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No one likes to talk about their dandruff, but while it can be embarrassing, it’s actually a super common scalp condition. Characterized by itchiness and those infamous flakes — which become particularly noticeable if you’re wearing a dark blouse — dandruff can often make us feel self-conscious, to say the least. Luckily, all it takes is a good dandruff shampoo to relieve the flakiness, scaling, and itchiness!
What is dandruff?
Dandruff refers to the scaly white or gray flakes of dead skin cells that come off our scalps or the condition marked by these flakes. As Philip Kinglsey Trichological Clinic trichologist Anabel Kingsley told SELF in 2017, “Skin cells on our scalp, just like those on the rest of our body, are constantly replaced and shed. If skin cells begin to divide too rapidly — faster than they are shed — this is what causes flakes.”
What causes dandruff?
Experts say it’s difficult to pinpoint one underlying cause of the overgrowth of dandruff cells, as there are several contributing factors that may cause your itchy flakes to develop — or worsen.
According to Medical News Today, some theorize that dandruff may be caused by the hormone production that begins around puberty. Other causes may include seborrheic dermatitis (a superficial fungal disease of the skin), oily skin, yeast sensitivity, and a lack of hair-brushing, to name a few.
The Best Dandruff Shampoo
There are plenty of options that can help give you relief from the most aggravating symptoms of dandruff. Some are so effective, they only need to be used twice per week, while others utilize a blend of essential oils and botanicals that can help your scalp heal in a totally natural way. Be sure to talk to your doctor or a trusted professional hair expert for recommendations for your specific needs, especially if you have any allergies to ingredients.
No matter which dandruff shampoo turns out to be the best one for you, it’s worth remembering to be patient with your treatment. Dandruff rarely goes away instantly, so it may take some time before you see true results. But if you ask us, it’s totally worth the wait! Keep scrolling to shop FIRST for Women’s picks for the best dandruff shampoos.
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Best Anti Dandruff Shampoo With Ketoconazole
Where to buy: $14.79 (Originally $17.17), Amazon
This shampoo sees a gentle blend of wheat protein and wheat germ oil combined with 1 percent of ketoconazole — a clinically-proven dandruff-fighting ingredient — to combat all the flaking, itching, and scaling linked to this annoying condition. It's gentle enough for colored hair and works into a thick, rich lather. The best part? You only need to use this dandruff shampoo twice per week to see results.
Best Tea Tree Shampoo for Dandruff
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo
Where to buy: $19.99 (Originally $34), ULTA
Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties that can make it highly effective for treating seborrheic dermatitis — a leading cause of dandruff. As our own commerce editor can attest, Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Special Shampoo, which uses an herbal blend of natural tea tree oil, peppermint and lavender to invigorate the scalp, is also extremely effective at ridding your scalp of grease, which feeds the malassezia globosa fungus that naturally lives on your scalp. Since dandruff can appear as a reaction to this fungus, cutting down on oil is good news for your scalp — and your flakes. This shampoo also has a nice and tingly feel on the scalp.
Best Dandruff Shampoo for Kids
Honeydew Natural Dandruff Shampoo for Kids
Where to buy: $9.95 (originally $39.99), Amazon
If you have a child in your family who is suffering from dandruff, reach for this shampoo from Honeydew. , This kid-friendly dandruff treatment is pediatrician-approved, fighting the pesky problem with a tear- and sulfate-free blend of lavender, tea tree, and jojoba. It works with any hair type and has a 100 percent money-back guarantee.
Best Redken Dandruff Control Shampoo
Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo
Where to buy: $20, ULTA
One Amazon reviewer raved, "I have been using this shampoo for about 10 years now! Very helpful when it comes to itchy and flaky scalp!"
Best Natural Dandruff Shampoo
Where to buy: $23.97, Amazon
If you're the type who prefers to keep your haircare routine au naturel, opt for Puriya's award-winning plant-based formula. Made with tea tree oil, arnica, sage, and rosemary, this pick is free from sulfates, sodium chloride, parabens, and artificial fragrances. It also gets the job done, working to remove excess oil and hydrate the scalp as it clarifies your strands.
Take it from one of its more than 1,100 reviewers, who gushed, "Amazing!!!!! We have tried EVERYTHING for my daughter's scalp (she has severe scalp psoriasis and dry scalp) and this is the only product ... that has worked, it's amazing!!!
Best Sulfate Free Dandruff Shampoo
Maple Holistics Cedarwood Dandruff Shampoo
Where to buy: $9.95, Amazon
If you're concerned about dandruff and thinning hair, this shampoo might be an excellent fit. Its combination of natural oils, such as tea tree oil, cedarwood oil, which fights flakes, jojoba oil, rosemary oil (a known hair growth stimulant), and argan oil work together to eradicate both flakiness and hair loss. It's cruelty-free and contains no sulfates. As an added bonus, it smells pretty darn good, too.
Best Dandruff Shampoo for Men
Head & Shoulders 2-in-1- Men Full & Thick
Where to buy: $5.99, Target
Make your man's shower routine simple as can be with this shampoo and conditioner all in one, which also just so happens to nix flakes in a hurry thanks to its included pyrithione zinc.
Raved one reviewer, "I’ve been dealing with dandruff all winter long and I tried this out and kid you not, I haven’t seen any dandruff since!! Highly recommend."
Best Dandruff Shampoo for Color Treated Hair
Briogeo Scalp Revival
Where to buy: $42, Dermstore
Worried about your color? Don't be. Briogeo's Scalp Revival will take care of your flakes without fading your hue with its mix of binchotan charcoal, which detoxifies your scalp and draws out impurities, and cooling and soothing peppermint, spearmint, and tea tree oil. It's also got coconut oil to moisturize and prevent future dryness. Dermstore shoppers certainly love it, giving it a rave collective five-star review.