According to a study by Head & Shoulders, 50% of people will experience dandruff in their lifetime (source).
As you are likely aware, dandruff can be one of the most frustrating and confidence-busting skin problems.
When going to make a first impression on a date or job interview, hanging out with friends, or whatever the social scenario may be, the last thing you need to be worrying about is your dandruff.
However, picking the right dandruff shampoo to stop this problem is tough.
The best dandruff shampoo for men should not only rid your hair of any embarrassing flakes but should also be reliable, not dry out your scalp, make your hair look and feel better, all while preventing dandruff from happening ever again.
Here’s our list of some of the hardest working shampoos that get rid of stubborn dandruff:
1. Best Medicated Dandruff Shampoo: Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This highly sought-after anti-dandruff shampoo is currently the #1 Best Seller with over 2,000 reviews.
Unlike other shampoos that rely on selenium sulfide or pyrithione zinc to rid dandruff, Nizoral relies on ketoconazole – which is a synthetic chemical compound.
While this isn’t an everyday shampoo like Head & Shoulders, you should only use Nizoral about once every few days (no more than twice a week).
What’s more is that Nizoral is relatively gentle on your scalp and hair, especially when compared to some of the more harsh dandruff shampoos on the market. This means that you shouldn’t experience any breakage of your hair follicles, nor should you have any issues if you color your hair regularly.
Generally speaking, Nizoral is more of a clean or neutral fragrance that shouldn’t be too off-putting.
- Proven active ingredients will eliminate dandruff
- Neutral scent isn’t off-putting or pungent
- Provides great value given the results
- Can’t be used daily
What You Need To Know
2. Best Cheap Dandruff Shampoo: Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Dandruff Shampoo
One of the most versatile products on this list is without a doubt is Neutrogena T/Gel.
Simply put, this stuff can work to rid even the most stubborn cases of dandruff. From seborrheic dermatitis to psoriasis, this shampoo does a near-perfect job at cleaning up your hairline.
It’s with good reason that this product is the #1 Dermatologist recommended brand in the USA – it works, and it works well.
Unlike other brands that rely on pyrithione zinc or ketoconazole, Neutrogena relies on Coal Tar.
As good as Neutrogena T/Gel may be, the one complaint that men have about this product is the scent. While hard to pin it down to a familiar scent – the best way we can describe it is ‘chemically’.
Therefore, when using T/Gel don’t expect to smell like a lumberjack or fresh after using this product. This product was made to rid dandruff – nothing more.
If your dandruff is stubborn, we recommend also considering the Extra Strength Neutrogena T/Gel (Coal Tar: 1.0%).
- #1 Dermatologist recommended brand
- Strong results at an affordable price point
- Extra strength can target fungus-based dandruff
- Smell is strong and off-putting
What You Need To Know
3. Best For Unisex Use: Dandrene Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This unique exfoliating anti-dandruff shampoo was specially formulated to treat flakes, itchiness, dryness, and redness.
The comprehensive solution in Dandrene relies on three key ingredients:
- Zinc Pyrithione
- Glycolic Acid
These ingredients work together to not only fight dandruff but to also regulate oily hair and skin while removing flakes.
But what really sets this shampoo apart from the others on our list is the reliance on the Nansome delivery system.
Delivering active ingredients in encapsulated micro-spheres, the Nansome technology releases the active ingredients throughout the day – providing for much more effective results.
To demonstrate how effective this shampoo was at stopping dandruff, some of the reviews we saw during our research claimed that Dandrene was ‘the only shampoo that helps with my dandruff’ to a much more emphatic ‘the greatest anti-dandruff shampoo I have encountered’.
In order to get the best results, we do recommend that you couple this with their dandruff conditioner as well.
While the price of Dandrene is a bit higher compared to others on our list (but still within the acceptable price range), we think it is well worth the investment as this is simply the best dandruff shampoo available.
