Are you wondering how to get rid of dandruff without stripping hair color? You’re in the right place because we just reviewed the best dandruff shampoo for color-treated hair.
You probably already know that shampoo with sulfates isn’t safe for color-treated hair. Fortunately, there are several sulfate-free dandruff shampoos.
But that’s not the only issue – some anti-dandruff ingredients can alter hair color, too. Selenium sulfide may affect blonde hair, for example. Yet, you still have options.
What can you use for dandruff on color-treated hair? Check out our top picks below:
|The best dandruff shampoos for color-treated hair||Why we love them|
|Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo|
|Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated AntiDandruff Shampoo|
|Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo|
|Head & Shoulders Supreme Dry Scalp Care and Dandruff Treatment Argan Oil Shampoo|
|L'Oreal Paris EverFresh Anti-Dandruff Sulfate-Free Shampoo|
|Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo|
|Tea Tree Special Shampoo|
|Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo|
A flaky, itchy scalp is annoying and unattractive. The last thing any of us wants is to have the beautiful color of our hair disrupted by white flakes. There’s no shame in having dandruff, however. It can be caused by several different things, including very dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, overactive oil glands, and fungal infections. Many of these are out of our control, leaving us to treat the symptoms. It’s smart to start with an anti-dandruff shampoo that’s color-safe. Then, here are some other tips to get rid of dandruff.
Table of Contents
- Get rid of dandruff in color-treated hair
- Best Dandruff Shampoos for Color-Treated Hair in 2021
- Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner with Vitamin E and Pyrithione Zinc
- Head & Shoulders Supreme Dry Scalp Care and Dandruff Treatment Argan Oil Shampoo
- L’Oreal Paris EverFresh Anti-Dandruff Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
- Tea Tree Special Shampoo
- Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Get rid of dandruff in color-treated hair
When you wash with a sulfate-free shampoo, use lukewarm water, never hot. This helps the hair retain its color.
As you choose a medicated shampoo, there are different dandruff-fighting ingredients to consider.
Both ketoconazole and pyrithione zinc are effective against dandruff caused by a fungal infection (1). Moreover, they won’t affect hair color.
Salicylic acid doesn’t kill the dandruff-causing fungus, but it will clear up the flakes and irritation.
You may have also heard about sulfur and coal tar shampoos. Regrettably, these may stain natural hair or affect a color treatment. Selenium sulfide, found in Selsun Blue, has the same effect, as does the lesser-known piroctone olamine.
Keep in mind that you may have to switch between different types of dandruff shampoo every few months. Repeated use can make the shampoo less effective.
In the meantime, get the most out of every wash by leaving the shampoo on your scalp for five minutes before rinsing. Follow up with a conditioner to keep color-treated hair healthy and glossy. Let the hair air dry if possible, or use a heat protectant before blow-drying.
Plan on using the dandruff shampoo once or twice a week to keep the scalp clear.
Best Dandruff Shampoos for Color-Treated Hair in 2021
Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Someone described Nizoral as “shockingly effective”. We agree with that assessment. It features 1% ketoconazole, a potent antifungal agent. It may take a couple of washes to completely wipe out dandruff, but then it keeps it at bay like a champ.
Although it looks like a prescription product, you can buy it over-the-counter. Even better, it smells good, a rarity for dandruff shampoo.
The brand specifically states that the shampoo is safe for chemically-processed, color-treated, and gray hair – the three categories most often discolored by dandruff shampoo.
Moreover, the product has been salon-tested and proven to work. It creates a pleasant, rich lather that sweeps away flakes and leaves each strand soft and manageable.
There is one catch, however. The formula lists sodium laureth sulfate as one of the last three ingredients. At least that’s the milder of the two infamous sulfates.
- Uses 1% ketoconazole to wipe out the fungus that causes dandruff
- Pleasant fragrance and thick lather
- Safe for chemically-processed, color-treated hair
- Not sulfate-free
Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Here’s the best shampoo for a sensitive scalp and color-treated hair. It takes care of both regular dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
It’s sulfate-free and mild to prevent irritating or drying out the skin. Yet, it’s still an effective dandruff fighter with 2% zinc pyrithione.
It contains no cocamidopropyl betaine, artificial fragrances, masking fragrances, parabens, gluten, artificial colors, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde releasers. Furthermore, it’s pH-balanced and dermatologist-tested.
The unscented cream doesn’t make a lot of lather, but it takes good care of the hair and scalp. Try it if you’re dealing with eczema, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis. Follow up with the matching conditioner to keep the hair hydrated.
- Ideal for those with allergies, eczema, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis
- Free of irritants like sulfates, parabens, gluten, artificial fragrances, and more
- pH-balanced and tested by dermatologists for sensitive scalps
- Uses 2% zinc pyrithione to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner with Vitamin E and Pyrithione Zinc
Save time with a two-in-one dandruff shampoo and conditioner. Neutrogena’s product is specifically labeled as safe for color-treated hair and mild enough to use every day.
But take note that it uses pyrithione zinc, not coal tar like the classic Neutrogena T/Gel shampoo. That’s why it’s okay to use on dyed hair. It will still alleviate flaking and itching like the original formula, but it smells better and won’t change the hair color.
The fresh fragrance and luxurious lather makes it pleasant to use. Just be careful to avoid getting it in your eyes while you let it work. It rinses easily and leaves the hair soft. That may be because the vitamin E and wheat protein helps moisturize the hair.
