Winning Scalp Oils that Will Soothe Your Dry, Itchy Scalp

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

In the seemingly never-ending quest for great hair, one very important factor is often overlooked: The scalp. That's righthealthy, good-looking hair starts with a healthy scalp, but it seems the only time the scalp gets any attention is when theres a problem like irritation, then its 'What products do I need to fix this now?'

Essentially, your scalp should be treated more like the skin on your face than anything else, with the intention of keeping it healthy and thus helping to avoid problems like irritation or itching before they start. That means cleansing it regularly (with a scalp scrub or exfoliating brush) and giving it the hydration it needsespecially if youre dealing with issues such as dryness, itchiness, or flakes.

This is where scalp oils come up huge. They're the perfect way to add and seal in moisture, as well as soften patches of built-up dry skin so that they can easily slough off. We know what youre thinking: wont adding oil to the scalp make my hair look like a greasy mess?

The short answer is no, as used correctly, scalp oil can actually help balance your scalp. Sold on the idea but don't know where to start? We got you. Ahead, the best scalp products on the market.

What to Look For in a Scalp Oil

Treat vs. Prevent

If you already experiencing some itchiness or flaking, you'll want to help treat the area with a scalp oil that has soothing and calming ingredients. (If your skin is inflamed or flaking excessively, see a medical professional.) However, if your scalp is already in tip-top condition, opt for a well-rounded formula containing ingredients designed to keep your scalp balanced and hydrated.

Consider Your Individual Needs

Just like you would with skincare concerns, base your scalp oil choice on what your scalp needs. What works for one scalp may not be a beneficial to another. Thanks to todays massive offering, youll find options specially formulated for oily scalp, dry scalp, curly hair, thinning hair, you name it.

Ingredients

Find yourself a fan of a certain ingredient because you love what it does for your skin? Then youll most likely love what it could do for your scalp, too. And like skincare, trendy ingredients like hyaluronic acid, argan oil, biotin, and even niacinamide are making their way into many a scalp oil formulation.

Read on for the best scalp oils, below.

Best Overall: Kiehls 1851 Magic Elixir Hair Restructuring Concentrate

Dont be fooled by the name: This multi-tasker is just as beneficial for your scalp as it is for your strands. Credit a combination of different oils including hydrating avocado and safflower oils, plus scalp-stimulating rosemary leaf oilthat work to nourish both the skin and hair. Plus, it works fast, too; massage it onto a dry scalp and leave it on for just 10 minutes before shampooing so that it can do its thing.

Best Budget: Palmers Coconut Oil Formula Strong Roots Spray

This pick earns a spot on this list both for its very wallet-friendly price tag and its ease of use. The spray format means application is a total breeze; all you have to do is spritz it directly at the roots and massage it in (no rinsing required). Sustainably sourced organic extra-virgin coconut oil delivers a deep dose of hydration, while the addition of peppermint and eucalyptus oils give it a refreshing feel thats delightful when your scalp is tight or itchy.

Best Drugstore: Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil

There arent necessarily a ton of scalp oils to be found at the drugstore (yet), but happily, you can find this standout. It relies on rosemary oil and biotin to help promote stronger hair growth and contains peppermint oil to soothe itchiness. Plus, it's hydrating enough that it works well to quench parched ends, too.

Follow the directions of the particular product you choose, but generally speaking, its best to massage a few drops of oil over your scalp, then let it sit for a little while (or even overnight) before washing your hair as usual.

Best Soothing: Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment

There are few issues more annoying (and uncomfortable) than an itchy scalp, which is why this extra-soothing formula is truly invaluable. Peppermint and spearmint oils deliver an instantaneous cooling, refreshing, and pleasantly tingly sensation, making this perfect to reach for when youre dealing with any kind of scalp irritation. On top of that, theres also charcoal in the mix, an effective detoxifier that can help remove product build-up, excess oil, and any other impurities.

Best Exfoliating: Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment

Moroccanoil products get rave reviews for styling purposes but dont sleep on the brand's scalp treatment, either. Like the stylers, it touts argan oil, one of the best oils for skin anywhere on your body, scalp included. Rich in nourishing vitamin E and protective antioxidants, it delivers tons of moisture. But this formula is also noteworthy for the addition of exfoliating salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that helps to dissolve excess oil and works to slough off any flakes (because yes, you need to exfoliate your scalp, too).