- Unique mixture of active ingredients that are proven to work
- Proprietary Nansome delivery system provides science-backed results
- Works on all hair types
- None, the best anti-dandruff shampoo currently available
What You Need To Know
4. Best Shampoo For Dry Scalp And Dandruff: K + S Salon Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
If this is your first foray into the world of anti-dandruff shampoos and you don’t want to start with a product that may be too powerful or abrasive, then this shampoo by K + S will make an excellent choice.
After making the list of being one of the top conditioners for men, their shampoo is also second to none.
Relying on a very heavy natural and organic base (primarily tea tree oil given its natural anti-fungal properties), this shampoo is great for those looking to try something that strikes a balance between designer and medical brands.
This shampoo would likely be apt for those not necessarily with Malassezia, although the tea tree oil should help in fighting it, but rather those with just a seasonally dry scalp looking for a bit more moisture to stop repeated itching.
Overall this product will leave a fresh and invigorating scent that will make you look forward to your next shower.
- Made in the USA
- Natural ingredients also combat hair loss
- Rich moisturizers to help fight a dry scalp
- Not as effective as a medicated dandruff shampoo
What You Need To Know
5. Best Salon Shampoo For Dandruff: American Crew Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
If you want an uncompromising salon-quality shampoo that also doubles down as a dandruff deterrent, then this shampoo by American Crew is likely calling your name.
Containing the same active ingredient in the Dove Men+Care and Head & Shoulders shampoos, this product by American Crew relies on Pyrithione Zinc.
This means that the soap will perform on par with the other big brands with its antifungal fighting properties and removing dead skin cells.
What really sets this shampoo apart from the rest is that it includes a wide array of essential oils as well.
One in particular worth noting is the inclusion of Rosemary. If your scalp is oily due to the overproduction of sebum oil on your sebaceous glands, the rosemary included within will help to reduce production, and hopefully, keep your dandruff in check.
Just don’t forget, this is a shampoo only, so be sure to pick up the conditioner alongside your purchase.
- Trusted brand that makes their shampoos in the USA
- Contains extra essential oils for added hair benefits
- One of the best smelling shampoos as well
- May not be as effective as other brands (but still good)
What You Need To Know
6. Best Dandruff Shampoo For Color Treated Hair: JASON Natural Dandruff Relief Shampoo
Created on Long Island by the Hain Celestial Group, JASON is another product added to their lineup that relies on natural ingredients to get the job done.
Within this product, you aren’t going to find coal tar, nor will you see pyrithione zinc or essential oils, instead you will find Sulfur alongside Salicylic Acid (both at 2% concentration) that will work to keep your dandruff in check.
Now, this shampoo is not for the faint of heart. While it may contain a very natural profile of ingredients, many have reported that the scent is akin to sulfur upon use.
While some men may be able to handle this, others may find it a bit too much. However, if you find yourself reaching for a hair clay or pomade, then it likely won’t be a problem as your hair product will likely mask the off-putting scent.
Scent aside, this dandruff shampoo is good for those with color-treated hair.
In addition, this shampoo also doesn’t have parabens, SLS, petrolatum, or coloring and phthalates.
If you are looking for a natural shampoo that’s both affordable and made in the USA, then check this one out.
- Sulfate-free make it great if you dye your hair
- Treats mild dandruff with FDA approved ingredients
- High reliance on natural ingredients makes it less effective
What You Need To Know
7. Best Daily Dandruff Shampoo: Head & Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
The hallmark brand of anti-dandruff shampoos is without a doubt going to be Head & Shoulders.
With its reliance on Pyrithione Zinc, this shampoo will help to break up and destroy the fungus that causes dandruff.
Beyond just simply warding off dandruff, this shampoo by Head & Shoulders also contains a conditioner.
When using this product, you should expect to have not only dandruff-free hair but also intact hair cuticles afterward through its conditioning agent.
Lastly, this bottle does evoke a scent of Old Spice – how’s that for manly?
- Gentle enough to be used every day
- Extremely affordable
- Smells great
- Not as strong as others on our list
What You Need To Know
This incredibly popular dandruff shampoo by Maple Holistics is a great solution for those with a severely sensitive scalp.
