8 Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoos for African-American Hair

Written by Kayla Davis

Updated on

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dandruff shampoos for black people hair with moisturizing ingredients

Dandruff is the flaking and shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp, often resulting in mild itchiness. This skin condition arises from Malassezia fungus that metabolizes natural oils on the scalp.

To effectively treat dandruff, specialized shampoos must be used to cleanse the scalp and target its root causes. These shampoos contain antifungal agents and medicated ingredients that inhibit Malassezia fungus growth on the scalp, thereby alleviating flakiness.

However, finding an anti-dandruff shampoo for African-American hair can be more complex.

African-American hair is naturally prone to dryness due to its distinct coiled and kinky texture, higher density, and the variety of hairstyles that involve tightly pulling and tucking that can exacerbate scalp dryness and flaking. This inherent dryness and stress from certain hairstyles can make African-American hair particularly susceptible to dandruff.

While effective against scalp fungus, dandruff shampoos can strip the hair and scalp of their natural oils, leading to scalp dryness and irritation due to their strong medicated ingredients. As a result, Afro-textured hair can suffer if the formulation is not balanced with milder concentrations of medicated ingredients and moisturizing agents like coconut oil, and shea butter.

To help you, here is a list of the best anti-dandruff shampoos specifically formulated for African-American hair.

1. Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Pyrithione Zinc Shampoo

  • Soothes itchy scalps
  • Reduces dry flakes and scaling on the scalp
  • Highly moisturizing
  • Paraben-free
  • Developed for curly, coily, and kinky hair
  • Rich and creamy formula
  • Contains sulfates
  • It may dry out the hair if overused

Head & Shoulders is the haircare market’s leading brand for dandruff relief shampoos. They have many variants, but the Royal Oils Moisture Boost is their best anti-dandruff shampoo for African hair textures.

Crafted by a team of black scientists with the unique needs of black hair, this lineup delivers expertly designed scalp relief and luxuriously moisturized hair for all-natural, relaxed, kinky, and coily hair.

The Royal Oils Moisture Boost shampoo contains 1% pyrithione zinc.

Pyrithione zinc at 1% concentration in the Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Shampoo plays a significant role in making it suitable for African-American hair. Pyrithione zinc is an antifungal and antibacterial agent effective against the fungus Malassezia, a common cause of dandruff. For African-American hair, which may be prone to dry scalp conditions that can exacerbate dandruff, pyrithione zinc helps reduce flakiness and irritation on the scalp without being overly harsh.

This shampoo controls dandruff and ensures it does not excessively strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils.

Including coconut oil in the shampoo is particularly beneficial for African-American hair. Coconut oil has deep moisturizing and conditioning properties. It helps replenish the hair’s natural moisture, reduces breakage, and can improve the overall health and appearance of Afro-textured hair. It also helps to maintain natural elasticity and strength of your hair strands.

The combination of pyrithione zinc and coconut oil in the shampoo ensures that your hair is nourished and moisturized while your scalp is cleared of dandruff.

It is a dual-action dandruff control and moisturizing shampoo for Afro-textured hair.

2. Nizoral AD Anti Dandruff Ketoconazole Shampoo

  • Clinically proven
  • Kills scalp fungus
  • Works for chemically-treated hair and color-treated hair
  • Controls flaking and itching of the scalp
  • Mild formula
  • Overuse can dry out the hair. Use on the scalp only

The Nizoral AD Anti-Dandruff shampoo is an effective treatment for dandruff thanks to its active ingredient, ketoconazole.

Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent that can treat dandruff caused by an overgrowth of yeast-like fungus (Malassezia) on the scalp.

The Nizoral AD anti-dandruff shampoo contains only 1% ketoconazole, which is milder than other ketoconazole shampoos with a 2% concentration.

We recommend Nizoral AD for African-American hair because of its salon-tested gentleness and sulfate-free formula. It can be used on relaxed and over-processed hair, too.

To help balance its moisture, the shampoo also contains:

  • Cocamide MEA: Fatty acid for conditioning the hair.
  • Glycol Distearate: Emollient for moisturizing and softening
  • Polyquaternium-7: A conditioning agent that helps with detangling, smoothing

My Tip:

Use it twice a week and only on the scalp for best results. Do not saturate your hair with it; otherwise, it will dry out.

