Anyone out there who likes dandruff, raise your hand.
That’s what we thought.
It’s hard to like something that so easily spoils your otherwise impeccable grooming routine. And while dandruff is hardly uncommon, the good news is that it’s controllable.
It starts with anti-dandruff shampoos, such as those we list here in our reviews of the best dandruff shampoo for men. We lead off with a real dandruff stopper in Nizoral A-D’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and then list five others that would serve any man well.
We’ll also talk about things to consider when buying a dandruff shampoo, how dandruff occurs, and more. Let’s get it started.
- Before you buy: 3 things to consider when purchasing dandruff shampoo
- 6 Best dandruff shampoos for men 2018
- Take control of your dandruff: How to apply your shampoo
- Shampoo, dandruff shampoo: What’s the difference?
- So, why me? Why do I get dandruff?
- Our method of choosing the best dandruff shampoos for men
Before You Buy: 3 Things to Consider When Purchasing Dandruff Shampoo
Dandruff shampoo is different from regular shampoo in that it addresses a specific problem. And if you’re a man who suffers from dandruff, you’d love to see the problem vanish as quickly as possible.
Choosing the right dandruff shampoo for you depends on a variety of factors – each of which should determine your buying decision. It also means looking at each shampoo’s list of ingredients.
Knowing what’s causing your dandruff is an important piece of knowledge before buying an anti-dandruff shampoo.
- If the source of your dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis – a fungal condition – make sure that the shampoo you choose includes ingredients such as tea tree oil, peppermint oil, ketoconazole, and selenium sulfide.
- If dead skin buildup leads to your dandruff problem, the best shampoo(s) for you should contain salicylic acid and coal tar. However, don’t use these shampoos on a daily basis because they may lead to scalp irritation.
Here’s closer look at the key ingredients in anti-dandruff shampoo for men and what they do:
- Selenium sulfide
Selenium sulfide is a topical agent that works to fight fungus. The maximum concentration of selenium sulfide available in over-the-counter shampoos is 1%.
- Zinc Pyrithione
Like selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione breaks up the fungus and bacteria commonly associated with dandruff. Zinc pyrithione is not as hazardous as selenium sulfide, so say the experts.
Ketoconazole is another anti-fungal compound that also found in everything from products that treat athlete’s foot to those that treat jock itch (a decidedly male issue that, well, leaves you scratching in all the wrong places).
- Coal tar
Coal tar. Sounds like pretty strong stuff, doesn’t it? And it is, but it does act to slow down the growth of skin cells on your scalp and, hence, reduces the appearance of dandruff. It’s no anti-fungal like the compounds listed above, but it’s particularly helpful if you have overly oily skin.
- Tea tree oil
It doesn’t just seem like tea tree oil is in a ton of men’s grooming products – from body wash to regular shampoo to conditioner to you-name-it. The stuff is natural and it works as an antiseptic and has anti-fungal properties. It’s also oh-so-gentle on your skin.
Not all dandruff shampoo is gentle enough to use on your hair every day. If you’re looking for one that does, make sure that it says so on the label.
OK, on to our reviews of the best dandruff shampoo for men.
6 Best Dandruff Shampoos For Men 2018
There’s a reason why Nizoral A-D is an Amazon bestseller with tons of positive reviews. And the reason is “it works.”
It’s also the best anti-dandruff shampoo available – and strong enough that you only need to use it twice a week. That’s some impressive staying power.
The key ingredient in Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is ketoconazole which, as mentioned, is a strong fungus fighter that binds to the natural protein of your hair (and keeps it working between uses). It eliminates excess levels of fungus that naturally breeds on the scalp and keeps fighting it long after you rinse off the shampoo.
Experts – including doctors – continue to recommend Nizoral as an anti-dandruff solution because it gets to the root of the problem while effectively dealing with the flaking, itching, and scaling on your scalp that leads to dandruff.
Amazingly enough, Nizoral A-D packs a powerful punch but is still gentle enough to be used on chemically-processed, color-treated, and gray hair. You’re free to use your favorite shampoos on the days you aren’t using it.
It also smells good, which isn’t always the case with anti-dandruff shampoos. Some users even report that it helps thicken hair.
A couple of important notes about Nizoral A-D, 1) Leave it on your hair and scalp for several minutes after application before rinsing to let the ingredients have a chance to heal your scalp, and 2) Don’t use it unless you are 12-years-old or older.
