Can Head & Shoulders Cause Dandruff?


There are a lot of anecdotal claims that Head & Shoulders actually causes dandruff. To explore those claims, lets discuss how dandruff shampoos work.

The opinion that Head & Shoulders and other anti-dandruff shampoos cause dandruff is commonplace online.

Theres not much science behind the idea, so we thought wed explore the science of what dandruff is, as well as how dandruff shampoos fight the problem.

Well also discuss why Head & Shoulders could seem like it might be the culprit, and what could actually be happening.

What causes dandruff?

Malassezia globosa is a fungus that lives on all of our scalps. It survives by consuming the natural oils produced by our scalps. It is effectively harmless to most people.

Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to one of the main by-products of malassezia: oleic acid. For those who are sensitive, malassezia will lead to symptoms that include:

  • Itchiness
  • White flakes in the hair
  • Red and irritated scalp

This is dandruff, and its worth noting that malasseiza is the only true cause of dandruff.

There is no known cure for dandruff the best treatment is to control the problem to keep flakes away.

So how does Head & Shoulders go about that?

How dandruff shampoo works

Like all shampoos, Head & Shoulders washes away accumulated dirt and sweat. It goes further by adding an active ingredient, anti-dandruff active, that works in-between washes to protect your scalp from the cause of dandruff: malassezia globosa.

Head & Shoulders is highly effective at controlling dandruff flaking, as has been proven in hundreds of clinical studies.

But the problem is that malassezia is an inescapable part of our environment, so it wont just go away its with you for life.

Why isnt my shampoo working?

There are many reasons that Head & Shoulders might seem to be ineffective. The first, and most obvious, is not using it in the best way.

To get the best out of your dandruff shampoo, you should wash with it regularly even when you dont see or feel symptoms. The amount of active ingredient protecting your scalp decreases over time, because its used up fighting dandruff. Regular washing replenishes the amount of dandruff-fighting active on your scalp, so you always have enough.

Anything less, and you risk dandruff coming back.

This is probably the most common reason why people dont get the results they expect from dandruff shampoo.

Many people use a dandruff shampoo only until the symptoms disappear, and then go back to their regular shampoo.

Unfortunately, going back to a regular shampoo just leaves your scalp unprotected, giving malassezia ample time to aggravate scalp, leading to a new flare-up of dandruff.

Another factor that can have an impact is following up your dandruff shampoo with either:

  • a regular hair conditioner
  • a regular cosmetic shampoo

Both of these can actually wash away the active ingredients left behind by your dandruff shampoo.

So they can make your dandruff shampoo less effective.

And theres really no need to use them either. When it comes to conditioner, try using an anti-dandruff conditioner.

Theyre designed to work with your dandruff shampoo to preserve the dandruff-fighting actives, while leaving your hair feeling soft and moisturized.

As for following up with a beauty shampoo, we sometimes hear people worry that Head & Shoulders wont be as good as their favorite shampoo.

Rest assured, we believe a great dandruff shampoo should do more than remove flakes. Thats why we infuse every shampoo with essential beauty elements, like rich moisturizers and great fragrances, so they can be effective against dandruff, but also gentle and nourishing for hair.

Finally, another common problem could be misdiagnosis.

There are many conditions that have similar symptoms to dandruff. If your symptoms persist after two weeks of exclusively using Head & Shoulders, go to see a doctor or dermatologist chances are, youre dealing with a different problem entirely.