With its hypoallergenic formula, this shampoo will gently cleanse your flaky scalp that is causing dandruff.
Now if you have psoriasis, this may not be the best choice, instead this shampoo is aimed at men who are experiencing dandruff simply due to overly oily hair.
This shampoo is a degreaser of sorts that will adequately strip all the excess sebum oil from both your skin and hair follicles.
But you will notice that on the side of the bottle, there is a heavy reliance on carrier oils like jojoba oil. This oil will help to regulate sebum production and make dandruff quietly subside while also promoting healthy hair growth.
If you are looking for an all-natural yet hypoallergenic solution, then this is worth your consideration.
- Provides great sebum control through jojoba oil
- Natural solution compliments your skin
- May not work as well compared to medicated treatments
What You Need To Know
Selsun Blue has been around for years. Along with Head & Shoulders, it’s one of the first brands that many men think of when they are considering any of the best dandruff shampoos.
In its royal blue 11oz. container you will find some great antifungal properties in their shampoo.
Not only will this dandruff shampoo do a great job at warding off seborrheic dermatitis, but it will further help to reduce the recurrence of it as well.
Unlike the Dove Men+Care shampoo that also includes a conditioning agent, Selsun Blue is absent of this secondary feature. Therefore, you will want to make sure you pick up a quality conditioner as well.
4 Tips on Finding the Perfect Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
1. Hair Type
Whether you have thick, thin, dry, oily, or simply normal hair most dandruff shampoos will work for you as they aren’t used on a daily basis (more on this in a minute).
However, if you don’t like rotating shampoos every other day, then we would recommend checking out large online marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, etc.
We came across smaller brands listed there (Kick Men’s Shampoo, Sage, dermachange, etc.) that make more specialized shampoos for certain hair types.
2. Cause of Dandruff
When examining what causes dandruff, it primarily lands into five primary buckets as outlined by Mayo Clinic:
Irritated & Oily Skin
The most popular case of dandruff will appear from irritated or just simply overly oily skin.
The primary signs of irritated or oily skin will be a scalp that is red and itchy. This type of dandruff will be very much akin to psoriasis, eczema, or just a rash – while sharing these similar properties, seborrheic dermatitis is its own unique skin problem.
When it comes to seborrheic dermatitis, unfortunately the medical community hasn’t fully identified the reason for its prevalence. However, they do feel that it may be a wide mixture of external environmental factors such as stress, genes, weather, medicines to just name a few.
The most important takeaway for this type of dandruff is that it isn’t due to an allergy nor is it due to hygiene. Therefore, additional showers, soaking in the water for longer, scrubbing deeper, won’t cure this type of dandruff.
You will need a specially formulated dandruff shampoo to take care of the problem.
Lack of Hygiene
Contrary to the above cause, not running shampoo through your hair on a frequent basis will cause extreme buildup of both oils and skin cells.
This build up will eventually begin to flake and ultimately give the appearance of dandruff.
Now if this is your scenario, then you don’t need to invest in the dandruff shampoos that are outlined below, instead you just want to pick up a regular over the counter shampoo and just make sure you wash thoroughly every couple of days at the very least.
If you are washing regularly already, be sure to examine the type of soap that you are using.
With the recent uptick in men exploring all-natural options to wash and condition their hair by following DIY recipes across the web, there may not be an adequate number of surfactants and cleansing agents to get your hair completely clean.
Therefore, if you are using a shampoo that isn’t sold in stores, or one that might be trendy, be sure to step back for a minute to read the label and see if it has any cleansing agents within.
Malassezia (Fungus) Growing on Your Scalp
Another common cause of dandruff may be malassezia.
This form of dandruff is unique in that it doesn’t necessarily have to do with hygiene or just simply skin irritation, instead this is a live fungus that festers on your scalp causing the rapid increase in skin cell production.
In order to fight malassezia, you will want use two different dandruff shampoos.
