DANDRUFF VS DRY SCALP: How To I.D. And Best Ways To Improve Both Conditions

Written by Liz Thompson & Natalie Palomino

Are your efforts to quell signs of dandruff not showing improvement? Or maybe your condition is even getting worse? If so, dandruff may not be the culprit. When it comes to dandruff vs dry scalp, here are our tips to help you identify which you are dealing with and the best ways to improve the state of your scalp.

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Dandruff vs Dry Scalp

They may look similar – white flakes in your hair and on your clothing – but the difference between dandruff and dry scalp is real. There’s more to managing these common scalp conditions than simply using a dandruff shampoo.

Dandruff is a chronic skin condition that mainly affects the scalp. Your typical case of dandruff presents as an itchy feeling scalp and, yes, those unwanted flakes. But the flakes associated with dandruff are characteristically large, yellow or white, and most often accompany an oily scalp. It is often caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia.

Factors such as oily skin, stress, hormonal changes, and certain illnesses can contribute to the development of dandruff. The most noticeable sign of dandruff is the presence of large, greasy, and yellow or white flakes on the scalp and sometimes on the shoulders.

Dry scalp, on the other hand, is much as it sounds. Environmental factors like cold weather, excessive washing, or using harsh hair products can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leading to dryness and flakiness. Unlike dandruff, dry scalp flakes are generally smaller, white, and powdery. Dry scalp can also cause itching and discomfort.The most noticeable difference between dandruff and dry scalp is that with dandruff the scalp is oily and with dry scalp the scalp is dry.

But why do either of these issues occur in the first place? As for dandruff, much like seborrheic dermatitis, the skin on the scalp becomes irritated, and oil and excess sebum build up on the skin’s surface, resulting in those oily flakes. Overactive sebaceous glands, sensitivity to certain hair products, or not using the best dandruff shampoo to make sure the scalp is cleansed of excess oil and debris can all lead to dandruff.

Dry scalp is caused by the same things that cause dry skin on other areas of the body. Seasonal changes, aging, and sensitivity to some hair products are all common causes of dry scalp.

How to tell the difference


Dandruff flakes are larger, greasier, and often yellow or white in color.

Dandruff is usually accompanied by itching, which can be quite intense.

Dandruff may lead to red and oily patches on the scalp.

Dandruff is a chronic condition that may come and go but often requires consistent management.

dry scalp

Dry scalp flakes are smaller, white, and powdery in texture.

Dry scalp can also cause itching, but it is generally milder than the itching associated with dandruff.

Dry scalp is characterized by dry, tight, and sometimes sensitive skin on the scalp.

Dry scalp can be a temporary issue caused by external factors and can be resolved with proper care.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff Naturally

Before you head to your local drugstore for dandruff shampoo, there’s more to the story. Conventional dandruff shampoos can contain harsh ingredients that may exacerbate feelings of irritation and prolong the problem. A gentle approach is best when managing symptoms of both dandruff and dry scalp.

JuliArt Dandruff Relief Shampoo is our top pick for the best dandruff shampoo. The delicate, sulfate-free formula gently clarifies and cleanses the scalp, and leaves it feeling balanced and comfortable. This beauty is mild enough for the whole family.

Take your dandruff hair care plan a step further by applying JuliArt Dandruff Relief Scalp Restorer after shampooing. The formula combines saw palmetto berries with a tincture of ginger creating enough depth to moisturize and protect hair from damage while providing dandruff relief.

Our Top Pick Dandruff Routine

Exfoliate the Scalp

It is imperative that you clarify dead skin and impurities from the scalp weekly to tackle dandruff. Apply JuliArt Exfoliating Liquid Shampoo to your dry scalp for 1-2 minutes once per week before you shampoo.

JuliArt Exfoliating Liquid Shampoo


Shampoo with JuliArt Dandruff Relief Shampoo 3 to 5 times per week to deeply cleanse the scalp and hair as well as balance out your scalp's pH. Use cool water to calm the scalp.

JuliArt Dandruff Relief Shampoo


Tackling dandruff is no small feat so complete your dandruff-fighting routine with a daily dandruff treatment like JuliArt Dandruff Relief Scalp Restorer. Restorer is like using a daily toner to complete your routine.

Juliart Dandruff Relief Restorer

Our #2 Pick for Dandruff

Oway has created a line of shampoos that target dandruff. Purifying Hair Bath for Oily Scalps is specifically formulated to get dandruff under control. While not as common, but certainly exists is dandruff associated with dry scalp. In this instance, invest in Oway's Purifying Shampoo for Dry Scalp. Those in need of light moisturizing with their cleanse for a feeling of purification that won’t leave strands looking greasy. This delicate shampoo is ideal for all hair types and anyone with a dry, upset scalp.

Management Strategies for Dry Scalp

As dry scalp is much like dry skin, you want to tackle it using similar methods.

First, choose a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to keep the scalp hydrated, like 100% Pure Burdock & Neem Healthy Scalp Shampoo & Conditioner or Rahua Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner.

Make sure your scalp stays feeling hydrated post-shampoo with Cult and King Tonik Scalp and Hair Purifier. The lightweight leave-in conditioner lends a nourishing, thirst-quenching sensation to a dry scalp with natural botanicals, with a base of banana juice for a feeling of strength and resilience.

Massage a scalp treatmentt oil into your scalp once per week. Jojoba oil may be the best oil for dry scalp and dandruff because it’s the oil most closely matched to the skin’s natural sebum. Kavella Scalp & Hair Oil Treatment contains jojoba and other natural oils that provide a feeling of hydration and nourishment to the scalp.

Apply a scalp exfoliation shampoo every other week to gently remove dead skin and flakes.

Remember, if you are unsure about your condition, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional or a dermatologist. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend personalized treatments tailored to your needs.

Taking care of your scalp is essential for overall hair health. By understanding the differences between dandruff and dry scalp, you can choose the right products and practices to maintain a healthy, flake-free scalp and beautiful hair.

dry scalp Routine


Exfoliate away dead skin, product build up that leads to flakes by exfoliating once per week with Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo to ensure healthy scalp and hair growth.


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Cleanse and hydrate dry scalp with a hydrating shampoo like100% Pure Burdock & Neem Healthy Scalp Shampoo. Limit shampooing to 3-4 times per week as not to over-wash and dry out your scalp further.


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Use a weekly scalp and oil treatment like Kavella Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment to deliver maximum moisture to your dry scalp.


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