12 Natural Dandruff Shampoos That Actually Work — & Tips From A Derm

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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.

With that in mind, you may want to look for ingredients which 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.


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 eliminates dryness, flakes, and itch.

According to one reviewer: "This shampoo is amazing! Cleared up my dry scalp/dandruff the first time I used it! I’ve tried other dandruff shampoos but they always seemed to make my dandruff worse.”


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: "Finally found this shampoo and seriously, this is it. I'm not changing my shampoo ever again. It keeps my dandruff in check, I don't get the weird little clogged hair follicles as much anymore, which I used to get even with Head and Shoulders, my hair can go four (!) days without getting oily and needing a wash, it doesn't get itchy, my hair still looks volumized by the fourth day, basically this shampoo is great.”


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: "No more itching, no more dry hair and no hair strands coming out when brushing my hair... Finally no hair or dandruff on my shoulders after I brush my hair.... Totally satisfied after once use.”


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: "I have tried e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g to help curb my dandruff which can pretty nasty in the winter. After just one use, it was gone. It's like a miracle. So worth the pennies I spent on it.”


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: "Greatly reduced dandruff, dry scalp & itching. I've tried half a dozen other shampoos including a prescription one but none were as effective as DHS Zinc. Very happy!”


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 continued to struggle with dandruff and buildup and have been searching for a more natural solutions than traditional dandruff shampoo. This product works great, and I feel good about what's in it!”


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: "Exceeded all expectations. Dandruff? What dandruff?! All gone after just one use. Tried every product available in the pharmacies and dermatologists offered products and nothing worked. This shampoo is amazing!”


This Shampoo That Cleanses & Hydrates With Natural Soapberries

This 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: "I have had dandruff problems my whole life. I’ve tried the usual suspects (head & shoulders, selsen, etc.) with no improvement. I bought this (and the conditioner) when my at-the-time regular product was out of stock. I was a little grumpy at the price, but it is worth it!! I have ZERO dandruff issues anymore. I’ve been using it for about 3 or 4 months, and I noticed immediate improvement.”


A pH-Balanced Shampoo Bar That’s Plastic-Free

With 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: “This shampoo bar helped with itching with one use. By the third day the dandruff was almost gone. If I use another shampoo it starts to come back. The bar has a very faint lime scent which I like because i am sensitive to fragrance.”


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 like to wash my hair with my regular shampoo, then use this and really work it around my scalp before rinsing. My dandruff has completely cleared up since using this product!”


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: “I’ve dealt with severe dandruff for years, and most dandruff shampoos just burn my scalp and don’t fix the itch or the flakiness. This is the only brand I’ve found that actually helped my scalp. 90% improvement after 2 uses! (For reference, i have very thick wavy hair.) I can also go a few days without washing my hair without being miserable so it’s great for camping too!”


This Hemp-Based Shampoo That's Gentle On Sensitive Scalps

This 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: "I really like this product. It has reduced my dry scalp/dandruff and my hair feels softer and looks healthier.”


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,