3. Shea Moisture Anti Dandruff Shampoo

  • Paraben free
  • No mineral oil or petrolatum
  • Makes hair stronger against breakage
  • Smells like men’s musky cologne

SheaMoisture’s apple cider vinegar anti-dandruff shampoo is a unique blend of natural ingredients designed to care for the scalp’s microbiome and strengthen the hair.

Formulated with apple cider vinegar, salicylic acid, and vitamin B3, this shampoo gently cleanses the scalp to eliminate dandruff from its source. It also contains fair trade shea butter, which helps boost moisture and adds a rich and creamy lather to the shampoo.

Here’s how the Shea Moisture anti-dandruff shampoo works:

Apple cider vinegar is known for its acidic properties that help exfoliate the scalp. It can be particularly beneficial for people with dandruff or oily hair, as apple cider vinegar can regulate excess oil production to reduce the risk of bacterial activity. Acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can also slough away dead skin cells and promote healthy skin.

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). It is commonly used in skin and hair care products to treat dandruff. It breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells and other debris to prevent them from building up. It also helps to unclog hair follicles. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce redness and irritation associated with dandruff, relieving itching and flaking.

Salicylic acid is a safe ingredient in many anti-dandruff shampoos and hair care products. Still, it’s recommended to patch test a small area of the scalp before use in case of allergies or skin conditions.

The Shea Moisture shampoo also combines vitamin B3 and shea butter to boost moisture and rebalance the hair.

Overall, the Shea Moisture shampoo has the right mix of anti-dandruff and moisture-boosting ingredients, making it an excellent choice for afro hair textures.

4. JASON Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo

  • Prevents seborrheic dermatitis
  • Controls flaking, scaling & itching
  • Nourishing ingredients
  • Contains jojoba seed oil for a moisture boost
  • High concentration of salicylic acid 2.2 %

The Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo is a lab-tested salicylic acid shampoo that can control scalp dermatitis and mild psoriasis to stop dandruff.

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) known for its exfoliating properties. It helps remove dead skin cells from the scalp, which causes dandruff. By exfoliating the scalp, salicylic acid helps to reduce flakiness.

Dandruff can sometimes be accompanied by inflammation of the scalp. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe an irritated scalp and relieve itching and redness.

In Afro-textured hair, the natural oils (sebum) produced by the scalp struggle to travel down the hair shaft due to the hair’s coiled nature. While salicylic acid doesn’t directly moisturize, its exfoliating action can help in the more efficient distribution of sebum, potentially improving scalp hydration.

This shampoo’s unique formula contains FDA-compliant dandruff control ingredients and nourishing essential oils of rosemary, olive, and jojoba to soothe, heal, and moisturize the hair and scalp, leaving you with a flake-free and healthy head of hair.

5. Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampooo

  • Lathers well
  • Nourishes hair roots
  • Adds volume
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Strong scent

The Maple Holistics tea tree oil shampoo is a clarifying hair cleanser that uses tea tree oil as its main ingredient to control dandruff, eliminate flakes, and reduce itching of the scalp. This shampoo is also free of sulfates and parabens.

The shampoo has a thick viscosity and lathers well, seeping deep into the scalp pores to draw out impurities and slough away flaky buildup that exacerbates dandruff.

Unlike traditional anti-dandruff shampoos that contain medicated ingredients, the Maple Holistics shampoo uses tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree, has natural antifungal properties, which make it effective in combating scalp fungus. By reducing the fungus growth, it helps to alleviate the flakiness and itchiness associated with dandruff.

Tea tree oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe an irritated scalp. For African-American hair, which can sometimes be more prone to scalp irritation due to various styling practices and its natural dryness, these soothing properties can relieve itchiness and discomfort.

6. Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Works instantly
  • Good for persistent dandruff
  • Effective for chronic scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis
  • Fast-acting
  • Contains sulfates
  • Contains DMDM hydantoin
  • Smells awful

The Neutrogena T/Gel therapeutic anti-dandruff shampoo relieves itching and flaking. It cures dandruff, itchy scalps, and scaling that comes with dandruff.

