Our picks for the best anti-dandruff shampoos
Wash your way to a flake-free scalp
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / July 01 2020
Dandruff is one of those things that’s considered a man’s issue. Which we’d gladly give to them, but unfortunately, us gals are not immune to its itchy, flaky presence.
Dandruff is caused by a naturally-occurring microbe (a yeast) on the scalp, called malassezia globosa (also known as pityrosporum). Malassezia globosa is actually a good thing - everyone has it on their scalp and its job is to feed on your scalp’s sebum and keep it moisturised. The problem lies in the by-product of the broken down sebum, known as oleic acid, which some scalps are sensitive to. This leads to irritation, which your body deals with by shedding skin cells faster, resulting in that dreaded visible flaking on your scalp.
A common misconception is that dandruff is caused by a dry scalp, but actually, it’s an oily scalp that is to blame. Excess oil triggers the scalp to start shedding in an attempt to rebalance the natural oils on your head.
Dry ness and dandruff do go hand-in-hand however: Dandruff damages your skin’s natural moisture barrier, allowing moisture to easily escape.
What causes dandruff to suddenly appear?
The reason behind your dandruff flare-up may be hormones disturbing your scalp’s pH balance, harsh hair products stripping your hair of moisture or the opposite - not properly removing oils or dead skin cells, and stress, to name a few.
The best treatment option
Anti-dandruff shampoos are an effective way of getting dandruff under control. They are formulated to counteract the excess yeast production and slow down the shedding of skin cells by restoring the scalp’s natural pH balance.
Ingredients to look out for
There are a couple of hero ingredients that are great for treating dandruff. Anti-fungal ketoconazole and tea tree oil; selenium sulfide, which reduces the production of natural oils in the scalp; zinc pyrithione to slow down the growth of yeast; and salicylic acid to exfoliate skin cells from the scalp.
With braid season upon us (hello, exposed scalp!), it’s time to get your flaking under control. Just remember, if you suffer from a dry, flaky scalp, an anti-dandruff shampoo should be a part of your regular routine - it’s not an occasional treatment. Dandruff is a recurring condition so consistent maintenance is the best cure.
So stock up on the best anti-dandruff shampoo for the job. We’ve found the top anti-dandruff shampoo reviews to help you make your decision.
#7 / Roots Double Effect® Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Fighting hair loss and dandruff in one, this formula contains antibacterial tea tree oil, cooling menthol to soothe an irritated scalp and healing moringa oil to fight the signs of dandruff. Your scalp will feel clean, calm and conditioned - finally, no more itching!
The review: “I’m not technically a dandruff sufferer, but come winter time, the skin on my scalp can become flaky, so I always make sure to include an anti-dandruff formulation into my routine during the cooler months. I like to use this one every third or so wash to help keep the flakes away, and then follow with my regular conditioner.” Carli Alman, Beauty Crew’s Editor
#6 / Moo Goo Milk Shampoo
Great for adults but also an excellent anti-dandruff shampoo for kids, if you want gentle, this is it. Natural ingredients help to control the micro-flora of the scalp to improve its pH balance. A derivative of glycerin works to condition the skin and scalp, hydrolysed milk protein softens hair and calming allantoin cleans away dead tissue to allow for the growth of new healthy tissue.
The review: "Amazing is all that can be said. I have had dry skin and scalp issues all my life. After decades of trying everything else on offer, I was directed towards your products. All my skin problems have disappeared. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to find something that works after decades of broken promises." Andrew, MooGoo customer
#5 / Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Are you ready for this? Because this supermarket buy goes above and beyond. Its triple-action formula treats dandruff, hair fall and itchiness with each wash. Zinc pyrithione specifically works on relieving and preventing flaky scalps.
The review: “I hate to admit that I suffer hair fall and an itchy scalp.....but I do! Especially in summer due to sweating in the heat. I was pleased to come across Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Shampoo as it claims to feature a triple-action shampoo that treats dandruff, hair fall and itchiness on normal hair. During the first few days there was no remarkable improvement but slowly I found that my scratching of my scalp had reduced. I genuinely think that my hair feels fresher for longer after using the Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and it has now become soft and manageable and shining with health. I found this shampoo is effective at reducing only minor hair fall but it excels in reducing an itchy, flaky scalp. I love that it is very affordable and widely available both online and in retail stores. Overall I would say, give this shampoo a try, you won’t be disappointed.” Amanda, SUPERcrew member
#4 / Selsun Blue Replenishing Dandruff Control
Selsun is a haircare range dedicated to kicking dandruff to the curb. The Selsun Gold is a medically-proven treatment for really problematic dandruff, but if you don’t need to take extreme measures, the Selsun Blue formula is a winner. This shampoo is enriched with vitamin E and B, as well as panthenol for a clean but conditioned scalp and hair.
The review: “This is great for itchy scalps and dandruff. I only end up having to use it once a fortnight (with my normal shampoo for other hair washes) to maintain my hair and scalp. Makes hair soft, smooth and clean without any build-up.” Georgia, SUPERcrew member
#3 / BondiBoost Dandruff Repair Shampoo
A relatively newcomer in the hair space, this Australian-made natural dandruff shampoo contains natural and organic ingredients and is defying the reputation that natural haircare products don’t work. Essential oils of peppermint (to soothe), rosemary (to remove white flakes), sandalwood (anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal) and flaxseed oil (to remove dandruff and flakiness) team up to keep the scalp healthy while unclogging blocked pores. The whole brand is vegan and cruelty-free, which we are totally on board with, too.
The review: “I’ve tried quite a few natural products that claimed to fix dandruff but they always seemed to make my scalp itchier. After 2 weeks of using Bondi Boost I can say that it has worked wonders. Itchiness has calmed, not totally gone but I think with continued use it will disappear. Dandruff is pretty much gone too.” Jennifer, Bondi Boost customer
#2 / The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo
According to The Daily Mail UK, one of these bottles is sold every four seconds in the UK. And the reviews on The Body Shop UK’s site rave about how good it is at easing dandruff, with many even claiming it send their itchy scalps packing for good. The formula contains piroctone olamine, which is an antibacterial that helps treat the bacteria that can lead to dandruff.
The review: “My favourite anti-dandruff shampoo is the Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo from The Body Shop. It doesn't specifically say it treats dandruff but I found it helps to soothe and hydrate my scalp (remove the dry patches); my dandruff is completely gone when I use this. Besides that, it also smells really nice and is cruelty-free.” Sophie, SUPERcrew member
#1 / Head & Shoulders Apple Fresh Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
When you hear the word dandruff, no doubt good ol’ Head & Shoulders comes to mind. That’s probably because it’s cemented itself as THE best dandruff shampoo, and the formula lives up to the hype. It conditions the scalp to keep it flake-free while also cleaning and looking after the health of your hair. The Head & Shoulders range has it all covered - Itchy Scalp Care, Dry Scalp Care, Smooth & Silky, Clean & Balanced and so on - but the most votes go to the Apple Fresh formula. Mostly because it smells so good.
The reviews: “Ok I admit it – I am low-key obsessed with the fruity scent of this shampoo. Oh, and the anti-dandruff and deep-cleansing properties are pretty great, too.” Iantha Yu, Beauty Crew’s Beauty Editor
“Head & Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner in Apple Fresh is the perfect formula for my oily but dandruff-plagued hair. It effectively cleans the hair but replenishes the moisture to my scalp. Perfect for my very dark hair.” Anne, SUPERcrew member
Do you suffer from dandruff? What's your go-to treatment for easing a flaky scalp?
Main image credit: Getty
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.