lab rat

Lab Rat: In Search of a Shampoo for Itchy Scalps

If you’re the type who has to wash her hair every day (or just has a predisposition toward a flaky scalp), chances are you spend the day scratching a scalp that is a bit too dried out. Klorane’s Soothing Shampoo With Peony will help you with that scratchy itch. It uses a molecule found in its namesake peonies, which helps soothe irritation; it’s also gentle enough to be used on a daily basis. The stuff smells as pretty-in-pink as it looks, like a fresh bouquet of garden flowers. But it’s not fragrant to the point that you feel like you’re bathing in perfume. The suds factor is minimal, which is surprising since one of its key ingredients is sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), which is the chemical that makes things lather and bubble up. This is where we run into a slight issue.

I’ve got both a bob cut and coarse hair, so it’s a rare day when I wake up with hair that isn’t smooshed up in pillow-induced, gravity-defying angles. Friends and stylists alike have suggested that I rest my head on a silk pillowcase, which causes less friction against the hair, but I like the feel of a crisp, cotton sheet. Instead, I live a life of having to shampoo or condition my hair each day to smooth out the bed head.

In cold weather, my go-to for scalp relief is Philip B’s Anti-Flake Relief Shampoo. I had high standards for this Klorane version. But SLS is a detergent and something that often causes irritation once it has made contact with the skin. So it’s confusing that a “soothing” shampoo would have it as its primary ingredient (after water). Sure enough, after just one use, I was already getting a slight itch on my head. It was a new sensation, actually, and even more noticeable because, for the last two weeks, I had been itch-free thanks to Living Proof’s No Frizz Shampoo (I’d like to think that it’s a gift from my new friend, Jennifer Aniston). At $24, it’s almost double the price of Klorane, but it works. It might even be better than my beloved Philip B.; Living Proof, at least, doesn’t smell like farts.