How to tell if a dandruff shampoo will really work

Maaiki Is Feeling Flakey:

I was wondering what your opinion is of Burt’s Bees Feelin’ Flaky shampoo. Looking over the ingredients list, it looks like they did a good job of avoiding skin irritants (except for the tea tree oil), but since it all gets washed off after a few seconds, I don’t know how much good it could do.The ingredients are, Vegetable glycerin, lemon fruit water, sucrose cocoate, decyl polyglucose, willowbark extract, peppermint leaf extract (organic), willow leaf extract, burdock root extract, nettles leaf extract, yucca schidigera extract, cedar leaf oil, tea tree oil, lemon oil, rosemary oil, juniper oil, peppermint oil, xanthan gum (natural thickener), glucose & glucose oxidase & lactoperoxidase.

The Left Brain Gets Indignant:

You’ve discovered one of the shampoo scams that REALLY makes The Beauty Brains mad – false and misleading anti-dandruff claims. Some companies make it APPEAR that their products will control dandruff but they really won’t. The way companies do this may not be strictly illegal, but it certainly is unethical in my opinion. Let’s look at this Burt’s Bees product as an example.

Burt’s Bees Feeling Flaky Shampoo

According to, the full name of the product is Burt’s Bees Doctor Burt’s Herbal Treatment Shampoo with Cedar Leaf & Juniper Oil. Doctor Burt, huh? I know that the reference is tongue-in-cheek, but that sure sounds medicinal to me! Strike One.

Below the name it describes the shampoo as Feelin’ Flaky? with a question mark. In the context of cleaning hair and scalp, “flaky” is generally the term used to describe a symptom of dandruff. (Itchiness is another symptom.) Hmmm. Strike Two.

And finally the use directions: Wet hair, lather, rinse, then lather and rinse again. Shampoo at least three times a week for maximum effectiveness.” Maximum effectiveness? Again, sounds like they`re promising some kind of sustained effect. If they`re not talking about dandruff, what effectiveness are they talking about? Just getting your hair clean. That`s lame – Strike 3!

While this product, and others like it, don`t overtly claim to control dandruff, they are CERTAINLY making that implication. And that’s the same as lying to consumers.

What’s In A Real Dandruff Shampoo

The truth is, dandruff shampoos contain active ingredients that treat the physiological causes of dandruff. How can you tell if a shampoo is really effective against dandruff? In the US, look for active drug ingredients like Zinc Pyrithione (also known as ZPT.) In Europe and a few other countries, look for Octopyrox on the label. If you don’t see some kind of legitimate active ingredient listed it’s not really an effective dandruff shampoo. Don’t believe everything the cosmetic companies tell you!

The Brains Bottom Line:

You ask “how much good” this product will do for you. Well, it will certainly get your hair clean. The primary surfactants (sucrose cocoate and decyl polyglucose) will see to that. And it won’t dry your scalp out either, those are pretty mild cleansers. But that’s about it. It’s not a medicated shampoo so it won’t help against dandruff.