Continuously using one type of dandruff shampoo may lead the fungus to build up a resistance to the solution, eventually overcoming its effectiveness and subsequently causing dandruff to appear again.
Be sure to pick up a shampoo containing Zinc Pyrithione as it contains antifungal properties.
More prevalent when the air is extremely dry, a simple case of dry skin may cause flakes to appear.
This will be applicable to you if your dandruff only appears seasonally.
One of the best ways to cure this type of dandruff is to double up on a quality shampoo (not a dandruff specific shampoo) along with a conditioner that will help to naturally hydrate and nourish both your skin and hair follicles.
If you recently changed out your shampoo, conditioner, coloring, or hair product (such as hair gel) and suddenly notice an uptick in dandruff, it may just be a simple case of contact dermatitis.
In this scenario, look back on when your dandruff started and replace the product with an alternative to see if the dandruff persists – you shouldn’t need to get a dandruff shampoo designed specifically for men in this scenario.
If you are still unsure what type of dandruff you have, be sure to contact your physician or dermatologist to get a qualified opinion.
In some scenarios, they may prescribe a shampoo specifically designed to combat your dandruff.
When it comes to comparing the best dandruff shampoos for men, its paramount that you know what the primary ingredient will be responsible for fighting off the dandruff of your scalp.
Equipping yourself with this knowledge will allow you to find the best solutions that will deliver much better results and ultimate comfort in the long run.
Therefore, when looking on the side of any bottle of dandruff shampoo you will see one of the key active ingredients:
Zinc Pyrithione (or Pyrithione Zinc)
This compound works to break up the fungus and bacteria that are commonly found on scalps with dandruff. Therefore, if you are suffering from seborrheic dermatitis or even malassezia, a shampoo with this key ingredient may work well for you.
Per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Zinc Pyrithione is generally considered to be less hazardous as it received a score of 3 out of 10 (source).
Similar in application to Zinc Pyrithione, Selenium Sulfide is a topical solution found in many anti-dandruff shampoos that works as an antifungal agent.
The maximum concentration that you can purchase over the counter of a shampoo with Selenium Sulfide is 1%. Greater concentrations are available with a prescription.
Per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Selenium Sulfide is generally considered to be more hazardous as it received a score of 8 out of 10 (source).
A primary antifungal compound found in a variety of products including those to treat jock itch, athletes’ foot, and ringworms, Ketoconazole is rare, but sometimes used as an agent in anti-dandruff shampoos.
Much like the two other compounds listed above, Ketoconazole will work to reduce seborrheic dermatitis and break up malassezia.
Per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Ketoconazole is generally considered to be less hazardous as it received a score of 3 out of 10 (source).
Unlike the antifungal properties of the compounds listed above, Coal Tar primarily acts to slow down the growth of skin cells on your head.
This slowdown of growth will help to drastically reduce the appearance of dandruff.
Therefore, if you generally have an overly oily skin and not a fungal infection, products containing Coal Tar may be more effective for your scenario.
Per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Coal Tar is generally considered to be more hazardous as it received a score of 10 out of 10 (source).
It is to note that the FDA does consider products containing between .5% to 5% of coal tar concentration safe.
Tea Tree Oil
Found in nearly all natural and organic shampoos used to treat dandruff, tea tree oil has seen wide prevalence among those looking for natural remedies.
This essential oil has natural antiseptic and antifungal properties. However, the effectiveness of tea tree oil can wildly vary, but does generally tend to work well.
Per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Tea Tree Oil is generally considered to be less hazardous as it received a score of 1 out of 10 (source).
4. Daily Use vs. Semi Weekly
As you will find out buying a new dandruff shampoo, many of them cannot be used on a daily basis. Instead, companies often recommend that you use their shampoo about 2 to 3 times per week.
The reason for this largely has to do with reducing the possibility of irritation.
Therefore, you will want to make sure that you use a mild shampoo suited for your hair type in tandem with your new dandruff shampoo.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.