The 17 Best Sulfate-Free Dandruff Shampoos
Published by Aida Turner
Fact checked by Annie
Taking care of your issues with dandruff isn’t the most glamorous thing in the world. If it’s severe, it can get pretty embarrassing.
But unless you want to go the entire week scratching your head as people stare or risk flakes falling onto your shoulders while you’re out on a date, you have to do it.
Thankfully, managing danruff doesn’t have to be that complicated. You don’t have to map out an entire hair care routine to zap away those nasty flakes.
For most cases of dandruff, you can solve the issue with a trusty dandruff shampoo.
But you can’t just use any anti-dandruff shampoo. You have to get the best one possible that will ensure your dandruff won’t come back. For that, you should cop one that is free of harsh sulfates.
L’Oreal EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Shampoo
- Creamy, rich formula
- Features Menthol and Neem Leaf
- Deeply purifies your scalp
Maple Holistics Tea Tree Cleansing Shampoo
- Only natural ingredients
- Tea tree oil
- Moisturizing effect
Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Adored by dermatologists
- Formulated with zinc pyrithione
What is dandruff, and what causes it?
When your scalp gets itchy and dry, you’ll likely be more focused on the discomfort and the instinct to scratch your head. But after a while, you’ll start seeing little white flakes in your hair or on your shoulders.
These flakes are referred to as dandruff, a scalp condition that can be very irritating but never extremely harmful.
They’re caused by fungi called Malassezia globosa, which is known to irritate your skin by breaking down the natural oils on your scalp, thus causing itching.
Many factors can play into getting dandruff, from weather changes to be too stressed at work. They cause inflammation in the scalp, causing redness and inflammation.
Later on, this will lead to itching and the consequent shedding of flaky bits.
These tiny flakes will sit on your hair strands, closer to the scalp in positioning. They may also get trapped in your hair and can be challenging to eliminate even after shampooing.
Are anti-dandruff shampoos actually effective?
Using a dandruff shampoo helps soothe your inflamed and angry scalp and prevents dandruff episodes from occurring in the future. It’s a must-have for anyone prone to a dry, itchy scalp.
Anti-dandruff shampoos are made effective by their active ingredients like zinc pyrithione or climbazole, which have antifungal properties that combat Malassezia globosa and other micro-organisms irritants.
The fewer fungi you have on your scalp, the easier your skin can be restored to health.
If you’re looking into more natural shampoos, you can look for one formulated with tea tree oil.
This antimicrobial, antifungal essential oil helps lessen inflammation on the scalp and soothes and itchiness from dandruff. It’s just as effective as the chemical compounds above.
Why your dandruff-riddled scalp can benefit from sulfate-free shampoos?
Essentially, sulfates are the cleaning agents infused into shampoos and soaps to make them super sudsy and foamy under running water.
They give you a squeaky clean wash by scrubbing away all the nasty oils and grime in your scalp, so they can be beneficial to some degree.
However, sulfates are known to be extremely harsh and stripping—they’re pretty much the “bleach” of hair care. They can dry out your scalp, which can lead to irritation, inflammation, and itchy dandruff.
So if you use an anti-dandruff shampoo with sulfates, it can be pretty counterproductive.
The active ingredients may help dandruff subside for a while, but the sulfates will aggravate your scalp and possibly make your dandruff issues worse in the long run. It might just be a waste of money.
If you have a sensitive scalp prone to dandruff, it’s much better to go for a sulfate-free anti-dandruff shampoo to lower the risk of irritation.
Don’t worry; tons of other cleansing ingredients can wash your scalp efficiently without the harsh detergents in sulfates.
These include coconut oil-derived surfactants, which you should keep an eye out for when shopping for a dandruff shampoo.
Here are my top picks for the best sulfate-free dandruff shampoos to help you out:
TOP 17 Best Sulfate-Free Dandruff Shampoo
1. L’Oreal EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Shampoo
If your scalp has been itchy for a while and has dandruff built upon it, it needs a detox. Use this shampoo by L’Oreal to care for and soothe your scalp.
It’s made with menthol and neem leaf extracts to cool down and refresh the hair, making it feel brand new.
