If you’re tired of brushing white flakes off your shoulders, I can help.
I’ve rounded up the best anti-dandruff shampoos for men and reviewed them here.
Five active ingredients stop the itching and flaking at the source.
I’ve divided the reviews according to those main components.
Each type of shampoo is in its own section to make it easier to find what you need.
- 1 What causes dandruff?
- 2 Which type of anti-dandruff shampoo is the best?
- 3 Selenium sulfide
- 4 Pyrithione zinc
- 4.1 Head and Shoulders, Shampoo and Conditioner 2 in 1, Charcoal for Men
- 4.2 Head and Shoulders Shampoo and Conditioner 2 in 1, Old Spice Swagger for Men
- 4.3 Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- 4.4 AXE 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner for Itch Relief & Dandruff Protection
- 4.5 AXE Shampoo, Signature Daily Dandruff Defense
- 4.6 Suave Men 2in1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner
- 4.7 Dove Men+Care 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner, Anti-Dandruff
- 4.8 Redken Brews Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- 4.9 Schwarzkopf [3D]Men Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- 4.10 L’Oréal Paris Elvive for Men Anti-Dandruff 2in1 Shampoo & Conditioner
- 4.11 American Crew Anti-Dandruff Plus Shampoo
- 4.12 Nivea Men Anti-Dandruff Power Shampoo
- 4.13 Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- 5 Ketoconazole
- 6 Salicylic acid
- 7 Coal tar
- 8 Natural remedies
- 9 Conclusion
What causes dandruff?
Typical dandruff is caused by a fungus on your scalp (1).
Stress and a weak immune system can make it worse.
But daily shampooing can keep it under control. That’s because it feeds on sebum, the natural oil of your skin.
If you keep your scalp clean and clear, the fungus won’t flourish.
There are other causes of dandruff like eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and ringworm. These usually include scaly patches and inflammation, not just dry, flaky skin (2).
Fortunately, anti-dandruff shampoos help in each of these cases.
Which type of anti-dandruff shampoo is the best?
This is a good question without a definite answer.
There are five types of shampoos for dandruff: zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, coal tar, and salicylic acid.
If you prefer natural remedies, you can also try tea tree oil, rosemary, and peppermint.
For mild dandruff, I’d recommend starting with one of the first two types.
Zinc pyrithione tends to be popular as it doesn’t discolor the hair as selenium sulfide can.
Then, for moderate to severe dandruff, go straight to ketoconazole, which is a potent antifungal.
Coal tar and salicylic acid clear up flaking and stop the itching. But again, coal tar might discolor blond hair (3).
In any case, I have bad news for you.
Dandruff is chronic (4).
You’re going to need to stay on top of things. The easiest way to do that is to clean up the problem first.
Use dandruff shampoo daily for as long as it takes to achieve a clear scalp.
It might take up to a month.
Then, feel free to rotate between ketoconazole, salicylic acid, or another type – consult with your doctor if you want specific instructions.
Then, continue to use dandruff shampoo once a week to keep the fungus under control. On other days, use your favorite products to wash your hair.
Now, let’s look at the top men’s shampoos for dandruff.
Selenium sulfide is the active ingredient in Selsun Blue.
It treats fungal infections and slows down the shedding of dead skin. It also relieves itching (5).
When you shampoo with it, leave it on your scalp for at least two minutes before you rinse.
Then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
Possible side effects include discoloration of blond or gray hair.
Selsun Blue Medicated Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo
The maximum strength formula of Selsun Blue has both selenium sulfide and menthol.
The latter ingredient cools and soothes an itchy scalp.
Massage it into your skin and let it sit for at least two minutes before you rinse.
Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Shampoo
Selenium sulfide is so powerful that a 1% concentration in shampoo is considered clinical strength.
(Compare that to scalp lotions with 2.5%.)
Head and Shoulders treats seborrheic dermatitis to clear up oily flakes and itching.
It’s appropriate for all hair types, including curly or color-treated.
Happily, it’s pH-balanced and won’t strip your hair dry. Instead, it makes it glossy and soft.
Solimo Advanced Solution Dandruff & Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo, Maximum Strength
Get the same benefits of Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Shampoo at a fraction of the cost.
Solimo is an Amazon brand that makes knock-offs of name brand products.
As far as I can tell, the difference is minimal in this case. Users are pleased with how well it works. They also appreciate the mild scent.
Pyrithione zinc increases the amount of copper on your scalp, and that inhibits the growth of the dandruff-causing fungus (6).
