Best Shampoo For Scalp Acne Reviews : Top 5+ Recommended - Updated May 2019

I thought I had to deal with only the pimples on my face till they started appearing on my scalp. The face was bad enough, not the head too! It was okay if it was on the head but when it spread to behind the ears and the neck I freaked out. Those annoying and painful zits just rummaged my life. It was time to look for a cure and a solution.

After several unsuccessful trials and errors, I finally discovered five products which according to me are the best scalp acne shampoos around. Before you proceed, do find out the why of scalp acne and ways to treat it; knowing the cause of the acne is the first step to treating it.

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

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What Is Scalp Acne?

Acne is a skin condition quite prevalent in teenagers. It is characterized by red bumps on the scalp. They are invariably tender, scaly and painful. These bumps have a crusty appearance and are filled with pus when infected.

The main reason for pimples or acne is excess sebum - the oil secreted by pores on the skin to protect it from damage.

When the sebaceous glands are over stimulated excess sebum is produced. This turns the skin greasy and oily and clogs the skin pores and this my friends is how we all end up getting those annoying zits which leave us distraught and in misery.

But Scalp Acne Is Not Noticeable

If you have been thinking like I did till I faced the consequences, then wake up. Yes, scalp acne is not noticeable, it is not life-threatening. But what if it stubbornly refuses to budge and gaily spreads all over your scalp and recklessly runs down your neck and the back of your ears. What if you start acting like a monkey who can’t keep his hands off his head (scratching); what if you start losing hair.

Untreated acne can lead to these conditions, so do not ignore scalp acne; it will not disappear magically.

Often scalp acne is associated with:

  • Itchiness
  • Flakiness
  • Dandruff
  • Hair loss.

How Are Dandruff And Acne Interconnected?

Have you ever sneaked a scratch or swore never to wear black because your dandruff flakes made their way to your clothes? It is socially unacceptable to scratch your head but when you are suffering from a bad case of itchy dandruff societal graces can fly out of the window for all you care.

Dandruff and acne have different causes but the common trigger is overactive oil glands. Dandruff is a fungal infection while acne is bacterial. But why do people use dandruff shampoo to clear acne? How does it work?

The key ingredients in both cases remain zinc and ketoconazole which clear the associated infection. In most cases, this works, and that is why it is prescribed to treat scalp acne; but in case you don’t have both at the same time stick to a shampoo specific for your problem.

Do Only Teens Suffer?

Scalp acne thankfully is less common than the one found on the rest of the skin. Though it originates during puberty, several adults also suffer from scalp acne. The root causes remain:

  • Poor Scalp Hygiene – Improper washing of hair and not washing enough leads to accumulation of dirt which will clog the pores. At the same time, too much washing is not good either.
  • Heredity – Unfortunately, this one you can't do much other than treating it by consulting a dermatologist.
  • Use of waxy hair products and sprays – Yes you can’t imagine a life without the use of the hair sprays, gels, colors, and pomades. Spare a thought for the chemical build-up on the scalp. You are inviting trouble if you have acne prone scalp when you indulge in these hair habits.
  • Weather – Hot, humid climate which necessitates the use of a cap, scarf or a hat also contribute to acne. The sweat itself doesn’t cause acne, but it creates an atmosphere conducive for the growth of bacteria.
  • Hormones - Teens and women during pregnancy and their monthly cycles must deal with fluctuating hormones.
  • Medications - Certain medication used for treating chronic conditions can stimulate the sebaceous glands into over secretion.
  • Diet – Junk food
  • Stress – The bane of the modern world.

How To Address The Problem

Scalp acne is not very apparent and a serious problem but it is an annoyance that must be treated nevertheless. In serious cases, it can affect an individual’s self-esteem and confidence.

Treating scalp acne is not easy for the obvious reason – the acne is amidst hair. It is almost like searching for a pin in a haystack if you are blessed with a thick mane.

Most often the problem resolves itself if mild, but in severe cases, medical intervention is advised.

You must attempt to prevent the pores on the scalp from clogging from build-up and oil blockage. The common methods of dealing with scalp acne are:

1. Regular Hair Washes: Regularly wash your hair with a mild clarifying shampoo preferably. Do not miss washing your hair especially after a workout or any activity when you sweat at lot. It is important to keep the scalp clean always.

1. Regular Hair Washes

Regularly wash your hair with a mild clarifying shampoo preferably. Do not miss washing your hair especially after a workout or any activity when you sweat at lot. It is important to keep the scalp clean always.

2. Avoid Oily Hair Product

You have enough oil on your hair, and you don’t need any extra. So, steer clear of all hair care products that are oil based.