Nizoral comes in 4, 7, and 14-ounce plastic containers, each with an easy-to-use flip top cap.
And as a bonus, studies have proven that the active ingredient ketoconazole found in Nizoral helps fight male pattern baldness. How awesome is that?
- Only need to use twice a week
- Thick, rich lather
- Leaves hair smelling fresh
- Few, if any
A true heavyweight champion among anti-dandruff shampoos, Nizoral A-D is the go-to option for many, many men. Just use it twice a week and you’ll notice the difference (and fewer flakes on your clothes).
Seborrheic dermatitis is something you’ll hear a lot of in any review of anti-dandruff shampoos. It is, after all, one of the most common causes of dandruff.
The Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Anti-Dandruff Shampoo directly addresses the problem of Seborrheic dermatitis and the itching, flaking, and irritated scalp that come with it. It relieves the symptoms while making those pesky white flakes disappear.
The key, active ingredient in this shampoo is 1% selenium, which fights the fungus caused by seborrheic dermatitis. While it’s the strongest dandruff shampoo (the strongest formula available without a prescription), it’s also pH balanced and gentle enough for daily use.
Another key feature of the Clinical Strength Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is Head & Shoulders’ unique 3Action formula. The three actions are: clean, protect, and moisturize, and it works by reducing the size of zinc particles in the shampoo for improved cleansing.
The 3A action formula also helps create a full, rich lather, and better coverage across the entire scalp. It has all the cosmetic benefits of leading beauty shampoos while packing a heavy anti-dandruff bunch.
This shampoo is good for all hair types, including color or chemically treated hair. Again, it’s strong stuff, but you’ll like the way your hair looks and feels. And you’ll really like how your dandruff problem disappears.
Then again, the folks at Head & Shoulders have led the fight against dandruff for over 50 years. Indeed, perhaps no other shampoo brand is associated as closely with dandruff relief as H & S. It’s no wonder that it’s the No. 1 dermatologist recommended dandruff shampoo.
- Prescription-strength formula available without a prescription
- Gentle enough for daily use
- 3Action formula
- May leave your hair feeling dry
Let’s face it, it’s difficult to do any anti-dandruff shampoo review without including a Head & Shoulders product. The H & S team knows what it takes to relieve dandruff and its clinically-strong shampoo attacks the issue with vigor.
We talked earlier about coal tar regarding ingredients you’ll find in anti-dandruff shampoos. Coal tar is strong, very strong, and it addresses the dandruff issue by reducing skin cells creation – which, in turn, helps it effectively fight scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
The only issue with coal tar – which is a FDA-approved dandruff fighting ingredient, by the way – is that it’s too strong for daily use. Then again, that’s not a big deal when you can use a product like Neutrogena’s T/Gel Therapeutic shampoo once a week and still get dramatic results.
And that’s exactly how this shampoo works: you use it once per week and then watch your dandruff vanish. The active ingredients in the T/Gel Therapeutic shampoo continue to work for hours after you’ve washed your hair until all of your dandruff symptoms are gone.
All of the products in Neutrogena’s Therapeutic Hair Care line also include salicylic acid, which clears the buildup of shedding dead skin, and zinc pyrithione, that maintains results for an extended period.
It also leaves your hair feeling clean and manageable while conditioning it for softness. The latter is important – and needed – because coal tar may dry out your hair.
But, make no mistake, this shampoo is formulated to fight even the most severe symptoms of dandruff. If you have those symptoms, you don’t want to reach for a shampoo that doesn’t have the strength to make them go away.
- Long-lasting dandruff relief
- Only have to use once a week
- Controls itching and flaking
- Can cause sun sensitivity
Like Head & Shoulders, Neutrogena is in the business of creating extra-strength dandruff shampoos that don’t require a prescription. And if you’re looking for an anti-dandruff shampoo that you don’t have to use every day, the T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo is for you.
Maple Holistics is a U.S.- based company committed to providing natural products for grooming and healthy living. And you won’t find a better organic dandruff shampoo for men than their Sage Shampoo for Anti-Dandruff.
So, how does Maple Holistics address the issue of dandruff without using ingredients most commonly used to deal with it?
Answer: By loading up their anti-dandruff shampoo with natural ingredients that deal with dandruff’s symptoms on many levels.
The primary ingredient in this shampoo, as its name implies, is sage. Sage has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal qualities that make it ideal for quashing dandruff before it gets out of hand. It even provides a natural benefit for those dealing with hair loss issues.
The Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo’s list of ingredients also includes rosemary, which stimulates hair follicles and – while working in conjunction with tea tree oil, removes dead skin cells from the scalp and follicles. Tea tree oil has the added benefit of being a natural antiseptic – which also reduces dandruff-causing bacteria.
There’s also jojoba and argan oil, which work together to restore moisture to your hair while keeping it from becoming frizzy and damaged.
What you won’t find in this shampoo are harsh ingredients such as sulfates and parabens, while all of Maple Holistics’ products are animal cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.
Another thing to like about Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo is its mildly spicy scent. While the scent isn’t subtle, it doesn’t overpower, either.
Finally, it all comes with a 100% money back guarantee. If you don’t like it, send it back and get a full refund.
- Organic ingredients
- Gentle but strong enough to deal with dandruff symptoms
- Pleasing scent
- Not as effective with certain types of severe dandruff
This is the shampoo for you if you’re looking for an all-natural solution to dandruff. It’s gentle enough for everyday use, and also has moisturizing qualities that prevent damaged hair.
The brand name comes from the Greek word for “healer” (Jason) while the company comes from California, where trends often occur before anywhere else in the United States.
But the Natural Cosmetics Dandruff Relief Shampoo by JASON isn’t a fad, by any means, nor is the company. Instead, it’s an excellent, medicated product that uses natural ingredients to fight the daily battle against dandruff.
Oh, and it “heals” dandruff symptoms while restoring a healthy balance to your hair and scalp – and ranks very highly when it comes to the best men’s shampoo for dry, itchy scalp. If you live in a winter climate, now’s the time to get started on a dandruff shampoo regimen that can cope with relentless dry air.
Not that dryness is the only cause of dandruff, mind you, so it’s important to have a shampoo that deals with the underlying issues, and JASON Natural Cosmetics Dandruff Relief Shampoo has you covered there, as well.
It all starts with natural ingredients; in this case, tea tree oil, jojoba oil, and rosemary. They’re ingredients that calm and moisturize irritation-prone scalps and promote healing.
Olive oil, a natural moisturizer, is also an ingredient in Natural Cosmetics’ Dandruff Relief Shampoo, as is aloe vera, which provides many skin benefits. Meanwhile, the active ingredients are sulfur and salicylic acid, both of which neutralize dandruff while dealing effectively with irritation.
Note, JASON’s shampoo doesn’t contain fungicides that are common to dandruff shampoo formulas – chemicals such as ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and selenium sulfide. They’re chemicals that are effective dandruff fighters, for sure, but the folks at JASON say their natural ingredients are safer for you and the environment.
Also absent from their list of ingredients are parabens and sulfites, so it’s perfect for sensitive-skinned men whose irritation may worsen with chemicals found in many shampoos.
They also make a pretty strong claim that their shampoo doesn’t just get rid of dandruff temporarily, but promotes scalp health to keep it away for good. Again, a strong claim, but if it works, then why argue?
The company suggests that you use their Natural Cosmetics Dandruff Relief Shampoo three times a week at the start until you notice an obvious decrease in your dandruff. After that, you may want to lessen the number of times you use the shampoo weekly – even down to once a week.
- Provides long-term dandruff relief while healing the scalp
- No parabens or sulfites
- Keeps your scalp and hair moisturized
- Some users complain about its sulfuric smell
You just have to stand up and take notice when a company says it can take care of your dandruff problem forever. Whether that’s true or not, the Natural Cosmetics Dandruff Relief Shampoo is indisputably effective in fighting those white flakes.
American Crew has you covered in many different ways with its Anti-Dandruff Plus Sebum Control Shampoo. It helps you control dandruff, of course, but it’s also a salon-quality shampoo that makes your hair look great.
It’s also great for different hair and scalp types – including oily hair. Yes, it helps relieve dry and itchy scalps, like seemingly every other dandruff shampoo, but also regulates the production of sebum (and over-production leads to overly oily hair).
That said, it’s the best shampoo for dandruff and oily hair.
How does American Crew it work its magic?
Well, it comes down to a couple of key ingredients – zinc pyrithione and rosemary. Zinc pyrithione prevents itching and flaking that characterize dandruff, while rosemary is the key ingredient that regulates the production of sebum.
