5 Best Scalp Moisturizers for Black Hair That are Easy to Apply
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According to a report published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, a staggering 44% of African American women have a history of dry, itchy, and scaling scalps. 
The strongest contributing factor is hair care practices such as chemical relaxers, hair extensions, and tight hairstyles that cause tension, inflammation, and other scalp disorders such as Seborrheic Dermatitis and Trichorrhexis Nodosa.
Trichorrhexis Nodosa is a condition that causes persistent hair breakage making it seem like the hair is not growing.
Seborrheic Dermatitis is a condition that causes dandruff, itching, and sometimes redness on the scalp.
When it comes to scalp health amongst black people, the main concern is the lack of a proper scalp care routine. People with afro-textured hair often face challenges keeping their scalp moisturized due to their dense hair textures that make it difficult to apply scalp moisturizers.
Plus, most products like creams, oil, and lotions can potentially cause buildup on the scalp if not properly washed off. It is important for people with afro-textured hair to find products that are easily absorbed by the scalp, won’t cause buildup and residue, and won’t make their roots look greasy.
After testing a few ourselves, we found 5 scalp moisturizers for black hair that can effectively address these challenges and yield excellent results.
The reason is that they are super easy to apply on even the kinkiest of curl patterns and don’t cause buildup and greasy roots.
So here they are …
Table of Contents
- 1. LivSo Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Scalp
- 2. Head & Shoulders Supreme Scalp Hydrating Serum
- 3. Head & Shoulders Clinical Moisturizing Scalp Cream
- 4. SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream
- 5. Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Hair Care Set- Hair & Scalp Oil
- Buying Guide – What to Look for in a Scalp Moisturizer for Black Afro Hair
- Does Your Scalp Feel Dry Like the Sahara?
1. LivSo Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Scalp
LivSo is a hair care brand that develops products to treat dry and itchy scalp problems. They use organic, non-irritating, sulfate-free, and moisturizing formulations that are kind and gentle to the skin.
Founded by Shari Hicks-Graham, M.D., a curly-haired Board-Certified Dermatologist, LivSo products are made specifically for people with afro-textured hair and the dry, itchy struggles underneath those textures.
LivSo understands the unique needs of black African American people’s scalps and hair, and expert dermatologists formulate their scalp moisturizing products.
97% of people who used LivSo products for 12 weeks claimed it was one of the best black hair products for dry and itchy scalps.
LivSo Moisturizing Lotion for Dry Scalp
- Capacity: 8.5 fl.oz / 250 ml.
- Active Ingredients: Willow bark extracts, coconut oil, shea butter, ceramides.
- Item form: Lightweight lotion (not oil).
- 91% saw improved scalp conditions in less than 4 weeks
- Lightweight and easy to apply.
- No sulfates and no parabens.
- Does not make the scalp and hair greasy.
- Eliminates dry flakes and dandruff.
- Contains antibacterial ingredients.
- Rich in natural lipid fats to moisturize the scalp.
- Contains scalp-nourishing ingredients.
- Can be used on chemically treated hair.
- Contains AHA – Stay away from the sun when using it.
The people who used this product had a history of one or a combination of the following:
- Protective hairstyles scalp tightness.
- Transitioning into natural hair.
- Winter skin problems.
- Sensitive scalp after hair relaxing treatment.
I bought the LivSo dry scalp lotion because my scalp always feels dry during the winter months – plus, I live in a hard water area, which does not help. Using the Livso scalp lotion has significantly helped me reduce my scalp’s dryness, itchiness, tightness, and discomfort. It is so lightweight that you barely feel it when applying. I prefer this product to others because it does not make my scalp greasy. It absorbs instantly, and I can wear it several times a day.
Let me tell you what makes this product so effective:
- Willow Bark Extracts
- Willow bark extract can treat dry and itchy scalp problems due to its salicylic acid, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. By gently exfoliating dead skin cells and removing excess oil, it prevents flaking and clogged hair follicles while reducing itchiness. 
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut oil has a low molecular structure that allows for easy absorption onto the hair and scalp. Rich in fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antifungal properties, coconut oil’s unique composition makes it an excellent moisturizer for treating dry and itchy scalps.
- Shea Butter
- Shea butter, a luxurious fat extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), is rich in oleic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid, which are essential for maintaining the scalp’s moisture balance. These fatty acids create a barrier that helps the scalp retain moisture.
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice is composed of over 99% water, which makes it a natural hydrator. It can provide the scalp with much-needed moisture, alleviating dryness and promoting a healthy environment for hair growth. Aloe vera also possesses antifungal and antibacterial properties thanks to anthraquinones and salicylic acid compounds. These properties can help treat and prevent scalp infections, often associated with itchiness and inflammation.
A low pH of 4.5 also helps maintain the scalp’s pH balance, which is essential to keep the scalp moisturized and less prone to bacterial infections.
