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Guide to a color safe dandruff treatment (or dry scalp treatment)

This was a great question asked by one of our followers on social media and we would love to dive into this together.

Anytime you are experiencing scalp issues, the first thing you should do is identify the specific issue. It is common to mistake dandruff for dry scalp, but using the wrong treatment can make the condition worse. We have another post dedicated to scalp conditions, so we won't dive too deep into it here. However, we'll give you an overview of the top three conditions we commonly see in the salon:

  1. Dry scalp: This condition presents with flaking, dryness, and itching on the scalp, and may feel tight. It is often seasonal or may occur when other parts of the body are also experiencing dryness.

  2. Dandruff: If you have patches of scaly skin that are slightly oily and adhered to the scalp, it may be dandruff. This condition is typically caused by an overgrowth of Malassezia, a naturally occurring fungus, and is common in babies as cradle cap.

  3. Psoriasis: This condition is characterized by scaly skin that is red and inflamed, and it may also appear on other parts of the body. Psoriasis is often an autoimmune response related to other underlying health conditions that may be unknown.

If you color your hair, you wouldn't want to compromise your color while treating your scalp issue. So let's discuss some treatment options.

If you have;

Any of them:

A great starting point for any of these conditions is to use a Scalp Prep or a Scalp Mask. These products help to soften and dissolve excess skin cells and oil, and cleanse the hair follicles. If you have dry scalp, avoid using these products too frequently, but they are excellent for getting a clean starting point for your next treatment. Both Scalp Prep and Scalp Mask are color-safe, but we recommend waiting 1-2 days after coloring before using them.

Dry scalp:

Using an oil at night or prior to wash day can be beneficial. We recommend Everything Oil, which is all-natural and can be used on the hair and dry skin anywhere on the body. Another option is Scalp Essence, a lightweight and nourishing product for the scalp. Many of our clients use Scalp Essence daily and Everything Oil overnight before wash day. These products are completely color-safe and can easily be incorporated into your regular hair care routine.


You'll want to cleanse your scalp more frequently when you're first treating the condition. Start with your regular shampoo and shampoo more often. Also, avoid leaving your hair wet, as the fungus that causes dandruff thrives in warm and damp conditions. At the very least, dry your scalp after every wash and after workouts to minimize fungal growth. Unfortunately, most dandruff treatments can be harsh on hair color, which is why we recommend starting with increased cleansing and drying the hair instead of air drying. If these measures are not enough, you can consider using a medicated shampoo that contains ingredients such as Pyrithione zinc, Selenium sulfide, or Ketoconazole.


It's a good idea to work with your doctor to identify any underlying health issues that may be contributing to the breakouts. Some people find simple fixes through diet changes, while others may uncover hidden health problems. Topically, starting with Scalp Prep or Scalp Mask can provide temporary relief. We also recommend using Scalp Essence to soothe the skin and restore scalp pH. Some individuals may find topical steroid cream prescriptions or steroid injections from their doctor helpful. All of these options are color-safe, although the prescription cream may leave the hair feeling greasy.

If you need further assistance with your scalp issues, we recommend consulting a hair loss professional, trichologist, or dermatologist.

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