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We tend to think of the scalp as an integral part of our hair, but it’s actually skin—just like you know, the skin on your face. With that being said, if you have sensitive skin on your face and body, it’s fairly likely that your scalp is also prone to irritation, inflammation, flakiness and itchiness, making the hunt to find the best shampoo for sensitive scalps a top skincare priority. If your skin falls on the highly reactive end of the spectrum, you’re probably already aware that using harsher actives like Vitamin C and retinoids can cause some major flare-ups and discomfort, and the same is true when it comes to the stuff you put on your head.
Shampoos are notoriously laden with irritating chemicals and additives that can wreak havoc on a delicate scalp. From the violet-pigmented dyes in your purple shampoo, to the delicious, perfume-replacing fragrances in your daily hair wash, and even nasty additive like sulfates and parabens, these scalp no-no’s all happen to be common culprits linked with causing major scalp issues. As if these commonplace, impossible-to-pronounce shampoo ingredients weren’t troubling enough, you may be surprised to learn that some popular shampoos are infused with alcohol and, wait for it—even formaldehyde. Yikes, indeed.
There are endless shampoos on the market labeled with beauty buzzwords like “gentle,” and “moisturizing,” but often times, these formulas are still chock full of troublesome additives that won’t help you combat dandruff or irritation in the slightest. Natural shampoos—often infused with tea tree and other essentials oils can be a great place to start, but you’ll still want to do your research when it comes to reading the finely printed ingredient list on the back. If you’re clueless with where to start in your search, we’ve rounded up a few safe options for sensitive skin and irritated scalps that will still give your locks a good deep clean.
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1. Garnier Oat Delicacy Gentle Shampoo
This affordable shampoo offers an ultra gentle cleanse to sensitive scalps, delivering moisture thanks to a blend of natural extracts including oat milk and rice extract. Oat milk works wonders for those with sensitive skin because it functions as an all-natural anti-inflammatory, working to rid the scalp and strands of grease, grime and product buildup without stripping them completely.
2. Free & Clear Shampoo For Sensitive Skin
This shampoo is devoid of all of the most common scalp irritants—dyes, fragrance, preservatives, lanolin and parabens. It’s also dermatologist-tested and pH balanced, so emerge from your shampoo sesh with tresses that are shiny and soft—not flaky and inflamed.
3. Tree to Tub Soapberry For Hair
With an apt pH balance of 5.5, this hypoallergenic, sensitive-skin approved shampoo give your hair a good deep-clean without causing irritation or inducing a reaction. It’s so gentle that it’s even effective for those suffering from conditions like psoriasis, dandruff and damaged scalps.
4. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo
This clarifying shampoo will remove most of the pesky build-up on your scalp to reveal bouncy and shiny hair. The residue plagues your scalp will disappear. This shampoo is mild and gentle, though, so you won’t end up with dandruff and a dry scalp.