There are downsides, however. Beware Curly Girls, this is not a sulfate-free shampoo, and it contains silicone. Also, you may need an additional conditioner.
- Labeled as color-safe and mild enough to use daily
- Contains pyrithione zinc (not coal tar) to clear up dandruff
- Time-saving formula blends shampoo and conditioner
- Those following the Curly Girl Method may be disappointed at the inclusion of sulfates and silicone
Head & Shoulders Supreme Dry Scalp Care and Dandruff Treatment Argan Oil Shampoo
Is Head and Shoulders OK for color-treated hair? This one is, and so is the Supreme Color Protect with Argan Oil and Manuka Honey version.
The argan oil shampoo was developed for chemically-treated and color-treated hair with dandruff. It contains no sulfates, artificial colors, parabens, or silicone. It’s moisturizing and mild.
What it has instead is 0.5% pyrithione zinc. This is a very mild formulation that’s suitable for maintaining a clear scalp. It may not be potent enough or work quickly enough if this is the first thing you try on severe dandruff.
The generously-sized bottle has a pump top for easy dispensing. The shampoo itself has an appealing fragrance and texture. Users say it works wonders and doesn’t seem to affect their hair dye.
- Pleasing fragrance and moisturizing formula
- Uses 0.5% pyrithione zinc to maintain a clear scalp
- Color-safe and free of sulfates, silicone, parabens, and artificial dyes
- Low concentration of the active ingredient may not be strong enough to clear up severe dandruff
L’Oreal Paris EverFresh Anti-Dandruff Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Finally, here is a sulfate-free shampoo that doesn’t have salt in it, either. That’s great news if you whether you have a color treatment or a Brazilian blowout. The formula won’t strip hair color or wreck the keratin.
L’Oreal’s dandruff shampoo uses 1% pyrithione zinc to clear up flaking and itching. For extra cleansing, try the matching scalp scrub before washing.
Happily, it’s mild enough to use daily. The most important warning on the bottle is the one about keeping it out of your eyes. That’s tricky if you let it sit as long as it needs to on the scalp.
The one complaint we have is the surfactant, cocamidopropyl betaine. It makes the lather. Although most people don’t have an issue with it, this detergent won Allergen of the Year a while back. Those with very sensitive scalps may need to try something else.
- Safe for color-treated and keratin-treated hair as it’s free of sulfates and salt
- Mild enough to use every day with 1% pyrithione zinc
- There is a matching scalp scrub and conditioner
- Those with very sensitive scalps might be affected by some of the ingredients
Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
Did you know that tea tree oil can get rid of dandruff? It’s the number one natural anti-dandruff ingredient found in color-safe shampoos.
Tea tree oil is naturally antimicrobial. It helps with itching, irritation, and even acne on the scalp. Watch as it cleanses flakes, leaving the skin calm, moisturized, and comfortable.
This shampoo is suitable for all hair types including color-treated styles.
The only complaint we heard is that the scent doesn’t appeal to everyone, but at least it doesn’t linger.
- Eliminates dandruff with tea tree oil, a natural antimicrobial agent
- Calms the scalp and clears away flakes
- Made for all hair types including color-treated styles
- Not everyone loves the scent, but it doesn’t linger on the hair
Tea Tree Special Shampoo
Are you familiar with Paul Mitchell professional products? This shampoo is part of their lineup, which means a part of the profits supports the brand’s salons. Don’t be surprised if your stylist recommends it since it’s color-safe.
Anyone with any hair type can benefit from this tea tree oil shampoo. It smells like mint and tingles on the scalp. It’s a blend of peppermint, lavender, and tea tree oil that stimulates circulation and sweeps away flakes. Although it may not be as effective as some dandruff shampoos, it’s invigorating to use.
Users say it leaves their hair feeling very lightweight, clean, and soft.
- Invigorating blend of tea tree oil, peppermint, and lavender cleanses the scalp
- Salon-quality product from a major brand
- Therapeutic scent
Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
If you’re into fragrance, the indulgent lather of Oribe’s shampoo will enchant you. This is no ordinary anti-dandruff product.
Formulated by dermatologists and tested to work, it uses salicylic acid to get rid of dandruff. Salicylic acid is an exfoliant that also clears up acne.
Moreover, the shampoo has no sulfates, salt, or parabens, so it’s safe for both keratin-treated and color-treated hair. It includes UV protectant to keep hair dye from fading.
It hydrates the scalp with botanicals like sugarcane, bilberry fruit, and lemon. Meanwhile, caffeine stimulates hair growth and pea sprout guards against leakage.
Like other products from this company, it’s gluten-free, vegan, and never tested on animals.
- Fragrant and luxurious, it hydrates and protects hair from fading
- Vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free
- Uses salicylic acid to exfoliate flakes and treat inflammation, including scalp acne
- Packed with botanicals
- More expensive than the typical drugstore dandruff shampoo
The best anti-dandruff shampoo for color-treated hair is the one that gets the job done. For mild flaking, we recommend a gentle tea tree oil shampoo or one with a low concentration of pyrithione zinc. For more severe cases, we suggest a higher concentration or a shampoo with ketoconazole.
If we helped you find a dandruff shampoo that works wonders on your hair, we’d love to hear your experience with it. Please feel free to leave us a comment below.
1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-dandruff-treatment Dandruff, Treatment, medically reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on August 25, 2020, accessed June 14, 2021