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Flaky Scalp – How to Scratch That Itch
Wed, Jan 20, 21

Flaky Scalp – How to Scratch That Itch

Have you ever put on your favourite little black number, that is just the perfect combination of effortless and fabulous, only to have to change out of it again five minutes later because there is a visible layer, of what resembles snow, sprinkled on your shoulders? It is a complete pain in the proverbial! Itchy and flaky scalp has long been a tormentor of unsuspecting humans, it is at best a nuisance and at worst a painful confidence destroyer. I had psoriasis in my scalp for about 12 years, and given the fact my hair was almost black at the time it was a constant battle to keep all flakes from public view. It did nothing for my confidence, but even worse was the pain, the itchiness, and the tightness of my scalp. Thankfully, it has calmed a lot in the last few years, but in the past, I have tried every product under the sun to soothe it, and I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to ease the discomfort and reduce the overactivity of the scalp.

It is important to avoid anything that will trigger, or exasperate your scalp such as, hot water while washing, products that contain silicon or high levels of alcohol, and all types of powdered products including dry shampoo.

The first thing to note is that there are many causes of a flaky scalp such as dandruff, dehydration, product/natural oil build up, and of course the aforementioned psoriasis is a culprit too. As there are several causes, there are also several remedies. Let me break down the above difficulties, to explain them as simply as I can, and give you a couple of treatment remedies.


Often confused with dry scalp, dandruff is caused by a build up of natural oil from overactive sebaceous glands. This can then be joined by an excessive amount of a microbe which is ever present in the scalp, but grows disproportionately in this warm, wet environment. In turn the dead skin/scalp cells become trapped. This produces a damp, heavy scalp, prone to flaking. Dandruff can be triggered by hormonal changes, age, or even stress. It is not caused by not washing your hair enough, however, if you do not wash the hair enough it will certainly exasperate the condition.

To treat dandruff, you must both remove the build-up and treat the scalp with an anti-fungal shampoo. If your scalp is open or weeping hold off on exfoliators until it is slightly calmer. Always leave the treatment on for 3–5 minutes to allow it time for the active ingredients to work.

My favourite shampoos to treat dandruff will also leave your hair healthy and with beautiful shine. The first I would recommend is Kerastase Specifique Bain Anti Pelliculaire  which is an antifungal scalp cleanser. It uses salicylic acid and zinc to restore health and harmony to the scalp and it is also silicone free. This one has been a favourite with professional stylists for years as it is so effective, but also still feels like a luxury product.

Shop Kerastase Specifique Bain Anti Pelliculaire here.

Another great option is Davines Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo it is naturally based and will treat your concerns with the widely proven selenium sulphide. Your hair will be lighter, shinier, and last longer from wash to wash.

Shop Davines Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo here.

Once your scalp is not open, an exfoliator is a great asset and will elevate the activity of other treatments being used. Alfaparf Gentle Exfoliating Scrub will prepare the scalp for cleansing, and aid in the removal of build up on your scalp. Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo will both exfoliate and cleanse your scalp, whilst also improving hair growth and follicle activity.


Shop Alfaparf Gentle Exfoliating Scrub here.
Shop Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo here.

Product Build-up

If you feel your scalp concern is due to a product residue or build-up on your hair and scalp a good “Sunday Shampoo”/deep clease shampoo will do the trick. One of the easier issues to tackle, a simple product change should remedy this. If you are using a silicon-based haircare range, are a fan of dry shampoo, or love a good lacquer these may in fact be working against you. Remove that build up with a deep cleanse shampoo like Davines Solu Shampoo or Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo once a week and upgrade your day to day haircare routine. Again, give this 2-3 minutes to work on the hair and scalp, and gently massage the cleanser right to the ends of the hair if you feel it needs it. Follow with a good conditioner or mask, and also allow this some time to take effect. Rinse well.  
Shop Davines Solu Shampoo here.
Shop Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo here.


This is exactly what you think it might be, just a simple lack of moisture. This can be helped by increasing your water intake and adding an oil/omega supplement to your daily routine. From the outside you can use scalp moisturising support systems such as the beautiful Kerastase Specifique Masque Hydra Apaisant or Nioxin Scalp Recovery both of which calm, sooth, and moisturise your scalp, helping aid the reduction of flakes, ease scalp discomfort, and increase flexibility.

Shop Kerastase Specifique Masque Hydra Apaisant here.
Shop Nioxin Scalp Recovery here.

As with most scalp treatment, I would recommend leaving it on your scalp for approximately 3 minutes, depending on the dryness of your scalp.


This one is particularly stress related, and will appear as flaky plaques, often behind the ears and sometimes down beyond the hairline. It will appear almost raised, possibly red underneath with a white overlay of excess scalp production and can be extremely itchy. The scalp can often crack or split, causing the sufferer great discomfort or pain. Your GP or Dermatologist may want to medicate this condition also. If your scalp is open or raw, I would advise you to stay away from stimulating ingredients such as mint/menthol as it will irritate the wounds and cause further discomfort and pain.

My suggestion is to speak to your doctor and use a gentle cleanser that will sooth your scalp, like Kerastase Specifique Bain Dermo Calm. Available in two forms, one for sensitive scalp and combination hair, the other for sensitive scalp and dry hair. I personally used Dermo Calm for many years to sooth my psoriasis, and not that it is suggested, but I would even wash my body with it to benefit from its soothing effects.

Shop Kerastase Specifique Bain Dermo Calm here.

Another massively popular one is Alfaparf Scalp Relief Calming Micellar Shampoo and Tonic which also works to calm and sooth an overactive or reactive scalp, through a combination of probiotics and prebiotics. This one also sits at a very accessible price point, especially considering how effective it is. It also works best if you use both the shampoo and the tonic.

Shop Alfaparf Scalp Relief Calming Micellar Shampoo and Tonic here.

I know just how frustrating flaky scalp can be, so if you have any further queries I can you with just get in touch via any of our online platforms and I will be happy to help.

Fiona O’Connor - Business Manager and Head Educator, Haircare Department


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