When it comes to treating and preventing dandruff, I'm a huge fan of natural dandruff shampoos that actually work by either inhibiting yeast growth or effectively removing dead skin and other buildup. But, since dandruff is a highly personal issue, I reached out to a board-certified dermatologist for some context.
"Dandruff is an inflammatory skin condition that is genetic. Some believe that it's caused by a sensitivity to a yeast that lives on all of our skin,"
Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, explains to Bustle. What Ingredients You Should Look For:
With that in mind, you may want to look for ingredients that inhibit yeast growth. "Shampoos containing selenium and/or zinc can be helpful, as these minerals have antifungal properties," says Dr. Mudgil. Another great ingredient to look for is
tea tree oil, one of nature's best dandruff treatments, thanks in part to its antifungal properties. Using a shampoo with salicylic acid is another way to keep your scalp free of dead skin cells and other kinds of buildup, which make dandruff and irritation worse.
Aside from treating your dandruff with specific ingredients, it's also important to choose formulas that won't dry out or irritate your scalp in other ways. "Those with dandruff have sensitive skin and should be on the lookout for products that exacerbate their condition," advises Dr. Mudgil.
Not sure where to begin? These 12
highly rated dandruff shampoos work with powerful natural ingredients — and without harsh cleansing agents which can irritate your scalp further. (And if you’re struggling with a flaky scalp, you may like a dermatologist’s seven tips for how to get rid of dandruff.) Shop The Best Natural Dandruff Shampoos In a hurry? Here are the best picks for anti-dandruff shampoos. Jason Shampoo Dandruff Relief Avalon Organics Dandruff Shampoo Honeyskin Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner Set DermaHarmony Zinc Therapy Soap DHS Zinc Shampoo Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo Puriya Tea Tree Oil Shampoo Tree To Tub Soapberry Shampoo Ethique Dandruff Shampoo Bar Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Yes To Tea Tree Scalp Relief Soothing Shampoo BC Bud Natural Hemp Skincare Shampoo 1 A Refreshing Option That People Call "Magical"
Because it uses healing ingredients like rosemary, olive oil, and jojoba,
Jason's dandruff shampoo moisturizes dry scalps naturally with a refreshing scent. However, the real secret is salicylic acid and sulfur, which eliminate dryness, flakes, and itching. According to one reviewer: "his is quite possibly the best dandruff shampoo on the market for people with moderate to severe dandruff like me. [...] If you’re hesitant, just give one bottle a try – I’ve gotten all my friends and their kids hooked on this. It's definitely worth every penny!” 2 This Medicated Dandruff Shampoo With 2% Salicylic Acid
With botanicals, essential oils, and 2% salicylic acid,
Avalon Organics dandruff shampoo helps keep your scalp comfortable and free of buildup and flakes. It's also free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic colors, and fragrances, and it's a great option for sensitive scalps. According to one reviewer: "Dandruff is pretty much gone. If I wash my hair every other day or every day with this, I don’t even see any dandruff anymore! I had very severe psoriasis and nothing helped. This is AMAZING.” 3 This Tea Tree Shampoo & Conditioner Combo
This sulfate- and paraben-free
tea tree shampoo and conditioner set is gentle and reinvigorating on your hair and scalp, while the antifungal properties of tea tree oil help with dandruff. It includes nourishing organic ingredients like raw manuka honey, coconut oil, and aloe vera, too. The best part is, it comes in a huge 16-ounce bottles that will last you ages. According to one reviewer: "I've been looking for a product to use that is safe for color that would help my scalp not itch - and this is the first one I've tried that really helped! I love using this product, because my scalp feels great! You can definitely smell the Tea Tree oil, but I don't mind. It works!” 4 A Fragrance-Free Zinc Bar Soap That Can Be Used On Hair
When you see a bar of soap, you probably don't immediately think of it as a hair product, but this
Zinc Therapy bar from DermaHarmony is a versatile budget-friendly option. It's formulated with 2% pyrithione zinc, plus soothing ingredients like oatmeal, olive oil, and vitamin E. What's more, it's notably fragrance-free for those who have sensitive skin. To use, simply work up a later using warm water and massage into scalp and hair (or other affected facial areas). According to one reviewer: "This soap has been the one thing that has been able to consistently make my skin better. I have extremely sensitive skin but this isn’t too strong. I do not have any side effects what so ever. [...] It has the properties of antibacterial and antifungal but it used for many other things and can do much more than just help with skin conditions and dandruff.” 5 A Therapeutic Zinc Shampoo With 4.6 Stars DHS zinc shampoo is another favorite on Amazon, and it includes one of the key ingredients that Dr. Mudgil recommends: zinc — specifically 2% pyrithione zinc — to heal, calm, and balance the scalp. The effective formula improves the look and feel of the scalp, all while conditioning and healing. The only downside is that it's not free of sulfates. According to one reviewer: "I have been using this Zinc shampoo for only 2 months and even after the very first use, my dandruff was gone! I have not had to ‘check’ my shoulders once since I started using this product. It's amazing and I highly recommend this to anyone battling this annoying condition.” 6 A Super Gentle Shampoo For The Most Sensitive Scalps
