Best Anti Dandruff Shampoo: Your 10 Best Options

best anti dandruff shampoo

If you’re looking for the best anti dandruff shampoo you’ll likely in a battle with the white flakes. While dandruff can be embarrassing, it doesn’t say anything bad about you. You don’t get dandruff because you’re dirty or gross or something. It’s just something that happens to over half of all adults. So give yourself a break.

But why do you get dandruff?

Good question–complicated answer. I’ll break it down.

Firstly, not all the white flakes on your black shirt are dandruff. Some hair spray, gels, and other styling products can dry up and flake out of your hair. If that’s the case, there’s no need for a special shampoo, just buy a higher quality hair spray that won’t flake on you. See my guide to the best hair sprays for non-flaking options.

Secondly, if you know that it’s definitely dandruff, there are several causes and types. Knowing which type you have tells you which treatments to try and which to avoid. Let me just put this out there to be totally clear: I am in no way a doctor or a substitute for seeing one. I’ve just read a lot of medical articles and I’m passing on the goods.

Your dandruff profile.

Flakes are dry, thin, and white. Your scalp is itchy, inflamed, and red. Onset is fast.
Sounds like contact dermatitis.

This is sort of good news! You’re having an allergic reaction to a hair product and once you remove that allergen your scalp should go back to normal. If you just got a new shampoo when this started, ditch it. Check out my guide to the best gluten free shampoos for some great low allergen shampoos.

Flakes are thick, oily, and yellowish. Your scalp is itchy and inflamed. Flakes don’t come off easy and tend to clump together and stick to your scalp.
Sounds like seborrheic dermatitis.

It’s considered a form of eczema and can affect other parts of your body. It’s not contagious but it is a chronic condition. You can manage it with dandruff shampoos containing ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, zinc, or coal tar. This post is for you.

Flakes are medium thick, slightly oily, and white to grey. Your scalp is itchy as anything. Flakes come off with light scratching.
You have dandruff.

Vague, right? You have actual dandruff, and not one of the “dandruff plus” conditions. The good news is we know how to treat it. The bad news is, there isn’t a cure. We now know that dandruff is caused by a fungus related to yeast called malassezia. Don’t freak out. Malassezia is a totally normal thing and most people have it on their scalps.

Sometimes, because of scalp unbalance, the malassezia population increases causing the skin cells in your scalp to grow and die at an increased rate. Normally a skin cell on your scalp has a life cycle of around a month. When you have dandruff, that cycle has been reduced to two to seven days. All the shampoos on this list target your dandruff.

Stopping the dandruff cycle.

Chill out. I’m serious. Stress makes dandruff (both kinds) worse. Your body is a complex system and anxiety messes with the balance. Find small mindful ways to relax, meditate. My thing is tea and scented candles. Find what works for you.

Every scalp, even with the same kind of dandruff, is different. What works for you may not work for me. But you have to start somewhere. If tea tree doesn’t work, that’s okay, don’t give up. Try the next active ingredient on the list.

Switch it up. Using a medicated shampoo every day can make your scalp get used to it and the dandruff can come back. Once your flakes are under control, use the dandruff shampoo one to two times a week (or a directed) to keep dandruff at bay.

Dandruff is comfortable, stressful, and embarrassing. Let’s stop learning about it and get to the solutions.

1. Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Blue nizoral anti dandruff shampoo bottle


For dandruff caused by fungus, which is probably the most common cause of dandruff, Nizoral A-D is one of the strongest medicated shampoos to stop the flakes you can get without a prescription. If you were to go to a dermatologist for your dandruff, it’s likely you would get a prescription for a treatment that contains ketoconazole–the same active ingredient of this shampoo. This is the brand my partner uses and he’s seen a huge improvement from large itchy flakes to barely anything at all.

You substitute Nizoral A-D for your normal shampoo twice a week for six to eight weeks and watch the difference. It won’t be immediate so keep at it. After rinsing out the Nizoral A-D, try to only apply your conditioner to the length of your hair and not to your scalp so the Nizoral A-D can be fully effective. This shampoo has a dedicated following, but just be aware that because it is stronger, a small number of people could have a negative reaction to the medicine and develop swelling or a rash. If nothing else has worked, it’s definitely worth the risk.

Price: $8.04

Buy the Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo here.


  • For dandruff caused by fungi
  • Same active ingredient as prescription dandruff shampoos


  • Contains sulfates
  • Synthetic treatment
  • Strong medicine has potential for negative reactions

Find more Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo information and reviews here.

