How To Get Rid of Dandruff

How To Get Rid Of Dandruff & Itchy Scalp

Every month, more than half a million men around the world read the Gentleman’s Gazette. If we look at the statistics, 250,000 suffer from dandruff.

Dandruff is not something we should be embarrassed about. Yet we are. Society has decided that for whatever reason, dandruff is unattractive, despite it being just another natural part of life. 

Dandruff is the shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. But for many, it’s probably better described as that small white stuff that gets all over the shoulders of our jackets. It’s not an accessory that men want to wear.

In this article, we’re going to talk about dandruff and some of the ways of dealing with it including recommended shampoos and other medicinal and natural treatment option. There are many treatments against dandruff, some of which work and others that don’t. In this article we explain what it is, what causes it and we show you how to get rid of dandruff.

Dandruff under a microscope

Dandruff under a microscope

What is Dandruff?

As the skin cells on your scalp die, they flake away. Experts agree it’s probably around 487,000 cells/cm2 of skin getting released regularly. For half of the global population, though, that small amount of flaking increases and whether it’s temporary or life-long, up to 800,000cells/cm2 fall from the scalp cause little white flakes of dandruff that ends up on our clothing and in our hair. Not only that but in many cases dandruff can cause redness and irritation. Of course, the more you scratch or rub your scalp, the more the dandruff is aggravated and falls as snow from your scalp. If only we thought it was pretty like a snowfall.

Dandruff isn’t picky about who it affects. It doesn’t care what race, gender or age you are. Once you hit puberty, dandruff will either pick you as its next victim, or it won’t. Fortunately, for most people, dandruff peaks in the teen years and tends to subside after your early twenties. The older you get, the more it tends to decline. For most people, dandruff is worse in the winter months if they live in a climate with changing seasons. It’s also proven that keratinocytes play a significant role in immunological reactions while dandruff is forming.

For the men and women around the world who are affected by dandruff, it be psychologically and socially damaging as many people suffer from self-esteem issues and will change their lifestyle when the flakes become visible.

Fortunately, for many there is hope and dandruff can often be treated fairly easily with specially formulated shampoo.

Dandruff Close Up

Dandruff Close Up

What Causes Dandruff in the First Place

Dandruff can be caused by many different things, such as dry skin, psoriasis, not washing your hair enough, washing it too much, eczema, sensitivity, dermatitis, fungus or a variety of other causes. The most common one is dry skin, which also happens to be the easiest to treat.

Our skin is always evolving. The epidermal layer is constantly replacing itself by pushing old skin cells out of the body where they eventually die and fall off. For many people, this happens once a month and isn’t noticeable at all. The flakes are too small to be visibly seen by the naked eye. However, for those suffering from dandruff, the skin causes cells in the scalp to die at a rapid rate that can be as quickly as a turnover every two to seven days. When cells are dying that quickly and being replaced, they fall off in larger, oily clumps which can then be seen clearly by the naked eye. When they fall off the scalp, they often get caught in our hair, fall onto our skin, or get captured by the materials in our clothing. The darker the hair, skin or clothing, the more noticeable dandruff becomes. For those with skin ailments like psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and eczema, the treatments available may not work as well, or may have to be supplemented with natural products or medication.

Dandruff can be the cause of great insecurity and embarassment

Dandruff can be the cause of insecurity and embarrassment

How to Tell if You Have Dandruff

One of the most commonly misdiagnosed skin ailments in men is dandruff because it can look like other conditions.

Dandruff ≠ Cheap Flaky Hair Product

In the past, we’ve discussed many different kinds of hair products and why some are better than others. One of the most common issues with low-quality hair product, or product that has built up over time, is that it can flake. Often when it does flake, it looks and feels like dandruff. The scalp gets itchy, and when scratched, flakes fall out or remain stuck on the hair strand. What’s important to note is that flakes caused by dandruff tend to be thicker and with a heavier texture than ones caused by hair product. Now, of course, it’s not something you can easily compare unless you happen to have both. The two things you want to take note of is the color of the flakes and where the skin irritation is.

Flakes caused by skin products are almost always more translucent whereas dandruff is white or a very light gray. For the most part, when these flakes are caused by products, the irritation is localized. It’s often the top of the head and the sides and back of the scalp don’t suffer because we use less product in that area and often have less hair because it’s trimmed. With dandruff, however, the irritation is all over the scalp. An easy way to confirm if it’s dandruff is by having someone take a very close look at the scalp with a comb.

