Hair Care

Best Shampoo For Dandruff For Effective Dry Scalp Treatment



by Lydia


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Dealing with a dry and itchy scalp can be really uncomfortable and sometimes overwhelming. It can feel like every product you try doesn't work especially when you keep seeing those pesky flakes.

Dandruff is often a result of seborrheic dermatitis caused by a buildup of Malassezia organisms that lower immunity in areas of the skin with sebaceous glands. These areas include the scalp, chest, eyebrows, and beard, as well as around the nose. This leads to an increase in sebum levels and an activated inflammation that triggers flakes and redness.

The best shampoo for dandruff is dependent on your hair type and the ingredients. However, it should be gentle on your scalp and help soothe it while providing relief from itchiness, flaking while reducing inflammation.

We listed the best dandruff shampoos according to dermatologists and outlined factors to consider when buying them.

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 Best Dandruff Shampoos


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Best Dandruff Shampoos - Reviews

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Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo contains 1 % of ketoconazole, a potent anti-fungal that's frequently used in prescription-grade dandruff medications. It helps to relieve flaking, scaling, and itching caused by dandruff. It also helps control hair loss.

Nizoral antidandruff shampoo is specially formulated, making it gentle enough to be used on color-treated hair. It offers a rich, thick lather that rinses clean, leaving a clean and fresh scent behind.

For the best results, it's advised to use the anti-dandruff shampoo twice a week.


  • Works for all hair types
  • Effective at treating dandruff
  • Effective at flake fighting and soothing itchiness
  • Leaves a fresh, clean scent
  • Formulated with ketoconazole


  • It strips your hair of moisture

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The therapeutic shampoo is designed to treat three types of major scalp conditions: dandruff, psoriasis, and Seborrheic Dermatitis. The Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo contains coal extract, which helps control scalp itching and flaking.

It is also formulated with Neutar, which aids in slowing the overproduction of skin cells on the scalp and reduces any potential of inflammation. It's the best shampoo for dandruff if you have oily hair. The Neutrogena dandruff shampoo is also highly recommended by dermatologists as it leaves your hair clean and manageable. 


  • Effective at soothing itchy and dry scalp
  • Effectively treats three major scalp conditions
  • Reduces potential inflammation 


  • Has a strong and overwhelming scent

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Dove's Dermacare dandruff shampoo is formulated with Pyrithione Zinc and Nutrium Care. Pyrithione Zinc boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties and works to hydrate and soothe a dry and itchy scalp.

The dandruff shampoo uses a pH-balanced formula to decrease yeast on your skin without causing irritation. The formula contains coconut and shea butter, which leaves your hair soft and nourished with a refreshing scent. The Dermacare Scalp dandruff shampoo also reduces inflammation and redness. 


  • Effective dry scalp treatment
  • Soothes itchiness and reduces inflammation
  • Uses pH balanced formula and can decrease yeast on your skin
  • The formula contains Pyrithione Zinc 


  • Some reviews noted that they experience hair loss

Head and Shoulders partnered up with black scientists to specially design the best dandruff shampoo for black hair. The dandruff shampoo is designed to provide relief for all-natural, relaxed, kinky, and coily textures. The formula aids in balancing the natural moisture levels for a healthy scalp and hair. The shampoo contains coconut oil which helps in moisturizing and retaining moisture.

The dandruff shampoo is free of parabens and dyes. It offers a rich, creamy lather that cleanses and hydrates the hair while relieving the scalp from the dryness and itchiness caused by dandruff. When rinsed off, the anti-dandruff shampoo leaves a fresh coconut scent that provides long-lasting odor protection.


  • Provides relief for an itchy scalp
  • Effective at flake fighting
  • Suitable for curly hair textures
  • Lightweight shampoo
  • Leaves your hair feeling hydrated and moisturized


  • Some reviews noted that it left their hair feeling greasy and with more flakes

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Oribe Serene Scalp Anti Dandruff Shampoo helps keep those persistent flakes at bay. The anti-dandruff shampoo is gentle on your flaky scalp.

The anti-dandruff shampoo is formulated with salicylic acid, which helps relieve and prevents dandruff while soothing your dry, itchy, irritated scalp. Caffeine aids in the rejuvenation of your hair follicles whilst preventing dandruff.

The anti-dandruff shampoo is sulfate-free and contains sugarcane extract, which helps in hydrating and nourishing the scalp. 


  • Suitable for color-treated hair
  • Has a pleasant smell
  • Sulfate-free
  • Effective at soothing an itchy scalp 


  • Some reviews noted that the dandruff shampoo doesn't work for a dry scalp
  • Expensive

Factors To Consider When Buying The Best Shampoo For Dandruff

a) Type of Active Ingredients

It's advisable to examine the active ingredients when searching for the best shampoo for dandruff. Choosing the right active ingredients will help you avoid causing damage to your hair. These are the key ingredients to look into:

  • Zinc Pyrithione: Zinc pyrithione is an anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory active ingredient that prevents the reproduction of Malassezia fungus. It helps break down the buildup of dead skin cells on the scalp. Zinc Pyrithione is gentler compared to other anti-dandruff shampoo active ingredients and can be used daily. For maximum effect, the anti-dandruff shampoo with zinc pyrithione should be used at least twice a week. It should be used as a regular shampoo, followed by a conditioner to moisturize the scalp.
  • Selenium Sulphide: The active ingredient is effective at fighting fungus. It also suppresses the production of natural oils in the scalp glands and acts as a soothing agent. However, it's advisable not to use anti-dandruff shampoos with this ingredient if you have chemically treated your hair. These dandruff shampoos can be used once or twice a week.
  • Ketoconazole: Considered to be the most effective and powerful anti-fungal active ingredient. It reduces the shedding of skin cells and is only used in severe cases when other products have proved unsuccessful. It works by binding to your hair's natural protein and helps eliminate excess levels of fungus that naturally breed on the scalp. The active ingredient keeps fighting dandruff long after you have rinsed off the shampoo.
  • Coal Tar: This active ingredient is present in several anti-dandruff shampoos. Coal tar is beneficial in treating many scalp conditions such as dandruff as it has an anti-itch effect and helps slow down the production of skin cells.
  • Salicylic Acid and Sulfur: These two are frequently used in anti-dandruff shampoo to treat dry scalp conditions. They work together to temporarily control the problem of scaling and itching, which occur due to dandruff. Salicylic acid breaks down the dead cells, thus reducing flaking and revealing the new skin underneath. This aids the sulfur to work to reduce the fungus. Salicylic acid also aids in eliminating irritation of the scalp as its a mild antiseptic while sulfur rids the scalp of an excess of Malassezia.
  • Natural ingredients: These consist of Apple Cider Vinegar, Apple juice, Essential oils like Jojoba oil, coconut oil, rosemary oil, neem, lemon extracts, etc. These ingredients help in turning harsh shampoo into mild ones. This means that it will make your hair healthier and have more volume.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Tea Tree is an active ingredient that is anti-fungal, antiseptic, antibiotic and helps cleanse your scalp.

b) Consider Your Hair Type

When looking for the best shampoo for dandruff, it's important to ensure you select one that suits your hair type. This is because every shampoo is designed to cater to certain hair textures. Thus getting the wrong anti-dandruff shampoo could lead to you causing further damage to your hair.

Additionally, the ingredients listed above can sometimes feel a bit stripping, especially for dry, coarse, curly, kinky, or coiled hair types. It's essential to look for dandruff shampoo with ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera, and coconut oil that will also hydrate your scalp and strands. A great choice for natural hair types is the African Black Soap Cleansing Shampoo by Shea Moisture. Its formulated with bamboo charcoal, tea tree oil, and African black soap. The cleansing shampoo is enriched with shea butter, jojoba oils, and aloe vera to provide intense hydration to the hair while cleansing and soothing the scalp.

If you have oily hair, dandruff shampoos with selenium sulfide can make your hair feel oilier. Hence you might want to consider the best dandruff shampoo with other ingredients.

If you have color-treated hair or chemically treated hair, it's best to check if the best shampoo for dandruff can be used for your hair texture. This is because the ingredients can be especially harsh on your hair.

c) Scent

Depending on the formula, the dandruff shampoo can either have an overpowering or pleasant scent. This something to look into, especially if you're sensitive to smells when considering the best dandruff shampoos. You can go through the reviews to take note of what other customers said about the product.

5 Tips To Using Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

1. Wash Your Hair Frequently

Initially, you may want to wash your hair daily until your scalp is controlled. However, this is dependent on how your scalp reacts to the product. You can start by washing your hair twice a week, then build up from there. It's important to remember that when you apply the dandruff shampoo to your hair, you deliver medicine to the scalp skin. This also helps remove the oils and scale that contribute to dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)

There's a common misconception that you shouldn't wash your hair when experiencing a dry, itchy, and flaking scalp. However, it is recommended to keep your scalp clean as this is the best way to encourage a healthy scalp. There's also another misconception that dandruff falls under the umbrella of eczema; hence, your hair should be washed less frequently, which is not the case. When you wash your hair less frequently, there's a sebum build-up; this worsens the flaking and itchiness.

2. Lather And Rinse Your Hair Twice With Each Washing

Apply the best dandruff shampoo to your hair and ensure that the lathering reaches down to the skin of your scalp. You can use your fingers tips or a scalp scrubber to ensure that the shampoo is evenly spread out on your scalp.

Initially, you can use a non-medicated shampoo for your first lather to clean out the dirt and oil from your scalp and hair. Then follow it up with your medicated dandruff shampoo. Let the shampoo stay on your scalp for about 5 minutes before rinsing.  This allows the active ingredients to penetrate better; thus, they are more likely to stick around post-shower.

3. Moisturize With An Anti-Dandruff Conditioner

Dandruff shampoos can be quite stripping; hence it's important to ensure to moisturize your hair afterward. It's advisable to pair your best dandruff shampoo with anti-dandruff conditioners. The conditioner adds to the active ingredients left by the shampoo instead of washing it away.

4. Rotate Your Best Dandruff Shampoos

Rotating your shampoos prevents your scalp from getting used to one ingredient. It is advisable to use at least three different dandruff shampoos to expose your scalp to different active ingredients.

5. Use Your Dandruff Shampoo For Atleast A Month

It's advisable to continue your dandruff treatment for at least a month. This is because if you stop too soon, dandruff can come back faster than you expect. Its also important to take note that many dandruff shampoos can be harsh to your hair shafts.

Thus if you have fine or fragile hair, it's advisable to ensure that you only apply the shampoo to your scalp skin. You don't need to lather the full length of your hair shafts as you have already cleaned them with your anti-dandruff shampoo. 


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