Coal tar extract is the active ingredient in Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo. Coal tar slows down the rate at which skin cells on the scalp die and flake off.

Dandruff is caused by an accelerated skin cell lifecycle on the scalp, accumulating dead skin cells that create flakes. Coal tar contains Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) that reduce this rapid turnover, decreasing flaking and itchiness.

Scientific tests have shown it to continue working for hours after the shampoo is rinsed off. The treatment starts working after just one use, and with just one use a week, it can stop dandruff for the entire week. Neutrogena T/Gel therapeutic dandruff shampoo is recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation to relieve dandruff symptoms, including inflammation with thick, crusted plaque buildup on the skin’s surface.

The product is also dermatologist-recommended and has been trusted for over 10 years to help control common inflammatory scalp conditions, including red, irritated skin or increased large-sized flakes. It helps slow the overproduction of skin cells on the scalp and reduces potential inflammation.

For best results, use this Neutrogena shampoo at least twice a week or as directed by a doctor. It can also be used daily, but proceed with caution and assess the condition of your scalp if you do so. Massage it into your scalp, lather, leave it on your hair and scalp for several minutes, and then rinse.

Please Note:

The Neutrogena TGel shampoo contains sulfates and DMDM hydantoin, which can potentially cause allergic reactions. You must do a patch test 48 hours before using it.

7. Selsun Blue Moisturizing Anti Dandruff Shampoo

  • Contains aloe vera to boost moisture
  • Excellent for people with dry hair and scalp
  • Eliminates visible flakes
  • Horrible scent
  • Contains DMDM Hydantoin

Selsun Blue is a selenium sulfide shampoo that treats dandruff.

Selenium sulfide is used in shampoos for more severe dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, relieving persistent and stubborn scalp conditions.

This chemical compound used primarily as an active ingredient in certain medicated shampoos to treat dandruff, has potent antifungal properties. It reduces malassezia, the fungus commonly associated with dandruff.

From Selsun Blue Medicated to Selsun Blue Moisturizing and Selsun Blue 2-in-1 Maximum Strength, each specialized product helps prevent and eliminate scalp dander, crustiness, and whiteheads.

The Selsun Blue Moisturizing shampoo has 8 intensive moisturizing botanicals and vitamins to boost hair hydration while fighting dandruff. Plus, the shampoo contains only 1% selenium sulfide, which makes it gentle for afro-textured hair.

These options are gentle enough for daily use, making it easy to prevent and eliminate itchy scalp and visible flakes associated with dandruff.

8. Virgin Hair Fertilizer Shampoo

  • All-natural ingredients
  • Ideal for people transitioning to natural hair
  • Works well for chemically processed hair
  • Can be used on colored hair
  • No poo method friendly
  • Takes time to work

The Virgin Hair Fertilizer shampoo is ideal for all black hair textures and dreadlocks.

It delivers an effective formula that can reduce dandruff and restore moisture in black afro hair by harnessing the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil, honey extract, and jojoba oil.

Formulated exclusively for African-American women, the Virgin Hair Fertilizer Shampoo alleviates dandruff while promoting hair growth.

How Often to Wash African-American Hair with Dandruff Shampoo?

Use an anti-dandruff shampoo once a week if you have dandruff, says the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). You can also use a dandruff comb between wash days to gently scrape flakes from your scalp.


Choosing a suitable anti-dandruff shampoo for African-American hair, which is naturally dry due to its coiled and kinky texture, requires careful consideration.

These hair types need shampoos that not only fight dandruff but also hydrate without stripping natural oils. Ingredients like coconut oil in Head and Shoulders Royal Oils Shampoo provide moisture, while the 1% pyrithione zinc effectively treats dandruff, making it a good choice for Afro-textured hair.

About the Author

Kayla DavisKayla Davis

Kayla Davis is a self-proclaimed skincare and haircare junkie who loves testing out new products and writing about her experiences. Her bathroom shelves are always overflowing with beauty products. You name it - it's there.