It’s the active ingredient in the majority of dandruff shampoos.
Head and Shoulders, Shampoo and Conditioner 2 in 1, Charcoal for Men
It turns out that major manufacturers still offer satisfaction guarantees.
Head and Shoulders will refund your money if you’re not pleased with this shampoo.
Besides 1% pyrithione zinc, it contains charcoal to remove impurities and excess oil from the scalp.
It’s both a shampoo and a conditioner. Plus, it has an appealing citrus fragrance.
Head and Shoulders Shampoo and Conditioner 2 in 1, Old Spice Swagger for Men
Head and Shoulders teamed up with Old Spice to create this anti-dandruff shampoo/conditioner.
It saves space in the shower as you only need one bottle, not two.
It features 1% pyrithione zinc.
Regular use gets rid of flaking and itching and moisturizes your scalp and hair.
Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Neutrogena T/Gel daily shampoo is not to be confused with the regular T/Gel with coal tar.
This is a conditioning shampoo with pyrithione zinc instead.
It’s mild enough to use every day, and powerful enough to get rid of mild to moderate dandruff.
If your hair is fragile or thinning, you’ll appreciate the wheat proteins and vitamin E. These strengthen strands and nourish the scalp.
AXE 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner for Itch Relief & Dandruff Protection
Even AXE has an anti-dandruff shampoo.
Correction, they have two.
Both have pyrithione zinc.
This one has menthol to cool down an itchy scalp. It’s also packed with conditioners to leave your hair smooth and soft.
AXE Shampoo, Signature Daily Dandruff Defense
If you don’t care about the menthol, and just want to smell great, grab this shampoo instead.
It has vanilla and oudwood to give it an irresistible fragrance.
Suave Men 2in1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner
Here’s a cheap option from a brand you’ll recognize.
Suave fortifies the shampoo with moisturizing ingredients and panthenol.
It lathers up nicely and reduces oiliness. Regular use keeps your hair from getting greasy.
The active component is pyrithione zinc.
There’s also a manly scent.
Dove Men+Care 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner, Anti-Dandruff
Dove’s dandruff shampoo is made for men with thinning hair.
It tackles both problems with caffeine and pyrithione zinc.
The first stimulates the scalp to boost hair growth. Then, the second gets rid of what causes dandruff.
On the downside, even though it’s a conditioning shampoo, some users say that it leaves their hair dry.
You might need a separate conditioner if you have naturally dry hair.
Fortunately, it comes in two sizes, so pick the small one if you’re on the fence.
Redken Brews Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Your stylist might use Redken products. Perhaps they’ve already recommended this shampoo with pyrithione zinc.
Yes, it looks like you’ve left a beer bottle in the shower. But the shampoo smells like ginger.
As it’s a salon formula, it should leave your hair manageable and soft.
Schwarzkopf [3D]Men Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This is a product you won’t find stateside in a drugstore.
When I first saw it, the label was in German. (That’s no surprise as it’s from a German company.)
But fans love it because it has extra benefits beyond the typical dandruff shampoo.
With pyrithione zinc, it clears up the dry flakes.
But then, keratin fortifies each individual strand and prevents breakage. And allantoin gets rid of redness and itching.
Finally, a polymer smooths the cuticle and seals in moisture.
L’Oréal Paris Elvive for Men Anti-Dandruff 2in1 Shampoo & Conditioner
L’Oreal’s Elvive for Men points to their proprietary Actirox + Equaderm formula.
But it turns out that the secret ingredient is pyrithione zinc.
Of course, there are conditioning agents like aloe, glycerin, and coconut, too.
American Crew Anti-Dandruff Plus Shampoo
American Crew tackles dandruff with science and nature together.
Besides zinc pyrithione, it uses tea tree oil, sage, rosemary, and peppermint to solve the problem.
Regular use gets rid of dryness and flaking and relieves itching and redness.
Nivea Men Anti-Dandruff Power Shampoo
This Nivea shampoo is popular in Europe.
It has piroctone olamine, which acts like zinc pyrithione (7).
It also contains bamboo, which is uniquely useful for both the hair and scalp. Bamboo is loaded with silica, which fortifies fibers and calms the scalp.
Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Those with sensitive skin will appreciate the Free & Clear medicated shampoo.
First off, it has the strongest concentration of pyrithione zinc that I found in an over-the-counter shampoo. It has double the amount of the competiting brands.
Second, it’s free of all sorts of allergens and harsh chemicals like fragrances, dyes, sulfates, gluten, parabens, and formaldehyde releasers.
