Dr. Patel reminds people dealing with dandruff that the common skin yeast that contributes to the condition grows most prolifically in oily hair.
Our favorite formulas that won’t leave your scalp high and dry.
Flakes aren't necessarily a sign of uncleanliness. Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson, Principal Scientist and Senior Manager of Scientific Communications, Beauty Care at Procter & Gamble offers her assurance. “One of the misconceptions is that those suffering from flakes and itchiness are unhygienic... but [dandruff] is a predisposition embedded in our DNA.” That said, because dandruff is triggered by an immune response, it can also be a sign of a larger issue. If it’s difficult to treat your condition, see a dermatologist. “There are known correlations to allergies, vitamin deficiency, and nervous or immune system irregularities,” adds Dr. Mamelak.
Here are the 12 best anti-dandruff shampoos for nearly every common need.
Royal Oils Moisture Boost Shampoo
HEAD AND SHOULDERS
- Works for a wide variety of hair textures
- Incredibly hydrating
Here’s the best dry scalp dandruff shampoo. Regular hydration and scalp stimulation is key to preventing dandruff. The Royal Oils collection is specially developed to support the variety of natural, kinky, curly and coily textures of Black hair. The Moisture Boost Shampoo features lightweight coconut oil that relieves the scalp, then locks in moisture. “The first step to effectively treat dandruff, is to cleanse the scalp to remove product buildup, dirt and oil,” says Dr. Wilkerson.
BEST 2-IN-1 SHAMPOO
2-in1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner
EVERY MAN JACK
- Can help thicken hair
- Pleasant scent
If you also hit snooze multiple times, you will appreciate the convenience of a 2-in1 shampoo/conditioner. The Anti-Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner by Every Man Jack taps into the power of eucalyptus and spearmint essential oils to calm an itchy and irritated scalp. Another plus, this 2-in-1 works to help your hair look thicker and fuller.
BEST MEDICAL-GRADE SHAMPOO
NOW 42% OFF
- Works on all hair types and gray hair
- Includes ingredients typically only found in prescribed shampoos
Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is one of the best non-prescription options—in fact, without a prescription, you’d be hard-pressed to find another treatment with the anti-fungal treatment, Ketoconazole 1%. “Preventing dandruff consists of moisturizing and conditioning your scalp regularly, avoiding hair care products you're sensitive to, and using shampoos that have either ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, salicylic acid, zinc or tar,” offers board-certified dermatologist Dr. Peterson Pierre.
BEST FOR COLOR-TREATED HAIR
Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Vibrant and refreshing scent
- Safe for color-treated hair
“Dandruff is not curable since the combination of oil and normal microflora (bacteria) worsened by stress causes flare, but dandruff can be well-managed,” says Dr. Graf. “I like Oribe anti-dandruff shampoo.” Oribe Serene Scalp is one of the best anti-dandruff shampoos for color-treated hair. Key ingredients like salicylic acid, pea sprout extract and caffeine restore and protect hair, starting with the scalp.
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Authentic African Black Soap Scalp Care Shampoo
- Includes shea butter, which helps retain vital oils and moisture
- Suitable for all hair types
There’s a fine balance between cleansing the scalp versus stripping it of vital oil and moisture. That’s where the genius blend of shea butter and African Black soap gets to work. Prone to sensitive skin? Make sure your products work for your unique needs and opt for this gentler option. “The sulfur in African Black Soap contains antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that help to kill dandruff-causing yeast, and the oils help moisturize dry scalp,” says Dr. Patel.
Selsun Blue Medicated Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo
First things first, the Selsun Blue commercials of the '90s are somehow burned into my memory. Arguably one of the best original shampoos for combatting tough dandruff, the maximum-strength formula features selenium sulfide 1%—a common anti-dandruff component—as the active ingredient. “Regardless of hair type, you should wash your hair every other day, and if that doesn’t help, bump your shampoo to a medicated version like T-Sal or Selsun Blue that will get rid of the build-up,” says celebrity cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank.
Anti-Dandruff & Sebum Control Shampoo
Scalp maintenance is long-term and essential for healthy hair growth. “Unfortunately, there is no ‘cure’ for dandruff, but it can be effectively controlled so that it is barely, if at all, noticeable,” says dermatology resident Dr. Charles Puza. American Crew Anti-Dandruff & Sebum Control Shampoo is formulated with rosemary oil and zinc pyrithione to regulate flaking and sebum—the oily substance that the body releases on the skin. Sage leaf extract, peppermint and tea tree oil purify and invigorate the scalp.
Tea Tree Special Shampoo
Tea tree oil is an antibacterial, aromatherapeutic powerhouse on its own. Even better, it’s blended with invigorating peppermint and lavender in Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo. There’s a reason this is Paul Mitchell’s best-selling shampoo0—it’s formulated to rid the scalp of impurities and leaves behind an unmatched clean and cooling sensation.
Flaky Scalp Cleansing Shampoo
Developed by trichologists—also known as experts that are dedicated to studying the scalp and hair—Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Cleansing Shampoo is a highly effective zinc-based treatment that is also safe for color-treated hair. Expect a flake-free and clarified scalp without excessive stripping or dryness.
Synbiotic Polyamine Shampoo
Who knew probiotics and prebiotics are good for the scalp? The VENN Synbiotic Polyamine Shampoo is formulated with a mix of probiotics and prebiotics that help support a balance of healthy bacteria on the scalp. This pick is backed by science and powered by an effective blend of antioxidant herbal extracts and vitamins.
Active Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Formulated with 11 botanical ingredients to target sweat-induced dandruff, KICK provides a solid shampoo solution for those who live highly active lifestyles. Even better is the fact the shampoo is optimized to strengthen and thicken hair—making it especially ideal for guys with a thinner hair type.
T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Original Formula
T/Gel is another one of those no-nonsense anti-dandruff shampoos that get the job done. Neutrogena uses coal tar extract to provide instant relief to common symptoms from dandruff, as well as relief to symptoms caused from other conditions like chronic scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. While the formula is powerful it's still gentle enough for everyday use. You also can't beat the price point on this shampoo.
How We Selected
For the past two years, we consulted with Men's Health's Grooming editors and writers on the top grooming products for men. Experts including our Grooming Editor Garrett Munce and Senior Commerce Editor Christian Gollayan put countless anti-dandruff shampoos to test and evaluated their effectiveness, scent, and value. We also considered top-reviewed anti-dandruff shampoos that had at least 100 five-star customer ratings on e-commerce websites that we trust.