The 5 Best Dandruff Shampoos in 2018

Scroll to the bottom for my top-5 dandruff shampoos ranking.

The Best Dandruff Shampoos

What Kind of Dandruff Shampoo do you Need?

It seems like a majority of hair loss sufferers have itchy scalps, especially in the balding inflamed regions of their heads. Moreover, this itching is often accompanied by significant dandruff episodes. For some, the dandruff comes and goes, while for others, it represents a daily problem. Dry indoor heating during winters and washing your hair too often can both further exacerbate the flaking and dead skin cells. Note that dandruff is one particular manifestation of a condition called seborrheic dermatitis.

Over the years, I have had many episodes of dandruff and scalp itching and burning. Luckily, these are not too frequent, and I have found a number of shampoos to help when things get out of hand. I have tried almost all of the top rated medicated anti-dandruff shampoos out there.

Dandruff Shampoo Selection in Store
Dandruff shampoos for sale in a pharmacy.

A number of scientifically sound approaches are being used nowadays to target and control scalp flaking. Most of the below selected products have their own unique key ingredients with their own mechanisms of action. I try to alternate between several different dandruff shampoos every month. My reasons for doing this are so as to:

  1. Not get side effects from the overuse of any one product with its key anti-dandruff ingredient(s).
  2. Avoid having my scalp becoming immune to the effects of certain ingredients due to overuse.

In addition to dandruff, many of the below shampoos also work to treat other skin conditions of scalp buildup and flaking such as eczema and psoriasis (although usually only when mild to moderate). Note that several of the products contains sulfates and other potentially harmful ingredients that cause side effects in some people. Product effectiveness can also vary depending on whether you have a dry scalp versus oily scalp, whether you are male or female and your own propensity for allergic reactions to certain ingredients.

The 5 Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Nizoral A-D

My favorite product with ample scientific backing behind its efficacy and numerous Amazon and Walmart reviews. The key active ingredient in this shampoo is Ketoconazole 1%, which is an anti-fungal agent with anti-dandruff and anti-androgenic properties. The last of these aids scalp hair growth according to a number of studies. Nizoral attacks the Malassezia microbe, the main cause of dandruff in many instances. See my post on Nizoral for much more details and discussion of the science behind this product. Nizoral comes in a fairly small bottle, but still lasts for many months with twice a week usage. I do not recommend more frequent usage or else you can exacerbate scalp dryness and end up with brittle hair quality and texture. You can also get Nizoral 2% medicated shampoo with a prescription.

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Gel

The key active ingredient in this popular dermatologist recommended product is 2% coal tar extract. The instructions suggest just once a week usage to be ideal in combating dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis as well as psoriasis. The coal tar gives this product an unusual color and keratolytic properties that can smoothen and improve scalp skin. Some users do not like the smell of this shampoo and also complain about dyed hair color fading. Note that Neutrogena T/Sal is a different product made by the same company, but is also highly rated and contains salicylic acid 3%.

Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo

Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength

Over the years, Head & Shoulders has probably produced more varieties of shampoos to target dandruff than any other company out there. Their most popular product for targeting scalp flakes is this clinical strength shampoo. The key active ingredient in it is selenium sulfide 1%, which reduces scalp fungus and bacteria. You can also find a number of other highly rated and reviewed Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoos on Amazon.

JASON Natural Dandruff Relief Shampoo

JASON Natural

Although not as well known as the above three listed products, this is a unique pH balanced largely natural product. It contains colloidal sulfur 2% and salicylic acid 2% as the two main active ingredients to tackle dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. Additional ingredients that improve scalp health include aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, jojoba oil, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), olive oil, rosemary oil, seaweed extract, tea tree oil and vitamin E.

Head & Shoulders Classic Anti-Dandruff

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean

Head & Shoulders came out with a pyrithione zinc based shampoo all the way back in 1961. To this day, the company still makes anti-dandruff shampoos that are based on this original active ingredient, in a zinc pyrithione 1% formulation. This key ingredient helps inhibit scalp yeast and fungus growth.

Honorary Mentions

  • A number of readers have mentioned the highly rated Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo. I have heard about this product a lot over the years, and might even have tried it some years ago. You can often purchase it at local hairdressers and beauty salons for a discount. Besides tea tree oil, the product also contains peppermint and lavender according to the manufacturer’s website. Other ingredients are not listed.
  • Some people have mentioned that ciclopirox olamine based shampoos may be effective for moderate levels of dandruff. However, I have as yet not found any very popular dandruff shampoo that is based on ciclopirox olamine.

Your Dandruff Shampoo Experiences

Do you have an itchy scalp and dandruff related problems? What shampoos have worked best for you over the years without drying out your hair (both men and women can respond)? Have you tried any natural and herbal products and seen a reduction in flaking and dryness? Also do make sure to read my reviews on the best hair loss shampoos out there.

