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Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp: How to Tell the Difference.

Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp: How to Tell the Difference.

Both dandruff and dry scalp can be unsightly and uncomfortable. One is greasy and one is dry. These transient scalp conditions affect both women and men and can occur at any age. If properly treated, they can disappear quickly. But to do so, it is important to learn the difference between dandruff and dry scalp in order to choose the appropriate solution.


Overview of Dandruff and Dry Scalp.

In France, dandruff and dry scalp affect 1 in 2 people. Despite the fact that they are benign, they both can disturb the daily life of those suffering one of these conditions. Indeed, they are sometimes unaesthetic and cause more or less intense itching.

Easily recognizable, both consist of dead cells or whitish or grayish scales on the scalp. These dead cells are the result of accelerated cell renewal in the scalp. This too rapid cell renewal causes a maturation defect of the epidermal cells which cannot eliminate themselves naturally. They clump together to form flakes.

Although the mechanism of accelerated cell renewal at the origin of dandruff and dry scalp is well known, the origin of both remains a matter of debate. Indeed, the proliferation of microorganisms (Malassezia fungus), genetic predisposition and excess sebum are the main causes that have been highlighted. However, there are other factors that promote the appearance of dandruff or dry scalp (diet, stress, etc.).

Dandruff and dry scalp are therefore frequent scalp conditions. Although they are benign, they can have a negative impact on self-confidence. To get rid of them, it is first important to know the difference between dandruff and dry scalp.

Dry Scalp: How to Recognize It.

When it comes to dandruff vs. dry scalp, the latter is the more common type of scalp condition. Thin, dry and whitish, it falls like snow on the shoulders. In general, dry scalp is most commonly seen on dry or normal hair. It is rarely accompanied by itching.

Although it is benign, a dry scalp is unsightly and can give a neglected appearance. It can therefore be a source of discomfort for those affected.

Dandruff: How to Recognize It.

Much rarer than dry scalp, dandruff is nevertheless more difficult to manage. Dandruff can be distinguished by its thick, yellowish appearance. Unlike dry flakes, which do not adhere to the scalp, the oily dandruff is difficult to remove from the scalp. It clumps together and forms thick patches that mix with the sebum. Dandruff is accompanied by a more or less intense itching sensation. It usually appears on oily scalps.

Please note that if the dandruff condition is severe, it could be seborrheic dermatitis. Do not hesitate to consult a dermatologist.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff or Dry Scalp?

Whether it is dandruff or dry scalp, it can be a daily nuisance. To eliminate them, certain care routines should be adopted:

  • The use of essential oils.

Because of their complex chemical composition, essential oils are remarkably effective against dandruff. It is the case of the cleansing essential oils such as the essential oil of tea tree, palmarosa or cedar of atlas. You can mix a few drops of these essential oils in your shampoo, respecting the recommended dosage.

Caution: The use of essential oils is not harmless, please respect the precautions for use. Essential oils are not recommended for pregnant and nursing women.

  • The use of an adapted shampoo.

Dandruff requires the use of an adapted shampoo. In general, the anti-dandruff shampoos are composed:

  1. Active antifungal ingredients: they fight against the proliferation of Malassezia-type fungi.

  2. Anti-proliferative active ingredients: they act against the excessive multiplication of epidermal cells of the scalp.

  3. Anti-inflammatory and soothing active ingredients: to fight against redness and itching of the scalp.

Our anti-dandruff shampoo is adapted to dandruff and dry scalp. It is formulated on the basis of 1% of piroctone olamine which has an antifungal activity and limits the secretion of sebum. It also contains extract of jujube, which regulates the desquamation and thus reduces the formation of films. It also soothes itching and irritation. Added to that, this care contains essential oils of cedar of atlas and clary sage recognized for their anti-dandruff and seboregulating actions.

If you are prone to dry scalp, you can use our soothing scalp treatment in addition to our anti-dandruff shampoo. Formulated with 1% bisabolol, which is anti-inflammatory, and cotton extract, which is softening, our soothing treatment reduces the discomfort of the scalp (dryness and itching). It contains sweet almond oil known for its anti-inflammatory and rebalancing properties as well as vegetable glycerin that prevents dehydration. Apply one to two pipettes to the entire dry scalp once a day, in the morning or evening, and massage. This treatment does not require rinsing.

If, on the other hand, you are prone to oily dandruff, you can use our purifying scalp treatment as a complement. It is composed of 4% zinc PCA and nettle extract, which are known for their purifying and sebum-regulating properties. Added to this, it contains essential oils of peppermint and eucalyptus globulus which, thanks to their antibacterial and antifungal properties, help to cleanse the scalp by fighting the proliferation of microorganisms responsible for dandruff.

Important: Although dandruff and dry scalp are benign, a consultation with a dermatologist is necessary, especially in cases of severe dandruff. In addition, dry scalp presents a clinical picture similar to psoriasis. The doctor will be able to guide you in the best possible way.


  • Luis J. Borda & Tongyu C. Wikramanayake, Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff: A Comprehensive Review (2015)


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