Acne is no fun. Most everyone has experienced acne at some point – so of course it’s normal to an extent and can happen to anyone.
But did you know that you can actually contribute to acne by choosing the wrong hair products? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair products can definitely contribute to bumps along your hairline (either on the back of your neck, forehead, or along your hairline).
If you’re looking for the best shampoo for acne management, it’s important to consider these factors when shopping: the ingredients, whether the product is sensitive skin-friendly, and any other hair concerns that you’re working to manage.
Getting acne and breakouts to heal and under control can be a difficult task to take on – trust me, I know. I spent years healing and a few more years getting rid of the scars left behind by a bad breakout I had for a few months way, way back. And those were not fun times for me, my skin, and my skin care budget.
Acne can appear and develop on just about anywhere in your body. Though it generally and commonly appears on the face, chest, and back, you can also develop acne on your scalp. Like the acne on your face, scalp acne should be dealt with and managed properly. If not, you could enter a vicious cycle of getting rid of them and then getting them back over and over again, which can be painful and can take a toll on anyone’s self-esteem and confidence. But with the right product for your hair care routine, you can be on your way to achieving a clear scalp.
To save you some time, I have researched the best of the best products currently available. Based on the factors I mentioned above and a ton of comments from shampoo users, my favorites acne shampoo picks are listed and reviewed below. If you want to find out what made the cut, simply scroll along with me!
Before we dive into our favorite shampoos for acne, let’s first learn more about scalp acne.
What is Scalp Acne?
Because the scalp is an extension of the skin on our face, many people experience developing acne on the area as well. It can show along the hairline or throughout the scalp area. Though scalp acne is considered to be less common than it is on your face, chest, and back, it can pose the same problems for anyone.
Dealing with them the right way – one way is using the right shampoo in your hair care routine – is a great way for you to permanently get rid of them or at least keep them under control and make your way to a slow but sure healing process.
Causes of scalp acne
Acne on your scalp can be caused by a number of things. Generally, they can be caused and triggered by one or more of the following:
- Excess oil or sebum production on the scalp
- Buildup of dead skin, oil, and variety of hair products
- Clogged pores and hair follicles due to buildup
- Acne-causing bacteria
Treating scalp acne
Though it’s a bum to have to deal with scalp acne, you can control a lot of what causes the condition to develop. We have below some steps you can do to deal with your case of scalp acne:
- Use a medicated shampoo or scalp treatment
- Avoid oil-based hair products
- Opt for lighter or water-based products for your hair care routine
- Go for non-comedogenic products
- Keep your scalp clean and keep a routine that satisfies and keeps your scalp healthy
- If the condition is persistent or if it worsens, pay your dermatologist a visit
Now that we’ve got Scalp Acne 101 out our way, it’s now time to dive into our current favorite scalp acne shampoos available in the market right now!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
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The Best Shampoo for Acne
Our number one pick for the best shampoo for acne is the Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo! A scalp scrub treatment shampoo, this works to soothe dry, flaky, and itchy scalp. This is formulated as a micro-exfoliator to aid you in removing dead skin cells and product build-up on your scalp, both of which are lead causes of scalp acne. Each use of this scalp treatment promotes a clean, balanced, and overall healthier scalp that is free from dryness, flaking, itching, and acne breakouts you may know too well.
Formulated with charcoal, this works to clean and detoxify the scalp while drawing out impurities and buildup that can potentially clog your hair follicles and pores and can lead to scalp acne. The charcoal ingredient not only helps deeply clean your scalp but also works to keep your scalp clean and healthy. The B-complex vitamin Biotin in its pool of ingredients also helps strengthen your hair and follicles to promote fuller and overall healthier hair that could take you and your self-confidence places you never knew existed.
Having been infused with peppermint and spearmint oil, this has been proven to soothe irritated and itchy scalps. The coconut oil in the list of ingredients works to moisturize and hydrate your scalps in order to prevent dryness and the appearance of flaking on your scalp. Every time you include this in your hair care routine, you are sure to step out of the shower with hair and scalp that is healthy, balanced, and moisturized. The combination of natural oils also provides a cooling and refreshing effect for your inflamed and irritated scalp.
Many users would attest that regular usage of this Briogeo helps clear up acne along your hairline and throughout the rest of your scalp. This also helps your hair and scalp feel much fresher and cleaner after every wash. There is also a light scent to it that most users would agree is refreshing, calming, and not at all too strong or overwhelming. The only drawback users have shared regarding this specific product is that it can be drying if used daily due to its cleansing properties. Many have advised that you use this as an occasional treatment ony.
