Last updated: September 26, 2020

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If you have ever found dandruff on your hair and clothes, we imagine that you know how embarrassing and uncomfortable this can be. Luckily for you, using the right dandruff shampoo with an adequate washing technique will help you minimize or even eliminate this issue altogether.

Dandruff is one of those common health problems that we struggle with. In fact, it is so common that it shouldn’t cause such a fuss when we suffer from it. Whether you have a mild case or a more severe one, proper treatment will always allow you to control dandruff easily. In our guide below, we tell you exactly how to do that with your shampoo.

Key Facts

  • Dandruff shampoo doesn’t merely help you fight this condition; it also leaves your hair soft and healthy.
  • Try to find a dandruff shampoo with ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, cleaners, selenium sulfide, and conditioners.
  • The composition becomes particularly relevant if you have allergies, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. We will discuss these criteria in greater detail in the last section of our guide.

Our Selection: The Best Dandruff Shampoos on the U.S. Market

The time has come for you to discover our very own selection of the best dandruff shampoos currently available on the market. In the descriptions below, you can learn more about each product and find out which will best suit your needs:

Best Dandruff Shampoo Overall

Nizoral’s dandruff relief shampoo is Amazon’s Choice in the category, and it’s easy to understand why when you read past customers’ reviews.

Made with ketoconazole 1%, it is clinically proven to maintain the health of your scalp, fight dandruff efficiently, and control itchiness. It also helps fight against dandruff-induced hair loss. This product works on all hair types.

Best All-Natural Dandruff Shampoo

Maple Holistics has created this special formula shampoo for those who prefer to have natural ingredients in their hair care products. Made in the U.S., this parabens-free shampoo offers a variety of benefits to your hair and scalp.

The specific properties of sage help combat dermatitis, while tea tree oil clears out dead cells and stimulates healthy hair growth. It also works on all hair types.

Best Shampoo for Severe Dandruff

Head & Shoulders is a household name in the hair care industry, and its Classic Clean shampoo is dermatologically tested and pH balanced to leave your hair soft and silky. With zinc pyrithione 1%, it protects from flakes, oil, and dryness.

The brand recommends using this shampoo every time you wash your hair for the best anti-dandruff results. This shampoo offers incredible value for money in this 32-fl. oz. twin pack.

Best Dandruff Shampoo & Hair Conditioner Set

The last product of our selection is this paraben and sulfate-free dandruff shampoo by WOW Skin Science. Complete with an organic virgin coconut oil hair conditioner, this set has everything you need to take care of your hair and fight dandruff.

The shampoo is made from 100% natural and raw Himalayan apple cider vinegar, a product known for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Dandruff Shampoos

In the following section, you will learn everything there is to know about dandruff shampoos, a product that might just change your life. And we’re not even exaggerating, so brighten up! All your dandruff struggles are about to disappear with these wonderful shampoos. Keep reading to understand fully how you will benefit from them.

Dandruff Shampoo-1

These specific shampoos eliminate the dandruff that you have and prevent it from reappearing.
(Source: Pablo Merchan Montes: BLVOO79UgWc/ Unsplash.com)

What is a dandruff shampoo exactly?

This hair product eliminates dandruff that you already have before preventing it from reappearing. The current composition of some of these products also allows you to use it daily without any contraindication. What’s more, a quality dandruff shampoo will also leave your hair healthy, soft, and hydrated.

It is important to note that severe cases of dandruff require you to consult a dermatologist because you may need additional medical treatment on top of your regular use of shampoo. However, the vast majority of people obtain great results with this product only.

What are the benefits of dandruff shampoos?

The good news for people living with this annoying health problem is that it is entirely treatable, and the solution starts with finding the right shampoo for your hair and your type of dandruff. This product will:

  • Eliminate skin peeling
  • Restore rapid cell renewal
  • Hydrate your scalp
  • Reduce itching and irritation

What ingredients do dandruff shampoos contain?

There are as many varieties of shampoos as there are ingredients in their composition. We have listed the most common ones in the list below, where you can also learn a little bit more about their roles:

  • Zinc pyrithione (ZPT): It prevents the dandruff-forming microbe, Malassezia globosa, from irritating the scalp.
  • Cleaners: They are vital for removing dirt and oil trapped in the hair.
  • Moisturizers and conditioners: These components are vital in ensuring that your hair remains silky and soft to the touch. This protects it and prevents it from forming knots.
  • Selenium sulfide: This powerful active ingredient is used to treat more severe scaling issues.

