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Dandruff Shampoo as a Face Wash: Beneficial or Risky for Your Skin?

Is using dandruff shampoo on your face a clever TikTok hack or a potential recipe for disaster?

This article explores the reasons some people consider using dandruff shampoo as a face wash, its potential benefits, and the risks involved.

The Takeaway:

  • Dandruff shampoo contains anti-fungal properties and ingredients that may reduce inflammation and exfoliate dead skin cells.
  • Using dandruff shampoo as a face wash may not be suitable for all skin types and can cause skin irritation, over-drying, and other adverse reactions.
  • Consult a dermatologist before using dandruff shampoo on your face, and conduct a patch test to determine product suitability for your skin.
  • Consider gentle, pH-balanced, sulfate-free, and non-comedogenic cleansers as safer alternatives for facial care.

Why Some People Consider Using Dandruff Shampoo for Face Wash

The two leading reasons why some people consider using dandruff shampoo as a face wash are:

Anti-fungal Properties

Dandruff shampoo contains anti-fungal properties, which can help combat seborrheic dermatitis, fungal acne (pityrosporum folliculitis), and other skin conditions caused by an overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia as per a study.

This yeast, which naturally exists on our skin, can sometimes thrive excessively due to factors such as genetics, stress, hormonal imbalance, or a weakened immune system. Overgrowth of Malassezia can lead to skin issues like dandruff on the scalp and similar symptoms on the face, such as redness, flaking, and itching.

Potential to Combat Seborrheic Dermatitis and Other Skin Conditions

Ingredients in dandruff shampoo, such as ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and selenium sulfide, have been proven effective in treating seborrheic dermatitis and reducing levels of fungus responsible for dandruff and similar skin conditions.

Given these properties, it’s understandable why some might be tempted to use dandruff shampoo as a face wash when dealing with skin issues like seborrheic dermatitis, fungal acne, or other inflammation-related problems. Additionally, these ingredients may help exfoliate dead skin cells, potentially improving skin texture and reducing the appearance of flakes.

Benefits of Using Dandruff Shampoo as a Face Wash

While using dandruff shampoo may not be suitable for everyone, there are potential benefits for those who have specific skin conditions or concerns, such as:

Reducing Inflammation

The leading ingredient in many dandruff shampoos is pyrithione zinc, which has both anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. This means it can help reduce inflammation, redness, and itching associated with skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and fungal acne.

This 2016 study goes into detail about the wide-ranging effects of zinc pyrithione.

Exfoliating Dead Skin Cells

Salicylic acid, a common ingredient in dandruff shampoos, possesses exfoliating properties that help remove dead skin cells, potentially reducing flaky skin, blackheads, and whiteheads.

Addressing Scalp-Like Skin Issues on the Face

If you experience seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff-like flakiness, or fungal acne on your face, some dermatologists may recommend using dandruff shampoo to target specific skin issues.

Pro Tip: Always consult with a dermatologist should you have any concerns about your skin or before trying a new skincare product, especially when considering using a product designed for the scalp on your sensitive facial skin.

Risks and Drawbacks of Using Dandruff Shampoo as a Face Wash

Inevitably, there are also some risks and drawbacks associated with using dandruff shampoo as a face wash, which might not make it the right choice for everyone. These include the following:

Harsh Ingredients and Skin Irritation

Dandruff shampoos may contain harsh chemicals and ingredients that can cause skin irritation, burning sensations, and redness, particularly for those with sensitive skin. Brands like Nizoral and Head & Shoulders may not provide the gentle care needed for facial skin health.

Over-drying the Skin

Using dandruff shampoo, or any shampoo, on your face may strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to over-drying effects and disrupting the skin barrier. This can worsen existing skin conditions, dryness, or irritation.

Not Suitable for All Skin Types

Dandruff shampoo is designed for scalp care and not formulated for the delicate facial skin. It may not suit all skin types, and its use as a facial cleanser can lead to negative side effects.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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