This article was produced in partnership with Blu Atlas
Dandruff is one of those pesky conditions that we try to avoid at all times. But, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of symptoms associated with dandruff: we’re talking dryness, flaking, itching, redness, oiliness, the list goes on. So if you want to prevent dandruff from becoming an issue for you, or if you’re struggling to get rid of dandruff, we’ve gathered a list of the 15 best anti-dandruff shampoos and shampoo treatments that will help you stay flake-free.
But before we get into our 15 best dandruff shampoos for men roundup, let’s first talk about what exactly dandruff is and what causes it. We most often recognize dandruff by the dry, white flakes of skin that are littered throughout your hair and on the collar of your shirt or shoulders. These flakes can also appear in your eyebrows, beard, or mustache.
While these dry, white flakes are harmless, that doesn’t mean they aren’t annoying. Not only can dandruff be embarrassing, but it can have your scalp constantly feeling dry, itchy, red, and irritated. So why do you get dandruff? Dandruff can have several causes, such as having skin that’s too dry or too oily or if the skin is irritated and inflamed. But the most common cause of acne is an overgrowth of the yeast-like fungus Malassezia. Which is why you’ll see many of the shampoos on our list use antifungal ingredients like pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfate, and tea tree oil (to name a few).
Below, you’ll find our list of the 15 hardest working anti-dandruff shampoos on the market you might want to consider adding to your flake-fighting routine.
Best of the Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: Blu Atlas Shampoo
This all-natural shampoo expertly leverages jojoba protein and aloe vera to target redness and irritation while moisturizing the scalp. Blu Atlas offers this product with a full money-back guarantee, so you risk nothing by giving it a try.
Best Luxury Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: SACHAJUAN Scalp Shampoo
This anti-dandruff shampoo by SACHAJUAN uses ingredients like salicylic acid, piroctone olamine, climbazole, rosemary oil, and lactic acid to hit dandruff and an irritated scalp from all angles.
Best Clinical Strength Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo
This clinical strength shampoo by Head & Shoulders uses selenium sulfide and ketoconazole for dandruff and flaking relief. This shampoo may be clinical strength, but it’s at an affordable price that won’t break the bank.
Best Anti-Dandruff Scalp Treatment: Phyto PHYTOSQUAM Intense Exfoliating Treatment Shampoo
This exfoliating treatment shampoo utilizes incredible ingredients like black pepper, Guyana wood, and willow extracts to loosen dandruff flakes, alleviate itching, balance the scalp’s skin barrier, and prevent dandruff from coming back.
Best Dandruff Shampoo for an Oily Scalp: AROMATICA Tea Tree Purifying Shampoo with Salicylic Acid
Treat an oily scalp with this clarifying shampoo by AROMATICA. This anti-dandruff shampoo uses salicylic acid, tea tree oil, hyssop, and burdock extract to balance sebum production and give the scalp a good clean.
Best Dandruff Shampoo for a Dry, Itchy Scalp: Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Cleansing Shampoo
If a dry, irritated scalp is your main concern, reach for this cleansing shampoo on your next hair wash day. It uses gentle clarifiers to lift away flakes and soothe scalp irritation. Plus, this shampoo has a fresh apple scent that makes your dandruff stresses fade away.
Best Dandruff Shampoo for Hair Health: Jupiter Balancing Shampoo
Zinc pyrithione is the star of this anti-dandruff show, but its hair-healthy co-stars include ingredients like squalane, coconut oil, and sugar kelp extract to hydrate hair and scalp, calm inflammation, and control dandruff irritation.
Best Multi-Purpose Dandruff Shampoo: Typology Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This anti-dandruff shampoo by Typology targets dry and oily dandruff with Piroctone olamine 1% and a plant-based blend of extracts like jujube, atlas cedar essential oil, and clary sage essential oil.
If you’re looking to nurture your scalp for dandruff control, why further bombard it with toxic agents and chemicals? Go all-natural with Blu Atlas’ gentle formula, which features jojoba protein and aloe vera to provide your scalp with much-needed hydration and relief. Continue using this eco-friendly product even after your dandruff has resolved, as jojoba is known to take care of clogged hair follicles and stimulate hair growth.
