Fight Flakes With the Best Dandruff Shampoos

Celia Shatzman
·6 mins read

Anyone who has ever experienced having dandruff knows the embarrassment of looking down at your black shirt and finding white flakes all over your shoulders. Dandruff affects up to half of all people at some point, so take solace in knowing you’re not alone. It’s common for people to mistakenly assume that dandruff is the result of poor hygiene, but that’s actually not true at all. In most cases, using one of the best dandruff shampoos is all you need to rid yourself of those pesky flakes.

Typically, dandruff is flakes from the scalp caused by inflammation. Specifically, yeast on the scalp triggers that reaction. Though everyone has yeast on their scalp, not everyone has a reaction to it, but those who do can experience redness, itchy skin, inflammation and flakes — i.e. dandruff. Sometimes, if you only experience dandruff seasonally, it could simply be a dry scalp. More severe instances might be caused by a skin condition such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. A surprising fact about dandruff is that it’s more likely to surface on oily scalps instead of dry ones. And stress, not shampooing enough and some foods like spicy and sugary eats can trigger dandruff.

To find the best dandruff shampoo, make sure the formula has the right active ingredients. Search the label for pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, salicylic acid or coal tar, which all fight flakes. However, everyone’s skin is different, so you may need to trial a few before you find the best option for your scalp. Another thing to keep in mind when shopping for the best dandruff shampoo is your hair type. Dandruff shampoos tend to be harsh and dehydrating, so if your hair is already on the dry side — particularly if you have curly, kinky, coiled or chemically treated strands — look for formulas that will restore moisture with ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera and coconut oil.

Once you find the best dandruff shampoo for you, learning the right way to use it is key to success. When sudsing up in the shower, work the shampoo into your scalp with your fingers, then let it sit on your scalp for about five minutes (check the label) before rinsing it off. Be sure to use an anti-dandruff shampoo at least twice a week. See how your scalp is progressing. If you still need a flake-fighting boost, increase it to three to four days a week, or even daily if necessary. To maximize the perks of the best dandruff shampoos, pair it with an anti-dandruff conditioner, since a regular conditioner might wash away the active ingredients an anti-dandruff shampoo purposely leaves behind.

Keep your scalp flake-free with these best dandruff shampoos.


1. Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Cleansing Shampoo

It’s no surprise that the expert trichologists at Philip Kingsley have developed one of the best dandruff shampoos out there. Carefully and clinically formulated, it treats itchy, flaky and sensitive scalps. It’s infused with piroctone olamine to treat flaking and itching caused by dandruff and mild seborrhoeic dermatitis, as well as coconut and sugar beet derived surfactants to gently cleanse the hair and scalp. It’s safe for colored hair and has a crisp apple scent.



2. Head and Shoulders Royal Oils Moisture Boost Shampoo

If you have curly, kinky or coily hair, then this is the best dandruff shampoo for you. Developed for locks with texture, it walks the fine line of treating dandruff while hydrating the scalp and hair with coconut oil. Head and Shoulders is known for its flake-fighting formulas and this one lives up to the hype. It works into a luxe, creamy lather to ease itching and dryness, leaving a fresh coconut scent and odor protection that lasts.


3. RE-fresh Scalp Care Anti-Dandruff Sea Mineral + Hydrate Shampoo

If you’re worried about too harsh dandruff shampoos stripping your scalp, reach for this gentle one that goes easy on strands but tough on flakes. Infused with 2 percent salicylic acid and white willow bark extract to treat dandruff and reduce scalp irritation, impressively, the formula is made with more than 90 percent naturally derived ingredients. Completely free of parabens, silicones and dyes, it’s safe to use every day and leaves a lovely fragrance behind.



4. Dove DermaCare Scalp Coconut & Hydration Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Stop that itching with Dove’s hydrating anti-dandruff shampoo that soothes and moisturizes the scalp. Pyrithione zinc does the heavy lifting to treat and prevent flakes, leaving locks feeling fresh. Hair will smell great, too, thanks to the coconut and sweet lime scent.


5. Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Stubborn Itch Shampoo with 2% Coal Tar

Not sure what’s causing your flakes? Then reach for Neutrogena’s T/Gel Therapeutic Stubborn Itch Shampoo that treats scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and common dandruff to cover all the bases. Two percent coal tar extract, an ingredient recommended by the National Psoriasis Foundation, takes care of all the symptoms that an itchy, dry scalp brings. From the very first time it’s used, it gets to work right away and soothes symptoms for a whole week, though it’s delicate enough to be used daily.


6. Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo

When you’ve invested a lot of money in your highlights, the last thing you want to do is strip them with the wrong shampoo. Reach for Redken’s Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo, since it’s the best dandruff shampoo for colored hair. Pyrithione zinc gets the job done while preserving your hue, plus it’s infused with hydrating glycerin and lavender oil to condition strands. Another major bonus is that it can be applied to wet or dry hair, so you can leave it on for five minutes to work its magic before you even get in the shower.


7. Biolage R.A.W. Scalp Care Antidandruff Shampoo

Clinically proven to ease dandruff, Biolage’s treatment shampoo is powered by the unique combination of 2.9 percent active salicylic acid and willow bark extract. Combined, those ingredients exfoliate and purify the scalp, ending flakes and rebalancing hair with the power of natural ingredients.


8. Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

If you’re looking for a luxe solution, then this is the best dandruff shampoo for you. Completely worth the splurge, you’ll forget it’s actually a dandruff shampoo. Salicylic acid leads the fight against flakes, relieving itch and irritation. It’s chock full of other scalp-loving ingredients, such as caffeine to give hair follicles an energy boost, sugarcane extract to nourish and moisturize, pea sprout extract to boost elasticity and prevent breakage, orange and lemon fruit extracts to balance, and bilberry fruit and sugar maple extracts to soothe and fight free radical damage.

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