Dandruff is one of those common issues many of us have yet shy away from speaking about. Having white flakes fall on your black turtleneck has been portrayed in beauty campaigns and commercials as a nightmare, but the reality is that dandruff is super common and doesn't have to prevent you from feeling fabulous in black — or in general. Some cases are mild, and others more severe, but thankfully, with the right regimen, dandruff can be easily controlled.
Stephen Pullan, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic in New York, tells Refinery29 that all dandruff doesn't look the same."It can be thought of as dead skin cells shedding off the top layer of the scalp, [which] happens all over the body," he points out. "The process can speed up, however, creating visible dandruff, or even worse, [symptoms] such as a bothersome form of flakes that adhere to the hair shaft and can create hair loss."
The good news, however, for people living with this annoying issue is that it is treatable and it starts with finding the right shampoo. "Dandruff shampoos work to decrease flaking, normalize rapid cell turnover, hydrate the scalp, and indirectly decrease itching," dermatologist and Dove hair expert Francesca Fusco, MD, adds.
Dermatologist Neil Sadick, MD, of Sadick Dermatology in New York City notes that it's important to pay attention to ingredient labels when shopping for cleansers. "Look for shampoos that have ingredients like ketoconazole or zinc pyrithione," he says. "Both of these are chemical compounds have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that reduce and prevent fungus growth on the scalp."
To help you have a more soothing shampoo experience, we asked the pros for their favorite formulas for ditching dandruff, ahead.
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According to dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, of Marmur Medical, treating mild dandruff at home is as simple as adding a drugstore pick into the mix. "This shampoo has dandruff-fighting agents such as zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, and zinc carbonate," she says. "These ingredients work together to moisturize and soothe the scalp to prevent further flaking."
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Dr. Marmur also recommends this formula, which has 0.5% coal tar. It helps thoroughly cleanse the scalp and relieve itchiness and discomfort caused by scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff.
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This classic formula is also a great option for scalp relief. It has selenium sulfide solution, a topical medication used for treating scalp dermatitis and dandruff. It's also silicone- and paraben-free for those avoiding these common ingredients.
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Dr. Fusco recommends the DermaCare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo to her clients with mild dandruff. "In addition to treating dandruff, this is pH balanced and has nourishing ingredients so you can use it as your everyday shampoo," she says.
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Dr. Sadick recommends shampooing with Nizoral if you experience regular flaking. "This is a good option because it contains ketoconazole, which is anti-fungal," he says. "Some anti-dandruff shampoos can be slightly harsh on hair, so always use a moisturizing conditioner that doesn't leave behind residue after."
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You don't have to compromise the appearance of your strands for a soothed scalp, though — especially if your hair is color-treated. Dr. Sadick recommends this Redken formula for anyone with fresh color. " It's formulated with pyrithione zinc, which treats dandruff without fading hair color."
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For an option that's luxurious and efficacious, grab a bottle of this Malin & Goetz formula. It has pyrithione zinc to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, while tea-tree oil and eucalyptus extract work to soothe itchiness and make your bathroom smell like you're at a spa.