This product is suitable for all hair types, and like the entire Blu Atlas line, comes with a full money-back guarantee. Now that’s a sweet deal.
2. Selsun Blue Medicated with Menthol Dandruff Shampoo
This medicated, over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo is one of the best dandruff treatments on the market. Selsun Blue effectively treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis by utilizing maximum strength anti-dandruff ingredient selenium sulfide to target redness, itchiness, flaking, and irritation. And because it’s “anti-infective,” it will also slow yeast growth, contributing to dandruff. Bonus: it has a cooling, soothing sensation thanks to the ingredient menthol.
[from $12.19; amazon.com]
3. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Nizoral is a clinically proven anti-dandruff shampoo that reduces the notorious side effects that dandruff is known for (we’re talking flaking, scaling, and itchiness). To make an anti-dandruff treatment that does the job well, Nizoral uses the active ingredient ketoconazole at a concentration of 1%. This antifungal ingredient helps combat a specific yeast overgrowth on the scalp, known to cause dandruff. The Nizoral formula is powerful at treating dandruff, but it is also gentle enough to use on gray or color-treated, chemically processed hair.
4. Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo
If you have or have had dandruff in the past, you probably know of Head & Shoulders. The brand has made its way to the most-popular list with its Clinical Strength Dandruff Defense Shampoo. This anti-dandruff shampoo combines 1% selenium sulfide and 2% ketoconazole to fight flaking and the dandruff-causing yeast Malassezia. It’s been proven to have 35% more dandruff fighting power than other shampoos on the market, and 100% of users were shown in clinical studies to have improved anti-dandruff protection with regular use. Thanks to its anti-flaking and anti-itching formula, it’s also a viable option for those with seborrheic dermatitis.
5. Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner
This popular drugstore anti-dandruff shampoo contains the active ingredient pyrithione zinc to help control scalp itching and flaking. What’s unique about this formula, compared to others on our list, is that it also contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant and moisturizer that nourishes the scalp, and wheat protein to strengthen hair and defend against damage. Its gentle shampoo and conditioner combination ensures the anti-dandruff treatment isn’t drying. Plus, it’s safe for color-treated hair.
6. SACHAJUAN Scalp Shampoo
This anti-dandruff shampoo really is a healthy hair and scalp shampoo. It targets dandruff with hard-hitting ingredients like salicylic acid, piroctone olamine, and climbazole. But it also utilizes plant botanicals and extracts like rosemary oil, menthol, and ginger extract to calm irritation and itchiness. Additional scalp-benefiting ingredients like lactic acid help regulate oil production for a healthy moisture balance. Use this anti-dandruff shampoo as you would a normal shampoo, by massaging it into wet hair and focusing on the scalp, but leave it to sit for one to two minutes to do its job before rinsing and following with conditioner.
[from $31; shop.sachajuan.com]
7. Phyto PHYTOSQUAM Intense Exfoliating Treatment Shampoo
Many anti-dandruff shampoos are actually scalp treatments, such as this one by Phyto. This exfoliating scalp treatment cleanses hair and targets severe dandruff and itching with its botanical blend of dandruff-fighting extracts. In this vegan, fragrance-free formula, you’ll find black pepper and Guyana wood extracts which team up to loosen dandruff flakes from the scalp and nourish the skin barrier, salicylic acid and tea tree leaf oil to target dandruff directly, and antioxidant-rich willow extract which amplifies the anti-dandruff properties of the formula.
You’ll apply this exfoliating treatment differently than your standard shampoo. Start by applying it section by section onto a dry scalp, give each section a gentle massage, then let it sit for five to seven minutes before washing it out.
