8 Best Salicylic Acid Shampoos – 2018 Buying Guide & Top Picks

Medically reviewed by — Research analysis by Alex Eriksson

​Aside from the usual suspects, there’s another culprit behind hair loss – sebum. That’s why we decided to create this list of  medication of salicylic acid shampoo reviews.

Sebum is often overlooked as a cause of hair loss because people think it’s normal to have oily hair. It is, and it can even keep your hair healthy. However, in excess amounts, sebum could cause hair follicle death, and eventually, significant hair loss. Sebum is made of fats that clog up the hair follicles, potentially causing fungal infection as well as weakening the hair roots.

Other hair treatment products can address specific hair health issues, such as stimulating hair growth with laser treatments. However, if the problem is sebum, you’ll need a salicylic acid therapy shampoo.

Best Salicylic Acid Shampoos Comparison Table




Active Ingredients

Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Shea Moisture

  • Salicylic Acid
  • African Black Soap
  • Salix Alba Extract (Willow Bark)
  • Melia Azadirachta Seed Oil (Neem)
  • Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil (Tea Tree)
  • Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba)
Avalon Organic Itch & Flake Therapy


  • 2% Salicylic Acid
  • Aloe Vera
  • Tea Tree
  • Chamomile
  • Essential Oils
Nioxin Cleanser


  • Proprietary technologies (Bioamp, Scalp Access, Activ-renewal)
Neutrogena TSal Therapeutic Shampoo


  • 3% Salicylic Acid
John Frieda Root Awakening Shampoo

John Frieda

  • Peppermint Extract
  • Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5)
  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C)
  • Salicylic Acid
 DHS Sal Shampoo


  • Salicylic Acid USP 3%
Dark and Lovely Healthy-Gloss 5 Moisture Shampoo

Dark & Lovely

  • Satin Oil
  • Salicylic Acid
Dermarest Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo


  • ​Antioxidants
  • Zinc
  • Pro-vitamin B5
  • 7 Different  Conditioning Ingredients


  • Biotin
  • Folic Acid

A Quick Look at the Best Salicylic Acid Shampoos

Salicylic acid works by promoting the sloughing off (peeling) of excess skin in order to remove crusts and scales, as well as excess oil on the scalp.

​Here are some of the best products currently on the market:

Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo

This shampoo has soothing effects on the scalp and nourish the hair follicles. It helps clear the scalp to enable the hair and hair follicles to breathe and grow healthy.

Avalon Organic Itch & Flake Therapy

This shampoo from Avalon is an environment-friendly option. In fact, it is one of the few biodegradable products of its kind. Its non-toxic organic ingredients prevent dandruff, skin irritation, scalp itching, and flakes.

Nioxin Cleanser

This cleanser is part of a 3-step hair care technology for improved hair health and thickness. Nioxin is a known brand in this market with products that has a record of proven effectiveness.

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo

This is for dandruff treatment, and is typically used as part of a 3-step hair revitalization program. This product alone can help with scalp problems but optimum results are obtained with the full treatment program.

John Frieda Root Awakening Shampoo

This product aims to address hair and scalp problems by energizing the roots through improved hydration and better blood flow which in turn treat dry scalp and reduce flaking.

DHS Sal Shampoo

Those with flaky scalp might benefit a lot from DHS Sal shampoo. This one also has healing action that relieve scalp itching and inflammation.

Dark and Lovely Healthy - Gloss 5 Moisture Shampoo

This moisturizing shampoo gets rid of flakes from the hair and the scalp. It helps prevent a dry scalp that may lead to dandruff.

Dermarest Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo

This medicated shampoo does not just treat scalp psoriasis and problems that come with this condition, it also nourishes and conditions the hair. It has a soothing effect on the scalp, further reducing psoriasis symptoms.


This supplement product is made from 100% natural ingredients and extracts which had been clinically proven for its effectiveness. The perfect adjunct product together with a salicylic acid shampoo!

Reviews Of The Best Salicylic Acid Shampoos

This African Black Soap’s deep cleansing action reaches the roots, removing dirt and oil buildup. It also removes oil and dirt along the hair shaft. These actions help keep the hair healthy, adding volume and shine. As a result, itching and bad dandruff is reduced if not completely removed.

Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Ingredients such as tea tree oil keep bacteria from growing on the scalp and hair. Aloe vera has a soothing effect on the scalp. Shea butter helps in protecting the hair from damage. Jojoba oil supports healthy hair growth while rosemary contributes to improved hair health.

Things We Liked

  • Made with organic ingredients
  • Exfoliates and detoxifies the scalp to reduce dry, flaky scalp

Things We Didn't Like

  • Has to be massaged onto the scalp daily to get its benefits
Avalon Organic Itch & Flake Therapy

The topical salicylic acid content helps soothe scalp itching and reduce flakes. Additional natural ingredients such as chamomile and aloe vera further soothe the scalp. These natural ingredients also help balance the pH in the hair and scalp. This shampoo may help itchy flaky scalps especially well.

Things We Liked

  • Biodegradable product
  • May be effective in controlling dandruff flakes

Things We Didn't Like

  • Effects are seen only after frequent usage

This is a deep-acting scalp and hair cleanser with proprietary ingredients. It washes off oil, dirt and flakes off the scalp surface. At the same time, this cleanser goes deep into the scalp and removes oil and dirt buildup. It can also help remove excess DHT in the scalp which would help prevent androgenic alopecia.

