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We won’t bore you to tears with scientific facts, but news flash: everyone has the potential to be affected by dandruff. Pityrosporum ovale is a fungus found on every human head, but the climate, heredity, diet, hormones, and stress impact how your body reacts to it. When your body reacts to it poorly, your scalp dries up causing unwanted fakes. And while many of us label our hair as dry, it’s quite possible we actually suffer from dandruff, too.
If you think there's no difference between anti-dandruff shampoos and regular ol' shampoos for dry hair you might want to think again. For starters, most shampoos that target dry hair focus on hair strands, whereas anti-dandruff products target the scalp. The challenge is finding a balance. It's important to eliminate excess oil without over-drying your scalp and strands in the process.
But no worries—we have you covered. Here, we dish on our favorite flake fighters that go the extra mile.
Best Overall: Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Unlike its competitors, it’s gentle enough to use on color-treated, chemically processed, and gray hair, and has a thick, rich lather that rinses clean. And remember that fungus we mentioned earlier? Well, Nizoral instantly kills the fungus that causes dandruff, breaking the seemingly never-ending cycle of flakes.
Another cool factor is you don’t have to constantly stick with Nizoral for best results. On the days you're not shampooing with Nizoral, you can use all your faorites. Simply use Nizoral twice a week and you’re set!
Best Budget: Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Moisture Boost Shampoo
Without question, Head & Shoulders is always a drugstore favorite, and its newest collection doesn’t disappoint. The creamy lather cleanses and removes buildup while providing hydration to your scalp and hair. It’s loaded with coconut oil so it won’t leave your hair super thirsty and straw-like after usage. Perfect for hair that's constantly dry and in need a refresher that delivers moisture, too.
Best Prevention: Dove DermaCare Scalp Coconut Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Let’s be clear: flakes on your shoulders can make you feel self-conscious and give you a distinct hesitation to wear black. So when Dove, better known as the hair and skin care masterminds, crafted this anti-dandruff shampoo they not only wanted to target dandruff-prone hair, but they ensured the product was a mild, pH balanced formula that left hair strands smooth and shiny, ensuring a boost a self-confidence, too. Its fresh and rich scent reminds us of a warm summer afternoon, which is super relaxing to boot.
Best Intensive: T/Gel Therapeutic Dandruff Treatment Shampoo
Generally speaking, a flaky scalp is fairly easy to get rid of—with proper care, most flakes can be minimized over time—but if you’re not careful, dandruff can seemingly reappear after you’ve thoroughly cleansed. But T/Gel Therapeutic Dandruff Treatment Shampoo is different. Scientific tests prove that the anti-fungal ingredient in the shampoo continues to work for hours even after the washing session. It’s also laced with neutar, which has been proven to treat three types of scalp conditions: dandruff, scalp psoriasis, a chronic immune disorder, and seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory scalp condition. Is there anything this drugstore favorite can’t do?
Best High-End: Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
So your hair is super flaky, but you’re not into the strong medicinal smells that most dandruff shampoos provide? Boy, do we feel your pain. But thank God Oribe heard our cry and offers this sweet-smelling (think notes of watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss flower extract) anti-dandruff shampoo. It will eliminate dandruff flakes, relieve dryness and reduce redness in one wash. Bonus: bilberry fruit and sugar maple extracts soothe the scalp while protecting against free radical damage. Make no bones about it—this is the holy grail of dandruff shampoos.
Best for Oily Hair: Phyto Phytocedrat Shampoo
"Pricey but so worth it!" is the way one reviewer describes this antiseptic shampoo. It's one of the pricer shampoos on our list, but it is indeed worth it. For starters, it regulates the scalp with natural ingredients like lemon oil, pine bark, geranium, rosemary, and sage, then it prevents the spread of sebum (an overproduction of skin oil) in the oil glands and hair follicles. Ultimately it reduces the frequency of shampoos per week, and, to be honest, what's better than that?
Best for Colored Hair: Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo
If you're looking for a non-greasy shampoo that will maintain your hair color while fighting dandruff, you'll love Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo. A little goes a long way with this formula that’s gentle enough to use every day. We also appreciate that it’s formulated with Pyrithion zinc to help not only combat actual dandruff, but also the annoying symptoms. Clever, huh?
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular dandruff shampoos on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different shampoos overall, screened options from 21 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 18 of the shampoos themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.