11 of the Best Dandruff Shampoos, According to Dermatologists
Let's talk about dandruff. It's not the most alluring hair care topic, but an itchy, flaky scalp is a common issue—luckily, it's one that's typically easy to manage. Before we speak to treatments and solutions, it's important to explain what dandruff actually is. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Christine Choi Kim, this chronic scalp condition—which can impact any hair texture or skin type—is considered a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, and while its cause is not entirely known, it is mostly attributed to an excess of oil production and yeast that is naturally found on skin. "This yeast feeds on the oil on your scalp and breaks it down into byproducts that can induce abnormal cell turnover and shedding," she says. "The result can be a flaky, itchy scalp." Genetics, underlying illness, medications, stress, and seasonal changes could also be to blame.
As for the best way to treat dandruff? Start by using the right products. Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic in New York City, says to examine your current hair care arsenal; some formulas might be causing or worsening scalp buildup. Next, seek out a dandruff shampoo that is clarifying and provides gentle scalp exfoliation to remove that oil and debris. If your dandruff continues, Dr. Engelman says to purchase a medicated shampoo; ingredients to bookmark are tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and zinc pyrithione.
Preventing future buildup, explains Dr. Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, comes down to shampooing regularly, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet (rich in zinc, healthy fats, and vitamin B). When it comes to sudsing up, do so preventatively; Dr. Graf says to massage medicated products onto the scalp—don't focus on your strands—and let them sit for about five to 10 minutes before getting into the shower. Ahead, these experts share several of the best anti-dandruff shampoos on the market, so you can find sweet relief.