- Detoxing ingredients
- Menthol and neem leaf extract
- Extreme lather
- Nice, fresh scent and rich conditioning
It’s formulated without sulfates, parabens, artificial dyes, and other potentially irritating ingredients, so it’s safe to use on colour-treated hair.
- It’ll get the dandruff out
- Helps moisturizing and repairing hairs
- Leaves a nice scent
- Trouble with texture
2. Maple Holistics Tea Tree Cleansing Shampoo
This tea tree shampoo by Maple Holistics purifies the scalp to wash away all those icky impurities and sebum. However, it also moisturizes your dry scalp and hydrates your locks to keep them shiny and soft.
- Safe for color-treated hair
- Beneficial cleansing natural oils
- Best for dry and itchy scalps
Tea tree oil is known for its antifungal properties that can stop dandruff in its tracks. It also works to gently remove flakes trapped in your hair follicles and strands to keep you looking neat and tidy.
- Combats itchy scalp and dry hair
- Moisturize hair and gives volume
- Works perfect with all types of hair
- You’ll need more shampoo for oily hair
3. Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
If you have super sensitive skin and an even more delicate scalp prone to irritation, you need a shampoo made with simple, essential ingredients without unnecessary chemicals.
This Vanicream anti-dandruff shampoo is designed just for that.
- Gentle formula
- Zinc pyrithione to fight dandruff
- Tested by dermatologists
- No irritation or dry scalp
It contains 2% pyrithione zinc to reduce distracting dandruff symptoms and keep itchiness to a minimum. What it doesn’t have is parabens, dyes, fragrance, lanolin, and other hazardous chemicals that can irritate your scalp further.
- Completely exterminates dandruff
- Is protein and sulfate free
- Doesn’t dry out your scalp and hair
- It’s hard to lather
4. L’Oreal EverFresh Antidandruff Shampoo
This shampoo by L’Oreal is formulated with 1% pyrithione zinc to keep your scalp flake-free and feeling fresh. It restores your scalp’s balance to make it less irritable and itchy.
And because it’s salt-free and sulfate-free, it’s perfect for chemically treated hair.
- Formulated with zinc pyrithione
- Sulfate-free and vegan
- Clinically tested to control dandruff
- No itchy or dry scalp
It also leaves your locks with the fresh, floral scent of Indian lilac so that you can step out the door with confidence and without those pesky flakes.
- Doesn’t get your scalp itchy
- Removes dandruff
- Works well with color-treated hair
- Not for damaged hair
5. Tree to Tub Soapberry for Hair
This natural, unscented, dermatologist-recommended shampoo by Tree to Tub is excellent not only for getting rid of dandruff but also for moisturizing your hair to keep it smooth and touchable.
Its base ingredient is saponin, which is known to have anti-dandruff properties. It’s infused with nourishing argan oil and ultra-hydrating aloe vera to keep your hair plump and moisturized.
- Nourishing botanicals
- Balanced formula for skin and hair health
- Color safe, vegan shampoo
- Shiny and strong hair
It also has chamomile to soothe your scalp, helping out with any itchy dandruff issues.
- Doesn’t forget about your skin
- Makes your hair stronger everyday
- Contains essential oils for better-looking hair
- Not the best choice for oily hair
6. Art of Sport Anti-Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner
Men can get dandruff too, and this Art of Sport shampoo is designed especially for them.
It’s made with pyrithione zinc to beat those annoying flakes and coconut oil to nourish and soothe symptoms like itchiness and redness.
- Best for sportsmen
- Zinc pyrithione usage
- Actively fights flakes
- Made with hydrating coconut oil
It also leaves a refreshingly cool aroma in your hair, which has notes of eucalyptus mint, juniper berries, and orange peel for a touch of fruitiness.
- Moisturizes your hair
- Completely removes oils and sweat
- Helps even after an intense workout session
- Doesn’t fight excessive dandruff
7. Om Botanical Ayurvedic Formula Organic Shampoo
Om Botanical’s natural shampoo is made with a blend of Ayurvedic botanicals and nourishing oils that thoroughly treat dandruff and cleanse your hair.