8. Jupiter Balancing Shampoo
This soothing, medicated anti-dandruff shampoo by Jupiter targets dandruff directly with the active ingredient zinc pyrithione at a concentration of 1%. The formula removes flakes, calms irritation, minimizes excess sebum, clears away buildup and residues, and moisturizes for a healthy scalp. In addition to its dandruff-fighting arsenal, this balancing shampoo includes hair-healthy ingredients like squalane to increase shine and prevent breakage, coconut oil to soften and hydrate, and sugar kelp extract for its anti-aging and antibacterial properties. This anti-dandruff shampoo doesn’t smell like a medicated hair wash; its uplifting scent is just downright heavenly with notes of mint, vanilla, sage, and lavender.
9. Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Cleansing Shampoo
Soothe a dry, irritated scalp with this anti-dandruff cleansing shampoo by Philip Kingsley. The formula is designed to gently cleanse the hair with clarifying agents that lift away dandruff flakes for good, all while calming any scalp irritation and inflammation. As a multi-award-winning formulation with hundreds of 5-star reviews, this anti-dandruff shampoo is a great option for those who want a gentle yet effective shampoo for daily use. To get the most out of this scalp shampoo, apply it to wet hair and create a lather by gently kneading the scalp. Rinse (repeat if necessary) and follow with conditioner.
10. BIOLAGE Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
To get dandruff under control, BIOLAGE Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo uses the active ingredient pyrithione zinc to help stop the yeast Malassezia and relieve scalp irritation and dry, visible flakes. You’ll use this dandruff fighting shampoo at least twice a week on a rinse-and-repeat schedule. Gently massage the treatment into wet hair and scalp and then rinse. You’ll then reapply but this time, let the treatment sit on the scalp for one to two minutes before rinsing. And because this shampoo has a tropical coconut scent, your hair won’t have that medicinal smell of traditional anti-dandruff shampoos.
11. Davines Purifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Whether your dandruff stems from a dry scalp or an oily scalp, this purifying shampoo by Davines can help. The formula uses antioxidants, dandelion root extract, and selenium sulfide to calm inflammation and target dandruff on the microbial level. You can use it as you would your regular shampoo once a week and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing. Or, you can use it as a more intensive hair and scalp treatment twice a week. And, according to its multiple 5-star reviews, this shampoo smells so good people might stop you in the streets to ask what scent you’re wearing.
12. Typology Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Like we mentioned earlier, there can be two different types of dandruff that may sound counterintuitive. There’s oily dandruff caused by the overproduction of sebum on the scalp, and there’s dry dandruff, which looks like the characteristic white flakes we picture when we think of this common scalp condition. To make it simpler for you, Typology created an anti-dandruff shampoo that targets both types. Its primary dandruff-fighting ingredient is piroctone olamine, which packs an antifungal punch to put Malassezia in its place. Piroctone olamine is also known to stimulate new hair growth (which is just the cherry on top). Other plant-based ingredients include jujube extract, atlas cedar essential oil, and clary sage essential oil.
13. AROMATICA Tea Tree Purifying Shampoo with Salicylic Acid
This cleansing, purifying shampoo uses tea tree oil and salicylic acid as its anti-dandruff soldiers. It’s especially great for those with an itchy, oily scalp as its soothing blend of ingredients like Perilla fruescens, Arctium lappa, hyssop, chamomile, and fenugreek extract control excess sebum production, soothe the scalp, and provide an effective clean. This anti-dandruff shampoo is also cruelty-free, vegan, eco-friendly, free of silicones and sulfates, and has a lovely hint of peppermint oil for a cool, refreshed feeling.
14. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo
If dandruff is something you’re constantly trying to control, then using a shampoo that’s suitable for everyday use can help maintain the health of your hair and scalp. This best-selling shampoo by Paul Mitchell uses superstar ingredient tea tree oil to purify and invigorate the scalp and hair. And because tea tree oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, it can help keep dandruff at bay. The formula also uses hair and skin-friendly ingredients like white ginger, algae, rosemary, and aloe vera leaf extracts to calm inflammation, soothe irritations, and protect the scalp. This shampoo is made for all hair types, as well as color-treated hair.
