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Published Oct. 5, 2021

No one wants to look down and see a smattering of white flakes on their shoulders. But with the right game plan, dandruff sufferers can get back to wearing their favorite black T-shirt in no time. There’s an easy fix: Regularly washing with a shampoo that is designed to prevent and treat dandruff. In the past, even the best dandruff shampoos had a bad rep for leaving hair smelling not so great and looking dull. But formulas have come a long way, and you no longer have to choose between controlling dandruff and beautifying your hair. 

To ensure your dandruff shampoo is really fighting flakes, look for a few key ingredients on the label. Zinc pyrithione is one of the most common. Salicylic acid, tar, apple cider vinegar, ketoconazole, and selenium sulfide also help keep your scalp flake-free, balanced, and healthy.  

With these best dandruff shampoos for every hair concern, icky versions that leave your hair dry and flat are a thing of the past—just like those flakes.

How We Picked the Best Dandruff Shampoos

Methodology

Just because a shampoo is labeled to help treat dandruff doesn’t mean it actually does. We only included dandruff shampoos that are formulated with one of the top flake-fighting ingredients, such as zinc pyrithione, apple cider vinegar, salicylic acid, tar, ketoconazole, and selenium sulfide. Though some dandruff shampoos get the job done, they can also strip hair, leaving strands flat and dry. That’s why we also considered the rest of the ingredient label to ensure that these shampoos leave hair hydrated, healthy, and happy. 

To ensure these selections were the cream of the crop, we looked for dandruff shampoos that had been endorsed and recommended by experts like dermatologists and hair stylists. Another factor was that the shampoos work for a range of hair types so that as many people as possible could use them. Customer reviews also played an important role in choosing the top dandruff shampoos.

The Best Dandruff Shampoos Reviews and Picks

Best Overall: Dove DermaCare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

All-Purpose Pick

This dandruff-fighter soothes the scalp, moisturizes your tresses, and comes with a delicious scent.

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Why It Made the Cut: A true drugstore gem, this formula fights flakes while leaving hair soft, shiny, and manageable.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 3.03 x 1.92 x 8.5 inches
  • Volume: 12 fluid ounces

Pros: 

  • Nourishing formula
  • Great price
  • Nice scent
  • Works for a range of hair types

Cons:

  • Doesn’t always stop itching with very severe dandruff

Talk about a twofer: This pH-balanced formula from Dove hydrates parched strands while soothing the scalp, making hair super manageable. With regular use, you won’t be seeing red on your scalp any longer, and visible flakes will be gone in no time. Even better, so will all that annoying itching, since this dry scalp treatment delivers plenty of moisture to calm irritated, sensitive skin. 

What makes this formula a star is the fact that it’s also designed to truly nourish hair while treating dandruff, so it delivers all the shine and commercial-worthy hair perks of a traditional shampoo. That means it also smooths strands and prevents frizz, leaving you with sleek, glossy locks. It even has the pretty scent—specifically a fragrant blend of coconut and shea butter—to prove it’s just like a regular shampoo.

Best for Personalized Treatment: Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo

Good for Daily Use

This dandruff-fighting shampoo is made with pyrithione zinc and is gentle enough to use every day.

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Why It Made the Cut: The salon-favorite brand gets dandruff under control without being too harsh on sensitive scalps.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 1.97 x 2.99 x 8.43 inches
  • Volume: 8.5 fluid ounces

Pros: 

  • Effectively treats dandruff
  • Soothes the scalp
  • Pleasant scent

Cons:

  • The cap can sometimes leak

Some days your dandruff might be intense, while on others the flakes aren’t as obvious. That’s where this top dandruff shampoo from Redken comes in. Gentle enough to be used daily, you can adjust how intense it is by changing the amount of time you leave it on your hair. When flaking is especially bad, you can apply it to dry hair, massage it into your scalp and let your strands soak it in for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse it off. Or, you can use it as a regular shampoo sans extra soaking when dandruff isn’t as bad.

Either way, you can expect to deeply cleanse your hair while soothing your scalp, getting deep relief from dryness and itchiness. The hero ingredient is pyrithione zinc, which treats dandruff and all of its symptoms, working to clarify the scalp. Hair is left silky smooth with a healthy gleam.

Best for Color-Treated Hair: Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Protect Your Color

Made with salicylic acid, this premium shampoo treats dandruff and reduces irritation while strengthening your locks.

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Why It Made the Cut: The efficacious and luxurious formula makes this splurge worth every penny.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 3.2 x 1.6 x 5.2 inches
  • Volume: 8.5 fluid ounces

Pros: 

  • Deeply nourishes hair
  • Great scent
  • Luxurious formula and packaging

Cons:

  • Expensive

Color-treated hair is expensive hair. Even if you’re sporting DIY highlights, that took quite a time investment. And the last thing you want to do is wash all your time and money down the drain. Dandruff shampoos are notorious for stripping strands, but this luxurious option from Oribe will do no such thing. Not only is it safe for color-treated hair, it’s also good for those with a keratin treatment.