Third, it’s dermatologist-tested and developed specifically for persons with eczema, psoriasis, and allergies.
Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal drug that has an interesting side effect.
It promotes hair growth (8).
Not surprisingly, some hair loss shampoos include it.
Nizoral Anti-dandruff Shampoo With Ketoconazole 1%
Nizoral’s shampoo is the easiest way to treat your scalp with ketoconazole.
This active ingredient binds to the protein in hair. Then it works throughout the day, not just while it sits on your scalp before you rinse.
The shampoo is potent enough that you only need to use it once or twice a week to manage dandruff.
Plus, it has a pleasant fragrance, and it lathers well.
Salicylic acid is a plant derivative related to aspirin and Pepto-Bismol.
It dissolves the skin’s oil to unclogs pores, and it exfoliates dead skin.
As you can imagine, a salicylic acid shampoo removes the oily, flaky build-up that dandruff causes.
It’s also helpful if you have psoriasis scales.
Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo
Rotate a salicylic acid shampoo like Neutrogena T/Sal into your showering routine.
It has a 3% concentration to keep your scalp clear of build-up and flakes.
It may also reduce acne and redness.
Even after only one wash, it should make a noticeable difference.
Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo
Jason’s shampoo blends salicylic acid with sulfur.
It also has rosemary, olive, and jojoba.
Use it three times per week to take care of psoriasis, dermatitis, and dandruff.
Coal tar isn’t very attractive, but it’s very effective.
It’s antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitical, and it soothes itchiness as well.
Therefore, you can see why it’s used in dandruff shampoos.
There are two things you need to know about it, though.
To begin with, coal tar may irritate sensitive skin. And then, it can make your scalp more sensitive to sunburn (10).
Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Original Formula
Neutrogena’s original T/Gel has coal tar.
It’s excellent for treating seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Not only will it stop the itching, but it also ends the flaking and helps remove scales.
Plan on using it twice a week.
It turns out that botanicals like rosemary and tea tree oil can also resolve mild dandruff.
Rocky Mountain Barber Company Men’s Shampoo
If you have a beard, you might recognize this company. They make a popular beard oil.
Their men’s shampoo features tea tree, eucalyptus, and peppermint to wash away dandruff.
Moreover, it conditions with hemp seed oil, keratin, and glycerin.
These natural ingredients soothe an irritated scalp. Plus, they provide a naturally lively fragrance.
Every Man Jack 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner
You’ve heard of Jack Black products, but perhaps they don’t fit in your budget right now.
That’s okay because there’s Every Man Jack.
This brand packs essential oils into their anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner. There are no GMOs, no parabens, no phthalates, and no dyes.
Choose from charcoal, sandalwood, tea tree, or mint versions.
Brickell Men’s Products Daily Strengthening Shampoo
Brickell’s daily shampoo is perfect for men with damaged, dull, or thinning hair. It won’t harm color treatments, either.
No, this is not a dandruff shampoo. This is what you need on the days when you don’t wash with an anti-dandruff formula.
It keeps flaking at bay and improves the health of your hair and scalp.
Eighty-three percent of the formula is organic. The primary active ingredients are pro-vitamin B5, vitamin E, tea tree oil, peppermint, and silk amino acids.
Of course, there are no sulfates, parabens, or petrochemicals.
No one wants dandruff.
Fortunately, the solution is close at hand.
It doesn’t cost much to get anti-dandruff shampoo. But it pays off every day once you do.
You’ll have shiny hair and a healthy scalp.
And you won’t have to brush flakes of your shoulders anymore.
1. https://www.menshealth.com/style/a19544248/how-to-get-rid-of-dandruff/ by the Editors of Men’s Health, published June 9, 2015, accessed January 2, 2020
2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dandruff/ accessed January 2, 2020
3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5ptmSkM8jnkCjRvR8x61xN2/how-do-i-get-rid-of-dandruff accessed January 2, 2020
4. https://www.insider.com/how-to-get-rid-of-dandruff-2019-1 by Maddy Sims, published January 8, 2019, accessed January 2, 2020
5. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/selenium-sulfide/ accessed January 2, 2020
6. https://aac.asm.org/content/55/12/5753 accessed January 2, 2020
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piroctone_olamine accessed January 2, 2020
8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketoconazole accessed January 2, 2020
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylic_acid accessed January 2, 2020
10. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/coal-tar-topical-route/proper-use/drg-20068614 accessed January 2, 2020