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Our priority is to ensure the ingredients we use in our products are safe for you and your family. We believe that consumers have the right to access all information available about the ingredients of the products they or their families use. 

We also believe a great dandruff shampoo should do more than remove flakes. That’s why we infuse every shampoo with essential beauty elements, like rich moisturizers and great fragrances, so they can be effective against dandruff, but gentle and nourishing for hair.

Below you will find a detailed list of the ingredients we use and why we use them. 



Water, or Aqua – this is used to blend together all the other ingredients.  The right balance of water is essential to achieve the perfect shampoo consistency and help it spread throughout the hair.  Water used in our shampoos goes through a special process to make it exceptionally pure.


Pyrithione Zinc (ZPT) – our key active ingredient, ZPT helps prevent the dandruff-causing microbe, Malassezia globosa, from forming scalp irritants.  All ZPT shampoos are not the same though – we use a unique, highly effective form of ZPT so it fights flakes better than store brands1.


Zinc carbonate – Head & Shoulders is the only dandruff shampoo to contain zinc carbonate too.  It helps fight flakes better by moisturizing the scalp and, paired with ZPT, helps keep the dandruff-fighting ingredient in its most effective form.


Of course, a major function of any shampoo is to trap oil and dirt in the hair so it can be rinsed away in the shower.  Head & Shoulders typically uses a blend of cleansers sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, to get the right balance of both cleansing and mildness.

Other lathering agents like Cocamidopropyl BetaineCocamide MEA , or Cetyl Alcohol are added to make the lather rich, creamy, and easy to spread across your scalp and throughout your hair.


Head & Shoulders shampoos are enriched with key nourishing ingredients.  The levels of these are tailored differently across versions to address different hair needs:

Dimethicone –  microscopic droplets of dimethicone in the shampoo are released onto each hair fiber during rinsing.  When hair is dry, these droplets smooth and protect the hair cuticle, keeping hair soft and shiny.

Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, and Polyquaternium-10 – these conditioning ingredients cushion hair fibers – especially when hair is wet.  They help to prevent hair tangles, and make it more manageable.

Glycerin- some products in our line contain this ingredient, which helps seal in skin moisture.


Glycol distearate – performs the vital job of keeping all the shampoo ingredients ‘blended and suspended’ inside the bottle so every drop has the right blend of ingredients.

Magnesium carbonate hydroxide – this is used to stabilize the zinc carbonate


These preservatives protect the shampoo from microbial contamination:

Sodium benzoate and benzyl alcohol - preservatives like these are used while the shampoo is being made, to prevent the raw ingredients from becoming contaminated.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone – this pair of preservatives are added at the end of the shampoo-making process.  Their job is to protect the shampoo when you use the bottle at home.

 Learn more about preservatives from Procter & Gamble, the maker of Head & Shoulders


Sodium chloride and sodium xylenesulfonate – this pair of ingredients is used to adjust shampoo thickness at the very end of production, until it has the right texture.   Too thick?  Add Sodium Xylenesulfonate.  Too thin?  Add Sodium Chloride (also known as common table salt!).


To complete the shower experience, Head & Shoulders adds custom blends of color, plant essences, and fantastic, long-lasting scents ranging from fresh apple to cool mint, to keep your hair smelling great all day long.

More about color, fragrance and plant essences


Every shampoo must achieve the right pH balance; sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid can be added until the shampoo is at the target pH. These ingredients are actually not present in the finished shampoo, because once they’re added they transform into salt and water.


Some compounds are added to our starting materials before we receive them.  Their role is to protect the quality, consistency & performance of the ingredients we use, before they get added to the shampoo.

More about ingredient quality

1 vs. leading store brand with 1% pyrithione zinc