Dandruff can turn a good hair day into a bad one. You touch your head and the next thing you know, there's a snowstorm of white flakes all over your shoulders – not forgetting the itchiness that comes with it! As frustrating as it is, dandruff will affect at least half of us at some point during our lifetime. But the good news is, it's totally treatable at home, and super affordable. But which anti-dandruff shampoo is best?
We've compiled 10 of the best anti-dandruff shampoos in the UK, whether your hair is greasy, oily, and even for coloured hair. We also compared favourites such as Nizoral and Neutrogena's T/Gel with some lesser-known medicated, organic, natural, and sulphate-free alternatives, all available online at Amazon, John Lewis and Boots. Moreover, we have partnered with Dermatologist Felipe Partarrieu for reviewing and fact-checking the article so that we can deliver you the best information.
Felipe Partarrieu is a dermatologist, who is GMC registered with a full licence to practise in the UK. Specialising in cosmeceuticals, facial skin care, and hair disorders, we worked with Felipe to bring you top quality information to help you make informed buying decisions and understand more about what goes onto your skin.
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Felipe Partarrieu is a final year dermatology resident, who is GMC registered with a full licence to practise in the UK. Specialising in cosmeceuticals, facial skin care, and hair disorders, we worked with Felipe to bring you top quality information to help you make informed buying decisions and understand more about what goes onto your skin.
There are many reasons why we experience dandruff. In short, the main culprit is usually your hair washing routine – that is, either over-washing or not washing it enough! Our hair becomes greasy when there is an excess amount of oil and sebum, which is secreted from the hair follicles onto the scalp. A naturally occurring yeast-like fungus on our skin called Malassezia globosa feeds on these oils.
Usually, it’s not a cause for concern, but too much can lead to an overgrowth of Malassezia that irritates the scalp, resulting in a build-up of dead skin cells that clump together into dandruff flakes. You may think the best way to combat this is by washing your hair more frequently, but that’s where you’re wrong!
Over-washing strips our hair of its natural oils, especially if you like a nice hot shower. A scalp that lacks moisture becomes dry and flaky, which is a recipe for even more dandruff. The best way to get on top of dandruff is by using an anti-dandruff shampoo containing active ingredients to cut down on the flakes while you devise the best washing routine for your hair!
Tea tree is a natural ingredient that is known for helping with dandruff problems - browse our top 10 selection of tea tree products here!
If you prefer mostly plant-derived toiletries, you're in luck, as there are plenty of natural ingredients that go a long way in the fight against flakes. When paired with active ingredients, they can help improve the overall efficacy of your shampoo. Equally, if you have sensitive skin or would like to avoid harsh ingredients, natural anti-dandruff shampoos can be milder on the scalp.
Here are some of the top natural anti-dandruff ingredients to look for:
If you have dry, sensitive skin, a milk cleanser may be all you need to cleanse the skin without stripping it of essential natural oils!
Sulphates are a common ingredient found in cleansing products. Usually, they are added to shampoo to make them lather, plus they're effective at removing grime and excess sebum. However, they can also strip the scalp and hair of some of it’s much needed moisture.
Therefore, if you suspect your dandruff is caused by a dry, flaking scalp, then it’s probably best to avoid sulphates as they could potentially cause your skin to dry out further. They fall under many different names on the ingredients list, so seek shampoos advertised as ‘sulphate-free’, ‘SLS/ SLES-free’ or ‘non-foaming’ if you're uncertain.
A second ingredient to be mindful of is selenium sulfide. It can be a saviour for those who have a particularly oily scalp, as it suppresses the production of oil and sebum. However, it is fairly harsh, and if overused, this suppression can lead to irritation and even drier skin.
Browse our list of SLS-free body washes for sensitive skin!
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One of the Most Effective Anti-fungal Treatment Shampoos for Persistent Dandruff
Dandruff Killer Shampoo
An Anti-Dandruff Shampoo With 4 Active Ingredients That Helps Prevent Against Hair Loss
2-in-1 Medicated Shampoo
A 2-In-1 Medicated Shampoo and Conditioner Made With 5% Coal Tar
T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
A Favourite for Chronic Dandruff and Psoriasis Sufferers That Reduces Cell Turnover
Anti-Dandruff Herbal Shampoo
A Gentle, Natural Shampoo to Treat Mild Cases of Dandruff, Suitable for Vegans
Dead Sea Spa
Magik Mineral Shampoo
A Rich and Creamy Shampoo With a Nice Floral Scent, Perfect for Keeping Flakes Under Control
Anti-Dandruff + Sebum Control Shampoo
A Lightly Conditioning Anti-fungal Shampoo That Stimulates Hair Growth
Tea Tree Oil Anti Dandruff Shampoo
A Tea Tree Oil-Enriched Shampoo That Creates a Cooling Sensation to Relieve an Itchy Scalp
Amino Acid Shampoo
A Hydrating Shampoo With Coconut Oil and Amino Acids, Perfect for Those With Coloured Hair
T/Gel Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for Dry Hair
A Dandruff-Fighting Shampoo With Added Conditioners for Dry Hair
Nizoral is often cited as one of the most effective anti-dandruff shampoos on the market, and we couldn't agree more. The dermatologically-tested formula is unscented, and contains 2% of the powerful anti-fungal ingredient ketoconazole, to treat mild to severe cases of dandruff.
Once you decide to give Nizoral a go, you won't regret it! But do make sure to follow the treatment protocol – it's recommended to wash hair using the shampoo every 3-4 days over a 4 week period, after which you'll see an incredible improvement in the reduction of itchiness and flakes.
