6 Best Shampoos for Dandruff

6 Best Shampoos for Dandruff


After 18 hours of research evaluating 73 products, we picked Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo as our top choice.

Can’t wear black anymore for fear that it’ll be covered in flakes before you even get to work? You’re not alone; according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 40 percent of adults over 30 experience some level of dandruff.


Well because dandruff is, sadly, natural. Those flakes are simply dead skin cells – traditionally held together with oil from your scalp. 

There are a couple of causes, including not shampooing frequently enough. Seborrheic dermatitis, however, is one of the leading causes of these flakes, as it is an oily, irritated scalp. Another cause is a fungus that just about everyone deals with – though it doesn’t affect everyone with serious flakes.

Luckily, most people can solve their flakes with a shampoo for dandruff. However, not everyone experiences the same results from over-the-counter products.

Not sure where to begin?

Well, we’ve taken the time to narrow down the best shampoo for dandruff if you’re battling flakes. Keep reading to find the best anti dandruff shampoo for you. Welcome to the flake free life!

Our editors independently research, test, and recommmend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

6 Best Shampoos for Dandruff

  • 6. Maple Holistics Hydrate
  • 5. Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo
  • 4. K + S Salon Quality Men’s Shampoo
  • 3. Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
  • 2. Jason Dandruff Relief 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner
  • 1. Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Best Natural Shampoo for Dandruff


Maple Holistics Hydrate

Best Natural Shampoo for Dandruff: Maple Holistics Hydrate
265 Bought
86 % Editor Score
80 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Great for dry scalps
  • Alleviates itching
  • Visible reduction of flakes and hair feels fantastic

You won’t find any parabens or sulfates in this shampoo for dandruff. On top of that, it visibly reduces flakes and reduces itchiness quickly.

You’ll definitely need a conditioner after this product and it’s not exactly cheap. Plus, the smell can be a little too strong for some users.

One of the things we like most about this shampoo for dandruff is that you won’t feel the need to wash your hair every day. This treatment lasts between washes and most people find that it leaves their hair feeling clean and shiny. That said, you may want to add a conditioner to the mix – especially if you have damaged or color-treated hair.

This is an amazing shampoo for dry and itchy scalps and most users find that it works relatively quickly. You can also expect a visible reduction in flakes, but it won’t happen overnight. That is, however, to be expected when you’re dealing with such a natural formula. But, that’s not a bad thing when you’re after something for sensitive skins.

Active ingredients: Homeopathic ingredients with essential oils

Sulfates: No

Parabens: No

Alcohol: No

Package size: 8 fluid ounces is your only option, but it is available as a Subscribe and Save product on Amazon.

Pricing: The MSRP is $9 and you’ll pay a little less than this which works out to a little more than $1 per ounce. It’s not terrible, but you can also find less expensive dandruff shampoos – though perhaps not such natural ones.

Best Shampoo for Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis


Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo

Best Shampoo for Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis: Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo
218 Bought
88 % Editor Score
82 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Gets the job done
  • Cleans and improves scalp health
  • Decreases itching

Not only does this do the job when it comes to dandruff, it really does work well for seborrhic dermatitis. You can choose between sizes and they’re all affordable.

Not everyone can handle the smell – and it can take a little longer to work than some dandruff shampoos.

This shampoo for dandruff does a stellar job for those that battle seborrheic dermatitis. Indeed, is does a fair job with dandruff flakes, but it’s really better for the former condition. If you deal with a combination of the two, you want this. Hey, even if you’ve been battling mild dandruff, the price on this should sway you.

Now, there is something you should know – the smell is, well… strong. But, that has to do with the clinical-level ingredients, which we love. Scalps do feel clean after use and there are plenty of dermatologists that would recommend you start with this shampoo before moving onto other options. Given the range of affordable sizes, we don’t see why you wouldn’t.

Active ingredients:  1% selenium sulfide

Sulfates: Yes

Parabens: No

Alcohol: No

Package size: Amazon offers three different choices of packs with 13.5-ounce bottles. Each of them is more than affordable.

Pricing: For the 2-pack of 13.5-ounce bottles, you’ll pay about $12. You don’t need to have strong math skills to know that’s a seriously affordable dandruff treatment (a little more than 60 cents an ounce) Nice, right?

Best Shampoo for Dandruff (That’s Not Specifically for Dandruff)


K + S Salon Quality Men’s Shampoo

Best Shampoo for Dandruff (That’s Not Specifically for Dandruff): K + S Salon Quality Men’s Shampoo
184 Bought
92 % Editor Score
86 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Smells great
  • Refreshing scalp tingle
  • Effective and cleanses well

This shampoo won’t scream that you need dandruff control; it also offers a nice tingle and there’s a TSA-approved size available.

