The 7 best scalp oils for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff

Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff are often aggravated by oils so applying an oil to your scalp may seem counterintuitive. And you’re right. 9 out of 10 scalp and hair oils on the market would probably make your scalp feel greasy and cause more itchy flakes to form. However, if you choose the right oil, it can improve the symptoms of scalp SD and dandruff. 

Let’s take a deep dive:

Best overall scalp oil: Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment for Women and Men that Soothes a Dry, Flaky, Itchy Scalp, 1 OunceCheck it out on Amazon

If you’re looking for an effective solution to solve all your scalp issues, look no further than the Brigeo Scalp Revival Treatment. It’s chock-full of amazing ingredients to combat seborrheic dermatitis:

You can apply it as a pre-shampoo treatment but it’s best used as a leave-in scalp oil. Just massage a few drops into your scalp before styling.

Best oil for dry scalps: Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment

Living Proof Scalp Care Dry Scalp TreatmentCheck it out on Amazon

Sometimes the cause for dandruff isn’t excess oil but a scalp that is too dry. If that’s the case for you, this leave-in scalp treatment hydrates the scalp, reducing itching and flaking. Its star ingredients are niacimide and hyaluronic acid.

It is best used on clean, damp hair. Massage directly into the scalp and leave on until your next shampoo.

Most soothing scalp oil: Klorane SOS Serum with Peony

Klorane Soothing Scalp Serum with Peony, 3.4 fl. oz.Check it out on Amazon

I am a huge fan of Klorane hair products. They always deliver results and smell divine. The SOS Serum is no different. This lightweight scalp spray gives you immediate relief from itching. It doesn’t contain any antifungal compounds and isn’t a treatment for dandruff. However, it contains peony extract and menthol. Both these compounds soothes the scalp and calms inflammation.

Spray on towel-dried hair or dry scalp and massage it in to distribute the product evenly on the scalp. You can leave it in until your next hair wash.

Most invigorating scalp oil: OGX Extra Strength Dry Scalp Treatment

OGX Extra Strength Refreshing + Invigorating Teatree Mint Dry Scalp Treatment with Witch Hazel Astringent to Help Remove Scalp Buildup, Paraben-Free, Sulfate Surfactant-Free, 4 fl ozCheck it out on Amazon

This little bottle is like a dynamo of freshness. It contains compounds to combat seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff while invigorating your senses.

  • tea tree oil to kill Malassezia
  • peppermint to invigorate the scalp
  • witch hazel to remove buildup

It’s best used right after you wash your hair. Work the product through your hair and massage into your scalp. You can then style as usual.

Best treatment scalp oil: Difeel Tea Tree Hair Oil

Difeel Premium Natural Hair Oil - Tea Tree Oil for Dry Scalp 8 Ounce (3-Pack)Check it out on Amazon

Tea tree oil is hands down the best essential oil to combat Malassezia. The problem is you can’t use it undiluted as it’s too strong and will irritate. You can mix a few drops of tea tree oil into a safe carrier oil for seborrheic dermatitis and massage it into your scalp.

Or you can choose a product like Difeel Tea Tree Oil. This hair oil comes pre-blended and contains tea tree oil, soybean oil, and beneficial herbs like rosemary, sage, nettle, and raspberry extract.

Best scalp oil for curly hair: MCT oil

Bulletproof XCT MCT Oil Made with C10 and C8 MCT Oil, 32 Oz, Amplifies Energy, Keto FriendlyCheck it out on Amazon

Or buy it directly from Bulletproof with my special code MADAMEWELL20 for an extra 20% off! 


There are only a few carrier oils that are safe to use in seborrheic dermatitis and MCT oil is among the top. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. MCT oil is mostly derived from coconut oil but unlike coconut oil, it doesn’t contain long-chain fatty acids that Malassezia like to feed on.

MCT oil has antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which helps to improve seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.

Further reading: MCT oil without lauric acid for seborrheic dermatitis

Best scalp oil for black hair: Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Scalp Elixir

Head and Shoulders Scalp Elixir Treatment, Instant Soothe, Anti Dandruff, Royal Oils Collection with Cooling Menthol and Peppermint oil, 4.2 fl oz(packaging may vary)Check it out on Amazon

Cheaper doesn’t mean lower quality. Head & Shoulders is a famous name in the dandruff game. Their Royals Oils Instant Soothe Scalp Elixir promises promises to leave your scalp feeling fresh and and calm. It is developed for black hair and is suitable even if you have twists and locs. The elixir also contains zinc pyrithione (same as the shampoo) to help erradicate Malassezia. It also has niacimide, menthol and peppermint oils to give your scalp a tingly sensation and soothe inflammation.

Just massage it gently into your scalp and roots any time your scalp feels itchy.

How to choose the best scalp oils for seborrheic dermatitis?

Ironically, the ideal leave-in scalp oil does not leave your scalp oily. This means it needs to be a blend of other ingredients so the product doesn’t only contain oil. That’s why most of the products in my list are more like serums or elixirs.

If you’re using an ‘oily scalp oil’, it should be used as a pre-shampoo treatment with the intention of rinsing it out in 10-20 minutes. However, if you have a dry scalp, then using a few drops of oil post-hair wash may be helpful to prevent dryness which can also lead to itching, flaking and rebound oiliness.

Choose scalp oils that:

What is the best way to apply scalp oils?

Unless I’ve chosen an oil blend as a pre-shampoo treatment, I like using leave-in scalp oils on clean, towel-dried hair. I let it absorb and do its magic until my next hair wash.

I find the best way is to massage a few drops into different sections of my scalp. That way, the product is distributed evenly over the whole scalp. I concentrate on areas that are more itchy like the crown of my head and the nape. Massaging it in not only helps improve absorption but also encourages blood circulation and relaxes you. Win-win.

To wrap up

Scalp oils clear excess sebum and hydrate the scalp, which helps in the faster removal of dead cells and reduces flaking. They are soothing and calming, which helps to bring about faster skin healing and reins in the psychological impact of seborrheic dermatitis.

You may also be interested in The 6 Best Conditioners for Seborrheic Dermatitis and other treatments for seborrheic dermatitis.

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