- Chamomile Flower Extracts
- Chamomile flower extracts relieve dry and itchy skin due to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Rich in bioactive compounds like apigenin, luteolin, and bisabolol, these extracts soothe irritation and protect the scalp from oxidative stress. They also nourish the scalp with vitamins and minerals while promoting circulation for healthy hair growth. Incorporating Chamomile flower extracts into hair care routines can treat dry scalp problems.
- Soybean Seed Extracts
- Soybean extracts contain natural lipids, oils, and proteins. Soybean also has antioxidant-rich isoflavones that can protect against oxidative stress and reduce irritation and inflammation.
- Meadowsweet Extracts
- Meadowsweet extracts (Filipendula Ulmaria) have potent astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains salicylates (salicylic acid), flavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins, vitamins, and minerals that nourish the scalp while inhibiting bacterial activity. 
The LivSo dry scalp moisturizer is a cocktail of pure botanical goodness and it works without any side effects.
When I had to choose a suitable product for my dry scalp conditions, I also evaluated the Head & Shoulders scalp elixir.
Both products provide targeted relief for dry, itchy scalps and are also sulfate-free and paraben-free. The key decisive factor for me was that the LivSo scalp moisturizing lotion does not contain Benzyl Alcohol as a preservative. Benzyl alcohol, although considered safe in low concentrations, can cause skin irritation in some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin or allergies. The irritation can manifest as redness, itching, or a burning sensation on the scalp.
The LivSo dry scalp moisturizer for black hair does not contain any chemicals that can cause irritations. It has a dermatologically-tested seal of approval.
How to use it:
- Wash your hair.
- Before drying and styling, apply the lotion directly to the scalp.
- Massage it evenly.
- No need to rinse out.
2. Head & Shoulders Supreme Scalp Hydrating Serum
The Head & Shoulders scalp hydrating serum can be used between washes to keep the scalp hydrated and refreshed. It’s a useful product for people who struggle with a flaky scalp near the front.
Head & Shoulders Supreme Scalp Hydrating Serum
- Capacity: 1.3 fl. oz / 40 ml.
- Active Ingredients: Argan oil, Niacinamide.
- Scent: Clean and fresh.
- Item form: Thick lotion (Not oil).
- Reinvigorates and refreshes the scalp.
- Sulfate-free, paraben-free.
- Can be used on damp or dry scalp.
- Does not leave the scalp feeling greasy.
- Immediate dry scalp relief.
- Pipette for easy application.
- Contains Benzyl Alcohol.
When I am not using LivSo and just need a quick touch-up near my forehead, the Head & Shoulders scalp moisturizer serum is my favorite because of its quick and easy application. Plus, it’s a small bottle that I can carry easily in my handbag. It does an excellent job at treating flakes and white patches of dryness on my forehead and edges.
Head & Shoulders has a long-standing reputation as a leading brand in hair care products and is considered America’s number 1 dermatologist-recommended brand.
This scalp serum is no exception.
Formulated with vitamin E, argan oil, pyrithione zinc 0.1%, niacinamide, and hydrogenated castor oil as key active ingredients, this scalp serum delivers immediate relief to dry scalp problems.
The Head & Shoulders scalp serum can also be used as a dandruff treatment serum for black hair as it contains pyrithione zinc, which has been clinically proven to treat dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and dry scalp.
The serum’s effectiveness in providing quick relief and promoting a healthier scalp has made it an indispensable part of my on-the-go hair care routine. I don’t use it daily but alternate between the LivSo scalp moisturizer and this one. The Head & Shoulders is a good option for those who prefer a discreet product they can carry in their handbags.
How to use it:
- Add a few drops directly on the scalp.
- Use as and when needed in between washes.
3. Head & Shoulders Clinical Moisturizing Scalp Cream
The Head & Shoulders Royal oil scalp cream is a moisturizing dry scalp treatment for black hair that provides up to 24 hours of relief from dryness and itch associated with dandruff.
One thing you must know about the brand’s new range:
The Royal oils range from Head & Shoulders has been specifically created for African American hair types. It’s a range developed by black scientists who understand the characteristics and challenges of black people’s hair and skin.
Head & Shoulders Clinical Moisturizing Scalp Cream
- Capacity: 5 fl. oz / 150 ml.
- Active Ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc 0.1%.
- Scent: Coconut.
- Item form: Cream.
- 24-hour scalp relief.
- No-rinse formula
- Lightweight and fast-absorbing.
- Only use it if you have dandruff.
I tried the Head & Shoulders scalp cream treatment as part of the review and testing for this article roundup. The product is not expensive at all; it’s around $10. So it was totally worth it to get a good understanding of how dry scalp treatments from different brands work, what they use as common base ingredients, and what to watch out for.
This product gave me a better insight.
