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Best anti-dandruff shampoo

Which anti-dandruff shampoo is best?

Anyone can get dandruff, regardless of age or gender, but some are more likely to get it than others. Men, adolescents going through puberty and individuals with preexisting conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or a compromised immune system are more prone to getting dandruff.

There are anti-dandruff shampoos that help treat, manage and in some cases, get rid of dandruff altogether. If you have severe dandruff and treated or graying hair, check out Nizoral A-D’s Ketoconazole Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

What to know before you buy anti-dandruff shampoo

Active ingredients

Anti-dandruff shampoos are formulated to treat, manage, eliminate and prevent dandruff. But not all anti-dandruff shampoos use the same ingredients.

Coal tar: Coal tar is best for those with dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition that can make the scalp red, itchy or scaly in appearance. Individuals with light-colored hair should not use this as it can darken or discolor lighter hair.

Salicylic acid: This ingredient exfoliates the scalp and eliminates dandruff. The only downside is that it may dry out normal hair or cause already dry hair to feel brittle. A good moisturizing conditioner can help negate this.

Selenium sulfide: In addition to fighting and controlling dandruff, selenium sulfide can help kill certain fungi that cause dandruff. This ingredient may darken dyed or lighter-colored hair.

Zinc pyrithione: Another great option for those who have dandruff due to certain fungi or bacteria is zinc pyrithione. This works well against dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.

Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole is a common ingredient in clinical strength anti-dandruff shampoos available in over-the-counter and prescription shampoos. It’s best for those with severe or chronic dandruff.

Tea tree oil: A gentler option, tea tree oil is effective against dandruff and other conditions causing itchy, dry scalp.

Hair strength

Some anti-dandruff shampoos use ingredients that may be harsh on certain hair types. Before using a new product, find out what type of hair you have. Is it dry, brittle or thinning? Is it thick or strong?

If you have dry hair, you may want to use a shampoo that has tea tree oil in it. If your hair is untreated, then a shampoo with salicylic acid or ketoconazole may be a better option.

Cause and severity of dandruff

Many things can cause dandruff, including dry skin, fungus, poor hygiene and certain skin conditions. Some people get dandruff in the winter when the air is dry, while others get it due to another skin or hair care product they’re using.

Since anti-dandruff shampoos use different ingredients to fight dandruff and help with hair and scalp health, a product that works for one person may not work for another. If possible, find out what’s causing your dandruff and choose a shampoo best suited to your needs.

What to look for in a quality anti-dandruff shampoo

Added chemicals

Many hair products include harsh chemicals like synthetic fragrances, parabens and sulfates. While many of these chemicals are designed to help clean hair, they can also cause damage to the hair follicles.

Sulfates, for instance, often dry out hair by stripping away natural oils. Frequent use can lead to split ends or long-term damage. Artificial fragrances may make the shampoo smell pleasant, but they can aggravate the skin and make it red, itchy or dry. If you have sensitive skin or chemically treated hair, look for a shampoo that doesn’t use harsh chemicals.


Some anti-dandruff shampoos have a pleasant fragrance, while others have a medical or neutral scent. Choose a shampoo with a scent you like that doesn’t overpower your nose. If you’re concerned about synthetic fragrances, choose a fragrance-free shampoo.

Expiration date

Not all anti-dandruff shampoos have an expiration date, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a recommended shelf life. Check the bottle for a label or stamped expiration date. If there isn’t one, replace any opened bottle of shampoo after 12-18 months.

To see if the shampoo is expired, check if it has a strange odor, odd texture or is discolored.

How much you can expect to spend on anti-dandruff shampoo

Anti-dandruff shampoo can cost anywhere from a few dollars for a basic, OTC option to around $60 for a clinical strength, prescription bottle. For most people, a good price point to look for is between $5 and $15.

Anti-dandruff shampoo FAQ

How can you permanently and naturally get rid of dandruff?

A. Besides shampoo or other hair care products, you can use natural products including coconut oil, aloe vera gel or tea tree oil. If your hair and scalp are dry or starting to flake, adding omega-3 fatty acids or probiotics to your diet may help.

How quickly does anti-dandruff shampoo get rid of dandruff?

A. In some cases, anti-dandruff shampoo starts working after the first use. People with light or sporadic dandruff may benefit from using anti-dandruff shampoo once or twice a week to keep the dandruff away. If you have severe or chronic dandruff, it may be better to use the shampoo daily (or as recommended) for a few weeks.

What’s the best anti-dandruff shampoo to buy?

Top anti-dandruff shampoo

Nizoral A-D Ketoconazole Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

What you need to know: This clinically proven anti-dandruff shampoo is best for severe or chronic cases.

What you’ll love: This anti-dandruff shampoo is formulated to help control and eliminate severe dandruff, as well as maintain a dandruff-free scalp. It can be used on gray or treated hair, and results may appear after the first use.

What you should consider: The product uses chemicals that may not be gentle on fine, brittle hair.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond

Top anti-dandruff shampoo for the money

L'Oreal Paris EverFresh Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

What you need to know: This great-smelling anti-dandruff shampoo is highly effective and is extremely affordable.

What you’ll love: This shampoo is free from sulfates, parabens and other harsh chemicals, making it safe for most hair types and dyed hair. It’s formulated to eliminate dandruff and leave your hair soft, shiny and clean. Clinically tested to work on dandruff and itchy scalp.

What you should consider: Although the formula is fairly gentle, frequent use on treated hair may cause the hair to dry out.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Worth checking out

Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control Anti-Dandruff 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

What you need to know: This all-in-one anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner provides long-lasting relief.

What you’ll love: This affordable product helps with itching and flaking, and it is great for other skin conditions, like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis too. It starts working immediately and continues working after rinsing.

What you should consider: This anti-dandruff shampoo has a powerful, lingering scent that may bother those with a sensitive nose.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond


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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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