Spot the Difference - Is it Dry Scalp or Dandruff?

Do you know if you have dry scalp or dandruff? When you feel your scalp itch and see flakes, it’s easy to assume you have the latter. While dry scalp and dandruff have similar symptoms, they’re actually separate conditions. So let’s get to the root of it so you can be better equipped to know which treatment to get for your scalp condition.

Dry Scalp 

Dry Scalp
Dry scalp is a condition where you can experience a feeling of skin tightness due to lack of moisture, very similar to other dry skin on your body. When scalp feels dry, it can stretch and flake off, making it irritated and inflamed. The skin gets irritated, resulting in small flakes, a key sign that it is dry. 
There are multiple causes for dry scalp and these could include:
      • cold, dry air
      • contact dermatitis caused by select hair products
      • Age (older age tends to need more moisture)


As similar as they may seem, dandruff is caused by something completely different. Seborrheic dermatitis or the condition that turns the skin oily, red, and scaly, is the result of your skin becoming irritated by excess production of skin cells, leading to dandruff. Another cause of dandruff could be a fungus called Malassezia, which leads to your skin cells multiplying faster than usual. 
Although the exact cause of Seborrheic dermatitis can be difficult to pinpoint, it’s likely due to one of these main factors: 
      • age
      • hormones
      • stress
Are you wondering if dirty hair leads to dandruff? It actually doesn’t! But if you don’t wash your hair often, it can cause oils to build up on your scalp which could eventually lead to flakes. 

Am I experiencing dandruff or dry scalp?

Check the appearance of your flakes. Dandruff flakes tend to look bigger and are oilier while dry scalp has smaller and dry flakes. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you determine which scalp condition you’re experiencing.


Dry scalp

oily, large flakes that are yellow or white

smaller, dry flakes

itchy scalp

oily, red, scaly skin

dry skin on other parts of your body

What to do next?

When it comes to either of these conditions, a trip to your dermatologist is always a welcome thing. Doing so can help you rule out if there are other causes to consider like eczema and psoriasis, which can also cause flaky skin on the scalp. But most of the time you can treat dry scalp and dandruff with professional hair care products that offer targeted results.
 Scalp animation

Dandruff Treatments

It’s important to check the ingredients of dandruff treatments. Look for products with Selenium Sulfide, which reduces fungus and prevents too many skin cells from shedding. Our best-selling Davines Purifying Shampoo, P1,300 contains this. The anti-dandruff shampoo purifies the scalp against microbial attacks, creating a healthy scalp environment. No wonder we’ve gotten hundreds of rave reviews about it! 
Davines Purifying Shampoo
You can also look for products with Zinc Pyrithione, a fungus-killing ingredient. Check out Wella Professionals Invigo Balance Clean Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, P785 or Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Scalp Genesis Rebalancing Serum, P1,500 that combat flakiness and eases the sense of discomfort associated with dandruff.
Salicylic Acid is also an important ingredient in removing flakes. Consider AVEDA Pramāsana™ Purifying Scalp Cleanser, P2,200, made to gently exfoliate excess dead skin and remove impurities like pollution – creating a clean scalp foundation for beautiful hair.

Dry Scalp Treatments

For dry scalp, a gentle shampoo and moisturizing conditioner made for the scalp can prove to be helpful. Be careful with how you choose your products, as some may further irritate the scalp. Try Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Scalp Genesis Soothing Shampoo, P1,700, that’s made with StemCode™ Complex and Vitamin B5 that gently, yet efficiently cleanses sensitive scalps. 
But for a real boost in moisture for dry scalp, consider Davines Nourishing Shampoo, P1,300. Made with a nourishing formula, it offers gentle cleansing without stripping your hair structure.
Washing the scalp
Want more care products for dry scalp? Check out our selection here. 
With the right knowledge and tools in your arsenal, you can confidently be part of the flake free #SpotlesScalpSociety. Need someone to talk to about your itchy scalp? Chat with our expert today.

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