When it’s caused by hair product, the flakes will usually be stuck in the hair or on top of it. If it’s dandruff, the flakes will be in the hair, but also directly on the scalp. If you use a hair product that has a fragrance or contains alcohol, you may notice the irritation isn’t localized but appears to be dandruff because it’s all over the scalp. This tends to be the reason that dandruff is often misdiagnosed.

Dandruff clumps in the hair

Dandruff clumps in the hair

Minoxidil May Be Your Friend…and Enemy

Flakes can also be caused by people who use minoxidil, which is used in various treatments to prevent hair loss. Minoxidil is an “antihypertensive vasodilator” medication found in many hair products. It is a common cause of flakes, but the way to differentiate flakes caused by minoxidil and dandruff is that they will develop in what looks like scaly sheets of skin. Usually, the flakes only appear in areas that minoxidil is applied, and the irritation is found in those same areas. The best way to combat flakes caused by minoxidil is to simply stop taking the treatment. Of course, that can lead to hair loss, so you’ll have to determine risk vs. reward. It’s not quite fair.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff

There are a few ways to combat excessive dandruff. The most common technique is using shampoo that contains unique ingredients designed to control dandruff. These are called Nizoral or Ketoconazole 2% shampoos, and those are the terms you want to look for on the bottle.

There are also various anti-fungal treatments that can be effective. In addition to ketoconazole shampoo, you can also look for products that contain zinc pyrithione, ciclopirox, coal tar, egg oil, tea tree oil and selenium disulfide. See the list at the bottom of the article for different product options.


No matter what shampoo you use, it is important that you massage it into your scalp and let it rest for 3-5 minutes so the active ingredient can do its job. If you just put in on your head, swirl it around for 30 seconds and wash it off, it won’t work. Use these products at your own risk, and consult with a dermatologist if you have questions.

What is Ketoconazole?

Ketoconazole is an active antimycotic agent that is considered broad spectrum and works to combat both Candida and M. furfur. Of all the dandruff treatments on the market, ketoconazole is the leading agent according to dermatologists. Not only is it capable of fight dandruff caused by dry skin, but it has also shown to be effective in treating dandruff that’s caused by dermatitis as well.


Another agent that has shown to be highly effective include ciclopirox, which is used to prevent dandruff rather than to fight it once it’s already occurred.

Natural Ingredients

Other methods that have proven effective both as preventative and reactive approaches include the use of natural products that keep the skin from drying out. The most common ingredient is egg oil, which can be found in most Indian and Chinese medicine shops. Another proven treatment is using tea tree oil, which has proven to be effective when it’s applied topically. Another benefit of tea tree oil is that many experts believe it can help slow male pattern baldness, although that hasn’t been proven.

Coal Tar

One modern technique is the use of coal tar. Coal tar is used to help the skin shed dead cells from the top layer and slow the skin cell growth underneath. The belief behind it is that by slowing the cell growth, it limits the amount of dandruff that falls out which takes from a cycle of 2-7 days and shoots for the ideal monthly cycle. 

Dandruff, skin issue

Dandruff, skin issue

Best Dandruff Shampoos / Treatments

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a Best Dandruff Shampoo for Everyone, because different Shampoos work differently with different causes.

To get rid of dandruff, we recommend:

  • Use one dandruff shampoo daily for 3 weeks
  • If you do not see any improvement, switch to a shampoo with a different active ingredient
  • Repeat until a formula works

For example:

  1. Start with Nizoral, which contains Ketoconazole
  2. If it is getting better after 3 weeks, keep using it, if not, move on to something like Neutrogena T-Gel that contains coal tar.
  3. If your dandruff is disappearing, keep using it, if not, switch to something like Redken Scalp Relief  or Head & Shoulders with the active ingredient of pyrithione zinc

Eventually, the hope is that you’ll be able to control dandruff; it is just a matter of time and persistence!

Below, we put together a list of different kinds of shampoos with different active ingredients, that have a good track record of helping people to get rid of dandruff.

