The 5 Best Dandruff Shampoos

By on December 3, 2013

There’s nothing quite as unattractive (and embarrassing) as a smattering of white dots and spots on your shoulder, which look even worse if you’re wearing a black or dark-colored top. Unless you’re outdoors enjoying a beautiful winter snowfall, it can only mean one thing: dandruff.

And dandruff means that you have a seriously dry scalp that’s in need of major moisture STAT.

Dry scalp can be caused by anything from a skin condition, such as psoriasis or eczema, to the overuse of shampoo and other hair products. Essentially, the scalp stops producing enough sebum (a.k.a. oil) and is therefore unable to properly lubricate the scalp, as well as the hair follicles. This causes dead skin cells to multiply, which accounts for the majority of those pesky flakes.

To add to the issue, the scalp responds to its severe dryness by over producing healthy skin cells, however these cells can’t live on an unhealthy scalp, so they will also flake off and fall to your shoulders.

The good news is, unless you suffer from a serious skin condition, dandruff is quite common and easy to eradicate. But you have to use the right products in order to hydrate your scalp without irritating it further. Shampoo is the first, and most important, place to start. Here are five of the best dandruff-busting shampoos on the market. Give one (or all) a try, but remember, it takes time to revive a dry and damaged scalp, so don’t expect your dandruff to disappear overnight. Be patient and you’ll see results—some of the following products may work faster than others, but all of them work well.

Jason Normalizing Tea Tree Treatment Shampoo, $10

Tea tree oil is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties, and as one of the main ingredients in this shampoo by Jason, it helps to gently rid the scalp of built up dead skin cells. It also contains grapefruit extract and protein, both of which purify and fortify the hair, as well as calendula, hops, sage extracts and wheat germ oil, which help hydrate, soothe and relieve the scalp of itchiness. The formula is gentle enough to use daily, and leaves hair soft, manageable and free of any sort of medicinal scent. Follow with Jason’s Normalizing Tea Tree Treatment Conditioner, $9, for additional dandruff relief, a majorly moisturized scalp and soft, shiny hair.

Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner, $7

Neutrogena’s 2-in-1 dandruff shampoo and conditioner is formulated for daily use and works fairly fast as a result. Recommended by dermatologists, it contains numerous ingredients that are essential for battling dry scalp, such as Pyrithione zinc, an anti-fungal and antibacterial agent which helps to relieve itchiness and rid the scalp of flakes. Vitamin E and wheat germ are also added to moisturize both the hair and scalp, as well as nourish and protect the hair from further dryness and damage. No additional conditioner is needed, and used daily, you’ll notice fast-acting results, as well as shiny, clean and healthy-looking hair.

Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo, $16

Redken’s dandruff-fighting shampoo also contains the powerful pyrithione zinc compound, which is quickly infused right into the scalp thanks to the formula’s specially developed “Interbond Scalp System.” Dead skin cells and dry flakes begin to break apart immediately, while glycerin and lavender extracts soothe and hydrate the hair and scalp, to prevent irritation and any further damage. The end result is a scalp that is hydrated, clarified and clean, as well as hair that’s healthy, shiny and dandruff-free.

Head & Shoulders Citrus Breeze Dandruff Shampoo, $8

This isn’t the icky smelling Head & Shoulders you may remember from the days of yore. The well-known dandruff shampoo has come a long way since its inception, and this version for fine or oily hair smells seriously divine. It’s infused with citrus essences, and the scent is sweet and fruity, but not overly so. And of course, the shampoo is formulated with dry-scalp- and dandruff-busting ingredients, such as that popular pyrithione zinc, to break up dead skin cells and destroy pesky flakes. Dirt and excess oil is gently rinsed away without drying out the hair, and the smell left behind is just lovely.

Kiehl’s Scalp Purifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, $18

This specially formulated purifying shampoo is designed to be used with Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, $20—a gentle exfoliator that gets the scalp ready for prime dandruff removal. Apply the Scalp Purifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo directly after the scalp treatment for best results, as it further rinses away dead skin cells and flakes. It also relieves itchiness, restores the scalp’s natural defenses against dryness, and purifies both the scalp and hair. With regular use, it will prevent the reoccurrence of dry scalp and flakes. Kiehl’s claims that this shampoo is formulated to relieve all irritating and visible signs of dandruff, and as far as our testers are concerned, this claim is totally true. Especially if used after the Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment.