5 Ingredients to Avoid if You Have Dry & Sensitive Scalp

A dry and sensitive scalp can be uncomfortable and affect the appearance of your hair. The last thing you want to do is exacerbate the problem by committing these common scalp mistakes or using products with the wrong ingredients.

In this article, we will discuss five common ingredients you should avoid if you have a dry and sensitive scalp and provide tips for better care.


Sulfates are strong detergents that can strip the natural oils from your sensitive scalp, increasing dryness and irritation. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are some examples of sulfates commonly found in shampoos and other hair care products. 

It’s best to avoid products containing sulfates and opt for sulfate-free alternatives. We recommend you look for products that explicitly state ‘sulfate-free’ on the label and then check the ingredient list to verify their claims.


Fragrances may add a pleasant scent to hair care products, but they can be problematic for individuals with sensitive scalps. Many fragrances are made of synthetic chemicals that can trigger an allergic reaction and disrupt the scalp’s natural balance, causing dryness, flakiness, and increased sensitivity. 

For your sensitive scalp, choose fragrance-free products or those with natural fragrances instead. Natural fragrances derived from essential oils or botanical extracts are less likely to irritate your scalp.


Alcohol in hair care products acts as a solvent or a drying agent. While it can help products to evaporate quickly, it can also strip away moisture from your scalp, exacerbating dryness and irritation. Alcohol may also disrupt your scalp’s barrier function, weakening its ability to retain moisture and making it vulnerable to dryness and irritation. 

It is advisable to avoid products containing high amounts of alcohol, such as isopropyl alcohol or ethanol, and opt for alcohol-free alternatives that are gentler on your scalp.


Certain preservatives can be harsh on a sensitive scalp and irritate it. Strong preservatives include parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents, which help products  last longer, and isothiazolinones, which inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. 

A milder preservative is phenoxyethanol, which is used for itsanti-microbial properties. In sensitive individuals, though, even this ingredient can trigger a reaction.

If your scalp reacts to the above preservatives, you may explore plant-based preservatives like rosemary extract, grapefruit seed extract and neem oil.

Synthetic colourants

Synthetic colourants may irritate a dry and sensitive scalp. They often contain harsh chemicals such as ammonia, peroxide, and p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause scalp redness, itching, and inflammation. Colourants are usually listed as “CI” followed by a number and are used to give hair care products an appealing colour. 

Hair care products without synthetic colourants are best, but those with natural colouring like plant-based pigments could be compatible with a dry and sensitive scalp.

Caring for your dry and sensitive scalp

Use gentle and moisturising shampoos

Look for shampoos specifically formulated for sensitive scalps. These products are typically free of harsh ingredients, gentle on the skin, and provide moisture to alleviate dryness and irritation.

Avoid over-washing

Washing your hair every day can strip away the natural oils from your scalp and disrupt its balance. Instead, you should wash your hair every 2-3 days or as your doctor recommends.

Moisturise your scalp

Use a scalp moisturiser or natural oils, such as jojoba oil and coconut oil, to provide hydration to your scalp. Gently massage the moisturiser into your scalp to soothe and nourish your skin.

Everyone’s scalp is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to pay attention to scalp’s reactions and read product labels carefully, identifying the products that are friendly to or designed for  sensitive scalps. 

Do a patch test

As an added precaution, before using a new product on your whole scalp, you can also do a patch test on a part of your scalp to check for any adverse reactions.

Here’s how to perform a patch test:

  1. Select a small, inconspicuous area on your skin, such as the inside of your wrist or behind your ear.
  2. Cleanse the chosen area with mild soap and water, ensuring it is free from any other products or residues.
  3. Take a small amount of the hair care product and apply it to the patch test area. 
  4. Allow the product to remain on the patch test area for 24 hours. During this time, avoid washing or wetting the area.
  5. After the allotted time, examine the patch test area. If you experience any redness, itching, burning, or irritation, do not use the product.

Sensitive scalp treatment in Singapore

If you’re experiencing persistent sensitivity despite your best efforts to care for your dry and sensitive scalp at home, it’s advisable to seek professional help. Our scalp specialists at TrichoLab can assess your scalp condition, determine the underlying causes, and recommend a suitable treatment, such as the Sensitive Reduction Treatment.

Sensitive Reduction Treatment is an anti-irritant therapy that soothes and protects hypersensitive scalps from further aggravation. It is formulated with niacinamide, vitamin B5, oat protein, and green tea extracts to help alleviate scalp inflammation while boosting your scalp’s immune function.

Book a consultation now.

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