Nioxin Cleanser

Things We Liked

  • Has niacin that may help improve blood circulation to the scalp
  • Has biotin that may contribute to better hair health

Things We Didn't Like

  • Optimum results are seen after using all the products in the 3-step Nioxin system
Neutrogena TSal Therapeutic Shampoo

This shampoo therapy for dandruff combines the power of tea tree oil and salicylic acid. This product is widely considered to be the best anti-dandruff shampoo. It is an effective treatment for severe dandruff. It can even be used for other scalp conditions such as scalp psoriasis.

Things We Liked

  • No additives
  • Odor-free, Color-free
  • Continues to work on the scalp for several hours after rinsing

Things We Didn't Like

  • Salicylic acid can dry the hands

Dry hair is prone to breakage, often resulting in unhealthy looking hair. This root awakening shampoo hydrates the roots. It helps nourish the scalp and the hair follicles. These actions support the hair and promote recovery from damage. Hair becomes less prone to damage and achieves a healthier shine.

John Frieda Root Awakening Shampoo

Things We Liked

  • With niacin for better blood flow to the scalp

Things We Didn't Like

  • Comes with fragrance
DHS Sal Shampoo

This shampoo has no fragrance or color, which is why it is recommended for those who want to use  a shampoo with salicylic acid but are sensitive to commonly used additives and fragrances.

Things We Liked

  • No fragrance
  • Prevents future flake buildup

Things We Didn't Like

  • Contains EDTA

If you are looking for the best anti dandruff shampoo with moisturizing effect, this one is for you. It has satin oil that conditions the hair up to 5x better than average conditioners.

Dark and Lovely Healthy-Gloss 5 Moisture Shampoo

Things We Liked

  • Restores hair strength, moisture, softness, body and shine

Things We Didn't Like

  • Does not lather as much as other shampoos
Dermarest Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo

For severe dandruff and scalp problems such as scalp psoriasis, this medicated shampoo may help. It can help reduce problems that arise from scalp psoriasis such as flaking, itching, inflammation and irritation.

Things We Liked

  • Dermatologically-tested
  • Less hair breakage
  • No fragrance

Things We Didn't Like

  • Symptoms return a few weeks after discontinuing treatment, although treatment does produce symptom reduction

This 100% natural formulated supplement product is the ideal supplement for your hair loss problem and a great adjunct to get the most out of your salicylic acid shampoo treatments.

Foligen is made from natural ingredients and extracts which have been clinically proven for their effectiveness in preventing hair loss, repairing and strengthen hair, and stimulating growth.


It is enriched with Biotin or Vitamin B7, a water-soluble vitamin that plays a major part in maintaining the health of your hair and skin. The active ingredients do not only help to improve the health of your hair, but also help to improve the health of your nails and skin.

​This product is made in the US within a GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) certified facility. This ensures that their products are produced to a high quality standard.

Things We Liked

  • Clinically tested
  • Thicker, Stronger Hair
  • Made in the US within a GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) certified facility
  • No side effects

Things We Didn't Like

  • More effective in the early stages of hair loss than in later stages
  • Not an overnight success

How To Use Salicylic Acid Shampoos

You’ll only get the best results if you use this salicylic acid sulfur shampoo properly, and if you have a serious case of dry scalp and a doctor or/and healthcare professional prescribed this treatment, just follow the medicine prescription.

If you are using any of these products for scalp treatment, apply before taking a bath or shower. It should be applied before a wet hair.

Use the applicator that comes with the shampoo. Apply directly on the affected area.

Leave it on for a few minutes to allow for deeper penetration. Start by leaving it on for 5 minutes when starting the first treatment. Gradually increase the length of time the shampoo is left on the scalp.

Rinse well with lots of water. You may proceed with your bath or shower afterwards.

This product is not meant for continuous use so you might want to use a good hair thickening shampoo when you observe that your scalp is no longer dry or flaky.​

Salicylic acid may work on the skin over your hands just as it is working on your scalp. Wash your hands thoroughly right after application to avoid getting dry, scaly skin on your hands.​

Safety Precautions for Dandruff Shampoos

Pregnant and breastfeeding women must always check with their physician or/and health care professional before using anything, including medicated shampoos. The salicylic acid and other added ingredients might absorb into the body. Even if salicylic acid is generally safe and rarely cause side effects, these women must always take extra precaution.

Check for allergies before using. Salicylic acid rarely cause severe irritation or allergic reactions but taking caution is always recommended.

You should also avoid getting harsh soap or cleansers on the areas where the salicylic sulfur shampoo has been applied.

Read the package label on specific usage instructions. Consult a physician or/and health care provider, especially in conditions of extreme dandruff and skin disease.

Salicylic acid is designed for safe external use. Avoid getting it in contact with the nose, mouth and eyes. Avoid contact with the genital area, too. In case the product gets into these areas, immediately rinse well with water. If it gets into the eyes, flush with running water for 15 minutes.

Avoid inhaling the vapors of salicylic acid shampoos, especially when using them in small, poorly ventilated areas. The vapors can irritate the lining of the nose and throat.


Our top pick among these salicylic acid shampoos is the Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo. We particularly like its deep cleansing effects. It works really well in keeping the roots and the scalp clean and  healthy. This deep cleansing action unclogs the pores and allows the scalp, especially the hair follicles to get better nutrition. During many dry scalp conditions the hair follicles are starved of nutrition. 

Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Nourishing the roots and the scalp can help promote more vigorous hair growth. Hair becomes stronger and less prone to damage, breakage and hair fall. Finally, the shea butter clinches the deal. It’s a great moisturizer, making your hair soft, shiny, and luxurious.

Image credits: Amazon.com

Alex Eriksson (Research Analysis)

Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research-backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals.

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