Dandruff Shampoo for a Clean Scalp

Use the right dandruff shampoo and wash flakes away.

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It's embarrassing. It's also pretty itchy. Dandruff can make you want to purge your wardrobe of anything darker than ecru -- or eggshell, if you're really on a tear. Don't suffer in silence while obvious white flakes rain down from your scalp to your shoulders. Get serious about finding a good dandruff shampoo with ingredients that work. A clean scalp and clear root area is only a trip to the drugstore away.

Dandruff 101

Serious stress. Hormonal fluctuations. Changes in the weather. Oily scalp. All of these have been attributed to dandruff. Adding to the "yuck" factors is another theory that dandruff is exacerbated by tiny yeast-like organisms called malassezia, which grow out of control as they feast on your scalp's oil. However, in most cases, dandruff is caused by not washing your hair enough. Layers of dead skin build up and shed in unbecoming flakes. Dandruff differs from the small peppering of white caused by a dry scalp. If your skin is dry all over, you might not have dandruff -- you may be shampooing too frequently or using a shampoo that's too harsh for your hair.

Shampoo Selection

If your dandruff is barely bothersome, simply washing your hair daily with your regular shampoo might do the trick. For problem flakes, a late-night jaunt to the 24-hour drugstore may be in order. Dandruff shampoos don't contain the same flake-fighting medications. You might have to experiment with two or even three different types before you find one that makes your scalp squeaky clean. Try dandruff shampoos with selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione first. If your dandruff is particularly scary, tar-based shampoos might be better to get hardcore flakes under control.

Suds Up

Use dandruff shampoo every other day at first and see what happens. Once you notice white flakes disappearing, cut back to using it two or three times a week. Get your hair wet. Massage the shampoo into your scalp with your fingertips and let it sit there for a good five minutes -- the longer you wait, the better the medication will work. Make sure to rinse your hair extremely well, especially if you use selenium sulfide-based shampoos. This medication can turn light-colored hair a funky shade of yellow.

Other Tips

No matter which dandruff shampoo you choose, all of them can be extremely drying to the rest of your hair. But your conditioner can also create build-up on your scalp. Avoid this Catch-22 by applying conditioner to the body and ends of your hair only without getting any on your scalp or root area. Tip your head back in the shower so the water rinses the conditioner down through your ends. Women with dandruff might want to ease up on the styling products, too. Too much hair spray or styling gel can make dandruff worse.

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