Seen your fair share of products that flake on their promises to get rid of dandruff? After squeezing through bottle after bottle of shampoo with no results, you may even be questioning if there’s anything that will stop the embarrassing white sprinkles from appearing on your scalp, shoulders, and everywhere else.
Here’s the deal: Dandruff is caused due to a yeast that sets up shop on your scalp. (Before you freak out—everyone has it!) However, when there’s too much yeast, that leads to irritation and inflammation, and eventually the flaking off of dead skin cells—that’s the dandruff. It may seem hopeless, but according to Angela Lamb, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, there are hair-washing remedies that can help. “You need something that can treat the underlying cause—key ingredients for that are ketozonazole and salicylic acid—and something that has tea tree oil, which is soothing,” Lamb says.
Below, Lamb and other dermatologists give their go-to recommendations to help you fight the flakes.
NEUTROGENA T/SAL THERAPEUTIC SHAMPOO SCALP BUILD-UP CONTROL
Magic ingredient: Salicylic Acid
When your hair’s split personality comes out, this is a favorite of Shari Sperling, M.D., a dermatologist at Sperling Dermatology. “This shampoo works really well because the salicylic acid helps alleviate the dryness and flakiness associated with dandruff, and it can help clear crusty scalp build-up which relieves itching,” she says.
NEUTROGENA T/GEL THERAPEUTIC SHAMPOO ORIGINAL FORMULA
Magic ingredient: Neutar
This hair-washing product includes solubilized coal tar extract (or neutar), which handles the dirty work of fighting itchy, flaky scalp conditions, says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a dermatologist based in Boston. With regular use, it can help make your hair manageable, full, and allow you to finally shake the flakes.
NIZORAL A-D ANTI-DANDRUFF SHAMPOO
Magic ingredient: Ketoconazole
According to Lamb, it’s key to treat the root of your problem, which is what makes this product so good at putting a dampener on your dandruff. Ketoconazole hits at the underlying cause, and fights the overgrowth of yeast that can lead to a flake outbreak.
SELSUN BLUE MEDICATED DANDRUFF SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER 2-IN-1 TREATMENT
Magic ingredient: Zinc Pyrithione
This fast-acting formula (some who use it notice an improvement after just a use or two) earns Sperling’s seal of approval because it helps slow down the production of skin cells (translation: that means fewer flakes). It also doesn’t contain irritating alcohols or irritating scents, which can cause your already-sensitive scalp to flare up.