Made with 98% naturally-derived ingredients, you are sure to only get the best of the best in the market right now. This is free from sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, and artificial dyes as well for your peace of mind. This is certified gluten-free, cruelty-free, and suitable for vegans. If these are important things for you and the products you use, go ahead and check this one out.
- Scalp scrub treatment shampoo
- Soothes and relieves scalp from drying, flaking, and itching
- Helps remove dead skin cells and product buildup from scalp
- Promotes a clean, balanced, and healthy scalp
- Cleans and detoxifies by drawing out impurities on scalp
- Strengthens hair and hair follicles
- Soothes and refreshes irritated, inflamed, and itchy scalps
- Balances and moisturizes scalp
- Helps clear up acne along hairline and on scalp
- Hair and scalps feels much fresher and cleaner
- Light scent is not too strong
- 8%* naturally-derived ingredients
- Gluten-free, cruelty-free, and suitable for vegans
- Free from sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, and artificial dyes
- Might be drying if used daily
2. Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo – Best for Oily Scalp!
The next item on our list of the best shampoos for acne and our best choice for oily scalp is the Degrease Shampoo from personal care brand Maple Holistics! If what you’re looking for is a shampoo that not only responds to your issues of scalp acne but one that can minimize the greasiness of your oily scalp as well, you might be in for a treat with this one. A deep cleansing shampoo for greasy hair and oily scalp, this clears your hair from oil and hair product buildup for much cleaner and healthier hair all over.
Formulated with a mix of natural oils of jojoba oil, peach kernel oil, lemon essential oil, and basil oil, this nourishes your scalp and locks for a grease-free and moisturized finish. This also effectively helps get rid of flakes, dandruff, and itchiness all over your scalp for locks and scalp that feels healthier and better. With plant-based ingredients from botanical extracts, you are sure to achieve optimal hair care and maximum degreasing with only the best ingredients and without the unnecessary additives such as sulfates.
Although a degreasing shampoo, this doesn’t leave your hair feeling overly dry. It instead moisturizes and at the same time removes excess grease with every use. This leaves your locks squeaky clean and less oily at the roots. With this in your hair care routine, you are sure to achieve more manageable scalp and locks that can go longer without having to wash them constantly as you normally would because of the oil buildup and greasy feeling. This also helps relieve your scalp from itching and will leave you feeling cleaner.
Many users who use this for their scalp acne would agree that this helps them manage the condition. Because the oiliness and greasiness – a major cause for scalp acne – is kept under control and minimized, the acne and its symptoms are also kept under wraps and is calmer. Acne on your face is also under control with this one as your healthier hair is constantly touching your face. Without any harsh ingredients infused in its formula, this is friendly and suitable for acne-prone skin and helps to significantly reduce scalp acne.
The only drawback users have noticed with this Maple Holistics shampoo is that it has a more of a medicinal herb scent to it due to the variety of natural plant-based ingredients. While this may be a preferred scent for some, others would prefer for it to have a different scent. Some also found it to be drying if used every day or without an accompanying conditioner right after. A few users have also shared that you might not get the results you want if you don’t follow the given instructions. If you decide to go with this one, make sure to follow them closely for best results.
- Ideal for oily scalp
- Deep cleansing shampoo for greasy hair and oily scalp
- Clears hair and scalp from oil and product buildup
- Removes flakes, dandruff, and scalp itching
- Grease-free finish but moisturizing and not drying
- Botanical extracts for only the best plant-based ingredients
- No unnecessary additives such as sulfates
- Hair is squeaky clean and less greasy at the roots
- Hair is more manageable and can go longer without washing
- No harsh-ingredients for acne-prone skin
- Scalp acne is significantly reduces, minimized, and under control
- Scent is not for everyone
- Can be drying if used everyday or without conditioners
- Not the best results if instructions are not followed closely
3. Tea Tree Special Shampoo – Best for Scalp Soothing and Refreshing!
Our next favorite shampoo for acne and our pick for the best scalp soothing and refreshing shampoo is the Tea Tree Special Shampoo! If what you’re hunting down for is a shampoo that has a soothing and refreshing feel for your sensitive and irritated scalp, make sure to check this one out. With the famous Tingle Complex, this blend of tea tree, peppermint, and lavender leaves you and your scalp with a cooling, tingling, and refreshing sensation with every wash. This promises to leave your locks and scalp clean and full of shine.