15. Hawthorne Dry Scalp Shampoo
One of the most frustratingly annoying parts of dandruff is the dry, itchy scalp. Hawthorne’s Dry Scalp Shampoo aims to balance and restore hydration to the scalp while also relieving irritation and removing dryness and flakes. In this formula, you’ll find natural ingredients like aloe vera (for soothing itchiness and repairing the scalp), peppermint oil (for increased circulation and a boost of freshness), rosebay extract (to calm irritation and remove flakes), and vitamin B5 (to strengthen and soften hair). Together, they improve hair and scalp health.
The Best Ingredients for Treating Dandruff
Pyrithione zinc (also known as zinc pyrithione) is one of the most popular anti-dandruff ingredients on the market. It is naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal, so it’s an amazing ingredient for targeting the growth of dandruff-causing yeast.
Find it in BIOLAGE’s Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, Jupiter’s Balancing Shampoo, Neutrogena’s T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that works to exfoliate away dry, dead skin cells and improve the overall health of the scalp. Because it’s oil-soluble, it can also clear and prevent sebum and Malassezia buildup for a balanced scalp with healthy moisture levels.
Find it in AROMATICA’s Tea Tree Purifying Shampoo, Phyto’s Intense Exfoliating Treatment Shampoo, SACHAJUAN’s Scalp Shampoo
Another widely used ingredient to treat dandruff is selenium sulfide. This ingredient is known to help relieve itching, flaking, redness and can remove dry skin cells from the scalp.
Find it in: Davines’ Purifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, Head & Shoulders’ Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo, Selsun Blue’s Medicated with Menthol Dandruff Shampoo
Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent that can be used in over-the-counter medications to slow the growth of dandruff-causing fungi. It is also beneficial for controlling scalp flaking, scaling, and itching.
Find it in Head & Shoulders’ Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo, Nizoral’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Piroctone olamine is an active ingredient commonly found in dandruff shampoos to treat dryness, relieve itchiness, and stop the spread of Malassezia. In addition to fighting dandruff, it’s known to promote new hair growth and decrease hair loss over time.
Find it in Typology’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Cleansing Shampoo, Phyto’s Intense Exfoliating Treatment Shampoo, SACHAJUAN’s Scalp Shampoo
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a fantastic ingredient to look for in your hair and scalp treatments if your dandruff results from yeast overgrowth. This essential oil is a naturally powerful antiseptic (meaning it relieves pain), antifungal, and antibiotic that targets the source of dandruff as well as its symptoms. Even if your dandruff isn’t the result of Malassezia, it can still be beneficial for soothing scalp inflammation, irritation, dryness, and maintaining scalp health.
Find it in Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special Shampoo, AROMATICA’s Tea Tree Purifying Shampoo, Phyto’s Intense Exfoliating Treatment Shampoo
Plant extracts are the dream team for calming an inflamed, irritated scalp or balancing oil production. With thousands of plants and botanicals, each with its own unique properties, it’s a good idea to look for plant-based ingredients in your anti-dandruff shampoo for optimal benefit. Extracts like rosemary, green tea, hyssop, and burdock can provide the hair and scalp with necessary antioxidants, moisturization, and anti-inflammatory compounds that speed up the healing process and get your hair and scalp back to normal in no time.
Find them in Hawthorne’s Dry Scalp Shampoo, Typology’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, Jupiter’s Balancing Shampoo
The Best Practices for Using an Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Even though an anti-dandruff shampoo is labeled as a ‘shampoo’ that we associate with hair washing, they’re actually a type of scalp treatment or medication targeted towards treating dandruff and its associated causes or symptoms. To see the best results with your anti-dandruff shampoo, you want to avoid using it how you would typically use your shampoo. And by that, we mean quickly slathering it in your hair just to rinse it out 40 seconds later. The best practice for using an anti-dandruff shampoo is to use it like you would another hair treatment.
