Is It Dandruff Or Dry Scalp? Plus, How To Make An Aloe Scalp Mask
When the breeze gets colder and the sleet starts to pour, your skin may start to feel tight and dry, thanks to the lack of humidity. But are you overlooking the impact of this seasonal shift on your hair? The cold weather can bring about plenty of hair struggles—like increased hair shedding and dry, flaky scalps, to name a couple.
If the latter has been bothering you as of late, keep reading—we have the perfect first step for a dry, flaky scalp that's all-natural, DIY-friendly, and only takes a few minutes.
Is it dandruff or dry scalp?
First things first, you'll have to determine if you're dealing with dandruff or simply a dry scalp. Here's a quick way to tell:
"Dandruff flakes tend to be large, individual scale-like flakes on the scalp or base of the hair," board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., once told us about how to I.D. your flakes. Dandruff flakes can also be yellowish, while those that come with a dry scalp tend to be more white.
If you think you might have dandruff, check out this story for more expert guidance on how to treat it, as the regimen you'll need is very different from that for a dry scalp.
How to make the aloe vera scalp mask.
Now that you're sure you're dealing with run-of-the-mill dryness, try this DIY-friendly mask to instantly hydrate and soothe:
Get pure aloe.
To prep, you can either buy a fresh aloe vera leaf or 100% pure aloe vera gel (make sure to look out for added dyes or fragrance). If you opt for the fresh leaf, you'll need to scrape out the aloe gel and blend it until it reaches a more liquid consistency. If you bought the pure aloe gel, then you're all set.
You don't need to add any other ingredients to the mask—in fact, the simpler the better, as certified trichologist and celebrity stylist Shab Reslan previously told mbg.
Apply & let it set.
Apply the mask to a clean scalp before you shower. "Clean" is the operative word here; make sure you don't have tons of product buildup from dry shampoo or hair spray on your scalp. This way, the aloe can penetrate deeper and provide lasting hydration.
You can pour the aloe into a squirt bottle if that makes it easier for application, or you can use your hands. Really work the aloe vera into the scalp via a gentle scalp massage. Remember, use your fingertips, not your nails.
Let the mask sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it out, then follow your normal hair-wash routine. If you want to dive deeper into the benefits of aloe scalp masks—check out our full guide.
Level up your hydration.
It's essential to remember that your scalp is your skin, and it should be cared for as such. This means you should treat it more like skin, less like your hair. And to maximize hydration in the skin, you should start from within.
One way to do so is by including a hyaluronic acid supplement in your daily routine; ideally, you would consume one daily, but it's a great time to snag one during colder months when your skin or scalp begins to feel dry. Major bonus: HA supplements have even been shown to ease joint pain and stiffness1, another cold-weather downside for many. If you're ready to shop, we curated a list of the 13 best hyaluronic acid supplements to make your hunt a tad easier.
A dry scalp is unfortunately a common winter staple for some. An aloe vera scalp mask is just one quick, easy, and affordable way to combat dryness and relieve itch—but there's plenty more where that came from. Here are seven more tips for your browsing pleasure.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.