The Anti-Dandruff Plus Sebum Control Shampoo also includes sage leaf extract – which cleanses and invigorates your hair and scalp; peppermint and tea tree oil which soothes and refreshes your hair and scalp; and silicones that enhances your hair’s strength while repairing damaged hair (and adding volume).
Then again, American Crew is in the business of providing quality men’s grooming products and has been for nearly 25 years. They’ve become the go-to choice for many men, whether it’s for shampoo, pomade, or hair molding products. And their anti-dandruff shampoo clearly enhances their reputation.
- Great for oily and dry hair
- Quality product from a company noted for excellent men’s grooming products
- Strengthens and adds volume to your hair
- Scent leaves something to be desired
This is a shampoo that’s good for all hair types, but men with oily hair should give it a long look. You’ll like how your hair feels after using it (soft), while it enhances your hair’s strength.
Take Control of Your Dandruff: How to Apply Your Shampoo
Let’s start by saying that the technique for applying an anti-dandruff shampoo is much the same as it is for applying regular shampoo. That is, you wet your hair under warm – not hot – water, squeeze out a small amount of shampoo in the palm of your hand, and then apply it with your fingers into your hair and scalp.
The key difference in applying an anti-dandruff shampoo is that you leave it in your hair for several minutes once you’ve thoroughly rubbed it into your scalp. In that regard, dandruff shampoo is like conditioner – you need to give it a chance to work its magic on your scalp and hair follicles before rinsing it off.
Don’t forget to rinse your dandruff shampoo out of hair thoroughly, either. Leftover shampoo can irritate the skin, which is one thing you’re trying to avoid in the first place.
Question: How often should you use dandruff shampoo?
This is a very valid question because dandruff shampoos are often loaded with strong ingredients that could dry out your hair – or even damage it – if used on a daily basis. The answer is: it varies depending on the product.
In our best dandruff shampoo reviews above, we list products that are used once a week, twice a week, or in the case of all-natural shampoo, even every day. Read the label. Most brands are honest regarding how often you should use their product.
But use it regularly
No matter how often you use your dandruff shampoo on a weekly basis, use it consistently. Don’t apply it one week and, after noticing that it’s relieved your dandruff symptoms, and then not again for a couple of weeks. Your dandruff will return and you may wrongly believe that your shampoo didn’t do its job.
Experts also suggest that you might want to switch brands every several months – or when you start to notice that your shampoo has lost its effectiveness.
Add conditioner to your routine
A good conditioner is your friend when using an anti-dandruff shampoo. Dandruff shampoos may dry out your hair and a conditioner is a perfect complement because it adds moisture. An anti-dandruff conditioner would be ideal.
Shampoo, Dandruff Shampoo: What’s the Difference?
Shampoo is shampoo, right? You spread it throughout your hair and scalp, working up a nice lather in the process, and then rinse it off.
Well, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, not all shampoos are the same – even if they all aim for the common goal of making your as clean as possible. And, true, that’s not all they aim to do; they moisturize, they make your hair softer and fuller, they even make it smell good.
But not all shampoos are specifically designed to fight dandruff (although many regular shampoos at least claim to relieve dandruff symptoms).
Regular shampoos contain detergents that you’ll find in laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, and so on. The detergents act as surfactants to wash away excess oil in your hair (we all have natural oils called sebum).
Many shampoos also contain conditioning agents that protect your hair if the detergents strip away too much sebum and leave your hair susceptible to damage.
Regular shampoos contain protectants, such as sunscreen, that protect your hair from the sun’s harmful UV rays, as well from heat damage from hair drying and aids. They also may contain fragrances that give a shampoo its specific scent.
Anti-dandruff shampoo is similar to regular shampoo, but different.
For one, anti-dandruff shampoos contain certain ingredients that temporarily re-calibrates your scalp’s pH balance. The list of ingredients includes selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole – all big words and also a big help in dealing with dandruff’s many symptoms.
Dandruff shampoos also contain salicylic acid, which acts as a scrubbing agent. Salicylic acid helps eliminate dandruff flakes, but it may cause dryness of the scalp. That said, it’s never a bad idea to choose an anti-dandruff shampoo that uses a moisturizing conditioner in conjunction with salicylic acid.
Because anti-dandruff shampoos contain chemicals that are considered harsh compared to those found in regular shampoos, you may not want to use them every day. True, some are labeled “gentle enough for daily use,” but others are so potent that you only need to use them a few times a week – or, in the case of Neutrogena’s T-Gel shampoo, just once a week.
