5 Healthy Signs That Your Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Works

Are your flakes really gone? Here's how to know if your anti-dandruff shampoo is really working. 

Having dandruff can be embarrassing. It’s not something you yourself can notice right away because it’s located where your eyes can’t spot them. You only usually find out you have dandruff after someone notices it and tells you, which can be very awkward. But with proper treatment and the use of anti-dandruff shampoo, you will see an improvement in the visible flakes spotted on your shoulders, pillow, and the top of your head.

Let us first take a closer look at anti-dandruff shampoos. How do you know if your anti-dandruff shampoo is even working? Read on to find out!

Anti-dandruff shampoo: Closeup shot of a woman with long straight black hair with half up top knot outdoors
Don’t let dandruff ruin your beautiful black hair. Credit: Shutterstock

What is dandruff and what causes it?

Dandruff is a skin condition. It’s not contagious nor harmful, and it’s more common than you think. Our scalp, just like the rest of our skin, contains a protective barrier to prevent water loss and keep our scalp hydrated. Factors such as stress, diet, overuse of certain hair products, and even changes in temperature and low humidity can disturb this barrier. When this happens, your scalp suffers from water loss, which can cause inflammation and the appearance of white flakes, also known as dandruff.

Closeup shot of a woman showering and washing her hair
Get healthier, dandruff-free hair with better hair care routine! Credit: iStock

How does anti-dandruff shampoo fight dandruff?

Peter Bailey, Unilever’s research and development manager, explains that anti-dandruff shampoos contain an anti-fungal agent or keratolytic agent. “Anti-fungal agents attack the micro-organisms on the scalp that we believe are the primary cause of dandruff—these are known as Malassezia,” he says. “By treating the scalp with an anti-fungal such as Zinc Pyrithione or Octopirox or Climbazole, the level of Malassezia on the scalp can be reduced or removed, which enables the scalp to recover back to normal.”

Meanwhile, keratolytic agents address the symptoms of dandruff. “The most common keratolytic is salicylic acid which essentially breaks up clumps of dry skin. Often the two types of agents can be combined into a dual action type formulation,” Bailey adds.

When buying anti-dandruff shampoos, it’s best to look at the ingredients list and check if these agents are present. This way, you’ll know that your anti-dandruff shampoo has what it takes to fight dandruff and prevent its recurrence.

1. Your hair is naturally shiny

Anti-dandruff shampoo: Asian woman with long dark straight hair wearing a denim dress
Let down your dandruff-free hair and flaunt its natural shine.

When your hair has a natural shine, your hair glows with health every time it catches light. No styling and studio lights needed! Your hair now has natural oils that reflect light in a good way. These natural oils also prevent your scalp from drying up thus preventing the birth of dandruff.

2. It’s bouncy and feels soft & smooth

Anti-dandruff shampoo: Closeup shot of a woman with shoulder-length black wavy hair
Does your anti-dandruff shampoo work? Credit: iStock.

If you eat enough food with zinc and B vitamins while maintaining an anti-dandruff haircare routine, your hair will gradually get healthier on its own.

3. Your scalp doesn’t feel itchy

Itchiness is a sign that something is wrong with your scalp. It’s either you have head lice or there’s damage on your scalp. Most of the time the itch is due to dryness — which eventually leads to a flaky, itchy scalp.

4. Your hair isn’t sensitive to hair care products

Anti-dandruff shampoo: Closeup shot of a woman touching her long straight dark hair
A healthy scalp doesn’t get easily irritated by hair products. Credit: Shutterstock

You know your anti-dandruff shampoo works when no matter how much hair care product you use, your strands remain smooth and silky. This doesn’t mean, though, that you should just go and experiment with every new product you see. “The use of a milder shampoo can help contribute toward the management of dandruff.  This is because a weakened scalp skin barrier is also a contributing factor towards dandruff.  We know that harsh cleansers can damage and weaken the scalp barrier so use a milder surfactant system,” Bailey says.

Editor’s tip: Using a strong shampoo every day may lead to unwanted dandruff down the line. To prevent new flakes from forming, include a mild anti-dandruff shampoo in your hair care routine, such as CLEAR Complete Soft Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. It’s formulated to help nourish and hydrate your scalp from root to tip, making it feel fresh, healthy, and flake-free. 

5. Your scalp is flake-free

Anti-dandruff shampoo: Closeup shot of a woman with dark pixie cut hair wearing eyeglasses and black top outdoors
Say goodbye to white flakes that can ruin your look! Credit: Shutterstock

You no longer find yourself worrying about nasty dead skin cells falling on your dark-colored shirt—because they are nowhere to be found! This means that your scalp is already back to its healthy state. Finally, no more constant head-scratching, and you’ll no longer have that mortifying experience of people pointing out visible white flakes.

To make sure you are picking up the right anti-dandruff shampoo, check the label. Look for these key ingredients before you put that anti-dandruff shampoo in your shopping basket.

1. Zinc pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione (ZnPTO) is a chemical compound that contains anti-fungal properties. We’re not going to go all chemistry class on you here, but the anti-dandruff agent basically works to provide your scalp with long-lasting protection against dandruff. It can be found in quality, expert anti-dandruff products that remove dandruff while nourishing your scalp and hair at the same time.

ZnTPO shampoo cleanses your hair well from root to tip alongside providing you with long lasting protection against dandruff.

2. Climbazole (in anti-dandruff shampoos for men)

Dudes, we’ve got some bad news for you: your scalps are dermatologically proven to have a weaker protection barrier than females’, making you more prone to dandruff. You also produce up to 50% more sebum than women’s scalp (thanks a lot, chromosomes), meaning you’re more susceptible to developing excess oils that lead to greasy scalp and hair.

The active ingredient not only stops dandruff at its source but also helps boost protein production on the scalp’s outer layer and builds a strong scalp barrier by strengthening skin cells. The jack of all trades is even adept at tackling the build-up of Malassezia on scalps and removing dandruff with continuous application.

3. Charcoal

Charcoal isn’t just good for barbecues. The black, chalky matter works wonders as a detoxifying agent. CLEAR Deep Cleanse Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for Men contains activated charcoal and cooling menthol and is designed to completely cleanse the scalp to leave it feeling and smelling minty fresh all day.

Now that you know what to look for, you can get the best anti-dandruff shampoo for you.

Next Read

Now that you’re sure your anti-dandruff shampoo works, let’s check if you’re brushing your hair the right way.