Nizoral is a top recommend dandruff shampoo

Nizoral is a dandruff shampoo with a track record


Nizoral is a shampoo that contains the active broad-spectrum anti fungal ingredient Ketoconazole. Nizoral is considered highly effective in preventing dandruff caused by dry skin and fungus which are the two major causes of dandruff. This topical treatment can be used as preventative maintenance or to fight it. In addition to preventing dandruff, Nizoral also discourages the growth of bacteria. Click here to order a bottle for just $12 .

Head & Shoulders

Like Selsum, Head & Shoulders is a pyrithione zinc based anti-fungal shampoo. It also happens to be the market leader in North America and is considered a household brand that is easily identifiable as a dandruff-fighting shampoo. The benefit is that it does work in many cases. The drawback is that there’s no hiding you have dandruff if someone sees the shampoo in your bathroom. You can also simply pour it into an unmarked bottle or another brand of shampoo’s empty and thoroughly cleaned bottle. Click here to buy a regular bottle of Head & Shoulderss or get the Clinical Strength version.

Neutrogena T-Gel

A coal tar shampoo, Neutrogena T-Gel is not clinically proven, but independent reviews have shown it as a leading anti-dandruff shampoo. As explained above, coal tar works differently than other products and is more preventative in the sense that it’s used to slow the rate of skin cell renewal. Unfortunately, it looks terrible, and it smells worse. It’s known to work against dandruff that wasn’t beaten by other anti-dandruff products. Click here to get rid of your dandruff for $16 to buy a bottle for $15.

Pete & Pedro Deep Cleansing Peppermint & Tea Tree Shampoo

This is one shampoo that works for many hair concerns, and it boasts the popular natural ingredient tea tree oil. Known for anti-bacterial and antifungal properties, the ingredients in this moisturizing shampoo can combat dandruff, hair loss, oily skin, dry skin and even acne. Check out this great smelling shampoo here.

Selsun Blue shampoo works to fight dandruff at the source

Selsun Blue shampoo works to fight dandruff at the source

Selsun Blue

Selsun Blue is a shampoo that utilizes selenium sulfide which works like coal tar to slow skin cell death. The benefit is that it doesn’t smell terrible, and it does seem to work just as well. Click here to buy it for $11.

Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo

Aveda products are well known as a salon-level line. This shampoo is very light and helps to moisturize and strengthen your hair and scalp. For people who suffer from dandruff caused by dry skin, this shampoo has a winner in the fight against flaking. Click here for relief with Aveda Scalp Shampoo for $18.

Redken Dandruff Control Shampoo

Redken is one of the most popular salon quality product lines in the world. In fact, if your stylist knows about your dandruff, this is most likely the shampoo they’ll use on you when they wash your hair. Click here to treat your dandruff for just $14 for a 10-ounce bottle .


There are many different products that claim to be capable of fighting or preventing dandruff. However, it may take a few tries to find the right product that works best for you. The best way to find the treatment that works is to keep trying new products. Of course, use those products at your own risk and if you are having a tough time finding something that works, consulting a dermatologist is a good idea. Do you have a regimen that has worked to manage your dandruff?

Haircare 101 - Dealing with Dandruff
Article Name
Haircare 101 - Dealing with Dandruff
Tips and tricks to getting rid of dandruff including information on what causes it and how to tell if you have it.
Gentleman's Gazette
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7 replies
  1. Rupert B says:

    Could we revive Gentlemens’ Questions for those of us who find dandruff of no interest:
    When the Carter Family were a man and two women they sang a song, Foggy Mountain Top:
    Oh, when you go a-courtin’/I’ll tell you how to do/Pull off that long-tailed roustabout/Put on your navy blue
    and when the line-up changed to all women they changed the verse to:
    When you come to court me/Put on your navy blue/That long-tailed roustabout you wear/
    Don’t do a thing for you.
    What is a long-tailed roustabout? I think that a roustabout may be overalls/coveralls but that makes long-tailed more puzzling and navy blue may then mean new overalls which haven’t faded in the wash yet or are we intended to read something like suit into it?

  2. Ken V says:

    Does anyone else see Sven moving across the screen as he is filmed here? Imagine how he must be concentrating as he moves his feet to get that effect. That back-and-forth shuffling is kinda like like watching a “moonwalking” video! (Yo, Anthony!) Oh, and as always, thank-you for the really great info!

  3. Sheldon says:

    I started rubbing coconut oil into my scalp about a year ago. Within two or three weeks, the flakes were gone, and I haven’t had any since.

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