You want to focus the shampoo on your scalp (especially in those areas you see the most flaking) and in the roots of your hair, then let it sit for a few minutes. You can even apply the anti-dandruff shampoo a few minutes before hopping into the shower and rinse it out once you get in. Even if a brand or dandruff shampoo gives you the okay to use it as you would a regular shampoo, it’s always a good idea to let the product sit on the scalp for one to two minutes. This will give the active ingredients more time to do their magic.
Things That May Actually Be Making Your Dandruff Worse
Not washing your hair often enough
To get rid of excess oil and dandruff flakes, washing your hair on a regular basis is a must. If your dandruff is really bad, dermatologists recommend using an anti-dandruff shampoo twice a week (or as suggested on the label) with a gentle, balancing shampoo in between on days you need it.
Skipping the Conditioner
Conditioners are an essential part of a haircare routine. Even if you think you don’t need one because your hair is short, the truth is that conditioners help add moisture, proteins, vitamins, and nutrients back into both the hair and scalp. So not using conditioner on days when you wash your hair could lead to over-dried hair, scalp, and eventually, dandruff.
Scrubbing and scratching your scalp
While it may seem like a good idea to scrub or “exfoliate” away the dandruff flakes, this method can actually make the condition worse. The scratching and scrubbing can lead to an inflamed, irritated scalp, which could make the situation much more dry and itchy or even lead to infection.
Not washing your hair after a sweaty workout
If you frequently go to the gym and get your sweat on, it’s essential that you wash your hair after your workout. Because the dandruff-causing yeast Malassezia loves a warm, moist environment (aka a sweaty scalp), not washing away the sweat, oils, and bacteria from your workout can lead to more, harder to get rid of dandruff.
Letting it go on for too long
We won’t sugar coat it: dandruff can be a pain to get rid of. But it also shouldn’t be an issue that you’re always dealing with, especially if you have constant flakes, itchy skin, or odor. Going to see a board-certified dermatologist can help guide you in the right direction when it comes to treatments and ensure that what you’re dealing with is dandruff and not seborrheic dermatitis or fungal infection.
Tips for Finding the Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for You
Dandruff Symptoms and Causes
Dandruff doesn’t look the same for everybody. It has different causes and symptoms, some of which you may experience and others which you may not. When choosing an anti-dandruff shampoo, opt for one that targets your symptoms as well as the cause of your dandruff: yeast overgrowth, dryness, oiliness, etc.
If the dandruff symptoms you most commonly experience include flakes and dry scalp, you’re going to want an anti-dandruff shampoo that targets flakes and dryness. Or, if itchiness is your main concern, go for a shampoo that treats an itchy scalp and calms irritation. Likewise, if you know your dandruff was caused by an overgrowth of the fungal yeast Malassezia, choose a formula that has antifungal properties and ingredients.
Look at the Ingredients
Ingredients matter big time when it comes to anti-dandruff shampoo. Active ingredients like selenium sulfide, salicylic acid, and zinc pyrithione (or pyrithione zinc) are the most important ingredients in an anti-dandruff solution. Think of them as the star of the show. But to ensure overall hair and scalp health, supporting ingredients like plant extracts and moisturizing agents can provide additional benefits that really make the formula shine. And if a brand is transparent about what ingredients go into its formulation, that’s a good sign that the brand and product are trustworthy and have nothing to hide.
Some anti-dandruff shampoos can influence the appearance of color-treated hair. So if you dye your hair or get highlights/lowlights, make sure the anti-dandruff shampoo you reach for is safe for color-treated hair.
Are Men More Likely to Have Dandruff Than Women?
We all know that dandruff is a common condition—anyone can have it, even babies. With that being said, men are still more likely than women to have dandruff. One reason for this could be hormone-related and testosterone’s role in oil production, which, in excess, can lead to dandruff.
However, men are less likely than women to tell their doctor or dermatologist about their frustrations with dandruff. And we’re here to remind you that you don’t need to suffer silently—dandruff can be controlled and cured. If you can’t get your dandruff to go away (no matter how many different shampoos you’ve tried), schedule an appointment with your dermatologist and see if they can cure your case.
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