Best shampoo for a sensitive scalp

Best shampoo for a sensitive scalp

We all suffer from sensitive scalps from one time to another, but some of us suffer more than others. In this blog, I want to write about the potential causes of sensitive scalp and if we can do anything to make it less sensitive.

I will also describe the best shampoo for sensitive scalp, what to avoid and what to look out for.

Why do I have a sensitive scalp?

The main cause of a sensitive scalp is a dry scalp. When the scalp lacks moisture and natural oils, it becomes more sensitive and irritable. Your scalp will likely be more prone to itchiness, further promoting your scalp sensitivity.

Those allergic to certain hair care products can make the scalp sensitive. Some shampoos, conditioners and styling products contain harsh ingredients and chemicals that our scalps don't like. 

Using the wrong shampoo and conditioner is quite a common cause of a sensitive scalp. Our scalp and hair have a natural pH balance of around 5.5. Shampoo, conditioners and even soap outside of this pH level will damage and irritate your scalp over time. Living in a hard-water area can also contribute to sensitive scalp and skin. Hard water has higher levels of calcium, magnesium and other minerals, which can build up on the hair and scalp. This can make the hair feel heavy and dull and make the scalp dry, itchy and irritated.

Other reasons you may have a sensitive scalp include skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Our stress levels can also be a factor, as well as hormonal changes. 

If your scalp is causing you a lot of concern, please consult your doctor or a dermatologist.

What are the symptoms of a sensitive scalp?

If you have a sensitive scalp, you may feel itchy and uncomfortable. Scratching your head will only further irritate the skin. There may be redness and inflamed due to the irritation of the skin.

A common symptom is flaking and dandruff, as the skin is generally dry and damaged. Some people also suffer from hair loss due to a sensitive scalp.

As mentioned above, the scalp can become very dry and flaky due to the lack of oils and moisture. This will further increase itchiness and soreness and irritate your head.

A blonde woman facing with her back toward the camera scratching her head

Shampoo for sensitive scalp

Taking care of your scalp is essential, and using the right shampoo can reduce your scalp's sensitivity and alleviate some of the symptoms mentioned above.

Washing your hair can help mend a sensitive scalp if you use the right shampoo and conditioner. There are plenty of shampoos and conditioners for sensitive scalps, but you should look out for the following:

pH Balanced

Ensure that your shampoo for sensitive scalp is pH balanced. I cannot stress how important this is, as any shampoo not pH balanced (pH level of 4.4 - 5.5) will damage the skin on your scalp and the hair follicles. 

Do not use soap as shampoo, as natural soap has a very high alkali concentration. Look out for soap bars labelled as shampoo bars; these will only worsen your sensitive scalp. To read more about shampoo versus soap, follow this link.


Some people are allergic to sulfate, and most branded shampoo contains sulfate like Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). In general, sulfate will be perfectly fine for most; however, SLS tends to do its job too well by stripping and washing all the moisture and oils from your scalp and hair, leaving your scalp drier. 

Harsh Chemicals and Perfumes 

Look for shampoos free from harsh chemicals, perfumes and artificial colouring. These usually are synthetic and chemically produced in mass. We all like our shampoo and conditioner to smell lovely, but sometimes these artificial fragrances can irritate our scalp, skin and hair. 

Instead, look out for shampoos and conditioners that are scented with natural essential oils.

Essential oil

Essential oils provide a fragrant aroma, and studies have shown that they are beneficial to our scalp, hair and skin.

Look out for natural essential oils in your shampoo for sensitive scalps. There are several essential oils that are known to be beneficial for sensitive scalps. Some of the most popular essential oils are:

A field of purple lavender

Tea Tree Oil 

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that can help soothe an irritated scalp and reduce itching. It also has antimicrobial properties that help combat dandruff and other scalp conditions.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory and calming properties that help soothe an irritated scalp and reduce itching. It is also known to promote hair growth and improve the overall health of the hair.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has a refreshing cooling and soothing effect on the scalp, which can help reduce itching and inflammation. It also has antimicrobial properties that help combat dandruff and other scalp conditions.

Moisturising shampoos and conditioners

Keeping your scalp moisturised will help your sensitive scalp and reduce irritation. Look out for moisturising shampoo and conditioners to replenish your hair and scalp moisture.

Coconut oil, Sweet almond oil and Shea butter are great additives to shampoos and conditioners. They will support healthier hair and scalp while replenishing oils and keeping your scalp hydrated.

Shea butter is commonly used in hair and skin products because of its moisturising properties. It can be beneficial for those with a sensitive scalp as it is gentle and can help to soothe and hydrate the skin. Shea butter is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce redness and irritation. To read more about the benefits of using Shea butter in shampoo, follow this link.

Sweet almond oil is a perfect none greasy oil to have in your shampoo and conditioner for sensitive scalp. It is a mild, hypoallergenic oil easily absorbed by the skin. It can help to calm and moisturise the scalp, reduce itching and inflammation, and promote healthy hair growth. It is also a natural emollient, which can help soften and smooth the hair, making it more manageable and less likely to break. To read more about Sweet Almond oil, follow this link.

Shampoo for hard-water areas

Hard water can contribute to a sensitive scalp in many ways. You will find typically high levels of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals, which can build up on the hair and scalp. This can make the hair feel heavy, dull and make the scalp feel dry, itchy and irritated.

Hard water can also make it difficult for shampoo to lather, resulting in not using and spreading the active moisturising ingredients.

Look for shampoos that are formulated to work in a hard-water area. When massaging the shampoo into your sensitive scalp and hair, your shampoo needs to have a silky bubbly lather.

How to use shampoo for a sensitive scalp?

You should also avoid using hot water when washing your hair, as this can aggravate a sensitive scalp. At least reduce the temperature a little if you enjoy hot baths and showers.

Massage your scalp gently and avoid scratching or rubbing it too hard. 

Recommendation on shampoos for sensitive scalp

If you haven't tried a shampoo bar before, this is an excellent opportunity for you to do so. A shampoo bar contains no water, resulting in a higher concentration of active ingredients penetrating straight to your scalp and hair. Your hair will be healthier, and you will remove another single-use plastic from your daily routines.

Washla shampoo bars are all pH balanced, naturally scented with essential oils and formulated to work in hard-water areas. 

Our Hydrate shampoo bars are packed with extra moisturising ingredients like Shea butter.

Our conditioning bars also contain shea butter and Sweet almond oil.

We have 6 excellent scents to choose from, but we recommend using our Charcoal and Tea Tree Hydrate bars for sensitive scalp. We also have Lavender and Peppermint if they are more to your liking, which also works great for sensitive scalps.

Rebalance tea tree hydrating shampoo bar

I hope you have found this informative, and I hope you will find a solution to reduce and even cure your sensitive scalp.

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