Fact or Fiction: Does Witch Hazel Treat Dry Scalp?

by Catherine Devine

Delphine Achard/WWDDelphine Achard/WWD Could an astringent like witch hazel be the fix for itchy dry scalp? During a recent haircut, that's just what my hairstylist recommended--that I slather my head with astringent before I wash my hair. I'm always up for a good home remedy, especially one that could relieve one of the most annoying winter skin problems, and this one seemed easy enough. I checked in with dermatologist Jason Emer before I tried it--and good thing, because it turns out that it's not for everyone and can even make the problem worse.


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"Some astringents like witch hazel and calamine are known to soothe skin because of their anti-inflammatory properties," Emer says. "However, some patients get very dry after applying it, which in itself can be a stimulant for itching." His suggestion? Skip it, unless you have oily skin or hair, since "these formulas work topically to bind to residue and dead skin cells and remove them from the surface." If your hair isn't oily, you can treat dryness by cutting back on the number of times you shampoo each week, and by using a cleanser with salicylic acid (Neutrogena Maximum Strength T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo has three percent) to remove scaly flakes. "Some also use an over-the-counter scalp oil such as Bio Oil, which is moisturizing and anti-inflammatory," Emer says.


What products have you tried to treat dry scalp?

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