The Best Scalp Lotions of 2023 for Soothing Your Dry, Itchy Skin

Don't overlook the power of a scalp lotion if your skin could use some TLC.

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Woman Scratching Her Scalp
Photo: Getty Images

Chances are you apply a cream or lotion to nearly every inch of your body, excluding your scalp. But the same concerns that lotion addresses elsewhere — dryness, itchiness, and irritation — can affect the top of your head. And they may have a ripple effect since a healthy, moisturized scalp provides the ideal environment for healthy hair growth.

Enter scalp lotion. "Scalp lotion is specifically designed to nourish and hydrate the scalp," says William Gaunitz, a certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology. A scalp lotion can also help with scalp itchiness, redness, or flaking due to dryness, says Penny James, a certified trichologist and founder of Penny James Salon. We found the best scalp lotion overall to be the Mizani Scalp Care Calming Dry Scalp Lotion, thanks to its combination of moisturizing ingredients.

To save you time in your search for a lotion for scalp dryness, here are seven of the best scalp lotions of 2023.

The Winners

Best Overall Scalp Lotion: Mizani Scalp Care Calming Dry Scalp Lotion


Why We Like It: The natural, soothing ingredients are gentle on irritated skin.

It's Worth Noting: Some reviewers felt it was too thick to use easily.

Whether your dry, itchy scalp is caused by a skin condition or a protective style that's too tight, this scalp lotion may offer relief. It's made with aloe vera to soothe itchiness and moisturize, eucalyptus to soothe, and avocado oil, a moisturizing ingredient that Gaunitz recommends looking out for when choosing a scalp lotion.

"I have a dry scalp," writes one reviewer. "This scalp lotion really relieves the dryness and itchiness of the scalp. It is not oily which I like the best. One bottle lasts me for a month, I use it everyday especially in summer time and beginning of spring."

Price at time of publish: $24

Best Affordable Scalp Lotion: Headquarters Ultra-Hydrating Scalp Lotion

Headquarters Ultra Hydrating Scalp Lotion

Why We Like It: It's affordable and easy to find.

It's Worth Noting: Users were split on the scent.

Keep your scalp hydrated and balanced with this lightweight formula that combines a nourishing blend of botanical ingredients such as coconut oil and peony. It's an affordable and easily accessible lotion (just check your local Walmart) that's safe for all hair types, including color-treated hair.

"I got this HQ nourishing lotion for dry roots and scalp," wrote one reviewer. "I tend to have dry itchy scalp so I was excited to try this hair lotion. I applied it to my scalp after I finished my wash routine. It has a nice light scent (peony & coconut) and didn't leave an oily film on my hands. It sort of had a cool feeling on my scalp. I have noticed less itching and dryness on my scalp in the past week of use. I love the nozzle tip on the bottle so that it is easy to apply directly on my scalp. I will definitely keep this as part of my hair routine."

Price at time of publish: $8

Best Vegan Scalp Lotion: Alterna Haircare Renewing Scalp Leave-In Treatment with Hemp


Why We Like It: It's made with vegan botanical caviar, which restores moisture, elasticity, and shine.

It's Worth Noting: It's the most expensive scalp lotion on this list.

Alleviate dryness and itchiness with this creamy, leave-on formula that's made with vegan botanical caviar and hemp to hydrate and moisturize your scalp without weighing down your hair. It also includes witch hazel to help normalize oil production and balance your scalp's hydration level.

"I was really worried this would make my hair greasy but it doesn't!" wrote one reviewer. "It just feels soothing and hydrating and smells AMAZING. I love the Alterna scent. It s a perfect little treat after using their scalp scrub. I love the applicator for easily putting it on your scalp."

Price at time of publish: $48

Best Scalp Lotion for Thinning Hair: Living Proof Scalp Care Revitalizing Treatment

Living Proof

Why We Like It: It includes a scalp massager to help with application.

It's Worth Noting: It might leave an oily residue at the roots of your hair.

This scalp treatment was created with people experiencing hair thinning in mind. It protects against the negative impacts of environmental aggressors on your hair. The formula relies on yeast proteins and zinc salts to promote thicker hair, peptides to plump hair fibers and improve shine, and jojoba esters and vitamins to nourish and moisturize your scalp.

"This product really helped my scalp! It has a really nice scent and it made my scalp feel really hydrated! Highly recommend," wrote one reviewer. "I've been using this about 4 weeks, twice a week when I wash my hair, another noted. "This has really helped my very dry scalp, especially around my hairline during cold season. I've tried a couple drug store product, and this is the first one to work on my dry scalp. Definitely pricey, so I don't use it everyday, but will purchase again and use on-going."

Price at time of publish: $35

Best Scalp Lotion for Natural Hair: Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Scalp Cream Treatment

Head and Shoulders

Why We Like It: It was developed for Black hair specifically.

It's Worth Noting: Reviewers report having to reapply frequently.

The Royal Oils collection from Head & Shoulders was developed for Black hair by Black scientists. This scalp cream contains coconut oil to provide moisture to your scalp. It's suitable for natural hair, protective styles, such as twists and locs, or relaxed hair. Apply it all over your scalp to seal in moisture and prevent flakes and itchiness.