Besides being expensive, it’s not totally effective for everyone.

Okay, this cruelty-free product is only so-so at getting flakes under control. It is pretty good at keeping them in check once you’ve cleared the condition, but it’s not necessarily going to be your friend until then. However, you shouldn’t rule out this shampoo for dandruff for a couple of reasons.

For a start, it won’t be obvious that you’re keeping dandruff under control. Additionally, it smells terrific and it lathers exceptionally well. As it does so, you can expect a tingling sensation on your scalp which will make you feel amazing. And, this shampoo is also sold in a 2-ounce, TSA-approved size so you can take it with you on the plane. Score, score, and score; it’s just not as cheap as we’d like.  

Active ingredients: Tea tree     

Sulfates: Yes

Parabens: No

Alcohol: No

Package size: There are a couple different package sizes available. We’re fans of the 2-pack of 16 ounce bottles. You can also Subscribe and Save on six different packs available.

Pricing: For the 32 ounces in the 2-pack above, you’ll pay less than $30 and that means a little more than 90 cents an ounce. That’s actually a terrific price for an effective cruelty-free product.

Best Budget Shampoo for Dandruff


Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Best Budget Shampoo for Dandruff: Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
215 Bought
88 % Editor Score
89 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Works great
  • Keeps itchy, flaky scalp under control
  • Fast results

Does a good job with dandruff as well as other scalp conditions, such as psoriasis. The price is right and it’s an Amazon best seller.

There are those that can’t handle the smell; it is quite strong.

There are pros and cons to this shampoo for dandruff. On the plus side, the price is right and it has enough backing from real users as evidenced by its status as Amazon #1 best seller. There are also plenty of rave reviews to back it up (particularly interesting is the story about one woman’s cat who appears to be addicted to the smell).

On the downside, this doesn’t work for everyone, nor does it work for every condition. Though it’s supposed to control dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis, not everyone achieves the same results. On the upside, when it works, it works fast – in just a few washes. So, it’s not as if you need to wait around for ages just hoping for a result. But, and this is really important, it’s crucial to follow the directions if you want results.

Active ingredients: Coal tar

Sulfates: Yes

Parabens: No

Alcohol: No

Package size: 16 ounces          

Pricing: You should be paying less than $12 for the 16 ounces of this dandruff shampoo. That works out to less than 75 cents per ounce. For an effective treatment, that’s a darn good price.

Best 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo


Jason Dandruff Relief 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner

Best 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo: Jason Dandruff Relief 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner
332 Bought
88 % Editor Score
93 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Seriously works – 100% flake-free
  • Smells fantastic
  • Safe ingredients and cruelty-free

It cleanses and conditions. On top of that, it battles dandruff, dermatitis, and mild cases of psoriasis. Plus the price is right.

Some users with longer hair need to get a separate conditioner.

You may remember Head and Shoulders as the best 2-in-1 from back in the day. That is hardly the case today as this is hands-down the best shampoo for dandruff that includes conditioner. To be fair, women (and men) with longer hair may require a dab of extra conditioner on the ends, but most find this formula to do the job just fine.

We’re a big fan of the way this deals with scalp dermatitis and mild psoriasis - users find a lot of relief for all sorts of scalp conditions. The natural ingredients don’t strip color from treated hair which makes it a solid choice for many people. The price isn’t bad; it could be better, but it’s not terrible.

Active ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc

Sulfates: Yes

Parabens: No

Alcohol: No

Package size: 12 ounces

Pricing: You’re likely to pay between $13 and $15 for the 12 ounce bottle. That does make this quite cost effective at a little more than $1 per ounce. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Best Overall Shampoo for Dandruff


Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Best Overall Shampoo for Dandruff: Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
502 Bought
92 % Editor Score
96 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • The only product that works consistently regardless of hair type
  • Excellent formula
  • Seriously recommend

The Ketoconazole 1% controls flaking, scaling, and itching while remaining gentle on the scalp. The formula works by binding to the protein of your hair.

Besides being expensive, this isn’t going to do anything about other issues, such as eczema or psoriasis.

This is the stuff that truly works. Seriously. And, it’s so effective that you only need to use it twice a week. Now, this dandruff shampoo can be a little drying, so it’s best to use a conditioner on the days when you use this shampoo, but don’t rinse it out completely.

That said, the way this shampoo for dandruff works is through the attachment of the Ketoconazole to the hair proteins. The active ingredient does battle against the natural fungi we all have which causes dandruff. So, you may not want to be washing with other shampoos in between these treatments.