First, let me say that I have dry scalp occasionally due to hard water and the winter. But I don’t have a dandruff problem.
The Head & Shoulders dry scalp cream is specifically designed for dry scalp associated with dandruff. It’s not intended for people like me who have occasional dry scalp.
If you suffer from dry scalp and dandruff, Royal Oils is an excellent scalp treatment that can address both. But if you’re like me, with no dandruff to worry about, Livso is a better choice because pyrithione zinc can cause a burning sensation and may irritate sensitive skin.
How to use:
- Place the tip of the bottle on your scalp.
- Squeeze the bottle while moving from front to back.
- Use your fingers to massage it evenly.
- Use daily.
4. SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream
Applying a scalp cream to afro kinky and coily hair can be challenging for several reasons. The unique texture, density, and curl pattern of these hair types make it difficult to distribute the product evenly on the scalp, and if the product consistency is not right, it can make your roots greasy and leave residue.
The Shea Moisture Scalp Moisture Cream is a scalp moisturizer designed specifically for black afro hair. Its dispensing nozzle makes it super easy to apply to curly, coily, and kinky hair types.
SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream
- Capacity: 4 fl. oz / 118 ml
- Active Ingredients: Organic shea butter, aloe butter, vitamin B3
- Item form: Cream.
- Scent: Flowery scent.
- Leaves the scalp 8x more moisturized.
- Easy application with bottle tip dispenser.
- Does not leave residue when dry.
- Does not make roots greasy.
- Strong smell.
The first time I tried it, it was as easy as squeezing the bottle and allowing the cream to slowly dispense through the tip as I moved it along my scalp. The cream filtered through my dense kinky hair and reached my scalp without causing buildup or greasy roots. I love the pointed-tip nozzle applicator design because it helps me use the product by precisely targeting the dry areas of my scalp.
The SheaMoisture scalp cream boasts a blend of natural and nourishing ingredients, including coconut oil, rosemary extracts, glycerin, and, most importantly, shea butter – known for its highly effective moisturizing properties.
What I like about the SheaMoisture brand is its commitment to using natural ingredients. Their products are also cruelty-free and made without harmful chemicals, such as parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. The brand has received numerous awards for its product innovations and commitment to sustainability, adding to the authenticity of the scalp moisture cream.
This cream leaves the scalp 8x more moisturized than other products in the same category.
Bold claim. Yes! But once you use it, you’ll know exactly why.
I was about to add the Tgin butter cream moisturizer to this list but opted for the SheaMoisture scalp cream instead. I’ve seen many people recommend the Tgin moisturizer as a dry scalp treatment for black hair. But upon close inspection and looking at the product details, it’s clearly not intended to be used on the scalp. The Tgin moisturizer does not have an easy applicator like the SheaMoisture cream, leaves flaky white residues, and has some bad ingredients to avoid, like DMDM Hydantoin.
How to use the SheaMoisture scalp cream:
- Apply to dry or towel-dried hair.
- Squeeze the bottle while moving the tip along your scalp.
- Massage the cream thoroughly.
- Do not wash or rinse.
- Use daily.
5. Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Hair Care Set- Hair & Scalp Oil
Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength hair & scalp oil is formulated to cater to a wide range of curl types, from 2A to 4C, making it suitable for a diverse range of natural black hair textures.
This formulation ranks among the top oils for combating dry scalp in African American hair types, featuring an exceptional combination of 7 natural oils, including castor, olive, and jojoba oil.
Carol's Daughter Goddess Strength Hair Care Set- Hair & Scalp Oil
- Capacity: 4.2 fl. oz / 125 ml.
- Active Ingredients: Castor oil, ginger, black cumin seed.
- Scent: Natural.
- Item form: Oil.
- Very light formula.
- 7 oils blend.
- Sulfate-free and alcohol-free.
- No harsh chemicals and mineral oils.
- Improves hair elasticity.
- Strengthens hair and reduces breakage.
- Good for color-treated hair.
Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength scalp oil addresses the need for a scalp oil for natural black hair and combines the benefits of various other oils and ingredients. It’s an oil-based moisturizer for black hair with a unique blend that simultaneously targets dryness, itchiness, and frizz.
When I used it for the test review, my scalp felt consistently moisturized, and the oil significantly reduced the need for frequent application compared to other products.
The scalp oil also has a pointed-tip applicator, which allows precise application to the scalp.
How to use it:
- Start with freshly washed and conditioned hair.
- Apply the scalp moisturizing product onto either damp or dry hair
- Use the pointed-tip applicator to apply the product directly to the scalp.
- Gently massage the product into both the scalp and hair.
- Do not rinse the product out.
- Proceed to style as desired.
- For optimal results, use the product daily or frequently as needed.
- For added nourishment, follow up with a leave-in conditioner spray or cream.
