Skip to content

The 11 Best Natural Dandruff Shampoos That *Actually* Put In The Work

Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Image by Moyo Studio / iStock
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.
Last updated on January 18, 2022

While there's no current "cure" for dandruff, many find a clarifying treatment key for managing and easing the symptoms (itching, scaling, and the like).

You can of course opt for an OTC medicated shampoo (which tends to have lab-derived ingredients), but there are some pretty potent natural-leaning numbers that also do the trick. 

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Better yet, the latter treatments are modern, sophisticated, and easy on the eye. If you've ever scoured drugstore aisles for a dandruff shampoo, you likely know that most medicated options can look cold, clinical, and, well, medical. They work just fine (great, even!) but why should you sacrifice a fun shower experience for a few flakes? 

Allow us to introduce you to the treasure trove of natural dandruff shampoos: These incorporate plant-based actives known for fighting off flakes, and they sure do put in the work.  

What ingredients should you look for?

Natural dandruff shampoos tend to have at least one of these key players:

  • Salicylic acid: "[Salicylic acid] helps to reduce scaling on the scalp," board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., tells us about dandruff treatments. "It can help to gently remove buildup from styling products, pollution, and hard water, as well as gently exfoliate to reduce scaling, without stripping the hair of its natural oils." That's why the BHA (and its botanical cousin, willow bark) is formulated into many purifying shampoos
  • Tea tree oil: The potent essential oil has impressive antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, and it's superb at dissolving and removing oil and buildup on the scalp. One study even found that using shampoo that contained tea tree oil was an effective way to improve mild to moderate dandruff; specifically, participants who used the oil for four weeks had a 41% improvement in itchy, scaly symptoms.
  • Apple cider vinegar: "Because apple cider vinegar is an antimicrobial, anti-yeast, and antifungal, it helps to clean bacteria and other organisms from the skin," says board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D. (Translation: When the dandruff-causing bacteria don't like the acidic environment, they tend to stop multiplying.) "When used for short contact, such as in a shampoo, it is generally safe and well tolerated." 

Best natural dandruff shampoos. 

You've got the ingredients down pat—now let's discuss the products. We put in all the legwork for you so you can focus on soothing your scalp.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but these shampoos are pretty potent, so you don't want to use most of them every single day.

Even without traditionally stripping ingredients, like sulfates, these lathers can dry out the skin when used with every rinse. Lay off once the dandruff subsides, or continue to use with your weekly (or biweekly) clarifying cadence. 

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Avalon Organics Anti-Dandruff Itch & Flake Shampoo

This number includes 2% salicylic acid and tea tree oil to slough off flakes, but it also includes soothing agents like aloe and chamomile—so you never anger your scalp. 

Anti-Dandruff Itch & Flake Shampoo, Avalon Organics ($14.75)

Avalon Organics Anti-Dandruff Itch & Flake Shampoo

Beekman 1802 Apple Cider Hair Rinse

OK—not technically a shampoo. But you technically could use an apple cider vinegar rinse in place of your wash, especially if you have really dry hair (just be sure to follow with your regular conditioner). Simply pump the spray over your scalp, massage in the product, let it sit for a couple of minutes, then thoroughly rinse. 

Apple Cider Hair Rinse, Beekman 1802 ($30)

Beekman 1802 Apple Cider Hair Rinse

Uncle Funky's Daughter Squeaky Clarifying Cleanser

The combination of tea tree and menthol can help soothe an itchy, inflamed scalp (as Taz Bhatia, M.D., integrative doctor and mbg Collective member, once told us), so if you're scratching your skin raw, try this blend for welcome relief. It also packs in willow bark extract for extra flake control, as well as castor oil for moisture. 

Squeaky Clarifying Cleanser, Uncle Funky's Daughter ($12.99)

Uncle Funky's Daughter Squeaky Clarifying Cleanser
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

SheaMoisture African Black Soap & Tea Tree Oil 2-IN-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

This number features African Black Soap (an A+ cleansing agent), tea tree oil, and shea butter for a potent-yet-moisturizing experience. A bunch of other nourishing oils make the list, like avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, and olive oil—it's perfect for those with itchy scalps who also want soft and shiny strands. 

African Black Soap & Tea Tree Oil 2-IN-1 Shampoo & Conditioner, SheaMoisture ($6.99)

SheaMoisture African Black Soap & Tea Tree Oil 2-IN-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

AG Hair Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo

ACV is the workhorse here, with argan oil and aloe vera to hydrate and smooth the strands. The essential oil blend of rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, and clary sage also offers a fresh, elevated scent. 

Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo, AG Hair ($32)

AG Hair  Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Derma E Scalp Relief Shampoo

With salicylic acid and the tea tree and menthol power couple, this shampoo simultaneously replenishes the scalp and cools on contact. The brand also includes their "Therapeutic Psorzema Herbal Blend," which is a combination of neem, burdock, and bearberry extracts to further soothe the skin. 

Scalp Relief Shampoo, Derma E ($10.99)

Derma E Scalp Relief Shampoo
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

ACURE Curiously Clarifying Shampoo

It's not the most popular essential oil for flakes (tea tree certainly earns the top spot), but rosemary oil has a ton of healthy hair benefits. In fact, research has found that rosemary oil can help an itchy scalp and dandruff. Along with the potent EO, this shampoo features argan oil and CoQ10 to coat the strands with moisture and help them shine. 

Curiously Clarifying Shampoo, ACURE ($9.99)

ACURE Curiously Clarifying Shampoo

Davines Purifying Shampoo

This purifying shampoo features dandelion root extract, a botanical that's naturally antimicrobial and rich in polyphenols—these properties make it a promising ingredient for itchy, inflamed scalps. 

Purifying Shampoo, Davines ($32)

Davines Purifying Shampoo

Brickell Daily Strengthening Shampoo

It's marketed toward men, but really anyone can benefit from this tea tree/peppermint oil number. It contains 97% natural ingredients, including aloe vera, panthenol, vitamin E, and silk amino acids for one healthy head of hair. 

Daily Strengthening Shampoo, Brickell ($20)

Brickell Daily Strengthening Shampoo
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Jupiter Balancing Shampoo

This lather features zinc pyrithione, an antifungal active, along with some plant-based botanicals to punch up some of the scalp-relieving benefits. Like garlic extract, for example, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties: "As an antifungal, garlic is most effective in the extract form," says naturopathic doctor Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D., about the ingredient.

Balancing Shampoo, Jupiter ($23)

Jupiter Balancing Shampoo

Aveda Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution

Not a shampoo but a leave-in treatment: It features salicylic acid rosemary leaf extract to gently slough off scales. Spray the solution on your most affected (itchy) areas, and let it do the work. 

Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution, Aveda ($35)

Aveda Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution
And do you want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.
Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.