Posted on: November 28, 2016 at 10:50 am
Last updated: September 25, 2017 at 7:58 pm

 This amazing article was written by William Hartfield, the founder of Hair Loss Revolution! We encourage you to check out his website here and follow him on Twitter


It’s no secret that the hair products we use play a significant role towards the health of not just the hair itself but also the body in general. In fact, most commercial hair shampoos and lotions are associated with moderate to severe side effects, including hair loss, skin rashes, irritation, and an incessantly itchy scalp.

Anti-dandruff shampoos dominate the medicated shampoos market, partly because of the high prevalence of dandruff around the world. Indeed, there are dozens of shampoo manufacturers that are making a killing in the industry due to strong demand for their products. Here’s a summary of recent sales of a few of the most dominant anti-dandruff shampoo brands, led by Head and Shoulders, the largest anti-dandruff shampoo brand in the world:



Data Courtesy of

According to Statista, a data collection and analysis website, census data collected in 2016 reveals that approximately 11 million United States citizens use Head & Shoulders shampoo for at least eight times a week+. Data Courtesy of

That these products do help in the short term is obvious, but what many won’t tell you is that some of the ingredients used are bad for your health. The line between good and bad hair products has been blurred thanks to aggressive marketing and celebrity endorsements.


Cause for Alarm: Carcinogenic Ingredients

Head and Shoulders, Selsun Blue, Nizoral, and other popular hair products use carcinogenic ingredients. These are chemicals that are known to cause cancer. This worrying revelation was brought forth by researchers at the National Institute of Health who conducted experiments by exposing mice to selenium sulfide (the most common carcinogenic ingredient used in anti-dandruff shampoos) by both oral and intravenous administration. After a few weeks, the mice developed liver cancer and benign/malignant lung tumors. Watch out for selenium sulfide (or disulfide) in smaller brands. 

A different study links methylisothiazolinone, another commonly used ingredient, to neurological damage of the nervous system.  Although the researchers were careful to note the studies were not conclusive, these findings should ring the alarm bells for everyone intensively and extensively using commercial anti-dandruff shampoos. Find more information about methylisothiazolinone concerns from the EWG

4 Harmful Ingredients Contained in Modern Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

1. Zinc Pyriothione

Zinc pyrithione is the most common active ingredient in shampoos – including Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue – because of its ability to control flaking and reduce scalp irritation. Unfortunately, the drug comes with potential side effects which may include skin rashes, irritation to the eyes, nausea, organ toxicity, and even hair loss in serious cases.

2. Coal Tar

According to the National Cancer Institute, coal tar is a known carcinogen mostly associated with skin cancer. In fact, the use of coal tar for dermatologic purposes has been banned by the European Union and Canada, although manufacturers are still free to use it in the United States. You won’t find it in Head & Shoulders or Selsun Blue, but watch out for this ingredient in smaller brands on the shelf (other names for it include carbo-cort and impervotar). 

3. Sulfates

Sulfates are widely used in commercial shampoos because of their ability to produce foamy lather. They are known for causing irritation to the skin, eyes and the hair itself. A concentration of just 0.5% of sulfates in shampoos is enough to cause massive irritation. The most common sulfates include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Selsun Blue shampoo has Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate listed as one of its active ingredients.

4. Parabens

Parabens are preservatives used to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microbes in anti-dandruff shampoos during storage and active use. They are known to increase the risk of female breast cancer and may also disrupt the normal functioning of the male reproductive system. Watch out for parabens listed as “benzoate” in the ingredient list of Head & Shoulders and other brands. 

The Dragon That Is Dandruff

Dandruff is a fungal infection of the scalp which appears in the form of itchy, reddish-brown patches that cause a lot of irritation and discomfort to patients. Dandruff is known to exclusively attack the scalp, a characteristic that distinguishes the condition from seborrheic dermatitis, another disease that also attacks the face and neck. Dandruff affects about 5% of the world’s population, translating to about 300 million people.

Dandruff is caused by a type of yeast called Malassezia, which lives in the skin. A positive diagnosis may involve a scalp biopsy, an exercise that involves harvesting a small section of the affected scalp and examining it under a powerful microscope.

Fighting Dandruff Using Natural Products

coconut oil and coconuts


Commercial shampoos have become very common in the fight against dandruff. However, their use, as we have seen, exposes patients to a host of pathogenic substances that may cause various forms of cancer and other maladies. So, “What other options I we have?” One might ask. Fortunately, there are natural ways that you can use to fight dandruff that is backed by strong scientific evidence. Below are the main options:

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains lauric acid which fights growth and development of Malassezia and other fungi that are associated with diseases like Piedra and folliculitis. In addition, coconut oil is an effective moisturizer that can help keep your scalp moist.

Thus, it can help you to get rid of the dry, white flakes that develop due to dandruff. For best results, it’s important to rub the oil into the entire scalp and leave it on for at least 30 minutes, after which you can rinse the scalp with plenty of warm water.

2. Homemade Tea Tree Oil Shampoo

Everyone in love with thick, curly hair ought to automatically be in love with tea tree oil. Applying 5-10 drops of tea tree oil every day can help you to cure dandruff.

Tea tree oil contains hydrocarbons called terpenes which fight skin fungi, acne and other harmful bacteria living on the scalp.  A few drops of chili oil can be another good alternative if you don’t have tea tree oil available.

3. The Rosemary-Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment

A homemade shampoo made by combining a bunch of rosemary with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar is not only less expensive than most commercial shampoos, but it can actually work better. Unlike commercial shampoos that can strip away the natural oils from your hair because of the chemicals, this natural shampoo is great for hair loss.

Rosemary helps to reduce inflammation that is noted in the early stages of dandruff development. Apple cider vinegar is mildly acidic, making it an effective killer of fungus and bacteria that may attempt to thrive on your scalp.

4. Fenugreek Hair Mask

Fenugreek seeds are natural antifungal agents whose use against dandruff dates back to several decades back long before the modern commercial shampoos had been developed. The seeds are known to inhibit the growth of Malassezia in the scalp.

The seeds should be soaked overnight and then ground into a fine paste the following morning. The smooth paste should then be applied on the scalp and left in place for about an hour, before rinsing the scalp with plenty of water.

5. Fighting Dandruff Naturally From The Inside Out

More so than any other recipe or technique, the best way to get rid of dandruff for the long term is from the inside out. This means adding natural, healthy oils to your diet, which over time will make your skin supple and moisturized. Seriously, forget moisturizers, forget anti-dandruff shampoos this is the best way to get rid of dandruff.

The best thing you can do is buy a high-quality plant oil mixture and take around 25ml of it every day. This is quite a lot to consume, which is why its best to put it in your morning smoothie, but the effect can be remarkable for anybody with dry skin, or a dry scalp.

The mixed oils should contain pumpkin seed oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, evening primrose oil and pomegranate oil or some mixture and of these and any others that you find suitable and/or delicious.


Simply put, you cannot afford to trust today’s popular anti-dandruff shampoo brands at the expense of purely natural ingredients. The power of brand marketing has duped many into believing in products that may end up doing more harm than good in the long run. Going natural may be the least expensive, yet the most effective way to safeguard the health of your hair and body in general. 

Will Hartfield
Founder at Hair Loss Revolution
William Hartfield is the founder of Hair Loss Revolution where he teaches a holistic approach to tackling hair loss in men and women. His double-pronged approach involves firstly reducing the unnatural forces that contribute to hair loss, whilst at the same time boosting the natural forces that will speed up hair growth. His philosophy is that pattern hair loss is unnatural and doesn’t occur in well-nourished, stable indigenous populations.

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