Knowing the difference between Dry Scalp and Dandruff can save you a lot of time and money. Dry scalp and dandruff are probably on two separate ends of the same spectrum. Dry scalp being on one extreme, Dandruff on the other. Mistaking one for the other can actually create more of a scalp/hair issue.
Dry scalp can be caused by a series of things; the weather, the sun, products used (especially shampoo)... literally a series of things. Finding out what is causing it is the first step on figuring out how to solve it. For many, it's the shampoo. Sulfates, alcohols, parabens, cones... All known for drying out the hair and irritating the scalp. Opting for a shampoo that doesn't have any of those ingredients would be best.
Grease or petroleum products can also cause dry skin. They don't penetrate the scalp follicles and can actually clog pores. It's best to avoid "greasing" the scalp and oiling it instead. I recommend light oils that are able to penetrate the hair follicle and scalp. My favorite oils are:
- Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
I try to avoid heavy oils in my hair to avoid any build up or oiliness, you may use whatever oil you like. If you need relief from scratching, add some Eucalyptus oil or Spearmint to your oil, just a few drops or else you'll risk drying your hair out with your home remedy.
Many don't know that contrary to dry scalp, dandruff is actually a fungus. It's a contagious bacteria that can be transferred from person to person via hair tools and accessories. Dandruff can be spotted in big white flaky chunks, that fall out your hair creating a "snow" look. If you mistreat your dandruff as dry scalp and add oils or "grease" your scalp, you could be feeding the bacteria and increasing your chances of having more dandruff.
One old school remedy that my mother used on my hair was soaking a cotton ball in Sea Breeze (or any mild astringent) and applying it to my scalp. This killed any bacteria on my scalp and also helped refresh it from scratching. There are also a wide variety of shampoos recommended for dandruff, finding one that suits your hair AND scalp needs may be a little tricky.