More than 8,000 reviewers have given this
Maple Holistics shampoo a perfect five-star rating, and it’s another great sulfate-free, therapeutic tea tree shampoo that helps ease flaking and irritation. It leaves hair feeling clean and moisturized simultaneously, and reviewers report that it helps with a range of other scalp issues like acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and rashes as well. According to one reviewer: "I have suffered with allergies and skin sensitivities for most of my life. Most of the products I've tried are either good for you hair, or your scalp, but not both. I have long thick hair, which is oily at the scalp but can be dry at the ends. I Tried this product from Maple Holistics, and was blown away. Not only did it heal my skin irritation, but it made my hair really soft and shiny.” 7 A pH-Balanced Shampoo You Can Use Every Day
Because it's free of sulfates, artificial fragrance, and parabens,
Puriya’s tea tree dandruff shampoo is a favorite for many. It cleanses and hydrates with 100% naturally derived ingredients, and it's pH balanced to help your scalp return to a healthy state. According to one reviewer: "We have tried EVERYTHING for my daughter's scalp (she has severe scalp psoriasis and dry scalp) and this is the only product including the Puriya conditioner that has worked, it's amazing!” 8 This Shampoo That Cleanses & Hydrates With Natural Soapberries Also available on Grove, $18
Tree To Tub soapberry shampoo is effective at tackling dandruff using soapberries, which are natural nuts that create a pH-balanced cleanser. It's also got calming and invigorating ingredients like chamomile, aloe, and peppermint. It’s also free of sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrance, and many other irritants. According to one reviewer: "Regular dandruff shampoo did not work, and I didn't like how it made my hair feel. [...] Then I came across your product online. I admit I was a little skeptical, but to my surprise it worked! Not only is my scalp itch gone with a few treatments, but it makes my hair feel clean without harsh chemicals. And the scent is very refreshing.” 9 A pH-Balanced Shampoo Bar That’s Plastic-Free
antifungal neem oil, this bar of dandruff shampoo is a great option for those looking to cut down on plastic. Oatmeal and coconut oil nourish. The compact form is great for travel or small spaces — and it’s a great deal when you consider that each bar is the equivalent of three standard bottles of shampoo. According to one reviewer: “I was in the market for a shampoo bar to combat dandruff so that I could switch to something natural, vegan, and good for the environment. [...] This shampoo bar has been a godsend that has combated all of those problems! I was skeptical at first, but I noticed a difference with my first use. It smells amazing, lathers well, and my scalp feels healthy and normal for the first time in years.” 10 A Zinc Shampoo That’s Great For Sensitive Scalps
For an effective formula that’s also great for those with sensitivities, consider this dermatologist-tested
Vanicream Free & Clear shampoo with 2% zinc pyrithione. It is pH-balanced and free of sulfates, parabens, protein, dyes, and fragrance making it free of most common issues. And with a 4.5-star overall rating after more than 3,000 reviews, buyers seem to agree that it’s still highly effective. According to one reviewer: “I am allergic to all fragrance and most preservatives. This was a miracle product for me. I searched high and low and could not find an anti-dandruff product that I wasn't allergic to. Finally here it is. It works best when I follow the instructions of leaving it on my scalp for a few minutes. I will be purchasing again in the future.” 11 A Shampoo With Tea Tree & Salicylic Acid
This option combines antifungal tea tree and exfoliating salicylic acid for a
powerful natural dandruff shampoo. It is paraben-free and non-comedogenic (though there are sulfates). However, a customer noted that it’s a good idea to shake the bottle before each use. According to one reviewer: “My scalp feels so clean and I have absolutely no little specs and flakes anymore. After one use, this has completely eradicated all of the build up and junk on my scalp. My hair is also the softest it has been in my adult life, and looks fantastic. I even cried a little because I have been dealing with the ‘dandruff’ for years with no relief.” 12 This Hemp-Based Shampoo That's Gentle On Sensitive Scalps
gentle shampoo option uses virgin hemp seed oil to seal in moisture and reduce flakes. And the manufacturer promises that it also strengthens strands and balances oil production. It's a great option for scalps that are sensitive to other dandruff remedies, like tea tree oil, SLS, and peppermint. It’s sulfate- and paraben-free, but does have a little fragrance included. According to one reviewer: "THIS STUFF IS WORTH YOUR MONEY! I have spent thousands of dollars on scalp laser treatments, prescription topicals, and so much more, in efforts to get rid of my psoriasis when I have a flare up. I have been using this product for two years and it is the only thing that keeps my flare ups under control.” Experts: Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., with Mudgil Dermatology Studies referenced: Satchell, Andrew C. (2002) Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12451368/
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This article was originally published on
June 19, 2017