For many people this winter’s yo-yoing temperatures have brought with them an unwelcome annoyance: dandruff — itchy and flaky and vexing. And if you have a closet of black and navy clothing it’s even more of a nuisance.
“The cold weather tends to be an exacerbating factor,” said Arielle Nagler, an assistant professor in the Ronald Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University Langone Health. “It’s the extremes of weather, and this weather has been extreme.”
Dandruff shampoo isn’t exactly the most chic product in the shower, but a growing number of upscale brands are offering shampoos and treatments that are more glamorous than what you’d typically find at your neighborhood drugstore. These products, many packaged in subtle bottles, are more herbaceous than medicinal. Sometimes the word “scalp” appears on the bottle instead of “dandruff” to address the issue more quietly.
Most use an active ingredient that’s also found in drugstore brands — salicylic acid, pyrithione zinc or coal tar — mixed with natural oils and conditioners. They’re sold at fashionable department stores and boutiques, starting at $20, which is considerably more expensive than a bottle of Selsun Blue. But there’s no denying that using one feels indulgent.
“There’s something to be said for that, for people who don’t like using a dandruff shampoo for whatever reason — it makes their hair feel sticky, or they just feel self-conscious,” Nagler said. “If it gets people to wash their hair more frequently, that does a lot of good.”
Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo is typical of the trend. The formula blends ginger and rosemary with salicylic acid for a nondrying cleanser that’s sudsy, with a pleasantly herbal scent. It’s sold via Net-a-Porter, among other upscale digital retailers, and it has become one of Sachajuan’s bestselling products.
Like other products from Malin & Goetz, its Dandruff Shampoo comes in an unfussy white bottle. It’s a creamy cleanser composed of, among other ingredients, eucalyptus and tea tree oil along with pyrithione zinc. The texture makes it feel a bit more treatment-like than some others of this kind, but it leaves hair feeling softer than may be expected.
Recipe for Men Anti-Dandruff Shampoo was introduced earlier this year. It aims to combat flakes with peppermint oil, which gives off a refreshingly strong scent as you shampoo, and piroctone olamine, an antifungal compound that helps prevent the growth of a yeast that can lead to dandruff.
Leonor Greyl Bain Traitant à la Propolis is especially mild — it’s billed on the bottle as “Gentle Anti-Dandruff Shampoo” — so it is well-suited for sensitive scalps. Although it’s expensive ($46), it is popular. The company said sales have more than doubled since it was introduced three years ago.
Last month, Oribe introduced a dandruff collection called Serene Scalp. It’s unmistakably upmarket, with packaging in a muted shade of pink that’s reminiscent of Gucci’s latest perfume bottle. The shampoo is infused with Oribe’s distinctive Côte d’Azur scent, a perfume-y mix of bergamot, jasmine and sandalwood.