In case you’re wondering, this works for men and women of every shade and hair type. Really, if you can afford this, you want it.

Active ingredients: Ketoconazole (1%)

Sulfates: No

Parabens: No

Alcohol: No

Package size: 7 ounces

Pricing: The MSRP is closer to $18, but you can find this dandruff shampoo for a little more than $14. That’s about $2 per ounce. Sadly, that does make this one of the most expensive options, but it is also one of the most effective.

Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Buying Guide

Dandruff affects a lot of people. In fact, it’s probably a lot more common than you think. Despite this, we understand that dandruff can lead to a lot of embarrassing situations—most of them involving dark clothing. It’s also associated with itching and either dryness or oiliness, which can be quite uncomfortable to deal with.

Fortunately, using a good anti-dandruff shampoo can make a massive difference for most people. The best shampoos for dandruff will not only keep those pesky flakes at bay, but they will also help your hair restore its health and balance.

So, how exactly do you choose the best dandruff shampoo? Check out our guide below!

What causes dandruff?

There are a variety of things that can cause dandruff. In fact, many cases of dandruff are triggered by a combination of two or more of these factors. Knowing all of them can help you narrow down the potential triggers in your specific case, which will ultimately help you find the best anti-dandruff shampoo.

  1. Dryness. When your scalp is stripped of moisture, it gets itchy and flaky. Whether this dryness is natural or a result of severe weather conditions, dandruff is a likely result.
  2. Oiliness. You probably already know that excessive sebum on your face can clog your pores which, when combined with bacteria, leads to inflammation -- which then leads to a host of skin problems like acne and blackheads. Well, the same thing can happen to your scalp. Excessive oils on the scalp can combine with dead skin cells and produce dandruff. What’s more, an oily scalp is a good environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive in. 
  3. Disrupted pH levels. When your pH levels are thrown out of whack, your body is bound to respond to this imbalance. Unfortunately, one of the most common ways with which your body responds to pH disruptions is the underproduction or overproduction of sebum, which eventually leads to dandruff.
  4. Other conditions. Skin disorders like eczema, Malassezia, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis can all lead to dandruff. Allergies and infections are some of the most common suspects, too.

Tips for choosing the best dandruff shampoo

There are literally dozens of shampoos for dandruff on the market today. Fortunately for you, we’ve already done the research and listed the best of the best shampoos above. But if our list still isn’t specific enough for you, here are a few tips you can use to further narrow down your choices.

  1. Consider your hair type. Not all anti-dandruff shampoos have the same effect. Some of them will help remove oil from your scalp and regulate sebum production, and these types are suitable for people with greasy hair. On the other hand, moisturizing anti-dandruff shampoos are available for those of you who suffer from dry hair.
  2. Look at its active ingredients. Some active ingredients are better at certain aspects than others. Choosing the right chemical or substance for your specific case is important if you want to get the best possible results. Check out the next section for an overview of the most common anti-dandruff shampoo ingredients.
  3. Be careful if you have color-treated hair. Anti-dandruff shampoos that use coal tar as an active ingredient can discolor white, blonde, grey, or silver hair.
  4. Consider your lifestyle. Are you always in a hurry? Do you spend a lot of time under the sun? Some anti-dandruff shampoos will require you to leave the lather on your hair for a certain length of time before rinsing, which will definitely extend your shower time. Moreover, some active ingredients, like tar, can make your scalp more sensitive to sunlight.
  5. Is the price right? Dandruff shampoos need not be expensive. Although some active ingredients may demand a bit more $$$, there are a lot of affordable shampoos for dandruff if you have a limited budget.

The most popular anti-dandruff active ingredients

Most anti-dandruff shampoos on the market use one of the following ingredients (or a combination of several of these). The best ingredient for you will vary depending on the circumstances of your condition. Here are brief descriptions of the most popular active ingredients for fighting dandruff.

Zinc Pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione is widely used for its anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It helps prevent the Malassezia fungus from taking over your scalp and worsening your dandruff. It also helps control the production of yeast on the scalp.

What’s more, zinc pyrithione can help improve the health and texture of your hair strands. It also helps in removing dead cells that may be accumulating on your head, as well as in minimizing hair fall.

Coal tar

Coal tar is commonly recommended for those with greasy hair. It’s a natural antifungal substance that slows down the growth of yeast. However, coal tar should not be used by people with color-treated hair.

Salicylic acid

You probably know salicylic acid as an anti-acne skincare ingredient. It’s a popular component that’s found in the best pimple patches, after all. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that helps clear the pores on your face, and it helps reduce dandruff through a similar mechanism.