Buying Guide – What to Look for in a Scalp Moisturizer for Black Afro Hair
When buying a scalp moisturizer for black hair, there are several things to consider to ensure you get the best product for your needs. A good dry scalp moisturizer should contain ingredients that moisturize the scalp without making your roots feel greasy or leaving sticky buildup.
The product must also be easy to apply to effectively reach the scalp and treat the affected areas.
We’ve considered all these challenges and tried a few variations of products ranging from lotions to creams to oils to find what works best for the different textures of afro hair, and here are some of our best tips to consider:
Type of Scalp Moisturizer
There are 3 different types of scalp moisturizers for black hair – lotions, creams, and oils.
To find out which one will work best for you, here is a useful table to help you understand the differences and use cases for each of these types:
|When to use
|Light, water-based scalp moisturizer for black hair that quickly absorbs.
|Ideal for fine and thin hair. Can be used daily or as a leave-in conditioner without rinsing.
|Scalp moisturizing oils are primarily composed of a single type of oil or a blend of two or three. The most common oils used in scalp moisturizers are argan, coconut, jojoba, and olive oil. Oils can provide targeted relief for specific scalp concerns like dryness, itchiness, or dandruff.
|Use a scalp moisturizer cream if your hair type is thick and coarse. Thick and coarse hair can better handle the weight and texture of a scalp moisturizer cream without becoming greasy or weighed down. Fine or thin hair may struggle with the heaviness of creams and oils, leading to limpness or greasiness. Lotions, being lighter, work better for fine or thin hair but may get fully absorbed by the hair before reaching the scalp.
|Dry scalp creams are thicker in consistency, have more emollients that provide a higher level of hydration, and often contain a mix of oils.
|Oils are excellent for deep hydration and addressing specific scalp concerns, such as dryness or itchiness. They can be used as a stand-alone treatment or combined with other products. However, they may be too heavy for some hair types, especially when used daily.
Easy Application – Pointed-Tip Nozzle Applicator
A nozzle or pointed-tip applicator allows for more precise application, making it easier to apply the product directly to the scalp without getting caught in the hair strands. This ensures that the product reaches the intended area and provides maximum benefits.
Does Not Leave Roots Greasy
When choosing a dry scalp moisturizer, avoiding products that leave your roots greasy is important because excess oil on the scalp can cause other issues, such as dandruff and scalp acne. Therefore, if your scalp is prone to greasiness, it is recommended to use scalp moisturizers that contain astringent ingredients like tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar to balance moisture.
Does Not Leave Residue and Flakes
Some dry scalp creams and conditioners may contain heavy oils and butters that can dry out and cause buildup and flakes. In addition, some products may contain ingredients like aloe vera and jojoba that can leave a sticky residue on the scalp. Therefore, it is important to choose scalp moisturizers that contain ingredients such as shea butter and coconut oil that can absorb easily without leaving residue or flakes behind.
The scalp is a sensitive area that can easily become irritated or inflamed, especially if it is already dry. Some ingredients in hair care products, like alcohol and sulfates, can cause irritation and inflammation on the scalp, leading to further dryness and discomfort. Choose a scalp moisturizer that is free of these irritants. You must also perform a patch test before using any new hair care product, including scalp moisturizers, to ensure that you are not allergic or sensitive to any ingredients. This involves applying a small amount of the product to a small area of skin, such as behind the ear, and waiting 24-48 hours to see if any redness, itching, or other signs of irritation develop.
Natural Ingredients Over Chemicals
Natural and organic ingredients tend to be gentler on the scalp than synthetic chemicals, reducing the risk of irritation, itchiness, or inflammation. It is also good to patch-test new products and consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns about your hair or scalp health.
Does Your Scalp Feel Dry Like the Sahara?
Healthy hair growth starts with a healthy scalp. But if your scalp feels dry like the Sahara, itch, and flaky, it’s time to take action. Otherwise, it can lead to other problems like dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, and even hair loss.
The best way to prevent scalp dryness is using a good moisturizer that can effectively target the problem areas and rebalance your scalp.
References & Citations
- Gathers, Raechele Cochran, and Meredith Grace Mahan. “African american women, hair care, and health barriers.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 7,9 (2014): 26-9.
Retrieved on April 24, 2023.
- Goyal, Anju et al. “Bioactive-Based Cosmeceuticals: An Update on Emerging Trends.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 27,3 828. 27 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3390/molecules27030828
Retrieved on April 24, 2023.
- Ranganathan, S, and T Mukhopadhyay. “Dandruff: the most commercially exploited skin disease.” Indian journal of dermatology vol. 55,2 (2010): 130-4. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.62734
Retrieved on April 24, 2023.
About the Author
Kayla Davis is a self-proclaimed skincare and haircare junkie who loves testing out new products and writing about her experiences. Her bathroom shelves are always overflowing with beauty products. You name it - it's there.