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Head and Shoulders Doesn’t Work (Here’s Exactly What to Do)

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When you experience dandruff, the first line of defense for many people is the popular over-the-counter shampoo Head and Shoulders. This brand promises to fight dandruff and prevent a dry and itchy scalp. Anti-dandruff shampoos use chemical ingredients or natural botanicals. 

Head and Shoulders is a popular treatment for dandruff. It can be one of the first ways that many people treat dandruff and are typically effective. Its effectiveness at treating dandruff does not mean that it’s good at treating all aspects of hair care. Head and Shoulders doesn’t work for everyone and may stop being effective over prolonged use.   

Head and Shoulders shampoo is popular for a reason, it can work for many people. Its effectiveness is limited and may even change depending on several factors. Shampoo can even contribute to dandruff with the build-up and residue it leaves behind. Scalps can also build a resistance to anti-dandruff making it less effective.

If an anti-dandruff shampoo doesn’t or stops working, there are other options available. To properly combat dandruff, you should understand what dandruff is and how it happens. By knowing what dandruff is, you can also determine if what you have is really dandruff. Many people may think they have dandruff when they have another problem that looks similar to dandruff.  

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff has similar symptoms to dry scalp which is one of the reasons that anti-dandruff shampoo, like Head and Shoulders, doesn’t work. Using anti-dandruff shampoo can make a dry scalp worse. Before buying Head and Shoulders you want to be sure that you have dandruff and make an annoying situation worse. 

Dry scalp can be caused by several factors, including cold weather, harsh chemicals in some shampoo, residues from hair products, and shampooing too often. Using anti-dandruff shampoo strips your hair of natural oils making a dry scalp worse. The result of having a dry scalp looks similar to dandruff, with little flakes coming out of your hair. 

These flakes though are white and are not greasy when you rub them together. Flakes from a dry scalp will also fall around your shoulders when you run your hands through your hair. What is commonly perceived as a sign of dandruff may be a sign of something else entirely. Head and Shoulders doesn’t work as a treatment when your scalp has these problems.   

Dandruff, on the other hand, is caused by a fungus called Malassezia that lives on scalps and feeds on oils produced naturally on the head. When dead skin cells are abundant on the scalp trap oils, the fungus has more to feed off of and grows. Having more residue and leaving hair damp can create the perfect environment for the fungus to grow. 

Flakes from dandruff are greasy when rubbed together and have a yellow tinge to them. When you run your fingers through your hair with dandruff, the flakes will go underneath your fingernails rather than falling out.   

Dandruff Treatment

The most common treatment for dandruff is to use a shampoo that creates a harsh environment for the Malassezia fungus to starve it out. These shampoo treatments, including Head and Shoulders, rely on daily shampooing until dandruff clears up. Shampooing daily will give the shampoo the best chance at fighting the fungus and preventing it from growing further. 

Anti-dandruff shampoo uses zinc pyrithione and ketoconazole to cleanse your hair of the fungus. These chemicals can be harsh on your scalp and hair which is why it’s advised to stop using anti-dandruff shampoo when the initial flakes go away. Continuing to use Head and Shoulders or other anti-dandruff shampoos can cause dry scalp and make it look like dandruff has come back. 

Some people may think that dandruff has come back when new flakes appear. This creates a new cycle when people are using Head and Shoulders to treat the wrong problem and making the flakes worse. When this happens, using a gentle shampoo that naturally cleans the scalp can be an effective treatment to treat dry scalp. 

Resistance to Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

As with many medicines, your scalp can develop a resistance to anti-dandruff shampoos. If you begin to notice the yellow and oily flakes coming back, switching to a different anti-dandruff shampoo can help. Most anti-dandruff shampoos rely on one of four active ingredients to ward off dandruff. Using a different shampoo with a different active ingredient can help when Head and Shoulders doesn’t work. 

Finding shampoos with natural ingredients can also help treat your scalp. Holistic and homeopathic ingredients with essential oils can fight dandruff effectively and may not be as harsh as other shampoos. Tea tree oil is effective against dandruff along with lemongrass, peppermint, and sage oils.        