3. Avoid Wearing Head Gear

Until your acne comes under control to the extent possible stop wearing scarfs and hats which can make you sweat. The sweat creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria which can easily enter your hair follicles.

4. Stop Picking Scalp Pimples

No, you are not helping yourself; in fact, you are spreading the bacteria to a larger area. In case you accidentally do scratch a pimple apply a topical antibiotic right away to stop the spread of infection.

5. Use lukewarm Water For Washing

Hot water is a strict no-no for acne suffers as it aggravates the problem.

6. Do Not Use Conditioners

Yes, even though conditioners are a must for regular hair care when you are suffering from scalp acne avoid them. They contain humectants which aggravate acne.

7. Over-the-counter medication

Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are known to treat acne effectively as they clear the excess oil and dirt. Be aware though that benzoyl peroxide will bleach your hair.

8. Seek Medical Help

If nothing works, seek medical intervention wherein you will be prescribed some oral antibiotics along with topical creams and lotions.

Don’t Use Products With These Ingredients

In your quest for relief from troublesome zits on your scalp do not buy any substandard hair product just because it is packaged well and marketed even better. There are certain ingredients which you must avoid at all costs, especially if you are allergic to them.

Avoid these ingredients in your anti scalp acne shampoos:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Parabens
  • Alcohol
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oil.

How To Choose The Best Scalp Acne Shampoo?

With more and more undesirable ingredients finding their way into our daily skin care and scalp routine, it is crucial that you are aware of what goes inside your shampoo. The best scalp acne shampoo will be to remove the excess grease from the scalp and the hair, prevent the build-up of residue and vanquish itching and flaking. A few of the key ingredients that are present in varying percentages are:

  • Salicylic acid – it exfoliates the skin, removes dead cells and opens the pores.
  • Zinc – it keeps a check on the sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands on the skin and the scalp. The reduction of oiliness will hinder the growth of bacteria and fungus which in turn will lead to a healthy scalp.
  • Tea tree oil – its antibacterial properties keep the scalp healthy and clean.
  • Glycolic acid – it is normally found as aqua glycolic in the ingredient list; it is useful for exfoliation and elimination of bacteria.
  • Ketoconazole – antifungal in nature.
  • Jojoba oil – it works as an anti-inflammation agent.

1. Head and Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care

Head and Shoulders, Anti Dandruff Shampoo, Itchy Scalp Care, Daily Use Hair Treatment, 13.5 fl oz, Pack of 2
176 Reviews
Head and Shoulders, Anti Dandruff Shampoo, Itchy Scalp Care, Daily Use Hair Treatment, 13.5 fl oz, Pack of 2
  • Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo fights flakes and leaves your scalp clean and refreshed
  • From the scalp care experts; the makers of America's #1 dandruff shampoo* (*based on volume sales)
  • Multi-symptom relief offers proven protection from flakes, itch* and dryness (*flakes and itch associated with dandruff)
  • Nourishes hair and scalp to relieve dandruff symptoms while cleansing and hydrating hair* (*with regular use)
  • Fragrant notes of eucalyptus and mint leave hair smelling fresh and clean

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

A brand well known for its anti-dandruff products the itchy scalp care is an economical and tried tested formula for those plagued by dandruff and scalp acne.

The eucalyptus reduces inflammation and itching of the acne ridden scalp. The active ingredient here is Zinc.


  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Use of Hydra Zinc to control itching
  • Eucalyptus to soothe irritated skin
  • Significant reduction in flakes
  • Affordable
  • Refreshing feel.


  • Can lead to dryness
  • Not organic
  • Some people find the eucalyptus too strong.

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

2. Tea Tree Peppermint Moisturizing Shampoo

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

A completely organic and natural way to treat your dandruff and relieve the annoying itch is by using the tea tree peppermint shampoo.

Not only does it relieve dandruff and keep your scalp clean it is free of all preservatives and colors.

Peppermint, Tea tree oil and rosemary oil help control flakiness associated with dandruff.


  • Can be used for lice treatment
  • Strong pleasant mint smell
  • Gets rid of flakiness and dandruff
  • Sulfate and parabens free
  • Can use everyday
  • Has a refreshing effect


  • Hard to squeeze bottle
  • Pricey for size
  • Itchiness and dryness in some cases
  • Extreme build-up from other hair products doesn’t go easily.