Alpecin is probably most famous for their hair loss preventing caffeine shampoo, but what many may not be aware of is the link between dandruff and hair shedding. While dandruff does not cause hair loss, persistent head scratching can damage hair follicles resulting in thinning over time.
So, if you suffer from dandruff and find yourself thinning on top, ridding your scalp of the flakes isn’t a bad place to start. Luckily Alpecin are here to help! The formulation contains a total of 4 active ingredients, salicylic and fumaric acid to exfoliate the scalp and zinc pyrithione and piroctone olamine to eliminate fungus, yeast and harmful bacteria.
Alphosyl 2-in-1 is a hugely popular coal tar medicated shampoo treatment for dandruff, and it's easy to see why. Highly recommended for those with chronic dandruff or scalp psoriasis, this shampoo contains 5% coal tar to help disperse scales and soothe itching.
The 2-in-1 cleansing and conditioning formula prevents hair from becoming dry, though you may want to follow up with a separate conditioning treatment or mask. For the best results, keep up regular application even after the scalp has cleared.
If you’ve been searching online for an anti-dandruff shampoo, you’ve likely come across Neutrogena’s T/Gel already. A favourite among many chronic dandruff and psoriasis sufferers, this medicated preparation uses coal tar as its active ingredient.
It's popular for a reason, and a good option if you tend to get a lot of large or persistent flakes. Coal works in the opposite way to salicylic acid, by reducing cell turnover to slow down dead skin cell production and build up.
For those with mild cases of dandruff who would prefer a gentler shampoo, this shampoo prioritises natural remedies to keep dandruff at bay. It's also vegan, cruelty-free, and handmade in Cheshire, UK, so a great eco-conscious choice.
Its formulation is free from harsher active ingredients, suiting those with sensitive scalps prone to irritation. Instead, this shampoo uses a trio of nature's best – apple cider vinegar to help eliminate fungus, aloe vera to soothe irritation and coconut oil to lock in moisture.
Don’t let the rich and creamy consistency of Dead Sea Spa’s Magik Mineral shampoo fool you! The formulation includes two highly effective dandruff-fighting active ingredients to keep flakes under control. It's praised for its lovely smell, too, especially by those after a more floral or 'feminine' scent.
Zinc pyrithione helps clear away excess yeast on the scalp, while salicylic acid encourages cell turnover to prevent it from coming back. Although suitable for all hair types, this shampoo can be a little drying when used regularly. Make sure to follow up with a good conditioner to keep hair happy and hydrated!
As a recognisable name in the world of men’s hair care and grooming (and with so many men battling dandruff on a daily basis), it’s unsurprising that American Crew have decided to throw their hat into the ring. This shampoo stimulates hair growth, without weighing it down and it's also formulated for all hair types.
It uses gentle anti-fungal ingredients to work with both dry and oily skin. Although technically not a 2-in-1 product, if you’re in a hurry, this product does contain a couple of bonus moisturising ingredients, such as glycerin and the humectant propylene glycol, to lightly condition. Though, the moisturisation may not be sufficient for some.
If you don’t require a very intense anti-fungal, or are looking for something to keep dandruff at bay between treatments, give Moksha Beauty’s Tea Tree Oil Shampoo a go! Manufactured in the UK, this shampoo is enriched with 100% pure tea tree oil to help rid the scalp of excess sebum.
Tea tree oil has long been used to treat skin inflammation and it provides an immediate cooling sensation that can feel relieving on an itchy scalp. It does, however, have quite a strong smell that may not be to everyone’s taste.
If the root of your dandruff woes are caused by a dry scalp, you may want to consider Kiehls’ Amino Acid shampoo. Take a look at some of the key ingredients and you’ll notice that hydration is a top priority – the formulation contains both pure coconut oil and amino acids to help enhance the skin's water retention.
But that’s not all! This shampoo is also a good choice for coloured hair, and includes salicylic acid to help slough away dead skin cells to uncover the soft, new skin beneath. It's also available in a larger size, although both a fairly high price point compared to most of our other products in the ranking.
If your hair is dry and you also suffer from dandruff, this shampoo from Neutrogena contains added conditioners. Instead of drying out the hair, using it leaves the hair clean and conditioned while relieving any irritation or flaking.
Salicylic acid and piroctone olamine are the dandruff-fighting actives used in the formulation, which helps to clarify the hair. It has a pleasantly gentle melon and jasmine fragrance. However, the added fragrance and SLS may not be suitable for sensitive scalps.
Although they share similar symptoms, dandruff and head-lice are caused by two different culprits. Anti-dandruff shampoos contain ingredients to block scalp irritants that cause dandruff, which is not effective at killing lice. The lice themselves must be killed with a more severe and targeted treatment.
Certain ingredients in anti-dandruff shampoo that are used to combat dandruff such as zinc pyrithione can cause fading or stripping for coloured hair. Anti-dandruff shampoos have the ability to gradually remove hair dye from your hair, slowly fading it over time.
Anti-dandruff shampoos contain potent ingredients to be effective against dandruff-causing fungus. Hair loss can be exacerbated by some of these ingredients, such as selenium sulphide. Nevertheless, such compounds are safe to use at low quantities for short periods of time, so make sure to follow the directions on the product label at all times.
Written and Researched by Wren Mann
No. 1: Nizoral ｜Anti-dandruff Shampoo
No. 2: Alpecin ｜Dandruff Killer Shampoo
No. 3: Alphosyl ｜2-in-1 Medicated Shampoo
No. 4: Neutrogena ｜T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
No. 5: Handmade Naturals ｜Anti-Dandruff Herbal Shampoo
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