But just because it goes easy on your color doesn’t mean it’s easy on flakes. The gentle yet potent shampoo treats and prevents dandruff with salicylic acid, putting an end to itching and irritation. The fancy formula deeply moisturizes the scalp while removing flakes, quenches thirsty strands, and strengthens and restores elasticity. It’s also formulated without damaging ingredients like parabens, sulfates or sodium chloride.

Best for Shiny Hair: Head & Shoulders Apple Cider Vinegar Dandruff Shampoo

Extra Hair Health Boost

Head & Shoulders has earned its reputation for making the best dandruff shampoos, and this one includes apple cider vinegar for an extra hair health boost.

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Why It Made the Cut: Head & Shoulders has earned its reputation for making the best dandruff shampoos, and this one includes apple cider vinegar for an extra hair health boost. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 5.62 x 4.13 x 9.12 inches
  • Volume: 32.1 fluid ounces

Pros: 

  • Contains apple cider vinegar
  • Restores shine
  • Improves all-over hair health

Cons:

  • The scent may be too strong for some people

Apple cider vinegar is the latest hair ingredient that people can’t get enough of. Beloved for its detoxifying powers, apple cider vinegar is known for being a top natural remedy not only for dandruff, but also for treating a dry scalp and hair. The potent ingredient is found in many clarifying hair products, since it’s excellent for removing buildup and impurities as well as excess oil. 
Head & Shoulders is famous for being a power player in the dandruff space and this shampoo is no exception. With regular use, visible flakes will be no more, plus hair is restored to a healthy, shiny state. Safe for color-treated hair, it’s free of parabens.

Best for Psoriasis: Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Heavy-Duty Treatment

Designed for more serious scalp and skin issues, this dandruff shampoo gets down to business.

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Why It Made the Cut: Designed for more serious scalp and skin issues, this dandruff shampoo gets down to business.  

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 1.97 x 1.97 x 5.91 inches
  • Volume: 16 fluid ounces

Pros: 

  • Tackles serious scalp issues
  • Contains coal tar extract for extra relief
  • Delivers quick relief

Cons:

  • Can feel medicinal

When your flakes go deeper than dandruff, this is the shampoo for you. Designed for treating chronic scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, it can also be used to treat regular dandruff as well. The therapeutic formula is made to be used daily. To maximize results and really clear flakes, irritation, and itching, leave it on your hair and scalp for several minutes after lathering up before rinsing it off. 

What makes the Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo a true standout is the fact that it delivers relief from itching and flaking long after you’ve stepped out of the shower. That’s because it’s formulated with coal tar extract, which has been scientifically proven to continue working for hours after the shampoo is rinsed off. Consider it the dandruff shampoo that keeps on giving.

Things To Consider Before Buying a Dandruff Shampoo

Whether you experience a few flakes every once in a while or have a more serious skin condition, these factors will help you figure out the best dandruff shampoo for you. 

Severity 

While many dandruff shampoos contain the same active ingredients, the formulas are not created equally. Those with more serious dandruff probably want to consider a more serious dandruff shampoo. For people with occasional flakes, a less medicinal dandruff shampoo is likely best.

Color Treatment

Some potent dandruff shampoos aren’t great for color-treated hair. Strong ingredients have the potential to strip color. Highlights are a major investment, so if protecting your color is important to you, be sure to read the label to ensure it’s color safe. 

Fragrance

While dandruff shampoos have come a loooong way, some of the more potent formulas can still smell and feel on the medicinal side. If you take your scents seriously, you’ll want to look for a dandruff shampoo that has a traditional shampoo vibe when it comes to fragrance. However, if you’re treating severe dandruff, it might be worth the scent sacrifice.

FAQs

Q: What causes dandruff?

It’s good to understand what triggers those pesky flakes. To sum it up simply, we all have yeast that lives on our skin and scalp. But when there’s an overgrowth, that’s what causes dandruff. That can be brought on by stress, excessive oil production, or not shampooing frequently enough. When this yeast over-populates the scalp, it causes itchiness, flaking, and thickened patches of scalp skin or dryness—hence, flakes. For those with very thin or fine hair, dandruff might lead to dullness and weigh down the hair, since flakes and oil clump strands. 

Q: How often should I use a dandruff shampoo?

Despite what you may have heard, skipping washings can actually make dandruff worse. Especially for those with fine, thin hair and an oily scalp, shampooing every day is optimal. For other hair types, shampooing at least two times a week helps control dandruff, but when it comes to fighting flakes, typically the more you suds up, the better.

Q: When should I see a doctor?

When dandruff shampoos aren’t doing the trick, it might be time to check in with your doctor. If your scalp becomes raw, bleeds, or is completely unresponsive to dandruff shampoo, see your dermatologist and ask about prescription topical solutions.

Final Thoughts on the Best Dandruff Shampoos

To put it mildly, dandruff can truly be a nuisance, which is why we’ve selected the best shampoos that will leave scalps happy and healthy. Whether you’re treating occasional dandruff or a serious case of flakes, there’s something on this list to suit every scalp. This list of best dandruff shampoos has a pick for every individual situation and every hair type that will get the job done. 

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