Natural Treatments Against Dandruff

Dandruff does not need to be treated with harsh chemicals and shampoo. Natural ingredients used in shampoo or hair masks can also be effective treatments against dandruff. Natural ingredients can fight the dandruff-causing fungus without contributing to a dry scalp that needs more treatment. Some natural ingredients can also treat other skin problems, like psoriasis. 

Some natural treatments can even be found in your kitchen cupboard. Olive oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar can be used to restore pH levels in your scalp and keep shampoo build-up and dandruff away. These oils can also be used for regular hair care to prevent future problems from developing and keep hair healthy.  

Natural ingredients are also gentler at treating scalp problems. They can fight dandruff without contributing to dry scalp problems and can soothe the gentle skin on the scalp as well. With a dry scalp, constant scratching can break the skin and cause further inflammatory problems. Natural treatments can prevent that problem before it starts. 

Scientific research has shown that these can be effective treatments for dandruff and other scalp problems. You don’t need to run to the store to buy a new kind of shampoo when you notice dandruff developing, a quick trip to the kitchen can provide an effective and science-backed method of treatment. 

A unique treatment for dandruff that many people may not think of is to crush an aspirin tablet and mix it with your shampoo. Aspirin has salicylic acid that is an active ingredient in different anti-dandruff shampoos. Since aspirin is found in most people’s homes, it can be a good first treatment to fight off dandruff. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Dandruff

I have done everything suggested and dandruff persists. What should I do?

If you have switched treatment for your dandruff and the problem continues to stay, you will want to seek medical advice. Your dandruff may be persistent because of other medical issues that shampoo and natural treatments are not treating. A doctor can advise you on the right treatment for your scalp and dandruff problems. 

How can I prevent dandruff?

The best way to prevent dandruff from developing is to prevent your scalp from becoming a good place for Mallessezia to grow. This can be done by reducing shampoo and hair product build-up and going to bed with your hair dry can help keep your scalp dandruff-free.   

How can I prevent shampoo build-up?

Shampoo build-up not only contributes to dandruff but can also cause other problems on your scalp. Using shampoo designed to clean build-up or natural remedies to clear build-up regularly will help keep your scalp clean and prevent dandruff from developing.   

What is the active ingredient in Head and Shoulders shampoo?

The active ingredient in Head and Shoulders shampoo is zinc pyrithione. If Head and Shoulders shampoo becomes ineffective against dandruff, switching to an anti-dandruff shampoo with a different active ingredient can help. 

If Head and Shoulders doesn’t work against dandruff, switching to a shampoo that uses ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or salicylic acid can help treatment. Your scalp often gets used to the active ingredient so changing the shampoo can provide enough of a switch that your scalp is not resistant to that treatment. 

Can anti-dandruff shampoo hurt my scalp?

Using anti-dandruff shampoo long-term can contribute to dry scalp. Having a dry scalp causes different kinds of flakes to fall off your scalp and can be exasperated by other inflammatory skin conditions. 

What should the first treatment against dandruff be?

Using anti-dandruff shampoo is often an effective first treatment against dandruff. Though you can also use natural remedies as a first step. 

A Final Word From Wellness Nova

Head and Shoulders can be an effective treatment against dandruff. For maximum effectiveness and treatment, you want to be sure that you have dandruff and not a dry scalp, and stop using Head and Shoulders when your dandruff goes away. Using anti-dandruff shampoo for too long can contribute to further scalp issues. 

Head and Shoulders doesn’t work when your scalp becomes resistant to the active ingredient. This can be fixed by switching to a different form of treatment, either a different anti-dandruff shampoo or natural treatments. 

Dandruff can be easily treated with over-the-counter and natural shampoos and treatment. If these treatments and methods stop working, it is time to visit a medical professional to address dandruff and scalp problems that you’re experiencing.            

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Article by:

Wellness Nova Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Wellness Nova Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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