How can I choose the best dandruff shampoo?

For your new shampoo to be genuinely effective, look for active ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, and ketoconazole. Salicylic acid and coal tar are also frequently used, although these components are to be avoided for some types of hair.

In turn, you will have to apply a product based on shea butter, glycerin, and Aloe vera. Dermatologist Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology in New York City says:

Look for shampoos that have ingredients like ketoconazole or zinc pyrithione. Both of these are chemical compounds have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that reduce and prevent fungus growth on the scalp.

How often should I use my dandruff shampoo?

Doctors generally recommend starting with twice a week. If you still cannot see results, you can move up to three or four times a week. Some people even use it every day to get the best results possible. This will depend on how your scalp reacts to the dandruff shampoo you purchase.

Medical studies have shown that moderate to severe dandruff can be eliminated by shampooing three times a week. When you switch between a dandruff and a regular shampoo, however, you won’t obtain the most efficient results. This is because standard products can eliminate the anti-dandruff actives left on your scalp.

Dandruff Shampoo-2

Dandruff shampoos help eliminate scaling.
(Source: Fabiana Ponzi: 40657976/ 123rf.com)

What are the side effects of dandruff shampoos?

Just like any product designed to treat a health condition, there are possible side effects that must be known. We have listed them for you below:

  • Zinc pyrithione irritation: Some individuals may be allergic to zinc pyrithione or experience skin irritation.
  • Coal tar as a carcinogen: This component works as an anti-dandruff agent and as a biocide. It is a known carcinogen that can be toxic to your skin’s health. Coal tar is prohibited in several geographical regions such as Canada and the European Union, although you can find it in over-the-counter shampoos in the United States.
  • Effects of salicylic acid: This product helps fight dandruff by loosening scabs of dead skin. However, some people feel a burning or stinging sensation when applying a shampoo that contains salicylic acid.
  • Resorcinol irritation: It may irritate the skin, mucous membranes, and eyes.
  • Ketoconazole-induced urticaria: This medication may cause skin itching, hives, and rash when used topically.
  • Allergy to selenium: Some individuals may be allergic to this substance. Experts recommend against the use of anti-dandruff products containing selenium at a concentration of 2.5%.

What can cause the appearance of dandruff?

While there is no specific reason known to trigger this condition on the scalp, a combination of various factors certainly contribute to the appearance of dandruff. You can learn more about them in the following table:

Cause Why?
Seborrheic dermatitis Irritated and oily skin is more likely to cause dandruff.
Insufficient brushing  Regular combing or brushing of your hair reduces the risk of dandruff, as it helps normal shedding of the skin.
Microscopic yeast (that causes dandruff) Dandruff often worsens during the winter months and betters with warmer weather. This may be because ultraviolet-A (UVA) light from the sun counteracts yeast.
Dry skin Cold winter air combined with overheated rooms is a common cause of skin itching and peeling.
Skincare products or shampoos Certain hair care products may lead to a red, itchy, and scaling scalp.
 Specific skin conditions People with psoriasis, eczema, and some other skin disorders tend to have dandruff more often than others. Adults with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases are more prone to dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, Just like people with HIV, a weakened immune system, or who have had a heart attack or stroke.
Diet Not eating enough foods containing zinc, B vitamins, and some types of fats may increase the risk.
Mental stress There may be a correlation between stress and various skin conditions.
Age Dandruff is more common between adolescence and middle age, although it can last your whole life. It tends to affect men more than women, possibly for hormone-related reasons.

What else should I know before using my dandruff shampoo?