57 thoughts on “The 5 Best Dandruff Shampoos in 2018”

  1. The only complaint I have with Nizoral dandruff shampoo is the sulfates in it. It really strips keratin out of my hair. I wish there was a medicated shampoo for men with hair loss that had ketoconazole but was sulfate free and sodium chloride free.

    Besides that it is very effective. Same with selenium sulfide in Head and Shoulders. The milder zinc version never worked for me.

    I am skeptical of colloidal silver shampoos. I wonder if the colloids stay suspended/independent in solution and how long it requires for them to destroy or penetrate fungal walls during the shampooing process.

  2. Yeah had it my whole life, and the itch is always where hair is miniaturizing. Nothing really fixes it. I like alopecin shampoo, and then just a mix of shampoos like you have, but nothing fixes it. I think its connected to MPB, but other people with worse MPB then me dont have it at all so it might be separate from MPB.

    1. It is just because your dandruff is worse in the thin areas because there isn’t as much hair to absorb the skin’s sebum production.

  3. Im a huge fan of Paul Mitchell tea tree Shampoo and condtioner! I have found it eliminates all dandruff and helps a lot with scalp irritation!

    1. I liked Paul Mitchell tea tree shampoo and the Lemon Sage but it ended making my hair super flat after use. Nizoral 2% is my favorite 3x a week.

  4. Pura d’or hands down! I’ve tried everything above. Some made dandruff worse while some offered little or no change. This has no sls and doesn’t dry out your scalp but still kills the itch

  5. Dr John Mcdougall’s starch solution completely eradicated my dandruff after a week. I scratched like mad but absolutely no snowflakes emerged on my shirt. There is some evidence it will help with hair loss too but I just haven’t been able to stay on the diet for too long. It’s a vegan diet with no oil or processed foods. It consists of 90% starch and 10& other fruits and vegetables.

  6. Why would you waste time on an OTC shampoo when your dermatologist can prescribe a prescription strength? Loprox and 2% Nizoral are my favorites.

  7. They have answered why/how to grow hair form wounding with a more exact answer. Specifically triggering γδT-cells via IL-1 (immflamuation response related)

    This is probably the biggest discovery in last 10 years. It backs up follica (and hopefully other solutions based on wounding without wounding).

    Stimulation of hair follicle stem cell proliferation through an IL-1 dependent activation of γδT-cells.

    The cutaneous wound-healing program is a product of a complex interplay among diverse cell types within the skin. One fundamental process that is mediated by these reciprocal interactions is the mobilization of local stem cell pools to promote tissue regeneration and repair. Using the ablation of epidermal caspase-8 as a model of wound healing in Mus musculus, we analyzed the signaling components responsible for epithelial stem cell proliferation. We found that IL-1α and IL-7 secreted from keratinocytes work in tandem to expand the activated population of resident epidermal γδT-cells. A downstream effect of activated γδT-cells is the preferential proliferation of hair follicle stem cells. By contrast, IL-1α-dependent stimulation of dermal fibroblasts optimally stimulates epidermal stem cell proliferation. These findings provide new mechanistic insights into the regulation and function of epidermal cell-immune cell interactions and into how components that are classically associated with inflammation can differentially influence distinct stem cell niches within a tissue.

  8. I like Jason brand a lot. It’s not cheap but I feel better about putting that on my scalp than the others. My dandruff is very mild so I only need it like once a week or so.

  9. I would be a NW6 if it was not for 2 hair transplants. Just for the record, I am 36 and have never had dandruff, itchy or flaky scalp, etc and up until aged 24 I had hair like barbie. I just feel like this shampoo topic is connecting the wrong dots.

  10. Been a long time browser, first time poster. I’ve suffered from dandruff since puberty and hair loss (AGA) began in my early twenties. Nizoral 1% helped for a while with my dandruff but would dry out my scalp in the winter, which exacerbated the scaling of seborrheic dermatitis. The one thing I️ found that removes the seborrheic scales effectively now is raw organic HONEY. Was perusing pubmed for some natural options after most OTC shampoos that claimed efficacy would either leave my scalp red, dry, and/or irritated after continued use (not to mention ineffective except for nizoral). However, raw honey somehow removes these thick yellow seb derm scales and leaves my scalp feeling moisturized. Scales are removed like it’s nobody’s business after massaging into the scalp and letting sit for 3 hours (every other day for a month, then once a week to curb a recurrence) Anyone else have results from honey/a long battle with scalp scaling? Definitely worth a try. Link to study:


  11. Is Nizoral safe for long term use though? I’d read about yeast resistance building up over time. I was using it but stopped due to this reason. I just use Head and Shoulders now./

  12. Anybody else out there not have dandruff there whole life until 2-3 months after there hair loss started? Does this validate jaks for us aga sufferers even more or no

    1. It proves that hair loss and (chronic) inflammation are interlinked. Scalp seborrheic dermatitis and/or dandruff are signs of chronic inflammation, which eventually may accelerate AGA / MPB.

