Dandruff got you down? We can help. Referred to by doctors as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff typically appears as dry, scaly, and even waxy flakes that develop on oily or hair-bearing areas of the body (so normally the scalp, the eyebrows, and even the chest). As Rachel Nazarian, MD, explains, “severe cases can be quite irritating, appearing as red, itchy areas of flakes.” The cause is still slightly unclear (bummer, I know) but Nazarian says it’s in response to a natural yeast that’s found on the skin, and it tends to flare up with stress and cold, dry weather.
It can even be caused by certain medications, so check with your doctor to see if that may be the case.
People sometimes judge this condition and blame it on poor hygiene or uncleanliness, but Nazarian is quick to refute such claims. Although the condition is not at all dangerous, it can be distressing for sure. No one wants to live with red, oily skin or feel like they’re constantly leaving flakes everywhere they go. As someone who dresses in almost entirely black clothing, this seems like a nightmare. As such, Nazarian suggests the top treatments for dandruff (as there’s still no cut-and-dry cure) are the ones that contain salicylic acid, selenium, sulfur, or tar.
While they don’t sound particularly pleasing, these products work. That being said, it’s also best to steer clear of greasy or oil-based hair products, as they encourage yeast to flourish.
Below we’ve detailed a list of the top-rated over-the-counter options, but Nazarian suggests some cases may need stronger medication. Your dermatologist can prescribe either prescription-strength topical creams, gels, or even oral medication.
Keep scrolling for the answer to your dandruff woes.
This moisture-rich shampoo includes amino acids to improve the strength of your hair, while the lavender and mint soothe an itchy scalp.
This gentle shampoo, made with salicylic acid, not only soothes an itchy scalp, but it also prevents dandruff so that you’re flake free.
This time-tested product clears crusty (graphic but true) buildup while relieving itching and flaking from your scalp. Best for severe conditions, Neutrogena’s Therapeutic Shampoo is just that—therapeutic. It’s clinically proven to deliver maximum relief, even during your most stressful outbreaks.
Made for every hair type, this shampoo uses binchotan charcoal to draw out impurities and vegetable-derived micro-exfoliators to remove dead skin and product buildup from the scalp.
This offering uses piroctone olamine and climbazole—ingredients that (when combined with menthol, rosemary oil, and ginger extract) completely remove dry dandruff from your hair. Work it in for one to two minutes, rinse thoroughly, and you’re good to go!
You’re guaranteed to see results in 72 hours. This shampoo is made with jujube bark and cherry blossom extract to remove access sebum and calm itchiness and flakiness to eliminate dandruff.
Use the targeted root applicator to apply a quarter-sized amount directly on to your scalp. The microbeads in this shampoo gently remove dandruff and leave an intense, satisfyingly clean feeling behind.
Apply this leave-in treatment daily to reduce flaking up to 40% in just one week. We like those odds. The formula utilizes lipid to clarify the scalp, salicylic acid to gently exfoliate, and sage to calm irritation.
This classic option contains the necessary moisturizers to nourish dry, brittle hair while relieving the itch or dandruff flakes that can spoil your day/week/life.
Inspired by the antibacterial and calming properties of mint leaf (and let’s be honest, it smells like a mojito) this cleanser removes excess oil from the scalp and refreshes the skin with a cool sensation.
For more helpful information about dandruff, we’ve put together a guide for everything you’ve wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.