3. Degrease by Maple Holistics

Shampoo for Oily, Itchy & Greasy Hair with Organic Rosemary, Peach Kernel and Jojoba - 100% Natural Treatment for Women, Men & Teens - Stimulates Cell Renewal and Increases Scalp/hair Circulation - Gentle & Safe for Color Treated Hair - (8oz) By Maple Holistics
5,056 Reviews
Shampoo for Oily, Itchy & Greasy Hair with Organic Rosemary, Peach Kernel and Jojoba - 100% Natural Treatment for Women, Men & Teens - Stimulates Cell Renewal and Increases Scalp/hair Circulation - Gentle & Safe for Color Treated Hair - (8oz) By Maple Holistics
  • BEST DEGREASING SHAMPOO FOR OILY HAIR removes oil & grease build up on your scalp. Our natural clarifying treatment with lemon essential oil restores a healthy sebum & pH balance in your skin & hair.
  • PURE MOISTURIZING DANDRUFF TREATMENT alleviates itch caused by germs on your scalp. Our jojoba, rosemary formula hydrates hair follicles from the inside while protecting from environmental pollutants.
  • HAIR STRENGTHENING SHAMPOO FOR OILY SCALP AND DANDRUFF cleans & minimize pores while improving circulation in the scalp. This alternative hair loss solution uses basil & cypress for healthy hair care.
  • KERATIN THERAPY HAIR AND SCALP TREATMENT is extremely gentle & effective. Natural hair loss shampoo is safe, paraben free & sulfate free. This dandruff shampoo is for men & women with sensitive skin.
  • MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - CLARIFYING SHAMPOO will remove excess oil from your hair leaving you with luscious locks that are voluminous & frizz free. It will leave your scalp itch free & highly nourished.

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

If you struggle with hair that is greasy and oily then check out the Degrease from Maple Holistics.

The shampoo consists of a wide variety of natural products like lemon essential oil, basil, rosemary and cypress that control the PH. of the scalp and prevent clogging of pores.

The shampoo is meant exclusively for de-greasing your scalp and is not very effective on itchiness and flaking.


  • All natural ingredients used
  • Leaves scalp oil free
  • Can be used everyday
  • Natural aroma
  • No artificial fragrances and dyes
  • Reduces the breakout of acne
  • Conditions while cleansing
  • Non-irritating
  • Sulfate and parabens free.


  • Pricey for the small size
  • Does not treat itchiness and flakiness
  • Leads to tangles
  • Over usage dries the scalp
  • Aroma is too strong.

4. Free and Clear Shampoo and Conditioner

Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin, fragrance free,12 Ounce
657 Reviews
Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin, fragrance free,12 Ounce
  • Free of common chemical irritants such as dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, and other preservatives.
  • pH balanced. For all hair types.
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine-free. Sulfate-free. Phosphate-free. Protein-free. Gluten-free.
  • Dermatologist tested.

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

When you have sensitive skin, you are always wary of new shampoos like I was till I found the Free and Clear Shampoo.

This product is free of all the harmful parabens, sulfate, dyes and fragrance normally found in shampoos. No more incidents of allergic rhinitis and fragrance-induced headaches once you try this truly gentle shampoo.

Don’t be conned by its gentle nature; it effectively gets rid of dandruff, flaky unsightly scales, build-up from hair products and excessive oil leaving your hair clean and healthy.


  • Affordable
  • Doesn’t irritate skin and prevents breakouts
  • Gentle on scalp
  • Quick results
  • Significantly reduces scalp itching and flaking
  • Recommended by dermatologists
  • Can be safely used on color treated hair.
  • Sulfate, betaine, and gluten free.


  • Dries up the hair as it contains sodium hydroxide
  • Hair tangles fast
  • No organic ingredients used.


Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

5. Neutrogena T/Sal Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, Scalp Build-Up Control 4.5 oz
263 Reviews
Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, Scalp Build-Up Control 4.5 oz
  • Covers a large portion of the body
  • First step in any scalp treatment
  • Maximum relief of itchy, flaky scalp

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

This shampoo from a reputable brand is a therapeutic way of dealing with the menace of dandruff. It has 3% salicylic acid which is effectively used to treat acne of the skin.

You can get rid of itching and flaking without harming the skin with this product. It is a very gentle shampoo that can be used daily. 

The brand has been endorsed by several dermatologists too.


  • Use of salicylic acid
  • Recommended by dermatologist
  • Gentle for everyday use
  • Removes scalp build-up
  • Reduces itching and flaking
  • No preservatives, dyes and artificial fragrances
  • Can cure scalp acne permanently.


  • Offensive smell
  • Expensive.
  • Sludgy consistency of shampoo

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, Scalp Build-Up Control 4.5 oz
Neutrogena - Health and Beauty
$7.99 - $1.59 from $6.40

Last update on 2019-05-26 PST - Details

What is Your Take

An all-rounder, in my opinion, is the Free and Clear Shampoo which is mild and gentle, ideal for daily use. It is in the affordable price range and produces results for all to see. It treats not only scalp acne but also the related itchiness and flakiness. But like with all hair care products you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimum results.

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