Some dandruff shampoos are also labeled “medicated.” If you think you need a medicated shampoo, it’s not a bad idea to consult with your doctor or dermatologist before using it. Medicated shampoos typically have a higher concentration of chemicals than typical over-the-counter dandruff shampoos.
Like regular shampoo, there are anti-dandruff shampoos for specific hair types. It’s important to choose wisely rather than risking damage to your hair.
And, like regular shampoo, there are anti-dandruff shampoos that contain organic ingredients such as jojoba oil, tea tree oil, olive oil, peppermint oil, and more.
When it comes to the difference between anti-dandruff shampoo and regular shampoo, it’s all in the ingredients. A dandruff shampoo is loaded with compounds that eliminate dandruff, are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, and act as a scrubbing agent.
So, Why Me? Why Do I Get Dandruff?
Dandruff is no laughing matter. But it is a pain in your backside, especially if you’ve struggled with keeping it under control. And it’s easy to get stressed out about it.
That is, don’t get stressed out because dandruff may become worse, or seemingly spring out of nowhere if you have a lot of anxiety – whether it’s anxiety about those pesky white flakes on your clothes or other daily stressors.
But stress isn’t the only cause and certainly not the most common. There are several causes, as well as risk factors, that may lead to dandruff.
1. Irritated and oily skin
Also known as seborrheic dermatitis, this condition is among the most common causes of dandruff. You’ll know you have it if your scalp has red and greasy skin and covered with white or yellow flakes that look like scales. As if that wasn’t bad enough, seborrheic dermatitis may affect your eyebrows, the backs of your ears, the sides of your nose – even your groin area.
In other words, no fun at all.
2. Dry skin
It only makes sense that dry skin may lead to dandruff. The good news – well, sort of good news – is that dandruff caused by dry skin has smaller flakes, and that you probably won’t get the redness and inflammation as you do with seborrheic dermatitis. But, like the dreaded SD, dry skin can affect other parts of your body.
3. Not shampooing enough
Another reason to keep your hair clean, fellas: if you don’t regularly wash it, oils and skin cells build up on your scalp and cause dandruff. The important point here is that excessive hair washing doesn’t lead to dandruff.
Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus found on the scalp of most adults. For some, however, it causes scalp irritation, which causes more skin cells to grow, which then die off and produce dandruff.
5. Sensitivity to hair products
Some men are sensitive to certain ingredients found in hair products (or hair dyes) and it may lead to an itchy and irritated scalp.
6. Risk factors
Being a male is awesome but it can put us at a greater risk for dandruff. Researchers aren’t completely sure why that is but think it has something to do with male hormones. Dandruff typically begins in young adulthood and continues through middle age (and is a lifelong problem for some).
Certain illnesses – such as neurological diseases – may also lead to dandruff. Other diseases that cause compromised immune systems – such as HIV – also increase the likelihood of dandruff.
It’s also worth mentioning that diet may play a role regarding dandruff. Specifically, a dry scalp is sometimes the result of lacking certain dietary nutrients, such as zinc, B vitamins, and healthy fatty acids. Also, it’s important to drink enough water each day, because dry skin and flakiness are common signs of dehydration.
Our Method of Choosing the Best Dandruff Shampoos For Men
Finding a dandruff shampoo that works for you is tricky. Your hair type, how much oil your sebaceous glands produce, your age, how often you use shampoo all come into play as you seek the best product. And, hopefully, our reviews above will steer you in the right direction.
We considered many things in choosing what we think are the best dandruff shampoos for men, not the least of which is overall performance. If the product doesn’t deliver on its promise of relieving dandruff, then it doesn’t belong in a “best of” review.
Some of the major things we considered in this review were:
- How many positive reviews a product received. Products with a ton of reviews and an overall high rating on a site such as Amazon always get our attention.
- The cost of the shampoo (our main goal is to review products that fit all kind of budgets).
- The ingredients. Like with other product reviews, we prefer natural ingredients but understand that not every one of our selections will consist of only organic ingredients.
- The type of hair and scalp for which the dandruff shampoo works best.
We also encourage you to do your own research before venturing out to buy your shampoo. It will save you time at your local store and give you the knowledge to weed out non-contenders. We like our list, however, and think you will, too.
And that wraps up our review of anti-dandruff shampoo for men. We encourage your questions and comments – including comments about the products we’ve reviewed here or a product that you think should be on the list.
We’d love to hear from you.