With natural tea tree oil, peppermint, and lavender in its pool of ingredients, this works to soothe and calm your scalp while leaving a refreshing scent that is sure to make you feel great. If you’re someone with sensitive and irritated scalp due to scalp acne, you can trust this to offer much needed relief and calming with every wash. Thanks to its pool of soothing and calming ingredients, you can rest assured that this will help clear out acne along your hairline and throughout your scalp.
The refreshing and soothing tea tree shampoo helps wash away impurities to leave hair and scalp clean and clear. You can trust this one to wash away all the dirt and buildup without washing away the hair’s natural and essential oils and nutrients. This also works to ease and relieve your scalp from constant itching you might experience. Thanks to its soothing and calming properties, your scalp is sure to come out of the other side with less itching. You can also expect to achieve hair that feels extra light and extra clean.
Thanks to the natural tea tree in its ingredients, you can rest assured that this will help acne heal and clear out faster for healthier scalp all over. This also offers a great and refreshing smell of tea tree, peppermint, and lavender that is sure to take you to relaxing places. This is proudly vegan and paraben-free for your peace of mind while using it as part of your hair care routine. This is also color-safe and is suitable for people with colored hair and don’t want to ruin that. If these are important things you consider, be sure to check this one out.
While some users would attest to the fact that this helps moisturize and relieve dry scalps, some still found this to be drying if used every day or without a conditioner to go right after. To make sure that your hair doesn’t end up drying, make sure you include a moisturizing conditioner in your hair care routine after cleansing with this.
- Ideal for scalp soothing and refreshing
- Soothes and calms irritated and sensitive scalp
- Leaves a cooling, tingling, and refreshing sensation
- Calms and relieves scalp that is prone to scalp acne
- Helps clear out acne faster
- Refreshing scent and blend of tea tree, peppermint, and lavender
- Washes away dirt, buildup, and impurities without washing away natural oils
- Offers relief from scalp itching
- Hair feels extra light and clean
- Moisturizes dry scalp
- Vegan, paraben-free, and color-safe
- Can be drying for hair if used every day or without conditioner
Our next pick for the best shampoos for scalp acne is the Vanicream Free & Clear Shampoo! With this in your hair care routine, you are sure to be able to remove dirt and impurities from buildup and hair products so you can achieve cleaner scalp and hair. This also helps remove and get rid of flaking and scaling brought about by dandruff and buildup accumulation. This promises to leave hair extra clean and more manageable everyday.
If you’re someone who also suffers from oily and greasy scalp, which can be a factor in developing scalp acne, you can trust this to take control of that as well so there are less chances for the acne to redevelop and reappear. This is sure to provide a nice and clean feeling on your scalp and hair without the harmful chemicals and makes use of only clean and good ingredients. With this in your hands every time you step into the shower to wash your hair, you are sure to achieve clearer scalp free from bumps and acne.
Being free from the usual chemical irritants such as dyes, fragrance, parabens, and lanolin, this is a great option for someone looking to use a shampoo that is free from harmful ingredients. This has also been formulated fragrance-free for those who are sensitive to it. This is also gluten and sulfate-free for those who would prefer products without such ingredients. And a pH-balanced shampoo, this works to keep your scalp at a healthy balance so you can achieve healthier scalp and hair overtime and with regular use.
A dermatologist-tested shampoo, you can rest assured of this Vanicream shampoo’s effectiveness and safety. You can rest assured that this has gone through the watchful eyes of experts and is safe for sensitive skin. Because there are no harmful chemicals in this formula, this also assures you that it is safe for acne-prone skin and face and would not further aggravate your condition further.
The only drawbacks a few users have shared regarding this is that it is not a tearless shampoo, therefore it could sting and burn once it gets into your eyes – just make sure you be careful whenever using this. As the other items in our list of favorites, some users have found this to be drying without following it up with a conditioner. Make sure you choose a conditioner to go with this in your hair care journey.
- Removes dirt and impurities caused by buildup and dirt
- Helps hair become more manageable and extra clean
- Removes flaking and scaling
- Controls oily and greasy scalp for less chances of scalp acne
- Cleaner scalp free from bumps and acne
- Free from harmful chemicals
- Fragrance-free for people who are sensitive to it
- pH-balanced shampoo for keeping scalp and hair at a healthy balance
- Dermatologist-shampoo for safety of use and sure effectiveness
- Would not aggravate acne on face further
- Can burn and sting eyes
- Can be drying without conditioner
The last item to have made it into our list of the best shampoos for acne is the Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo! A shampoo made to wash away and remove scalp buildup, you can put your trust in this to keep your scalp clean and free from buildup that can further aggravate your scalp acne. This also offers effective relief from itching and flaking that can be caused by scalp buildup from dandruff or dead skin cells.
