Home » Top 7 Dandruff Shampoo Ingredients

Top 7 Dandruff Shampoo Ingredients

Now that you know a little bit more about what causes dandruff, we want to give you additional information about some of the active ingredients contained in anti-dandruff shampoos. These ingredients are the reasons behind what makes anti-dandruff shampoos so valuable and the reason we chose this to be our number one combatant of dandruff.

Coal tar

Coal tar is primarily effective at slowing down the regeneration of cells so that they die at a much slower rate. It also works by causing the skin to shed dead cells from its top layer. It has a natural anti-fungal agent but be aware that long-term use of coal tar can stain your hair if it is treated or dyed. Coal tar decreases dryness and scaling as well as itchiness. Common shampoos containing coal tar include Neutrogena T/Gel, Denorex Therapeutic Protection, and Scytera.


Ketoconazole is an antifungal that will stop dandruff dead in its tracks. By killing the yeast or fungus, the dryness and flakiness on your scalp will be minimized. Keep in mind that anti-dandruff shampoos that contain this ingredient can be used on people of all ages and are often turned to when other shampoos have failed. Although commonly found in prescription medications, ketoconazole can be easily purchased over-the-counter. Ketoconazole shampoos include Nizoral, Extina, and Xolegel.

Zinc pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione is an antifungal and antibacterial agent so it works well against dandruff caused by fungus by slowing down the production of yeast thus preventing bacteria and fungus to build up on the scalp. It is often used to treat seborrheic dermatitis as well. Common shampoos containing zinc pyrithione are Head & Shoulders, Selsun Salon Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo or Selsun Blue Medicated Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo, as well as Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner.

Selenium sulphide

Selenium sulphide is a compound that reduces the production of natural oils that your scalp glands produce which then additionally slows down the rate at which skin cells on your scalp die. This ingredient is believed to be the best combatant to the fungi known as malessezia. It is important to mention that selenium sulphide can discolor blonde, gray, or chemically treated hair. In order to prevent potential discoloration, only use shampoos containing this compound as often as instructed and rinse completely with water. Shampoos include Selsun Blue Medicated Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo, Dandrex, and Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid helps your scalp get rid of skin cells, not just slowing down their reproduction. It can also be used on the face as an anti-acne medication. The downfall to this ingredient is that it tends to make a persons scalp more dry which can actually lead to more flaking and dandruff. To minimize this side effect make sure to use a conditioner after shampooing. Common salicylic acid shampoos are Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner. Some shampoos, such as Sebex and Sebulex, also contain sulfur.

Tea Tree oil

Tea Tree oil comes from the Australian Tea Tree known as the melaleuca alternifolia. A growing number of shampoos now include tea-tree oil as one of its ingredients. It has been used for centuries as an antifungal, antibiotic, and an antiseptic. However, it is important to note that some people are allergic to it. Tea tree oil can be found in shampoos such as Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo and JASON Natural Cosmetics Shampoo, Tea Tree Oil Hair & Scalp Therapy.

Green Tea

And finally, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia found that green tea may have potential to treat dandruff and psoriasis. Shampoos that contain green tea include Aubrey Organics Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo, Dove Damage Therapy Cool Moisture Shampoo, Cucumber, and Green Tea, as well as Green Tea Normalizing Shampoo for Healthy Hair.

So there you have it. These seven ingredients found in many anti-dandruff shampoos play a critical role in ridding your scalp of its dandruff and side effects for good. Most dandruff shampoos can be used every one to two days but dandruff shampoos may have more specific instructions and may require less frequent usage. Using the shampoos as directed will guarantee they will work properly without damaging your hair or scalp. Make sure to keep the shampoo on your hair for as long as directed –at least 5 minutes- before rinsing otherwise the ingredients will not have enough time to work. Once the shampoo begins working, scale back to using it two or three times per week or stop altogether if your dandruff has been completely eliminated. If the anti-dandruff shampoo you are using appears to stop being as effective as it once was, try switching to another shampoo that has a different anti-dandruff ingredient. If conditions do not seem to improve after several weeks of testing and a few different products, consider contacting your dermatologist for prescription strength help.