What is the best sulfate free dandruff shampoo?

If you suffer from dandruff, your scalp is already dry and irritated enough. Using sulfate free hair products is likely to reduce irritability caused by the sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate or similar chemicals in your shampoo. Read more about sulfate effect on your hair and scalp. Sulfate detergents are added to shampoo in order to improve lathering. Sulfate free shampoo will not lather as much as a normal shampoo, but will still clean your hair and scalp just as well. If you are sensitive to sulfate products and have dandruff, try a sulfate free dandruff shampoo.

Dandruff is associated with the Malassezia sp. fungus in the scalp. Treating dandruff requires keeping this fungus under control. This can be done with different antifungal, tar or salicylic acid. Additional natural plant extracts, such as tea tree oil may soothe the irritated scalp, and will make you feel better after washing your hair.

Find a sulfate free dandruff shampoo that fits you best

Because the active ingredients in each of the available sulfate free dandruff shampoos are different, you should try several different shampoos with different properties. See which one works best to control your dandruff, and leave your scalp and hair feeling clean and healthy. For all dandruff shampoos, it is recommended to leave on your hair for at least 5 minutes to be effective. It takes time for the active ingredients to kill Malassezia. If you rinse it too soon, your shampoo will not be effective for controlling the condition. Sulfate free shampoo will not lather as much as your regular shampoo. This is something to get used to.

Best shampoos in the market include –

  • Wen by Chaz Dean Tea TreeWEN Tea Tree Cleansing Conditioner – active anti-bacterial and anti-fungal is the combination of Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone in addition to the tea tree oil in this hair product. This shampoo also contains ingredients to maintain moisture in the hair, silicones for smooth feeling and ingredients for hair thickening (Behentrimonium Methosulfate). You should be aware that Methylchloroisothiazolinone may cause an allergic reaction, including a redness and itchy skin in some people. If you see any symptoms of allergic reaction, try a shampoo with other active ingredients to control dandruff.
  • Regenepure DR - Hair & Scalp TreatmentRegenepure DR – Hair & Scalp Treatment – with the active ingredients Ketoconazole, zinc oxide and salicylic acid, it is a strong and effective anti-dandruff shampoo. In addition, Ketoconazole is an anti-androgen that slows down DHT production, this helps preventing hair loss and contributes to hair re-growth. Don’t expect, however, a magic for hair re-growth. If you are balding, you may need more than an over the counter shampoo to treat the problem. Overall, the reviews of this product are very positive. It was not helpful for severe cases of psoriasis or to treat balding, but this is not the purpose of this shampoo. It was very effective in controlling dandruff, when used as directed.
  • Dandruff Relief Shampoo by JasonDandruff Relief Shampoo by Jason – Contains the active ingredients Salicylic Acid 2% to control Malassezia and Colloidal Sulfur 2% to prevent bacterial growth. Colloidal sulfur may cause dry skin and irritation if you are sensitive, so it may be more beneficial if you have oily hair. Additionally, although this shampoo is marketed as sulfate free, it contains Sodium Myreth Sulfate, another form of sulfate based detergent. User reviews are extremely positive and praise the effectiveness of this shampoo in controlling dandruff. Some users complained about sulfur smell, but most are very happy with the results and did not mind the smell. For effective treatment, leave on your hair for at least 5 minutes before rinsing off. After using this shampoo you may feel the need to use a conditioner as well.

17 thoughts on “What is the best sulfate free dandruff shampoo?

  1. Dean

    Why don’t you list Zeal Shampoo? It’s a really great sulfate free shampoo for dandruff. I’ve used it for years and it’s very gentle. Just thought I would mention it. It’s available at NoFlakes.com

    1. Sj jones

      I don’t understand that if its such a great shampoo, why do you have to use it for years? Should it not clear up at some point that you would stop having to use it?

      1. Tuft Post author

        You are right. If you suffer from dandruff due to a fungal infection, a good shampoo should solve the problem. Is it possible that the problem is not dandruff? Maybe an allergy or autoimmune response? A dermatologist advice may be helpful if you suffer from a problem for years.