When used on the scalp, salicylic acid helps get rid of stubborn dead skin cells and accumulated sebum, consequently eliminating and clearing flakes. It has a tendency to cause dryness, though, so it’s important to pair it with a moisturizing conditioner.

Selenium sulfide

Selenium sulfide is another substance that is generally recommended for those with oily hair. This chemical soothes the scalp and slows down the production of sebum in the scalp glands, which could help slow down dandruff production. As with coal tar, it is not ideal for those with chemically-treated hair.


Ketoconazole is arguably the most popular and effective anti-fungal ingredient used in dandruff shampoos. What makes it so great is that its effects last long after you have stepped out of the shower. Ketoconazole binds to the proteins in your hair to eliminate excessive levels of fungi on the scalp. What’s more, it controls the shedding of dead skin at the same time, leading to a two-pronged approach that gives fast results.

Tea Tree Oil

Another popular natural ingredient is tea tree oil. If you have used tea tree oil for acne before, then you’ll know that it has powerful antiseptic and antifungal properties. This helps in maintaining a cleaner scalp with reduced dandruff.

Green Tea

Green tea extract is used as a natural remedy for dandruff, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. Its effects aren’t as pronounced and established as those of the other ingredients on this list, so it’s recommended only for the mildest cases of dandruff.

Getting the most out of your anti-dandruff shampoo

Whatever shampoo you end up purchasing, there are a bunch of lifestyle changes that you can adopt in order to secure a dandruff-free scalp for the long term. These habits will ensure that your exposure to dandruff triggers will be kept to a minimum, thereby helping you get the most out of your dandruff shampoo.

  • Don’t share combs, hairbrushes, and other personal equipment. Sharing items like combs and brushes, as well as styling tools like flat irons, curling wands, and hair straightening brushes, is a prime way of transmitting dandruff-causing fungi from one person to another. As such, you should never share these things with anyone else.
  • Minimize the use of hair styling products. Styling products like waxes, mousses, hair gels, and hair sprays may be the key to a great hair day, but they can exacerbate dandruff, as well. Their residues can accumulate on the scalp and cause flaking and itching. If you can help it, try not to use these products every single day.
  • Avoid hot showers as much as possible. A hot, steamy bath can be relaxing and indulgent, but hot water can actually strip off the natural oils from your scalp—leading to excessive dryness. And as we’ve pointed out earlier, a dry scalp usually falls prey to itching and flaking.
  • Use a shampoo that thoroughly cleans the scalp. Mild shampoos are understandably good for the hair, especially if you have super fine hair strands or a delicate scalp. However, using mild shampoos exclusively can lead to a buildup of dirt and residue on your scalp, which leads to dandruff. That said, you should definitely switch out your mild shampoo with a clarifying one every once in a while.
  • Don’t over-wash or under-wash your hair. The former will lead to a dry scalp, while the latter can cause dirt accumulation. Either way, dandruff could turn up as a nasty consequence.
  • Don’t use salicylic acid or coal tar shampoos every day. While these ingredients are great at reducing dandruff, using them too frequently can backfire. Salicylic acid and coal tar, when used regularly, can irritate your scalp and lead to acute hair fall.
  • Shampoo daily if you are Caucasian or Asian. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that you shampoo every day—two days a week with an anti-dandruff shampoo and the rest with a regular shampoo—if you are Asian or Caucasian.
  • Use anti-dandruff shampoo once a week if you are African-American. African-Americans should use anti-dandruff shampoos less frequently.
  • Always, always follow the instructions indicated on the bottle. Many anti-dandruff shampoos will have specific usage instructions that you must follow for best results. Make sure to carefully read the bottle of your chosen product before use. Otherwise, your efforts might go to waste.
  • If your symptoms don’t improve, see a dermatologist ASAP. Although most cases of dandruff don’t require medical attention, for some of us, dandruff is actually an indicator of a more serious underlying condition. If you have already tried all the best shampoos for dandruff but aren’t seeing any significant improvement, set an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist ASAP.

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Article Staff

Katie’s Cleveland proud; but she’s also lived in Australia, Switzerland and now stays in South Africa. That’s a roundabout way of saying she can’t sit still; she’s always moving, always busy.

She has a BA in International Relations from Kent State University and work towards a Masters in Human Rights. She speaks French, is learning German and used to dream in Spanish. For years, Katie worked as a producer on fashion and advertising shoots before she realized her passion was the written word.

Katie’s far more interested in guy’s gear than women’s, except she has a wardrobe brimming with little black dresses. She drinks her beer out of the bottle and is raising her two boys to be better men.

Editor Jenna Holtz
Researcher Ronnie Langston
Art Director Cherry Barbacena

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