      Revita helps me to keep things calm.
      However lately (despite the use of Revita, Rogaine and microneedling) my crown is itching like I experienced years ago. Unfortunately hair loss is restarting / progressing.

    1. I have heard of piroctone olamine. However, on Amazon, I never found any popular shampoo with that ingredient to be able to check reviews or even purchase the product for myself with any kind of confidence.

      1. Seba Med Anti Dandruff, Vichy Dercos Anti Dandruff and Body Shop Ginger Shampoo has Piroctone Olamine. I tried Vichy Dercos, which has a pretty good ingredient list, but didn’t have any benefit. I’m not a good responder for ketoconazole also so I can’t say which is better but all the reviews I’ve read was Piroctone Olamine is better than ketoconazole.

  13. These shampoos work best if you are not deficient in zinc and vitamin d. I noticed my scalp and hair progress worse when I’m low. I did some blood work and my vitamin d levels are deficient. I’m at 30ng right at the border line. Range is 30 to 100ng. I noticed my scalp itch, scaling and increased shedding on one side of scalp. I’m going to take 5000iu a day to get back to normal levels for regrowth which is 60ng. Anybody here ever check their vit D levels..whenever my levels are normal Nizoral works like a charm. Could he coincidence however…

  14. When my hairloss was the worst and the period I lost a lot of it (early last year/beginning of this year when I was 17) I started to have a very itchy scalp for the first time in my life, also a flaky scalp (it looked like it was snowing on my scalp and it was also very red). Around summertime my hair was the worst it’s ever been, so I jumped on minoxidil 2% in July and switched to 5% in October. I haven’t had a flaky scalp since and my scalp only itches on the back of my head (not in AGA region but donor region) because of the weather drying out my scalp. Minox also started to have clear effects this month with my very thin temple areas filling in slightly and the forelock is looking better too. Not sure at all if using minox helps against the flaky scalp (never heard that it did) but this is my story. I will continue to use minox and if nothing is out somewhere next year I might add fin too even though I really don’t want to.

  15. A lotion full of hair follicle stem cells that you rub on and hair grows???

    Bottom-up Nanoencapsulation from Single Cells to Tunable and Scalable Cellular Spheroids for Hair Follicle Regeneration.

    Cell surface engineering technology advances cell therapeutics and tissue engineering by accurate micro/nanoscale control in cell-biomaterial ensembles and cell spheroids formation. By tailoring cell surface, microgels can encapsulate cells for versatile uses. However, microgels are coated in a thick layer to house multiple cells together but not a single cell based. Besides, excessive deposition on cell surface is detrimental to cellular functions. Herein, layer-by-layer (LbL) self-assembly to encapsulate single cell using nanogel is reported, owing to its security and tunable thickness at nanoscale, and further forms cell spheroids by physical cross-linking on nanogel-coated cells for delivery. A hair follicle (HF) regeneration model where the dermal papilla cells (DPCs) are given a 3D installation to maintain its ability of HF induction during in vitro culture is studied. Dermal papilla (DP) spheroids are optimized and that LbL-DPCs aggregation is akin to primary DP is demonstrated. The markers ALP, Versican, and NCAM are examined to investigate that high-passaged (P8) DP spheroids can restore the hair induction potential, which are lost in 2D culture. New HFs are regenerated successfully by implantation of DP spheroids in vivo.

      1. Oh I would say in the next week or two.

        People who ask “when will it be available” questions are so dumb. If anyone know when something was going to be available, you would know too.

  16. Wondering: anyone ever heard of or tried ciclopirox shampoo?? It is supposed to do the same thing as Nizorol. But maybe it can work if the scalp is immune to Nizorol?

    Any thoughts??

  17. Never mind admin,

    I took ur investigative clue and looked at last post!! Got it!! Exciting!! Here we go again lolol!! Looking forward to ur next post here comes the Brotzu everything Train again lol!!!!!

      1. I care. These are the options we have today. A bird on hand is worth more than 2 in the bush. Ive been looking into piroctone olamine.

  18. I care about dandruff shampoo admin. I’ve been battling dermatitis for many years. I’m going to try those other shampoos in conjuction with niz. As for brotzu, I’m amazed at how gullible people are about this unproven lotion for hair loss. You will know it works when you hear about it on the evening news. Or real pics of the lotion working. We should all no better than to hype up this sruff. It’s kelopesia all over again. I hope I’m wrong but I’m probably not. Been in the game long enough to know whats good or not.

