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Dandruff vs Dry Scalp: What's The Difference?

Because they share similarities, it can be hard to know whether you’re experiencing dandruff or a dry scalp. The two concerns are both common and can happen to anyone – but they’re actually distinct in nature, and a different approach is required to address and take care of either.

To know what you’re dealing with and establish the right haircare routine, this article walks through the causes, features and haircare response for dandruff vs dry scalp. If you’ve perfected glossy, strong and voluminous locks only to be let down by a stressed-out scalp, we’re here to help. Ahead, we dive into dry scalp vs dandruff and establish your professional haircare routine for regained radiance.

dandruff vs dry scalp

Dry scalp vs dandruff

Our scalps need care the same way the rest of the skin on our body does. It can help to think of scalp care in the same way you approach your skincare for facial complexions. We cleanse to remove impurities, exfoliate to clear dead skin and moisturise for hydration. Your scalp needs all these supportive steps too, and if compromised and unbalanced, common concerns like dandruff or dry scalp can result (which can also spell bad news for hair follicle growth). Let’s take a closer look at each.

What is a dry scalp?

A dry scalp is exactly what it sounds like. Just the same as dry skin on face, scalps can become imbalanced and lose important water content. If this happens, the area of skin around the scalp can become dry, resulting in the following appearance and feeling:

  • Discomfort or tightness
  • Dry hair
  • Small flakes which are white in appearance (similar to dead skin build-ups on face)

What is dandruff?

One of the main differences between dandruff vs dry scalp is that dandruff is viewed as a medical condition, whereas dry scalps result when skin is dehydrated. Because of this, it’s always recommended to speak to a healthcare professional. Dandruff can range in severity, but features tend to be more noticeable than a dry scalp:

  • Tenderness across the scalp, eyebrows and beard
  • Larger white or sometimes yellowish dandruff flakes that sit higher in the roots of hair
  • Sometimes, redness in skin

Causes of dandruff vs dry scalp

Though the signs can overlap, the causes of dandruff and dry scalp are distinct. Dandruff and dry scalp are often mistakenly associated with poor hygiene, but it’s important to remember that both these concerns can affect anyone (and can be due to a whole range of triggers).

  • Dandruff causes

Oiliness, stress, dryness, and yeast imbalance can all contribute to dandruff. Overwhelmingly for adults, dandruff occurs as a result of yeast interacting with oil on the scalp, which can trigger an overproduction of skin cells and result in a build-up of visible flakes. To find out more, check out our comprehensive guide to dandruff causes.

  • Dry scalp causes

Unlike dandruff, a dry scalp results from external and behavioural stress. Dehydration in skin occurs when moisture content becomes imbalanced, leading to a lack of essential water across skin layers. Moisture content can be impacted by dry and cold weather conditions, sun damage and behavioural triggers such as excessive hair washing.

How to care for dandruff vs dry scalp

An uptick in gentle and loving attention will help to address and improve both dandruff and dry scalp concerns. Once you’ve established whether you’re experiencing dry scalp vs dandruff, you can implement targeted haircare into your routine to regain scalp strength and balanced hydration. The Kérastase range of tailored hydrating and anti-dandruff haircare products are developed with skincare ingredients to improve clarity, shine and hair growth at a deep level.

Dry scalp haircare

If you have dry scalp, dandruff-like flakes can appear. Resulting from an increase in dead skin cells on the surface, these small white flakes can be cleared through effective exfoliation and rehydration. Try adding the following steps into your dry scalp routine:

Blond Absolu Lumiere Shampoo squeezed into hand

Tip #1: Use shampoos and conditioners specially formulated to hydrate the scalp and hair. Our Spécifique Vital Dermo-Calm Shampoo for Sensitive Scalp and Spécifique Masque Rehydratant Hydrating Mask clear scalp impurities and establish balanced moisture with plant based oils and skincare ingredients like glycerin.

Tip #2: Incorporate a scalp scrub. To remove visible flakes from your hair and scalp, a scrub can be added to your haircare regime. In the same way that exfoliators work to clear dead skin from complexions, Symbiose Micro-Exfoliating Cellular Scalp Scrub for Dandruff Flakes combines micro-peeling acid and plant-based beads to remove dead skin cells and flakes.

Tip #3: Add a scalp serum to your routine.To protect your scalp from the external stressors that can motivate dryness and dehydration, we suggest implementing a defence hair serum. Spécifique Serum Potentialiste Vitamin C Hair and Scalp Serum is enriched with vitamin C to comfort and strengthen the scalp.

Dandruff haircare

To improve dandruff concerns and reestablish a healthy scalp, a targeted approach is required. Symbiose is the new anti-dandruff hair care collection, developed to control, improve and prevent dandruff.

Tip #1: Begin with a scalp scrub.To remove visible dandruff flakes from your hair and scalp, Symbiose Micro-Exfoliating Cellular Scalp Scrub for Dandruff Flakes combines micro-peeling acid and plant-based beads alongside salicylic acid and apricot shell power.

Tip #2: Follow with tailored shampoo and conditioner. Symbiose anti-dandruff regimes are individualised to different needs. Just like facial routines, beautiful hair and scalps result when you look after your skin’s unique needs. Discover the Symbiose Anti-Dandruff Regime for Sensitive Scalp and Symbiose Anti-Dandruff Regime for Oily Scalp.

Found this article helpful? Now that you know the differences between dandruff vs dry scalp, discover how to repair damaged hair.

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