        1. Cindy

          I would also suspect that repeated exposure to a fungal infection may be the cause. I have been reminded by my dermatologist that malassezia can survive in hats, on pillowcases, car headrests (taxi cabs, anyone?) and on hair implements, so reintroduction of the fungus is common. This doesn’t even include the people you are close to. We request that people use our dandruff shampoo for two weeks straight, then decrease frequency to once per week just to kill off any stray fungal elements.

      2. hooloo

        It depends on the cause of the dandruff. I have eczema, and am prone to rashy skin – even on my scalp. When the rash settles down, the dried skin flakes off & voila – dandruff. It’s a lifelong condition for some of us. I may go weeks without it, but it always returns for one reason or another. If I accidentally get into one of many food allergies, my scalp reacts.

  2. SJ

    ZEAL is the best anti-dandruff shampoo out there. However they have lost distribution, probably because the product is so damn good, it would all but eliminate the need for other dandruff shampoos. I have not been able to purchase it for a few years now. If Mastey would just put the pyrithione zinc in their Traite shampoo, it is the same thing and I wouldn’t have been reduced to using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Mastey bought ZEAL

    1. Tuft Post author

      You are the second person that comments favorably about Zeal. Have you tried noflakes.com (this link triggers a virus alert, thank you hooloo for alerting me)? DermOrganic Laboratories, Inc., the manufacturer of Zeal, has a policy of no diversion. They officially only sale their products through approved distributors. Interestingly, the DermOrganic shampoo itself (not Zeal), is sold online.

      1. hooloo

        When I tried to follow this link, and when I googled Zeal / no flakes.com – both times I got a virus alert that a virus was contained. Something is wrong, at least at this time, with this website. I hope someone who doesn’t have an up to date virus program doesn’t get their computer harmed.

          1. Sj

            That is very strange because I bought 5 bottles (when I originally posted), haven’t started the 3rd yet. And I just went to the site without any problems, no pop-ups, virus alerts, nothing to suggest a problem. Anyway, I will say it has eased the flaking and itching tremendously but it doesn’t work as well as I remember.

  3. Cindy

    Zerran makes a sulfate free anti-dandruff shampoo for oily hair that is a best-seller among pro stylists. Along with 1% Zinc Pyrithione, it contains eucalyptus and tea tree oils. Zerran’s Oily Hair Dandruff Shampoo contains no perfumes, parabens or methylisothiazolinone, and is 100% vegan. Users report great flake control and noticeable reduction in scalp oil production after 2 weeks of use.

    1. Tuft Post author

      Excellent. Thank you for the comment. I wish your website would show the complete ingredient list for consumers to evaluate.

  4. Cindy

    In order to save your readers the legwork, here is the full ingredient list:

    Active Ingredient: Zinc Pyrithione

    Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate,
    Decyl Glucoside,
    Cocamidopropyl Betaine,
    Soyamidopropyl Betaine,
    Oleyl Betaine,
    Magnesium Aluminum Silicate,
    Oat Amino Acids,
    Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract,
    Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil,
    Melaleuca Altenifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil,
    Hydrolyzed Soy Protein,
    Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract,
    Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract
    Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract
    Althaea Officinalis Root Extract,
    Achillea Millefolium Extract,
    Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract,
    Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract,
    Sorbitan Oleate,
    Citric Acid,
    Disodium EDTA,
    Sodium Chloride,
    Blue 1,
    Yellow 5

      1. Tuft Post author

        They are both anionic detergents, but there is a chemical structure difference between the two. I’m not sure you are asking about the chemistry. (This is a goon topic for a short article). In both groups there are specific members that are more irritating or allergenic than others. Olefin sulfonate was found to be more irritating and allergenic than some of the common sulfate based detergents. Even among the sulfate-based detergents, some are less irritating. For example, the ammonium salt of lauryl sulfate, is better than the sodium salt.


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