Reviewed and recommended: Pure & Basic Anti-dandruff Shampoo and Anti-Dandruff conditioner
Despite the fact that nearly 50% of the population actually develops dandruff at one time or another, almost NO ONE will admit to it. Everyone I know prefers to call dandruff by another (read: ANY other) name like "itchy scalp", or "dry scalp"..... anything other than dandruff. I know this from personal experience because during the hot Arizona summers I get "itchy scalp" (dandruff) from wearing a hat for sun protection for extended periods, yet I can't ever remember admitting to dandruff.
For some reason, mentioning you have dry scalp or itchy scalp is no big deal, but admitting you have dandruff somehow puts you in the great unwashed-unkempt-unclean category...just one step away from a carrier of head lice. I have one friend who even HIDES her anti-dandruff shampoo, so no will know she uses it.
One reason dandruff is associated with an inferred lack of hygiene is that virtually all "dandruff" shampoos are effective because they are laced with stinky powerful chemicals and petro-chemicals, whose chemical makeup closely resembles insecticides and kerosene. Some of these dandruff shampoos are so "powerful" that they are available by prescription only! Despite what the marketing materials might say, most are exceedingly harsh on your scalp, your hair shaft, and your adjacent skin.... so much so that the fact that most dandruff shampoos ALSO contain sulfates and parabens has been of minor consequence.
Interestingly, there is a growing school of thought that the sulfates found in shampoos...even dandruff shampoos.... can actually make dandruff much worse. For that reason and for other hair/skin-health related reasons, I vowed to quit using soaps and shampoos which contain sulfates this year, so while searching for effective sulfate-free dandruff shampoo, I have also tried various at-home remedies (vinegar/lemon rinses, salt/baking soda scrubs, etc). The two things which actually did help as an adjunct treatment were the addition of tea tree essential oil in my regular sulfate-free shampoo (and to the emu oil I continue to apply to my scalp twice a week) and a switch to a copper bristle hair brush (a review about that and the science of dandruff coming in July) although nothing has been truly effective for the long term.
Ah, but good news people! I have just finished testing the sulfate-free and paraben-free Pure and Basic Anti-dandruff Shampoo with Tea Tree Oil and Rosemary, and the companion Pure and Basic Anti-dandruff Conditioner (ditto the Tea Tree Oil and Rosemary). This inexpensive duo not only did a great job on my "itchy scalp", it left my hair, scalp and adjacent skin looking, feeling, and smelling fantastic! These are such an excellent shampoo and conditioner duo that I can heartily recommend them to people even if they DON'T need an anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner.
I already mentioned the products are sulfate-free and paraben-free, but "what's in 'em" is equally impressive. The Pure and Basic Anti-dandruff shampoo contains all varieties of organic moisturizers and botanicals, sulfate-free cleansers, and effective natural dandruff fighters Tea Tree Oil and Rosemary. The shampoo also contains the clinically proven anti-dandruff ingredient (2%) Salicylic Acid which manages to be tough on dandruff while remaining gentle on the scalp and hair shafts. The shampoo smells pleasantly of the Tea Tree Oil and Rosemary, leaves hair nicely cleansed and is safe for color treated hair. It is gentle enough to be used every day (which is actually recommended)..... an gentleness anomaly in the world of caustic drying dandruff shampoos!
The Pure and Basic Anti-dandruff Conditioner is really a novel product. Most conditioners intentionally add a layer of moisture to the hair and scalp, but that process typically encourages the proliferation of dandruff! (In my case, I would apply my former conditioners to only the longer lengths of hair which fell below the actual scalp.... and avoid getting conditioner on my actual head.) But the Pure and Basic Anti-dandruff conditioner is different because it actually contains the same effective natural dandruff fighters (Tea Tree Oil and Rosemary) found in the shampoo, plus the same 2% Salicylic Acid. Translation: it is not only "safe" to apply this specific Pure and Basic conditioner to my scalp and entire head of hair, but doing so actually DOUBLES the effectiveness of the anti-dandruff treatment!
I couldn't be happier with the Pure and Basic Anti-dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner, but science has shown that to maximize the long term effectiveness of ANY dandruff shampoo or treatment (including those with Salicylic Acid), I need to find at least one other sulfate and paraben free anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner (which uses a different active ingredient), and rotate my usage every few weeks. Stay tuned..... I am working on that now.
PS...The Pure and Basic Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Anti-dandruff Conditioner were so impressive that I hot-footed it to my local organic market (Sun Market) to see what else was available from Pure and Basic.... and I am now testing the sulfate-free, paraben-free Vanilla Banana body wash. Watch for that review next month.
Salicylic Acid 2% Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Decyl Glucoside, Isosteareth-20, Soyamidopropyl Betaine, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Polyquaternium-7, Glycerin, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Epilobium Angustifolium (Canadian Willow Herb) Extract, Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress) Bark Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Botanical Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate.
Salicylic Acid 2% Inactive Ingredients: Water, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-37, Ceteareth-20, Panthenol (Vitamin B3), PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Epilobium Angustifolium (Canadian Willow Herb) Extract, Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress) Bark Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Botanical Fragrance, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.