Dandruff is a beauty bother that affects nearly half the population at some point during our lives, so why is it such a hush-hush topic? Not any more. The Geeks are here to explain why we can suffer from dandruff and the best ingredients to look out for when selecting an anti-dandruff shampoo.

Sadly, there is no real ‘cure’ for dandruff as the underlying reasons for the condition vary from person to person, but there is a common cause that anti-dandruff shampoo’s target – yeast. There is a wealth of microbes that populate your scalp. Normally they are pretty harmless (and even have a role in keeping the scalp healthy), but sometimes over- population of certain types, like Malassezia yeast, can cause problems. This is because our immune system responds to this imbalance by triggering inflammation, which leads to increased skin shedding that we see as the devilish dandruff. To delve a little deeper into the science behind dandruff, check out our Dandruff Science behind the Problems feature here!

Zinc pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione has a whole range of antifungal tricks up its sleeves. It prevents membrane transport in fungi, which means that the fungi can’t take up important molecules from the environment, which they need to to survive. It also blocks mechanisms that the yeast need to make proteins and generate energy, ultimately killing the bacteria and ridding you of the nasties that cause your dandruff.

Some shampoo’s containing zinc pyrithione, we would recommend:

Salicylic Acid

This is an exfoliating superstar (which you may know as beta hydroxy acid) and is used in skin exfoliation, as well as for treating dandruff. It helps the scalp to shed the dead skin cells that are contributing to the appearance of dandruff.

Some shampoo’s containing salicylic acid, we would recommend:


Ketoconazole is a powerful anti-fungal agent so targets the cause of the problem directly. This was formally only available on prescription and has been shown in a number of studies to be an effective dandruff treatment. Make sure to follow product use instructions carefully when using.

Some shampoo’s containing ketoconazole, we would recommend:

Do you use a anti-dandruff shampoo that we haven’t mentioned? Comment it below, we would love to know what has worked for you!

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