2. Rituals Samurai Cool Hair Shampoo

blue clear bottle of anti dandruff shampoo


This cooling shampoo will calm the itch, nourish your hair, and gently treat dandruff with antimicrobial botanical extracts. This high end brand is known for its calming scents and for promoting a relaxing atmosphere. The Samurai Cool Hair Shampoo strengthens and moisturizes hair with sea minerals and extracts of wakame seaweed, bamboo, and Japanese peppermint. Peppermint extract has long been known as a mild antibacterial and anti-fungal and an herb that helps jump start the immune system. Plus it has a cooling tingle to soothe irritated skin. This is a great one for mild to moderate dandruff.

Price: $19

Buy the Rituals Samurai Cool Hair Shampoo here.


  • Cruelty-free
  • Cools uncomfortable scalps
  • Moisturizing botanical extracts


  • Contains sulfates
  • Might not be strong enough for some
  • Not for seborrheic dermatitis

Find more Rituals Samurai Cool Hair Shampoo information and reviews here.

3. Derma Topix Tar Shampoo

brown bottle of tar shampoo

Derma Topix

This is one of the heavy hitting shampoos that isn’t messing around. The Derma Topix Tar Shampoo contains 2.6 percent coal tar, a substance that slows the growth of those skin cells that are regenerating too fast. Coal tar has been shown to be very effective against dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Just keep in mind, it is tar so this is not a shampoo that smells great. It’s a shampoo that means business.

This is not for people with light colored or dyed hair as tar has a tendency to stain. This is not a daily shampoo either. Make sure you’re only using it as often as directed on the bottle.

Price: $20

Buy the Derma Topix Tar Shampoo here.


  • Treats dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis
  • Strong treatment
  • Nice lather


  • Not for light colored or dyed hair
  • Stains
  • Not great smelling
  • Not for little kids

Find more Derma Topix Tar Shampoo information and reviews here.

4. The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care

yellow dandruff shampoo bottle with ginger

The Body Shop

If you prefer a slightly more natural approach, try Ginger Scalp Care from The Body Shop. This shampoo uses willow bark extract and birch bark extract to soothe irritated scalps while breaking down flakes. At the same time, ginger root, honey, and piroctone olamine get fungal populations under control. This dandruff shampoo will give your hair a healthy (flake-free) bounce instead of feeling dried out and stripped. One thing to keep in mind is that the actual shampoo is a thin liquid and not as easy to deal with as gel shampoos are. It does lather well, but it feels watery.

Price: $14

Buy the The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care here.


  • Treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
  • Anti-fungal botanicals
  • No animal testing


  • Contains sulfates
  • Not strong enough for everyone
  • Formula is thin

Find more The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care information and reviews here.

5. Davines Purifying Anti Dandruff Shampoo

dark anti dandruff shampoo bottle with mountain on label


Davines is an eco-friendly brand and their Nature Tech line uses natural ingredients to balance your scalp. This shampoo is formulated for both dry and oily scalps, but some people with overly oily hair might find it too moisturizing. Extracts of dandelion are included for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The main dandruff fighting ingredient in this is selenium sulfide which is anti-fungal and antiseptic.

Like with several of the products in my best acne spot treatments article, treatments that use sulfur have a hard time hiding the smell. Sulfur is very effective at killing fungus and other microbes, but it has that boiled eggs smell to it. So depending on how sensitive you are to that, some people might find the smell of this one off-putting.

Price: $28

Buy the Davines Purifying Anti Dandruff Shampoo here.


  • Treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
  • Paraben free
  • Calming botanicals
  • Eco-friendly brand


  • Smell isn’t awesome
  • Not color safe

Find more Davines Purifying Anti Dandruff Shampoo information and reviews here.

6. Philip B Anti-Flake II Relief Shampoo

tall black and white bottle of anti dandruff shampoo


The Anti-Flake II Relief Shampoo uses zinc and essential oils to combat dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Zinc pyrithione stops fungi and bacterial cells from being able to divide. Because they can’t multiply, these microbes eventually die off. As far as dandruff treatments go, this is about medium strength, not too harsh, not too mild. It also contains extracts of tea tree, sage, juniper berry, burdock root, aloe vera, chamomile, calendula, and geranium. The first few are antimicrobial the last few soothe skin irritation. I like that this shampoo won’t dry out your hair.