- Purest shampoo ever
- Plenty of nutrients and vitamins
- Prevents hair thinning
- Does well with dandruff
It’s formulated with soapnuts and biotin to strengthen hair, prevent hair loss, and keep dandruff at bay. It’s a terrific shampoo to use for overall hair strength and to ensure you’ll never have to see those white flakes again.
- Makes your hair look healthy
- Uses only premium oils
- Contains biotin for nourishing
- Fains scent
8. Maple Holistics Sage Special Formula Shampoo
Although dandruff comes from a dry scalp, people with oily scalps are just as likely to suffer from it. So it’s important to purify your hair and get rid of all the excess gunk and sebum.
Sage oil is a great way to do this, and it’s the star ingredient of this Maple Holistics shampoo.
- Improves your hair from root to tip
- Hydrating natural ingredients
- Perfect for oily hair
- Premium natural hair care ingredients
This shampoo is also made with jojoba oil and rosemary oil to moisturize and strengthen the hair, allowing for luscious locks that are flake-free.
- Gently tackles dandruff
- Deeply cleanse your hair
- Moisturizing effect from root to tip
- Can leave your hair frizzy
9. pHat 5.5 Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo
If you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff is an everyday occurrence. Try out this shampoo by pHat 5.5 to soothe your scalp and get rid of dandruff fast.
It’s formulated with manuka honey, coconut oil, and aloe vera, a trifecta of ingredients with antibacterial properties to fight against dandruff-causing fungi and germs.
- Best natural formula for dermatitis
- pH balanced
- Gets dandruff out without chemicals
- Aloe vera and coconut oil included
They’re also very soothing and moisturizing, leading to a less itchy scalp and glossy tresses.
- Restores your natural shyness
- Moisturizes and balances oil levels
- Prevents dermatitis
- Doesn’t lather well
10. Majestic Pure Himalayan Dandruff & Scalp Shampoo
Don’t let this cute, pink shampoo by Majestic Pure fool you—it’s made with powerhouse ingredients that can take down dandruff in a snap.
Himalayan salt helps dissolve and wash away stubborn flakes that are stuck in your hair strands.
- Argan, jojoba and rosemary oils
- Himalayan salt
- Beneficial vitamins and fatty acids
- Deeply nourishing effect
Meanwhile, coconut, argan, and jojoba oils help hydrate your scalp to keep it from being dry, patchy, and flaky. These oils also help add shine and luminosity to the hair.
- Helps invigorating your hair
- Rejuvenates hair with vitamins and other nutrients
- Gently detoxifies your scalp and removes dandruff
- Can cause blackheads
11. Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo
This shampoo brings together sulfur and salicylic acid to fight against seborrheic dermatitis and other scalp conditions that lead to dryness and flakiness. They curb dandruff to keep you comfortable and itch-free.
- Contains salicylic acid for deep cleaning
- Nature inspired formula
- Never tested on animals
- Removes scalp dermatitis
It’s also infused with nourishing jojoba and olive oils to soften and moisturize your hair. On the other hand, rosemary oil rebalances your scalp to prevent dandruff flare-ups in the future.
This formula is super safe to use on sensitive scalps and colour-treated hair since it doesn’t contain parabens, petrolatum, and sulfates.
- Treates your dermatitis and psoriasis
- Moisturizes and repairs damaged hairs
- Nourishes your hair while deep cleaning it
- You might not like the smell
12. ArtNaturals Argan Scalp 18 Shampoo
This shampoo by ArtNaturals is infused with coal tar, which is often used to soothe a dry, dandruff-riddled scalp. Coal tar also helps shed dead skin cells, which leaves your scalp less scaly and red.
- Argan oils usage
- Gives a nice, moisturizing effect
- Never tested on animals
- Beneficial vitamins
It also has Moroccan argan oil to soothe inflammation and irritation on the scalp to keep you from scratching itchy patches all day.
This oil makes the hair look more lustrous while repairing damage to make your locks stronger.
