Key Active Ingredients in Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

Key Active Ingredients in Anti-Dandruff Shampoos Sadly, dandruff is a very common problem, so a lot of people are aware of the existence of special anti-dandruff shampoos and other products. To choose the right anti-dandruff shampoo, you need to know how they work. Let’s take a look at common active ingredients that are used to combat dandruff and prevent an itchy and flaky scalp.

Dandruff is a skin condition in which dead skin cells slough off faster than normal, leading to a flaky and itchy scalp. About half of adults all over the world are affected by it at some point in their lives.

Contrary to a popular misconception, dandruff does not result from poor hygiene; as a matter of fact, its exact cause is unclear but believed to result from three main factors: the increased production of sebum (skin oil), the metabolic by-products of fungi and bacteria that live on human skin, and individual susceptibility. Factors that may contribute to the development of dandruff include stress, improper diet, and unsuitable hair care products.

Dandruff, as well as some other dermatological conditions, is associated with a species of yeast named Malassezia furfur (formerly known as Pityrosporum ovale). It is naturally found on the surface of human skin and is generally considered harmless. Sometimes, however, this fungus morphs into another form during its life cycle, which leads to its uncontrolled proliferation. The resulting imbalance of the skin flora leads to an itchy and irritated scalp, skin redness, inflammation, increased skin cell turnover, and dry and brittle hair.

Other microorganisms associated with dandruff are certain species of bacteria from the genera Propiobacterium and Staphylococcus. Like Malassezia furfur, they are a part of the skin flora and don’t do any harm when it’s balanced, but their active growth may contribute to the development of dandruff. Because of this, most anti-dandruff shampoos contain both antibacterial and antifungal ingredients. Here are some of them.

Zinc Pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione, also known as pyrithione zinc, has both antifungal and antibacterial properties, which makes it a popular anti-dandruff ingredient. It is also used to treat other skin conditions, such as athlete’s foot, atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, ringworm, seborrhoeic dermatitis, and others.

Piroctone Olamine

Piroctone olamine, also known as piroctone ethanolamine and under the brand name Octopirox, is mostly effective against fungal infections. Piroctone olamine is often used as a replacement for zinc pyrithione or in addition to it.

Selenium Disulphide

Selenium disulphide, also known as selenium sulphide, is an antifungal medication used to treat dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, tinea versicolor, and hyperkeratosis. In addition to inhibiting the growth of the dandruff-causing fungus, it helps to normalise skin cell turnover, preventing the formation of dandruff.


Pine or birch tar is a traditional dandruff treatment that has been used in some regions for centuries. Some shampoo manufacturers add small quantities of purified tar to their anti-dandruff shampoos as one of active ingredients. Tar has bactericidal, fungicidal, anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties. It relieves itching and even helps to strengthen hair roots.


This is another traditional dandruff treatment, native to the Indian subcontinent. Also known as nimtree or Indian lilac, it has been used in Ayurveda for centuries due to its pronounced antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Neem helps to normalise sebum secretion in the scalp, prevents itching and flaking, and stimulates the growth of strong and healthy hair.

Other active ingredients that are widely used in anti-dandruff shampoos instead of or alongside the above ones include salicylic acid, ketoconazole and climbazole, ciclopirox, bifonazole, ichthammol, and others. Most of them are antifungal agents, and some also have antibacterial, keratolytic and kerato-reducing properties.

As a rule, the concentration of anti-fungal and antibacterial agents in anti-dandruff shampoos manufactured and sold in the United States is no more than 1%; other countries may have other regulations and allow selling over-the-counter dandruff treatments with a higher concentration of active ingredients. In addition to antimicrobial components, anti-dandruff shampoos usually contain moisturising, nourishing, smoothing, and other ingredients to keep the hair well-groomed.

Anti-dandruff shampoos are typically not designed for constant use. You should use them until dandruff goes away and then switch to your regular shampoo. However, they are sometimes confused with dandruff prevention shampoos, which are suitable for regular use because of their lower concentration of active ingredients. However, if you’ve never suffered from dandruff, you probably shouldn’t use them “just in case” because this may do more harm than good to your skin’s flora.

In our online shop Organic Store, you can find anti-dandruff shampoos formulated with effective antimicrobial agents and infused with natural oils and herbal extracts, as well as emollient and moisturising ingredients. We offer a great selection of hair care products to suit any taste and budget, as well as secure payment methods and international delivery to make your online shopping experience as pleasant as possible.

Anti-Dandruff Shampoos in Our Store

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