July 10, 2020 6:00 PM   Subscribe

I have dandruff. I would finally like to make at least a low effort at mamaging. What has been your experience with dandruff shampoos? I have medium long, curly, black person hair.
posted by Aranquis to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My dandruff was/is mostly at the scalp line and just above the nape of my neck. For me, T-Gel / Coal Tar shampoo works best. I use it 2-3 times per week (nothing on the other days). It's important to scrub it into the scalp and let it sit on there for a while. I suds up my scalp first, then rinse it as my shower's last step. The smell isn't overly pleasant, but you get used to it, and it doesn't sit on the hair long.
posted by hydra77 at 6:11 PM on July 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

My husband uses Nizoral 1-2 times a week and it works well for him! He has very straight, fine hair (and is white) and says that it makes his hair really dry so he doesn't use it as much as he could.
posted by ruhroh at 6:17 PM on July 10, 2020

Best answer: So, dandruff is caused by different things in different people (like, it could be different strains of fungi or eczema or overly-oily scalp) so it's not like there's one remedy that is best or most powerful. So the best advice I encountered was to try the different remedies that have different active ingredients, starting with the cheapest / most available, and try each one for 2-3 weeks until you find what works for you.

So you can start with regular Head & Shoulders (pyrithione zinc), and if that doesn't work, try Selsun Blue / Head & Shoulders "Clinical Strength" (selenium sulfide), which is slightly more expensive. If they don't work, then you can escalate to Neutrogena T-Gel (tar extract), Neutrogena T/Sal (salicylic acid), Nizoral (Ketoconazole)... and then you get into the prescription stuff that you'll need to see a dermatologist for.
posted by BrashTech at 6:32 PM on July 10, 2020 [21 favorites]

I use Neutrogena Daily Control (1% pyrithione zinc) or its drugstore generic equivalent every so often. I tend to get mild dandruff (but the flakes are giant) in the winter when my skin is drier anyway. Usually one or two washes with it are enough to take care of it for the season in my case. (If it helps to know, I'm white, with fine but coarse hair and skin that tends toward dry rather than oily.)
posted by tapir-whorf at 6:32 PM on July 10, 2020

Best answer: 2nding T-gel - it's the only thing that's ever worked for me (super-coarse, straight stereotypical asian hair). Nizoral never did anything for me. I too apply T-gel first, do all the soapy things in the shower, before rinsing and conditioning.
posted by btfreek at 6:41 PM on July 10, 2020

Best answer: I use Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo which really stops my allergy-driven/eczema dandruff and occasionally switch it up with T-Sal.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:20 PM on July 10, 2020

My a scalp gets flaky with normal shampoo, but Jason's anti dandruff shampoo+conditioner has worked well for me, less harsh than medicated shampoos. I don't use just the anti dandruff shampoo version (without conditioner) because its too drying.
posted by whatdoyouthink? at 7:24 PM on July 10, 2020

I'm not a black person, but I use Livso, which is targeted at Black folks, and is made by a DOC (Dermatologist of Color.) It's the only over the counter thing I've found that works for me, and allows me to minimize the amount of steroids I put on my scalp.
posted by COD at 7:26 PM on July 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

The T-Gel stuff works great (actually the generic drugstore and Target brands of coal tar shampoo work great too) but I stopped using them after I had a doctor tell me he wouldn't use it on his own head, for fear of carcinogens in coal.

Now I use the Dove scalp care brand... I think it's this one but not sure. It's fine. Cheap and works.

Here's one that made my dandruff worse. Disrecommend.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:59 PM on July 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Agreed that dandruff is not always just a flaky scalp thing; I thought I had it for a long time and once it seemed to have been "solved" by antibiotics. I mentioned this to my non-usual doctor on a visit once and she laughed and told me that my "dandruff"was actually psoriasis. She gave me a scalp lotion (kind of a watery deal that I put on after I shower) and it has been under control since - and actually my dad has also always had "dandruff" but I'm pretty sure that, considering psoriasis is hereditary, he probably ALSO has psoriasis.

If regular OTC dandruff shampoos don't seem to work for you (Nizoral was the only thing that sort of worked for me, ever) and you can see a doctor for not a ridiculous amount of money, consider getting checked for other skin conditions.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:31 PM on July 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Two things have worked for me: Nizoral and Nature's Gate Tea Tree Oil shampoo.

However Nature's Gate replaced that shampoo with a Tea Tree oil and Sea Holly formulation that is worthless because it contains almost no Tea Tree oil, and every manufacturer I was able to try also drastically lowered the Tea Tree oil content of their shampoos at around the same time. It's almost comical to read the Amazon reviews of these products and see the pattern of rave review followed by the same person a year later saying that it doesn't work anymore cropping up over and over again.

It's too bad since Tea Tree oil, like a lot of other natural products, consists of a mixture of compounds with similar properties rather than a single type of molecule such as the ketoconazole in Nizoral, and mixtures tend to be harder for organisms to develop resistance to.
posted by jamjam at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2020

Best answer: Fellow black person with dandruff here. Apple cider vinegar rinse. One part water with one part Bragg's ACV. Saturate head and massage into scalp. Rinse and the follow up with a decent moisturizing shampoo (the ACV strips the oil from the hair also), like Moroccan Oil Hydrating shampoo (my favorite but not cheap) or Aussie Moist (cheap and works but i hate the smell). Condition if you are so inclined but for my hair type, i can skip the conditioner. Once every month is enough to keep the dandruff at bay.
posted by ramix at 10:53 PM on July 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a black person with big curly hair and I used Nizoral when I had dandruff. I used it everytime I washed my hair, once a week. It was effective.
posted by starlybri at 11:05 PM on July 10, 2020

Definitely agree that you need to try the different products out there because everyone has a slightly different body chemistry and that will impact how you respond to different products. Whatever you end up using, it's helpful to leave it on for about 5 minutes to have some effect before rinsing off.

I have also found neem based shampoos very effective and regular use has made a big difference.
posted by brookeb at 11:34 AM on July 11, 2020

This tells you how each type of product on the market works.
posted by aniola at 1:16 PM on July 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One thing that was a revelation to me is that these “medicated shampoos” are much better at the medication part than the shampoo part. Also it’s a waste of money to wash your whole hair with them. First suds your scalp up really well, and let it sit as long as the directions say, then rinse, then wash your hair with your regular shampoo.
posted by radioamy at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2020

I'm a mixed race Latina with 3C hair. Prescription ketoconazole shampoo (Nizoral) is paid for by my insurance and is the only thing that's ever worked for my 'dandruff.' I feel like my hair responds well to this method particularly because the shampoo isn't actually sudsy and I'm only treating my scalp--I use my regular co-wash and conditioner for the rest of my hair. Previously my hair was thinning and my scalp was more clearly visible, now I've had substantial hair re-growth using the ketoconazole in the past 2 years. (I'm also prone to tinea corporalis for what it's worth.)
posted by saveyoursanity at 3:34 PM on July 22, 2020

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