Best Cruelty-Free Dandruff Shampoos

Itching scalps, white flakes in your hair and on your clothes, dandruff is no fun. If you are dealing with dandruff, know you aren’t alone. Dandruff is a very common condition. In fact, one out of two people experiences dandruff at some point in their lives. Although dandruff isn’t curable, there are ways to keep the symptoms under control. One of the best ways is washing your hair with an anti-dandruff shampoo. If you are looking for a cruelty-free dandruff shampoo, you have come to the right place. We searched for the best cruelty-free shampoos for dandruff-prone hair. Below you find the 11 results, with 7 vegan options. But first some background information about dandruff.

Jump to: the best cruelty-free dandruff shampoos.

What Is Dandruff

Dandruff is a skin condition where skin cells on your scalp shed more quickly than usual, which results in flakes and an itchy scalp. 

What Causes dandruff

Dandruff can have many causes, such as a dry scalp or an allergic reaction. Most commonly though, dandruff appears from a condition called Seborrheic Dermatitis. Seborrheic Dermatitis is caused by a certain yeast that lives on our scalps. Don’t panic – this harmless yeast, which name is Malassezia, is part of our natural skin flora and is supposed to be there. However, those with Seborrheic Dermatitis experience an overgrow of this yeast. The body respons to this by shedding skin cells faster than usual, resulting in a buildup of flakes, redness and itchiness. 


Important to know is that the yeast that feeds on – and can only live in – oil. Therefor it is key to keep your scalp excess oil-free. This is where the misconception about dandruff lies, since many people think that it is dry skin that causes the dandruff. They wash their hair less frequently to treat the dryness and sometimes even put oil on their scalp to hydrate. This is however the exact opposite of how to treat dandruff. 


A common trigger that worsen dandruff is stress. Stress can cause an overproduction of oil, which promotes the overgrow of yeast. It is also thought that hormonal fluctuations and certain foods such as dairy, sugar and spicy food can potentially trigger dandruff. 

How To Treat Dandruff

Dandruff isn’t curable, it is all about controlling the symptoms. The best way to do that is with an anti-dandruff shampoo

Anti-dandruff shampoo contain anti-fungal ingredients that reduce yeast production and keep our skin from overproducing oil. Active ingredients to control dandruff are: Zinc Pyrithione, Selenium Sulfide, Ketoconazole, Salicylic Acid, Sulfur and Tea Tree Oil.

There is no ingredient that works best for everyone so it might take some trial-and-error to figure out what ingredient works for your dandruff.

Ahead, the 11 best cruelty-free dandruff shampoos and 9 other tips to manage dandruff.


In the beauty industry, ‘cruelty-free’ only refers to animal testing. However, the way that many animal ingredients are obtained is simply cruel, which is why it’s best to buy cruelty-free products that are also vegan.  
If you are in the market for a cruelty-free and vegan dandruff shampoo, you have 7 options to choose from.


  1. Overall | Sachajuan – Scalp Shampoo
  2. Best value | Jason – Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo VEGAN
  3. Best looks | Oribe – Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  4. For a spa moment | Paul Mitchell – Tea Tree Special Shampoo VEGAN
  5. Best for color-treated hair | Derma E – Scalp Relief Shampoo VEGAN
  6. Best-smelling | Jupiter – Balancing Shampoo VEGAN
  7. Best balancing | Aveda – Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo VEGAN
  8. Deep-cleanse | Shea Moisture – African Black Soap Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo
  9. Natural | Avalon Organics – Anti-Dandruff Medicated Shampoo VEGAN
  10. Best for dry hair | Christophe Robin – Purifying Shampoo for Oily or Flaky Scalp
  11. Scalp exfoliator | Briogeo – Scalp Revival™ charcoal + coconut oil micro-exfoliating shampoo VEGAN

The 11 Best Cruelty-Free Dandruff Shampoos of All Time (including 7 vegan)

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Best overall:

Sachajuan – Scalp Shampoo

Shop at Amazon | $$$

Besides anti-fungal ingredients piroctone olamine and climbazole, this shampoo also contains salicylic acid to shed dead skin cells and lactic acid to control oil production. At the same time rosemary oil, ginger extract and menthol are making sure your scalp is clean and content. 

Active ingredients: piroctone olamine, climbazole, salicylic acid

Free of: paraben, animal (by)products


Best value:

Jason – Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $

This drugstore priced shampoo received a lot of ravings reviews on the internet and we understand why. With a combination of salicylic acid and sulfur the formula helps to reduce skin cell overgrowth and scaling of the skin. Truth be told, the menthol sulfur scent is not everyone’s favorite, but hey, if it works it works.

Active ingredient: salicylic acid, sulfur

Free of: paraben, phthalates, sulfates SLS and SLES, animal (by)products


Best looks:

Oribe – Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Shop at Amazon | $$$$

Besides being way better looking than your regular dandruff shampoo, this shampoo is very effective at getting your scalp flake-free. Formulated with 3% salicylic acid exfoliates your scalp to effectively break down dead skin cells and reduces itchiness. At the same time the hair strengthening ingredients keep hair soft and shiny. It is also color-safe.

