It doesn’t matter how you classify your hair type; everyone is susceptible to the occasional bout of dandruff. That’s because the condition can be caused by everything from a scalp that’s too oily (or a scalp that’s too dry!) to using the wrong hair care products. But your hair type does play a role in how you should be treating dandruff, and the best dandruff shampoos for curly hair should contain some additional moisturizing ingredients. “The active ingredients should be the same because the imbalances that cause dandruff are generally universal,” Mane Addicts Artist Cherilyn Farris tells Elite Daily of what to look for. “Ingredients like salicylic acid help lightly exfoliate to reduce flaking, while ingredients like selenium sulfide are antifungal and help with itching,” she explains. Shelley Gregory, who is also a Mane Addicts Artist, adds that zinc pyrithione is another helpful active ingredient to look for in a dandruff shampoo. “You want to look for silicone-free and sulfate-free so as not to overdry the hair while treating the scalp,” she adds of curly hair-friendly formulas.
Cherilyn Farris is a Los Angeles-based hair colorist and stylist. A Mane Addicts Artist, Farris’ celebrity clients include Riley Keough, Jenna Dewan, and Kendall Jenner.
Shelley Gregory is a colorist and stylist with more than 20 years of professional experience. Gregory is a Mane Addicts Artist and the founder of The Gregory Salon in Las Vegas.
How To Use Dandruff Shampoo When You Have Curly Hair
While straighter hair types can get away with using a dandruff shampoo several times a week, Gregory says that’s not the case for curls, which can become dried out more quickly from active ingredients like salicylic acid. “Dandruff shampoo should be used no more than once a week,” she recommends. “But it also depends on your cleaning cycle and lifestyle, as well as how much buildup or how many flakes you have,” she continues, explaining that when in doubt, you should check in with your hairstylist or dermatologist.
The reality is that even if you’re only using a dandruff shampoo once a week, it can still leave your hair feeling straw-like. “Dandruff shampoos can be drying, so I recommend hydrating the ends with a good moisture mask,” Farris says. “Also, following the shower, a good scalp treatment is helpful,” she adds of another way to deliver more moisturizing (and dandruff-fighting) ingredients into your routine.
Shop The Best Dandruff Shampoos For Curly Hair
In a hurry? Here are the best dandruff shampoos for curly hair:
- Best Selenium Sulfide Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair: Davines NaturalTech Purifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Best Salicylic Acid Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair: Ouai Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Best Drugstore Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair: SheaMoisture Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Best Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair & Sensitive Scalps: Vanicream Dandruff Shampoo
- Best Moisturizing Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair: Jupiter Balancing Shampoo
- Best Clarifying Rinse For Curly Hair: Girl + Hair Clear+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse
1. Expert’s Pick: Best Selenium Sulfide Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair
Different ingredients work for everyone, so figuring out which dandruff shampoo works best for you may involve some trial and error. For a selenium sulfide-enriched shampoo, Gregory recommends this Davines NaturalTech Purifying Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Selenium sulfide helps treat the flaking and itching associated with dandruff, while dandelion root extract, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, further soothes irritation and promotes a healthy scalp.
Active Ingredient: Selenium Sulfide Other Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Dandelion Root Extract Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Size: 8.45 oz.
2. Expert’s Pick: Best Salicylic Acid Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair
To exfoliate away the excess skin cells that contribute to flaking without any harsh scrubbing that can irritate your scalp, reach for a shampoo with salicylic acid. Farris recommends the Ouai’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, which she says is suitable for all hair types and doesn’t have that strong, medicinal scent often associated with dandruff shampoos. The color-safe and keratin-safe shampoo uses 2% salicylic acid to reduce the appearance of flakes, while vitamin E and propanediol caprylate (a plant-based ester) offer soothing benefits.
Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid Other Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Vitamin E Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: No Size: 10 oz.
3. Best Drugstore Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair
SheaMoisture is known for its curl-friendly formulas, so it’s no surprise that the Anti-Dandruff Shampoo still includes the brand’s moisturizing signature ingredient: shea butter. To break down the buildup of dead skin cells that can leave the scalp flaky, SheaMoisture pairs 3% salicylic acid with apple cider vinegar, a popular ingredient for helping to rebalance the pH level of your scalp to improve your hair’s overall health. Farris also notes that apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can potentially help treat dandruff, too. In addition to the shea butter mentioned earlier, the shampoo also contains moisturizing glycerin and soothing centella asiatica extract.
Active Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Salicylic Acid Other Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Shea Butter, Rosemary Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Niacinamide Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Size: 13 oz.
4. Best Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair & Sensitive Skin
If your skin (and by extension, your scalp) is particularly sensitive, you’ll want to be extra careful about what ingredients go into your shampoo. Vanicream’s Dandruff Shampoo uses 2% zinc pyrithione as its primary active ingredient, which has antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties to help treat dandruff and calm scalp irritation. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a dermatologist-tested and pH-balanced formula that doesn’t contain common irritants like harsh cleansing agents, botanical extracts, essential oils, dyes, or fragrances.
Active Ingredient: Zinc Pyrithione Other Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Size: 8 oz.
5. Best Moisturizing Dandruff Shampoo For Curly Hair
Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos don’t get more nourishing than this Jupiter Balancing Shampoo. The gentle formula is suitable for all hair types, and it’s even safe for chemically treated and color-treated hair. A 1% concentration of zinc pyrithione is the active ingredient featured in the formula, which also contains panthenol, safflower seed oil, coconut oil, squalane, and glycerin to restore moisture, reduce breakage, and increase shine for a glossy, flake-free finish.
Active Ingredient: Zinc Pyrithione Other Beneficial Ingredients: Safflower Seed Oil, Panthenol, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Tea Extract, Coconut Oil, Squalane, Glycerin Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Size: 9.5 oz.
6. Best Clarifying Rinse For Curly Hair
Founded by a dermatologist looking for gentle cleansing solutions for her own natural hair, Girl + Hair creates products that remove buildup without stripping the hair of the moisture it needs to stay healthy and strong. The brand’s Clear+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse uses apple cider vinegar and rice water to remove flakes and balance the scalp’s pH, as well as glycerin, shea butter, and hydrolyzed keratin to moisturize and strengthen the hair. The nozzle applicator tip allows you to apply this directly to your scalp, and if you’d like, you can even use a silicone scalp massager to help more thoroughly wash away buildup.
Active Ingredient: Apple Cider Vinegar Other Beneficial Ingredients: Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glycerin, Shea Butter, Tea Tree Oil, Chamomile Flower Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Vitamin E Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Size: 10 oz.
You May Also Like: This Hydrating Scalp Treatment That Also Treats Flaking
Farris says that a gentle scalp treatment can also be helpful in between washes to treat a dry, flaky scalp and minimize any itching or irritation that comes along with it. Briogeo’s Scalp Treatment Drops, which can be applied after washing (and before styling), or before bedtime, uses charcoal, witch hazel, and a blend of oils to help lift away buildup, regulate oil production, and soothe itchiness and inflammation. Safe for all hair types, including chemically treated, the drops also work to hydrate the scalp with ingredients like panthenol, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
Beneficial Ingredients: Charcoal, Glycerin, Tea Tree Oil, Witch Hazel, Panthenol, Aloe Leaf Juice, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E, Biotin Sulfate-Free: Yes Silicone-Free: Yes Size: 1 oz.
Cherilyn Farris, Los Angeles-based colorist and stylist.
Shelley Gregory, colorist, stylist, and founder of The Gregory Salon in Las Vegas.