Best for Natural Hair: Curls Blueberry Mint Tea Scalp Treatment

This is a go-to for ishonest social media editor Star Donaldson. A litany of different natural ingredients (organic blueberry seed oil, mint, and coconut oil) work to combat dryness and fight itching. Ideal for curly, wavy, and kinky hair textures, its also great to use before and after braiding or extensions.

Best for Thinning Hair: Essy Naturals Hair Growth Oil

The issue of hair loss and shedding is a complicated one, and the hard truth of the matter is that theres no one fast fix. That being said, if your tresses are in need of a little extra TLC, its worth trying this formula. It combines oils known to be beneficial for promoting healthy hair growth (like castor oil and rosemary oil) with other good-for-your-scalp ingredients such as biotin and caffeine. The end result? A treatment that happy Amazon reviewers say delivers noticeable benefits.

Best Serum: Ouidad Bye-Bye Dry! Soothing + Moisturizing Serum

Okay, we get itmaybe the idea of slathering oil on your scalp just isnt working for you. Heres a good non-oil alternative that offers the same type of hydrating benefits youd get from an oil, thanks to hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. It works to combat breakage and irritation, too, and doesnt have to be rinsed out.

Best for Hair & Scalp: Pattern Jojoba Oil Hair Serum

Yes, the hair and scalp are two separate things, but at the end of the day, theyre inextricably linked. Thats why we appreciate that this two-in-one works equally well on both. Credit its use of jojoba oil, a superstar oil that very closely mimics the natural oil our skin produces and is amazing at hydrating both skin and hair. Massage it straight into your scalp or cocktail it with other stylers for added moisture. (It works especially well for curly hair.)

Best Natural: Reverie CAKE Restorative Scalp Tonic

For those who want to keep their beauty routine as clean as possible, this natural formula is a great choice. The leave-in is more akin to a serum-oil hybrid and basically offers any and every possible scalp benefit you could think of. It balances out oil production, hydrates, and soothes, but also touts ingredients such as apple stem cells to keep hair follicles healthy and youthful. As if that weren't enough, it also has ingredients known for helping to maintain scalp pH while protecting against bacteria and fungus.

Best for Oily Scalps: OGX Extra Strength Refreshing Tea Tree Mint Scalp Treatment

We know what youre thinkingwhy on earth would you ever use a scalp oil if you have an oily scalp? Well, for starters, this isnt a straight-up oil, but rather a balancing treatment that relies on tea tree oil and witch hazel, two astringent ingredients that are great for balancing out excess oil production. (Theres also refreshing peppermint oil in the mix.) Place a small amount directly onto the scalp post-shampooing, then let it dry before styling as usual.

Best Multi-Tasker: Innersense Organic Harmonic Healing Oil

  • Oils really are one of the best multi-tasking skincare ingredients out there and this formula is proof positive. It blends a laundry list of different vitamin- and antioxidant-rich natural oils (safflower seed, macadamia seed, and evening primrose, to name a few) and is ideal for soothing scalp issues. Its also worth trying on rashes and cuts, dry cuticles, or even as a makeup primerthe special combo of oils makes it perfect for all of those situations and more.
  • For the majority of us looking to up our skincare game by extending it to our scalp, one of the many one-size-fits-all formulations is sufficient to keep the scalp hydrated, soothed and protected. However, the best way to choose scalp oil is to approach it as you would skincare, so if theres a condition youd like your scalp oil to address, such as oiliness or dryness, its best to shop around until you find one with the ideal ingredients.
  • That depends on your lifestyle and scalp skincare concerns. Proper usage should keep the scalp moisturized and soothed without any build-up. However if build-up is a real concern for you, try a formula with more of a water-based, serum-like consistency.

    Many of todays scalp oil formulations contain a bevy of natural ingredients that some believe can encourage hair growth. While the official science is still out on many of them, certain compounds like biotin can play a role in supplementing hair strength and quality. So, while no scalp oil has been proven to make hair grow faster, its ability to support scalp health is a great start in the battle for great hair.

    Patel DP, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin Appendage Disord. 2017;3(3): 166-169.

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