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Why does my dandruff shampoo make my hair smell like rotten eggs?

Cathy inquires…I occasionally suffer from itchy scalp but this morning I was out of my usual Fructis dandruff shampoo so I used my roommates Head and Shoulders. The one in the dark blue bottle. I swear that my hair has smelled like rotten eggs all day. Why is that and why did this product cause it when others don’t? I thought all dandruff shampoos were essentially the same except for color and fragrance.

The Beauty Brains respond:

The majority of dandruff shampoos use zinc pyrithione (ZPT) as the active ingredient. For most people that’s sufficient to alleviate their symptoms. But the Over the Counter Drug monograph that controls the active agents that can be used in these shampoos includes other options for those people who don’t respond well to ZPT.

One of those options is selenium sulfide which works by reducing corneocyte production and an antifungal mechanism that is yet unknown. As many sulfur containing compounds do , selenium sulfide can have a residual sulfur odor that is very reminiscent of rotten eggs. The Clinical Strength variety of Head and Shoulders (the one in the dark blue bottle) uses this eggy ingredient. If your typical Fructis shampoo works for you stick with it and let your room mate be the egg head.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David January 19, 2018, 1:25 am

    Omg im coming to a formal new years dance with my hair smelling like that i mistaked my regular shampoo with it

  • Abdul Moiz October 7, 2019, 5:26 pm

    Hello! How are you, i have started making cosmetics so im learning how to make shampoos, face washes, Moisturizers, creams, lotions, hair wax, hair gels etc, we are experimenting in making shampoos and moisturizers.. so the think is im looking for your help in making these items with the ingredients, formulas and making.. can you help? please must reply me. thanks!