- Moisturizes and rejuvenates your hair
- Keeps it away from further damage
- Helps with dandruff
- Doesn’t lather to well
13. Majestic Pure Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
Apple cider vinegar is known in hair care to detoxify the scalp and hair, so it’s perfect for washing away dandruff too.
It also soothes the scalp, making it the ideal ingredient for a soothing shampoo for those dealing with dandruff symptoms.
- Apple cider vinegar for detox
- For all types o hair
- Coconut and avocado oils
This shampoo pairs ACV with coconut oil and avocado oil to add moisture and shine to the hair. This reduces not just dandruff but also frizz and tangles throughout the day.
- Deeply cleanses your scalp
- Moisturizes dry scalps
- Doesn’t affect color-treated hair
- Not the best choice for sensitive skin
14. Kick Active Shampoo
Here’s another men’s shampoo designed for those battling with dandruff.
It’s formulated with tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and aloe vera to fight dandruff while stimulating the scalp to encourage healthy and robust hair growth.
- Plenty beneficial components
- Perfect for athletes and sportsmen
- Stronger hair and healthier scalp
- Amazing scent
Because this shampoo is formulated with potent essential oils that are light and hydrating, it never leaves your hair feeling greasy or heavy—just light and dandruff-free.
- Deeply cleanses your hair
- Doesn’t damage the structure of your hair
- Aloe vera to remove the dandruff and dry scalp
- Not the best option for daily usage
15. Nizoral Scalp Psoriasis Shampoo & Conditioner
This two-in-one shampoo and conditioner by Nizoral are amazing for sensitive scalps that are prone to dandruff.
It has a high concentration of salicylic acid at 3% to powerfully attack dandruff and wash all those stubborn flakes out of your hair.
- Maximum strength medicine to fight dermatitis
- Gentle cleansing process
- Gets you a thick, rich lather
- Plenty of vitamins E, C and B5
It’s formulated with tea tree oil and green tea extracts to soothe your scalp, leaving it relieved, itch-free, and stimulated. It also has vitamins E, B5, and C to strengthen your locks.
- Nourishes your hair
- Relieves psoriasis and cleans your hair
- Doesn’t irritate your skin
- Not for daily usage
16. Renpure Advanced Extra Strength Tea Tree and Lemon Sage Shampoo0
This shampoo by Renpure puts tea tree oil and lemon sage under the spotlight. These two essential oils stimulated your scalp while soothing any redness and itchiness from dandruff issues.
- Revitalizing effect shampoo
- Gentle plant based cleansers
- Tea tree oil, argan oil and shea butter
- No toxic chemicals used
It also has coconut oil, which adds moisture and shine back to your hair. The richness of this oil also helps calm down inflammation on the scalp, leading to dandruff in the future.
- Gives you a healthy moisture balance
- Vitamin C for extra strength
- Restores hair health and shyness
- A little hard to rinse out
17. Thique Dry, Itchy Scalp Shampoo
This organic Thique shampoo is unique because it’s made with exotic botanical ingredients that aren’t very mainstream, but work just as well for dandruff as the more popular ingredients.
It’s made with Amazonian copaiba oil, which has antimicrobial properties to fight against dandruff-causing fungi on your skin.
- Amazonian copaiba oil and caffeine extracts
- Fights itchy and dry scalps
- Nourishing effects without weighing hair down
- Decreases hair loss
The dye is made with transfer resistant technology, so it doesn’t fade or transfer until you wash it out with shampoo.
It also includes celery seed extracts to soothe itchiness and reduces flaking even more, as well as caffeine to increase volume and body in your hair.
- Ramps up the volume
- Gets rid of dandruff
- Doesn’t overdry your scalp and keeps it moisturized
- Doesn’t work well with overwhelming dermatitis
Dealing with dandruff can be tricky, but as long as you have the right shampoo, it will be smooth sailing for you.
Using a sulfate-free dandruff shampoo doesn’t just eliminate flaking; it soothes your scalp too so that it never comes back.
All you have to do is select one of the terrific sulfate-free anti-dandruff shampoos above, and you’ll be well on your way to having flake-free hair and gaining your confidence back.
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I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty and make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!