Isn't it beautiful to watch the bright flakes fall against the dark background? It is, if the flakes happen to be of snow and the dark background happens to be the night sky. It isn't, if those flakes are dandruff and the background is a head full of dark hair! Irrespective of hair color, dandruff is neither a beautiful nor healthy phenomenon! As much as it mars the luscious effect of those long glossy tresses or robs the mirth of those bouncy bobs, dandruff also proves to be a real pain as it brings along that irritating itch - not to mention the unwanted, loathsome flaky trail it leaves on your back and shoulders!
Enter anti-dandruff shampoos - the bane of itchy scalp and dandruff! However, there are so many brands available in the market that it often becomes difficult to decide upon one. Most of us keep switching brands in hopes of striking the perfect solution for our chronic flakes! So, what is it that differentiates normal shampoos from the anti-dandruff variants? The answer is - additional ingredients. Let us take a look at the various anti dandruff shampoo ingredients that are used in prominent dandruff shampoo brands that claim superiority over cosmetic shampoos for fighting the flakes.
Common Ingredients in Anti Dandruff Shampoo
Besides normal shampoo ingredients like detergent, surfactant, salt, water, fragrance, coloring, etc., anti dandruff shampoos contain some additional ingredients which make them effective for fighting dandruff and soothing the scalp. Following are some of the anti-dandruff shampoo ingredients that are commonly used by major manufacturers in their anti-dandruff hair wash products:-
Coal tar is a by-product which is left behind when coal gets carbonized for producing coke or when it is gasified for producing coal gas. The chemical composition of coal-tar includes phenols, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic compounds. Coal tar is medically proved as a good treatment for skin conditions such as dandruff and psoriasis and is also effective against head lice. Anti-dandruff shampoos containing coal-tar work best when such shampoo is massaged into the scalp and left there for about 3-5 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly. After using a coal-tar based product, avoiding direct sun exposure is strongly advised as the treated area becomes sensitive and direct sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.
Salicylic Acid and Sulfur
A combination of salicylic acid and sulfur is used in many anti dandruff shampoos to achieve a two-way action of clearing the scalp of flakes and preventing fungal infection. Salicylic acid is an anti-inflammatory agent and it works as a keratolytic as well as a comedolytic. This means that it helps clear the scalp of flakes by enabling the epidermis (the flaky skin) to shed easily and it opens up the clogged pores and prevents bacterial growth therein. Sulfur is a fungicide and it prevents fungal growth and infection of the scalp. Hence, this combination is great for cleaning the scalp of flakes, soothing scalp itch and irritation as well as preventing infection and further flaking.
Ketoconazole is a synthetic fungicide and is used in many therapeutic anti-dandruff hair washes such as Nizoral. Shampoos containing ketoconazole are used to treat serious fungal infections of the scalp causing severe dandruff and these products must be massaged into and left on the scalp for a few minutes before thoroughly rinsing off.
Selenium sulfide is a strong anti fungal agent and is used to treat dandruff that is caused by yeast growth on the scalp. Since it is a strong chemical, dermatologists recommend that it must be used no more than twice in a week and is best avoided for color or chemical treated hair as, if not rinsed properly, the selenium sulfide content can discolor hair.
Zinc pyrithione is an anti bacterial and anti fungal agent which is effective for treating skin conditions like dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, ringworm, athlete's foot, vitiligo and atypical dermatitis. It is also regarded as an effective treatment for chronic dry skin conditions. Unlike selenium sulfide and ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione is comparatively mild and shampoos containing this compound are gentle enough for everyday use.
What are the 10 best Anti Dandruff Shampoos Available?
The following ten shampoos have been selected as the best dandruff shampoo based upon personal experience as well as after going through multiple anti dandruff shampoo reviews.
- Garnier Fructis Fortifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Herbal Essences No Flakin' Way Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Head & Shoulders Intensive Treatment Shampoo
- Selsun Blue
- Neutrogena T-Gel Shampoo
- Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo
- Pantene Pro V Anti Dandruff Shampoo
- Kiehl's Herbal Shampoo and Scalp Treatment for Dandruff
Among these, Selsun Blue, Pantene Pro V and Garnier Fructis are some of the best dandruff shampoo for color treated hair. Also, since occurrence of dandruff in men and women differ, the choice of shampoo may also be different. Some of the best dandruff shampoo for men are Matrix Men Style Control System Active Control Anti Dandruff Shampoo and Professionnel Homme Purete Anti-Dandruff Shampoo while some of the best dandruff shampoo for women are Neutrogena, Nizoral and Pantene.
That was a brief overview of the most commonly added dandruff shampoo ingredients along with their individual mechanism of action and possible side effects. Before randomly grabbing that bottle off the super store's shelf, I suggest you visit a dermatologist to pinpoint the exact cause behind your flaking scalp.
You see, dandruff is a symptom of several different dermatological conditions and there are more than one dandruff causes - fungal growth, yeast infection, bacterial growth or just plain dry skin condition. Armed with your knowledge of the exact cause of dandruff and shampoo ingredients, you can confidently choose the right product for yourself rather than randomly resorting to the trial-and-error method.