the product bottle.

Along with the right hair care products, it helps to manage stress and stay mindful of the foods you eat since foods high in yeast can make dandruff even worse.

How To Treat Dry Scalp

The simple solution to dry scalp is water — and nourishing your body from the inside out. Staying hydrated means not only drinking water, but also eating fruits and vegetables with water, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to replenish your system.

It’s also important to manage stress and be careful with how you style and care for your hair.

Care For Your Skin, Hair, And Scalp With Bodewell

Bodewell Products For Dandruff And Dry Scalp

It’s not easy to distinguish between dandruff vs. dry scalp. But Bodewell makes it easy to manage your skin without playing guessing games.

Our skincare products are designed to help care for your skin without compromising its natural beauty. With the use of active ingredients and botanical blends, our products deliver proven results for unique skin conditions.

Whether you’re battling dandruff or a dry scalp, our Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo can give your scalp the TLC it needs. At Bodewell, we’re here to help you worry less and say “see ya” to dry, itchy flakes.

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