Here is a list of recommendations to help you make the most of your new shampoo:

  • Remove any scaly patch: This will make your shampoo more effective.
  • Alternate between your dandruff shampoo and your regular one: At first, you should only use the former if possible; however, it may lose its effectiveness after a while. This is when you are advised to use both shampoos during the week.
  • Rinse correctly: Some shampoos must be left on the scalp for around five minutes, and rinsing them too early won’t give the ingredient time to act. Other products, however, should be rinsed out immediately. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Discontinue use in case of irritation: You should always consult a doctor or pharmacist to choose the right shampoo if you have signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, or swelling.
  • Be careful if you have a disease: A person with a weakened immune system, e.g., due to HIV or AIDS, should consult their doctor regarding any type of dandruff.
  • Keep selenium sulfide away: This is only if you have light hair, as it could bleach it.
  • Moisturize: Regardless of the underlying cause of your dandruff, you should always hydrate your scalp with a conditioner. This is particularly important when using medical shampoos, such as those containing salicylic acid.
  • Keep oils away: And not just cooking oil! In many cases, additional oil will worsen the condition produced by seborrheic dermatitis.
Dandruff Shampoo-3

Doctors generally recommend starting to use dandruff shampoo twice a week.
(Source: Olena Kachmar: 69769422/ 123rf.com)

Can men and women use the same dandruff shampoo?

While some shampoos are sold as unisex products, you should know the differences between the hormonal system of men and women to make up your own mind. We have briefly explained them in the following table:

Men’s scalp Women’s scalp
Features  The wall of the scalp is weaker. It has higher levels of ceramides.
Percentages  Men are more likely to generate excess fat. Women produce 60% less sebum than men.
Solution Look for a shampoo specifically formulated for men to treat the presence of excess oil and fat on the scalp. Opt for a product that treats a wide range of issues, from cosmetics that provide sheen and softness to restorative shampoos that relieve dryness and dandruff.

Buyer’s Guide

Let’s now have a look at the essential aspects that every customer must take into account to choose the best dandruff shampoo for them. In the section below, we have summarized key purchasing criteria that will help you find the right product for your hair.

Hair Type

For many years, we believe that dandruff could only be treated with one type of shampoo; we now know that this isn’t the case at all. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to tackle this hair condition and repair the damage that dandruff causes to the scalp.

You should analyze which type of shampoo is right for you since brands have created products for dry, greasy, mixed, normal, and dyed hair. If your doctor thinks that you need special treatment for your dandruff, make sure to follow their professional advice.

Dandruff Shampoo-5

If you suffer from severe dandruff, consult your doctor and opt for a large-sized shampoo.
(Source: Hean Prinsloo: RCXkMy0kd5o/ Unsplash.com)

Composition

You may want to go for shampoos that add natural ingredients to their own formulas to enhance dandruff elimination and nutrient delivery. If you have allergies, pay very close attention to the composition. If you can, favor a shampoo with all-natural ingredients.

Warnings

You have to be particularly careful with the dandruff shampoo you choose if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your hair will be weaker, so you should avoid aggressive ingredients such as parabens. Always check the label, contact the manufacturer, or read user reviews before buying a shampoo.

Type of Dandruff

There are two types of dandruff: dry skin-related and oily scalp-related. Just like for your type of hair, you will find different shampoos for these two varieties of dandruff. In order to know which you need, simply check whether you have scabs on your scalp (oily dandruff) or white scales on your shoulders (dry dandruff). Read the labels carefully and pick accordingly!

Dr. Jessica WeiserDermatologist at New York Dermatology Group
“Dandruff, which presents itself as white flakes, is a mild and common form of seborrheic dermatitis. You can get it behind the ears, eyebrows, or even in folds of the face. It can be red, flaky, itchy, or a combination of all those factors.”

Value for Money

If you suffer from severe dandruff, consult your doctor and opt for a large-sized shampoo. This will give you the greatest value for money over time. If you have mild dandruff, you may only need to treat it for a few weeks. In that case, buying too big a product could be a waste of money.

Summary

As you may have noticed, choosing the right dandruff shampoo can be challenging. There are many aspects to consider, in particular if you are allergic or pregnant. Follow your doctor’s advice to make your decision that much easier. If you have any doubts, consult a professional or the manufacturer of the product.

One thing is certain: once you have picked the right shampoo with the help of our guide, you will solve your dandruff problem in a matter of weeks. Try it, and we promise you won’t regret it. And remember not to give up if you can’t see immediate results; with time, your dandruff shampoo will help.

Please let us know about your experience with your shampoo in our comments section below. You can also share this guide on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Vadim Guzhva: 63891176/ 123rf.com)

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