Can Dry Scalp Cause Hair Loss?

Dry skin is a relatively simple thing to care for. It’s managed with some gentle exfoliation and a deeply nourishing lotion. However, it can be a bit tricky to combat a dry scalp, especially if it’s usually hidden underneath a bed of a million strands of hair. 

A dry scalp can cause issues like flaking and itching. It can also impact overall hair health. 

Here’s the good news: there are plenty of simple ways to improve scalp health and reduce the potential for hair loss or damage. Let’s get to the root of the issue and talk about solutions.

How Does the Scalp Produce Moisture?

Our bodies are full of glands that produce oil. These glands, called sebaceous glands, produce protective oil called sebum that acts as a protective barrier. 

The skin is the largest organ of the human body, and the body needs to keep it safe. The body makes this oily shield to moisturize and shield our skin from the elements. 

The scalp has sebaceous glands, just like every other part of the body, but they work a little differently. Hair grows from the scalp, and the sebum gets trapped. 

It doesn’t have anywhere to go, so it surrounds each individual shaft of hair. Hair helps the scalp retain sebum, and small amounts of sebum give hair a healthy, lustrous glow.

What Causes Dry Scalp?

A lot of things can cause a dry scalp. Some of them are temporary and will go away on their own. Others might require a few routine changes, like product swaps, to ease up.

Generally Dry Skin 

Some of us don’t produce a lot of sebum to begin with, which leads to dry skin. Those of us with dry skin are also more likely to have a dry scalp. Dry, cold weather can also contribute to a dry scalp in the same way it can contribute to dry, cracked skin.

Hair Coloring, Bleaching, or Styling Products

Some things that cause a dry scalp are temporary. Hair coloring or bleaching processes, especially when done at home, may cause a dry scalp from exposure to chemicals in the hair dye or bleach product. 

A dry scalp related to hair coloring usually goes away on its own after the scalp has had a chance to rebound from the heavy hit of the chemicals. 

Hair spray, gel, pomade, and styling products often dry to a hard, crunchy texture that saps moisture from the hair and scalp. Some of them may contain irritating ingredients that make issues like dryness and sensitivity more intense. 

Shampooing Too Frequently

Shampooing too frequently can also cause a dry scalp. We need a little bit of oil on our scalp to keep our hair shiny and protected. 

Shampooing all that oil away, especially with harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (sometimes abbreviated as SLS), can lead to perpetually dry hair. If the scalp never has a chance to catch up with oil production, it might remain perpetually dry. 

Most experts agree that there’s no reason to lather up every day. Some hair care methods recommend washing your hair as little as once a week. We’re all different. 

Things like our ages, ethnic backgrounds, normal oil production, and skin sensitivity play a big role in optimizing our self-care routines. If you find that your hair and scalp are frequently dry, try washing your hair less and switching to a sulfate-free shampoo.

How Does Dry Scalp Cause Hair Loss?

The answer to this question is complicated. Having a dry scalp has nothing to do with the body’s ability to grow hair. 

Sebaceous glands exist within hair follicles, but oil production and hair growth aren’t related. Those of us with oily hair may also experience hair loss. The two don’t directly correlate. 

A dry scalp can make hair loss or thinning hair more of a concern, particularly if the dry scalp leads to itchiness. Dry scalps have a tendency to get flaky, and flaking usually leads to itching. Scratching at the scalp can damage hair follicles or cause brittle, dry hair to break off. 

A dry scalp can also lead to the appearance of thinning hair due to the lack of oil. The oil in our hair helps it hold its shape. 

It weighs the hair down a little, helping it form curls, waves, or a gentle bit of body. When the hair is dry, it tends to collect static electricity and separate. This can make hair look poofy or thin, even if it isn’t. 

In a roundabout way, a dry scalp can’t cause hair loss, but it definitely isn’t making the issue any better. Properly caring for your scalp and caring for your hair (both inside and out) can help promote the appearance of healthier hair and potentially reduce the side effects of a dry scalp. 

How To Hydrate a Dry Scalp and Care for Your Hair

Scalp care is just as important as hair care. Our self-care routines should prioritize them both. It might be time to make a few important product switches or to adopt a new hair-care philosophy.

Choose Moisturizing Hair Care Products 

Most dry scalps are sensitive. They may not react well to harsh detergents, artificial fragrances, or artificial colors. These ingredients are known as irritants

Try a natural shampoo free from artificial ingredients and heavy soaps. Moisturizing hair care products will also work to cleanse and condition the scalp when lathered thoroughly at the root. 

Medicated shampoos can help to contend with excessively flaky dry scalps. It may be worth considering the switch to a medicated shampoo to combat dandruff. 

Change the Way You Wash Your Hair

Washing less frequently will allow sebum to accumulate. It may sound a little yucky, but it’s a necessary part of keeping the scalp protected and moisturized. 

Those of us with dry scalps usually don’t have very oily hair. Dry shampoo can act as a stand-in between shampoos if things start to look a little too shiny. 

Try a Natural Leave-In

Natural oils can work to nourish and protect the scalp. Olive oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, and castor oil all work wonderfully to nourish the scalp and leave hair with a soft sheen. 

Saturate the scalp, work excess through the hair and leave it on for about 30 minutes before shampooing with a gentle shampoo. Repeat as frequently as needed.

Drink Plenty of Water

Our bodies are more than 50% water. When we don’t get enough water, our bodies can’t work the way they’re made to work. 

Dehydration can lead to many issues, including dry skin and dry scalp. Water works to plump the skin up from the inside out. 

Change Up Your Diet

Healthy fats are necessary for skin barrier function. Omega 3 fats, like those found in nuts and fatty fish, can work to support healthy skin. Avocados, salmon, olive oil, and walnuts are superfoods for hair growth. 

They’re also great for our overall health. A piece of avocado toasted drizzled in olive oil with smoked salmon and an egg is a delicious breakfast packed with everything hair needs to thrive. 

Alcohol can cause dehydration, which may damage the skin. Frequent alcohol consumption can even increase the risk of serious skin conditions. Try saving that glass of wine for special occasions.

Incorporate Vitamins into Your Routine 

Vitamins for Hair Growth can support the growth of healthy hair. If scratching a dry scalp has led to thinning or shedding, changing up your habits and incorporating hair growth vitamins can play a valuable role in maintaining hair strength and thickness, helping the scalp to recover.

JSHealth Vitamins Hair + Energy contains Iodine from exclusive JSHealth Miracle Kelp™. Iodine works to support the health and strength of hair, as well as healthy thyroid gland function, normal body metabolism, and brain health. Iodine works in conjunction with Zinc, which supports skin health, body metabolism, healthy skin, and healthy nails. 

In Conclusion: Scalp Health and Hair Health Go Hand-in-Hand

While most of us understand the importance of keeping our hair healthy and moisturized, it’s easy to forget just how important it is to care for our scalps. We often assume that our shampoo and conditioner are already getting the job done, even though they may fall short. 

Those of us dealing with hair loss and a dry scalp may need to make a few changes to our routines to prioritize moisturizing and protecting our scalps. 

Moisturizing your scalp won’t work to prevent hair loss related to specific conditions, but it may reduce the urge to scratch your hair and damage brittle hair shafts or sensitive hair follicles. 


Sebaceous Glands: Function, Location & Secretion | Cleveland Clinic

Here’s How Often You Should Wash Your Hair | Cleveland Clinic

Skin exposure to scented products used in daily life and fragrance contact allergy in the European general population | National Institutes of Health

Baseline and lifetime alcohol consumption and risk of skin cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort (EPIC) | Wiley Online Library