"I know it's probably not the best idea to keep my goddess locks in for so long, but baybeeee! This scalp treatment works! Normally, my scalp is itching like hell after two weeks, and the flakes take over my braids. Idk what this cream does differently than every other scalp treatment but it works, and I've tried all natural remedies to no avail. And surprisingly, there's not residue on my scalp or braids. A must buy if you struggle with dry scalp, itching, and flaking. Just buy!! Life changing!!" wrote one reviewer.

Price at time of publish: $11

Best Moisturizing Scalp Lotion: LivSo Moisturizing Lotion


Why We Like It: It contains ceramides to improve the overall health of your hair.

It's Worth Noting: This scalp lotion contains alpha-hydroxy acid, which can increase your skin's sun sensitivity.

This scalp lotion contains coconut oil, shea butter, and ceramides to help moisturize the skin of your scalp. Ceramides, FYI, strengthen your hair health by enhancing shine, improving elasticity, promoting moisture retention, and strengthening hair (making this an especially ideal scalp lotion for chemically treated hair). The addition of aloe vera and chamomile provides soothing benefits. "I've finally found a product that works!" raves one reviewer. "Tried so many things for my dry scalp, from over the counter dandruff shampoos, to tea tree essential oils. What I didn't realize was I needed something that would soothe and moisturize my scalp. Since using this product, I haven't had any more issues with dryness and itchiness. Also super lightweight, which I love. Doesn't leave my hair feeling gross and weighed down."

The LivSo scalp lotion also goes one step further by using alpha-hydroxy acid to exfoliate and soothe inflamed skin, but heads up: This type of chemical exfoliant can increase your sensitivity to the sun, so make sure to wear a hat or apply sunscreen to your scalp after using.

Price at time of publish: $18

Best Overnight Scalp Lotion: Kamedis Scalp Lotion


Why We Like It: Reviewers report this overnight scalp lotion works quickly.

It's Worth Noting: The lotion is an odd green-brown color, but it doesn't seem to leave a tint, even on light hair.

Right before you hit the hay, you can apply this rich, creamy leave-on formula to wake up with a scalp that feels moisturized, and comfortable. Its formula combines a mix of botanicals designed to reduce itchiness, irritation, dryness, and redness, and provide relief from dandruff.

"I have a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis and it usually flares up in the summer months when my scalp is damp, if I sweat, or if I have my hair in braids and the moisture is trapped underneath," wrote one reviewer. "I've tried so many different products and even created a few concoctions of my own to battle this. The itching gets so intense at times; it's very uncomfortable and once it dries, the scaly patches that come off are embarrassing. I'm super happy I bought this product because after a week of using it every night before bed, the redness and scaly patches are gone. In addition to consuming more natural anti-inflammatory foods, I'd definitely say this product is effective and did what it claims it does! 😊 I'll for sure be a repeat customer."

Price at time of publish: $21

How We Selected

We chose the seven best scalp lotions of 2023 by speaking with haircare experts to understand the causes of dry, itchy scalps and what ingredients are most effective in treating dry scalps. Then, we researched which scalp lotions are backed by haircare experts and dermatologists, examining ingredient lists and reading verified customer reviews to understand the efficacy of these products. Finally, we narrowed it down to this list, which we organized based on different hair types and needs.

What to Know About Scalp Lotions

While scalp lotions aren't a hair-care staple, they can be a worthwhile addition to your routine if you struggle with scalp dryness, itchiness, or irritation. Scalp lotions are effective at soothing a dry, itchy scalp since you leave them on for a longer period than rinse-off products, notes Anabel Kingsley president and consultant trichologist for Philip Kingsley. "They can be a great addition to your daily scalp care routine and used alongside other targeted treatments," she says.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What ingredients should a scalp lotion have?

    When shopping for a scalp lotion for dry scalp, look for "calming ingredients" such as aloe vera, chamomile, camphor, zinc, or benzalkonium chloride, says Kingsley.

  • Should a scalp lotion be lightweight or thick?

    The best scalp lotions are lightweight and fast-absorbing so that you can apply them between washes without leaving behind a heavy, greasy residue, but that's not always the case. "Oil-heavy lotions may leave your roots greasy and limp," says Kingsley. "They may also worsen certain scalp conditions, such as dandruff."

  • How long does it take to see results with scalp lotions?

    With some scalp lotions, you might experience softer, more moisturized skin within one or two uses. However, other scalp lotions (especially those that promise to thicken hair) can take up to 90 days to deliver results.

Why Trust Shape

Genesis Rivas covers a range of topics including beauty, fashion, health, and wellness, and she has particular expertise in hair health and hair care. She's been in the digital media industry for four years, starting her career with full-time internships at PureWow and during her time at Wagner College in Staten Island in New York City. Before contributing to the Shape team, she was a beauty writer for InStyle and REAL SIMPLE. She also previously covered beauty and wellness on HelloGiggles as an SEO content writer. Her work has also appeared on POPSUGAR,,, and more. When she's not busy creating content, you can probably find her dancing or eating her way through NYC.

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