  19. Recovering 5 years of hair loss? Recovering 2-3 Norwoods? Of course many people are hyped and cant wait for the release date. Everything points to the March release. The question is not, if it comes out, the question is how effective is it? The claims are too good to be true.

    1. In the 1980s they said 2 years for a vaccine to AIDS. It took 5 years, it didn’t work anyway and all these original hopeful patients are now dead and we still don’t have a vaccine despite since discovering DNA, stem cells, 3d printing, robotic surgery, MRI, etc.
      Don’t get me wrong, I have a vested interest and the science behind Replicel/Shiseido and Tsuji seemingly checks out, but we must also prepare for the possibility that a cure may not happen in our lifetimes.

    1. And within that time the results from the other players will be in. So we will either have a cure or less players to read up on when they go bust. Good times ahead.

  20. I don’t think how much it’s related to this topic but I need to mention that my scalp itching has stopped completely after I’ve started NoFap about half a year ago. I’ve also experienced some visible regrowth which is pretty amazing because I’ve suffered from MPB for almost ten years.

    I’m 27 years old and I started NoFap for completely different reasons than hair loss. It was a real surprise when I noticed some regrowth. I’m not trying to say that you should stop masturbating/having sex but at least I have experienced some huge changes in my hair because I’ve reduced the numbers of my orgasms.

    Testosterone turns into DHT when you masturbate —> If you have the hair loss gene and you masturbate a lot it will boost your balding process. I don’t claim that I’ve found the miracle cure for baldness but I believe many people suffering from MPB have to deal with a lot earlier in their lives because they masturbate too frequently.

    1. I can only add that when getting a testosterone test done…they don’t want you to masturbate 24 hours prior. I don’t have studies as to why. Although I asked an M.D if masturbate led some to hair loss…..his answer was no.

  21. Guy90: sorry for the personal question but how many releases do you now have per month? What’s the majic # because I think a massive buildup is probably not good either. Thank you

  22. Anyone try Ru? Ok I am sorry if I awakened a dead old horse. However I just see old posts from 2012 on Ru. I was not a hair loss sufferer then. Some dude has pics claiming it works…tbh his hair looked like crap….when claims he stopped for a month and proof his results. Then back on it and hair slowly back. So any info?

    Second @admin I found an inflammation article I will post this weekend….might be worth a read.

    Thirdly….I know everyone is on Brotzu….but once I pay this semester off of med school….I might be dealing with a clinic…we exchanged ideas. Topical Finasteride…what are your thoughts on this guys? Also some latanoprost….I talked to the clinic and can meet Dr…we shared ideas. Also could be spiking my growth hormone and testosterone levels up a bit. I am a nw 2.5…No further signs of hair loss the last 18 months. Haven’t gained either. Just wanted your thoughts as this is a guinea pig move with some science behind it…but it’s kind of new. Getting hormones up, not super high or super physiological. Just really good. Then smacking the hair right in the face with topical fin and maybe latanoprost. Not a cheap route. However we bounced ideas around and I can get it.All from a legit pharmacy….no online stuff. Hence not cheap. So I either will look like the rock lol and get more buff…or grow hair and hope to look like thor. I am rooting for thor. I can’t wear hats to lab dissection or clinical coming up next year. So like I get brotzu…but what about ru…topical fin and latanoprost thoughts? Far as shampoo….I use the 2% niz doesn’t make a difference for hair loss or growth. Regen dr Makes me feel fresh but can’t say it helps. Although I don’t have much dandruff.

        1. What would you guys do when you had 10.000 donor grafts available to transplant according to a top 5 HT surgeon? Should I plan a FUE for 2018, grow it out for a year (2019) and then wait for the releases of Follica / Replicel etcetera? And wait for our Japanese friend after 2020… the surgeon said I now only would need approx. 15% of the total available grafts. So that means I still would have 8500 left for future surgeries, if needed. Yes, I am not on FIN, so I need something like Replicel / Follica in 2019 latest.

          1. BTW, mid 30ties, already saved the money in case I would have to repeat procedures in upcoming decade (until the 10.000 grafts limit). If I would not need the money in future for hair, I will pay off my mortgage with it later. The latter being a better investment than hair, imo.

            1. Only need 1500? Unless your hair is amost perfectly covered your surgeon is already planning to do 2 surgeries on you for more money instead of one

  23. Has anyone with the itch and seb derm/dandruff tried propecia, and had it significantly help or stop the itch/dandruff? I have been thinking about trying fin just to see if it helps the itch. I guess I have hair loss with it so maybe I need it anyway

  24. Has anyone tried Nioxin shampoo and does it work? I have read the ingredient list and in seems to contain many ingredients that reduce sebum and dry skin.

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