This shampoo has been infused with 3% salicylic acid, a clinically-proven ingredient to treat multiple symptoms brought about by scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff. If you’re someone who has experienced such scalp conditions, be sure to give this one a try. And don’t worry, as this is a dermatologist-recommended for over a whopping 10 years, you can rest your heart assured that this stays true to its words and promises. This has also been recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as an effective relief to the conditions’ symptoms.
Many users would agree that this Neutrogena shampoo helps cure and get rid of acne bumps along your hairline and throughout the scalp. By controlling buildup and oil, you are less likely to develop them throughout the area of your scalp. This works to control multiple scalp symptoms and conditions like inflammation and flake buildup. This also works well for those who have sensitive and irritated skin to soothe and calm them for overall healthier scalp and hair.
Having been formulated without added colors, preservatives, and fragrance, this is sure to be suitable and friendly for sensitive skin. This promises to deeply cleanse and relieve your scalp without stripping off your natural oils needed for nourishment and moisture. This also continues to work on your scalp and hair even after hours of rinsing the shampoo off your head. Its conditioning formula keeps your hair and scalp feeling moisturized and not at all drying.
The only downside users had to share was that it can burn and sting if it gets into your eyes, you just have to be careful on not getting any into your eyes to avoid this. The scent this Neutrogena shampoo has isn’t also the number one thing many people love, so just keep that in mind.
- Washes away and removes scalp buildup
- Offers relief from scalp itching and flaking
- Formulated with salicylic acid that relieves scalp from symptoms of scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff
- Dermatologist-recommended shampoo for over 10 years
- Free from added colors, preservatives, and fragrance
- Deeply cleanses scalp without stripping off natural oils
- Cures and gets rid of acne bumps on scalp
- Keeps oiliness and greasiness under control
- Works for sensitive and irritated scalp
- Conditioning formula continues to work on hair even after rinsing
- Can burn and sting eyes
- Scent is not for everyone
How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Acne
With so many shampoo options that claim to do this or be good for that, it’s important that as consumers, we know exactly what to look for in the next staple shampoo for acne.
One of the first and important things you should be looking at in purchasing your new shampoo is its list of ingredients. When looking for a new shampoo for your scalp acne, it’s important that you are familiar with some ingredients that are sure to be good for your condition. Tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are some ingredients you could look for. These ingredients help remove and wash away impurities and buildup on your scalp and at the same time target acne-causing bacteria.
You should also know a few ingredients to avoid in your new shampoo. This includes sulfates and other harsh chemicals that can cause irritation and aggravate sensitive scalp. Make sure your new shampoo isn’t formulated with ingredients that can further worsen your condition and its symptoms.
Because you have acne-prone skin, you would want to get your hands on a shampoo that is suitable for sensitive skin. You can go for hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic ones to make sure that it will not irritate and aggravate your scalp and your acne symptoms. A dermatologist-tested or recommended one is also a good choice if you’re looking for something that has passed the standards of professionals.
Other hair concerns
To make sure you get the most of your new scalp acne shampoo, you should also consider your other hair concerns you want to solve or answer to. Whether it is dry scalp or hair, dandruff, or oiliness and greasiness, you are sure to find one that’s perfect for your needs and your concerns. Make sure to consider this factor as well in looking for your next favorite shampoo.
Shampoos are a great way to answer and respond to a lot of scalp issues and concerns. With the right shampoo in your hair care routine, you are not far from solving and curing your issue with scalp acne.
Our number one pick for the best shampoo for acne is the Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo thanks to its scalp scrub formula that works to remove dirt and buildup for healthier and cleaner scalp! This also helps strengthen hair and hair follicles and soothes inflamed and irritated scalp. The Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo is our pick for the best acne shampoo for oily scalp! This offers deep cleaning for oily and greasy scalps while promoting scalp that is free from acne and bumps. And our choice for the best scalp soothing and refreshing shampoo for acne is the Tea Tree Special Shampoo! This leaves your scalp with a tingling, cooling, and refreshing feeling that is sure to calm and soothe sensitive and irritated scalps.
We hope our review of our favorites and guide above led you to your new favorite scalp acne shampoo. Cheers to a cleaner and healthier scalp!