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Flake news: Luxury anti-dandruff haircare is on the rise

Flake news: Luxury anti-dandruff haircare is on the rise

Despite an itchy or flaky scalp not being the most glamorous of hair topics, the anti-dandruff hair category has increasing luxury appeal. A new crop of elevated yet targeted shampoos and treatments from the ‘cool kids’ in hair are finally destigmatising dandruff by making it feel like a luxury experience.

Until recently, despite the disapproval of hairdressers, grocery brands Head & Shoulders and T-Gel were the only brands considered effective at treating dandruff. However, the formulas didn’t necessarily stack-up to professional haircare when it came to preserving colour and integrity. There was a noticeable gap at the luxury end for shampoos, conditioners, and treatments that both worked on dandruff and felt luxurious.

Board-certified dermatologist, Marisa Garshick, MD, believes luxury anti-dandruff haircare is a good thing. “The fact that different brands are now approaching the space in a way that has a more visually pleasing, sensorial effect with it, I think it helps to de-stigmatise this idea of using something that’s medicated,” she tells Well and Good.

Ouai, the cult-favourite haircare brand founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, has released a new Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. The gender-neutral formula features a FDA approved ingredient, 2% salicylic acid, formulated to relieve dandruff symptoms and break down dandruff-causing bacteria while soothing the scalp.

The scent and packaging design elevate dandruff care above the medicated, functional norms of the category. In addition to salicylic acid, the formulation comprises propanediol caprylate, which has been shown to deactivate Malassezia for dandruff control. The shampoo also has a “spa-like” Cape Town scent with notes of ginger, basil and spearmint.

“Our goal with Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is to break the stigma of dandruff,” says Atkin. “One in five people have dandruff, yet it’s still very taboo to talk about it. We are here to take the shame, embarrassment and discomfort out of having dandruff. From our formulation and clinicals, packaging, campaign, and especially fragrance, we are here to help you stop being flaky.”

Other premium hair brands like Oribe and Briogeo are also leading the charge with formulas that nourish tresses and target dandruff with tried-and-true flake-fighting ingredients you’d typically find in over-the-counter treatments, like salicylic acid and zinc pyrithione. 

“A lot of brands that have put out these newer formulations are still including these ingredients but also recognising that we still want to be gentle,” says Dr. Garshick. “We don’t want to be simultaneously irritating or drying out the scalp.”

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