Active ingredient: salicylic acid

Free of: paraben, sulfates SLS and SLES


For a spa moment:

Paul Mitchell – Tea Tree Special Shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $

Containing tea tree oil, a natural ingredient with anti-fungal properties, this shampoo calms down itchiness and reduces scaling. It lathers well and easily washes away excess oil and impurities. Due to the aromatic peppermint scent it instantly turns your shower into a spa.  

Active ingredient: tea tree oil

Free of: paraben, animal (by)products


Best for color-treated hair:

Derma E  – Scalp Relief Shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $

A favorite clean formula to control dandruff is this shampoo made with salicylic acid to diminish flakes, tea tree oil to fight the fungal and menthol to cool and provide relief to the itchy scalp. It lathers up well and has a pleasant minty-herbal scent. Safe for (color)treated hair.

Active ingredients: salicylic acid, tea tree oil

Free of: sulfates SLS and SLES, animal (by)products



Jupiter – Balancing Shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $$$

Star ingredient zinc pyrithione reduces yeast growth. Decylene glycole helps regulate the oil production. A perfect combination to take care of all your dandruff issues. With its looks and vanilla-lavender (natural) aroma this doesn’t scream ‘dandruff shampoo’ either. We love.

Also: color-safe

Active ingredients: zinc pyrithione

Free of: paraben, phthalates, sulfates SLS and SLES, synthetic fragrance, animal (by)products


Best balancing:

Aveda – Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $$$

Technically not a dandruff shampoo, but a scalp balancing shampoo to keep in the rotation when your dandruff issues are mild. The light earthy-scented shampoo of Aveda cleanses thoroughly in a gentle way and sooth an unsettled scalp. 

Key ingredients: burdock root

Free of: sulfates SLS and SLES, animal (by)products


Best deep-cleanse: 

Shea Moisture – African Black Soap Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Shop at Amazon | $$

To keep dandruff away, it is key to keep your scalp squeaky clean. This clarifying shampoo does just that, without making your hair and scalp feel completely stripped. Anti-fungal tea tree oil and purifying bamboo charcoal work together to de-flake and soothe the itchy scalp.

Key ingredients: african black soap, bamboo charcoal, tea tree oil

Free of: paraben, phthalates, sulfates SLS and SLES, mineral oil


Best natural:

Avalon Organics – Anti-Dandruff Shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $$

Made with natural ingredients this shampoo turns scalps flake and dirt-free by using 2% salicylic acid and tea tree oil. That combined with aloe vera, chamomile makes for a happy, healthy scalp. Lightly herbal-scented.

Active ingredients: salicylic acid, tea tree oil

Free of: paraben, phthalates, sulfates SLS and SLES, fragrance, animal (by)products


Best for dry hair:

Christophe Robin – Purifying Shampoo

Shop at Amazon | $$$$

If you are looking for a natural way to combat dandruff without it drying out your hair, enter Christophe Robin’s Dandruff line. Their detox shampoo is derived from jujube bark extract which regulates sebum production and helps with the itching. Another great thing about this ingredient is that it is known to increase hair growth. The shampoo cleanses thoroughly without drying and leaves a healthy head of hair.

Active ingredient: jujube bark extract

Free of: paraben, sulfates SLS and SLES, mineral oil


Best scalp exfoliator:

Briogeo – Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating shampoo


Shop at Amazon | $$$$

For a once a week deep-cleanse, this 95% natural shampoo-exfoliator hybrid lifts any remaining product buildup and dead skin cells that are not washed away by shampoo. It is formulated with vegetable-derived exfoliators, anti-septic tea tree oil, detoxifying charcoal and moisturizing coconut oil. The foamy shampoo feels cooling on the scalp and has a minty scent. Color-safe.

Key ingredients: tea tree oil, charcoal, coconut oil

Free of: paraben, phthalates, sulfates SLS and SLES, silicones, animal(by)products

9 Other Tips To Keep The Flakes Away

  1. Wash your hair on a daily basis to reduce the amount of excess oil on the scalp and remove dead skin cells
  2. When washing with dandruff shampoo focus on the scalp and let it sit for a couple of minutes for the product to work optimally.
  3. Make sure to rinse out all shampoo, to avoid product buildup
  4. If your dandruff seems to have diminished, you can alternate with a regular shampoo. Do keep your dandruff shampoo in the rotation, to prevent dandruff from making its return
  5. Avoid shampoos with sulfates SLS and SLES
  6. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week, such as Shea Moisture’s Deep Cleansing Shampoo, to eliminate any remaining product buildup and excess oil.
  7. Exfoliate your scalp once a week to deeply cleanse the hair and lift away any remaining dead skin cells. Widely-loved cruelty-free scalp scrubs are Brigeo’s Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo and Christophe Robin’s Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
  8. Cut back on the styling products to avoid buildup. If you really can’t live without your curl cream or salt spray, make sure to wash your hair daily. 
  9. Dandruff shampoo can have a drying effect on your hair, so have your conditioner or hair mask ready. Make sure to apply it on your ends only and rinse it all out.

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