Price: $38

Buy the PHILIP B Anti-Flake II Relief Shampoo here.


  • Treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
  • Sulfate free, paraben free, and color safe
  • Great for all hair types
  • Dandruff fighting and scalp calming botanicals
  • Luxury brand


  • Contains silicone

Find more PHILIP B Anti-Flake II Relief Shampoo information and reviews here.

7. Phyto Phytheol Intense Anti-Dandruff Treatment Shampoo

silver metallic anti dandruff shampoo bottle


This shampoo is formulated to combine the antibacterial and anti-fungal powers of piroctone olamine and prickly ash extract to bring the microbe population on your scalp back to normal. Salicylic acid breaks down large flakes into smaller, less noticeable ones while the anti-fungals work their magic. Extracts of licorice, fenugreek, and willow calm itching and irritation of the scalp. You only need a very small amount of this to get the job done so your bottle will last you a long time.

Price: $26

Buy the Phyto Phytheol Intense Anti-Dandruff Treatment Shampoo here.


  • Treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
  • Breaks down large flakes
  • Contains soothing botanical extracts
  • Long lasting bottle


  • Contains sulfates

Find more Phyto Phytheol Intense Anti-Dandruff Treatment Shampoo information and reviews here.

8. Leonor Greyl Paris Bain Traitant a la Propolis Gentle Anti Dandruff Shampoo

round white anti dandruff shampoo

Leonor Greyl

In case you can’t tell by the name, this is a product of France. This shampoo uses naturally derived ingredients to treat the causes of dandruff and soothe the itchy scalp. As the name states, it’s a propolis treatment. If you’re not familar with it, propolis is a substance that honeybees create as part of the structure of their hives. It’s naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal and has been used in natural medicine for thousands of years.

Leonor Greyl also includes other gentle antimicrobial and anti-fungal botanical extracts including chamomile, garlic, onion, sage, and horseradish. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like garlic or anything. As it doesn’t contain any of the harsher anti dandruff chemicals, this one is extremely gentle on hair and your scalp. That does mean, however, that it might not cut it for severe dandruff cases.

Price: $46

Buy the Leonor Greyl Gentle Anti Dandruff Shampoo here.


  • Antimicrobial and anti-fungal botanicals
  • Gentle on hair


  • Contains sulfates
  • Might not be strong enough for some
  • Not for seborrheic dermatitis

Find more Leonor Greyl Gentle Anti Dandruff Shampoo information and reviews here.

9. Sesderma Sebovalis Shampoo

white anti dandruff shampoo bottle


Sesderma Sebovalis is a gentle, pH balancing shampoo safe for all hair types. It soothes the scalp, breaks down big flakes, and works to prevent future dandruff. Oat and licorice extract calm itchy and inflamed skin. Lactic acid and salicylic acid work as a mild chemical peel to break down the large flakes into individual skin cells so that they are significantly less noticeable as they shed. (To understand more about how chemical peels work, read my guide to the best body peels.) And Sesderma Sebovalsi uses piroctone olamine, an anti-fungal treatment, to stop the cause of dandruff and prevent it from coming back.

Price: $30

Buy the Sesderma Sebovalis Shampoo here.


  • Treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
  • Breaks down big flakes
  • Three-prong approach


  • Contains sulfates, silicone, and parabens

Find more Sesderma Sebovalis Shampoo information and reviews here.

10. Nioxin Scalp Recovery

white and green anti dandruff shampoo bottle


This last treatment uses zinc as its main dandruff-fighting ingredient. Zinc is a strong antifungal that stops fungal cells from being able to divide and reproduce. Because of this action, Nioxin isn’t a treatment where you notice immediate, miraculous results. You need to give this shampoo a couple of weeks of using it twice a week to see the magic it can do. While you wait, Nioxin contains peppermint oil and green tea extract to calm the itching and irritation. This one won’t dry your hair out which is nice, but if you have very oily hair, it won’t help with that either. Nioxin seems to work best against seborrheic dermatitis. It still works against dandruff, just not as well as it does for seborrheic dermatitis.

Price: $27.50 (49 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Nioxin Scalp Recovery here.


  • Great for seborrheic dermatitis
  • Won’t dry out your hair
  • Contains soothing botanicals


  • Contains sulfates and silicone
  • Better for seborrheic dermatitis than other causes
  • Not for overly oily hair

Find more Nioxin Scalp Recovery information and reviews here.

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People who have dandruff just need to bathe more often.

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