Dandruff Versus Seborrheic Dermatitis | Head & Shoulders Moisture Care Review

Before I jump into the review let me cover a few basics:  Dandruff versus seborrheic dermatitis.  Skin naturally has microorganisms living on it, including our scalp.  One such microbe is Malassezia globosa and in those with dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, this fungus produces an enzyme (lipase) that breaks down the naturally occurring oil on the scalp (sebum).  This process releases an irritant known as oleic acid (free fatty acid).  The result is itching, discomfort and flakes, the severity of which differentiates dandruff from seborrheic dermatitis.  In the latter, the skin is more sensitive and therefore has a more dramatic response to oleic acid.  Head & Shoulders Moisture Care treats these two conditions with its active ingredient, zinc pyrithione (ZPT), a proven fungicide, thereby reducing the amount of Malassezia which in turn reduces oleic acid and resulting irritation.

The issue in the past with using Head & Shoulders is that it historically has been very drying.  So while the tingly goodness felt great on the scalp and we all breathed a sigh of relief to no longer have those huge flakes – we also don’t want our hair to break from being stripped of its natural oils and moisture.  Head & Shoulders understands our plight and released a line specifically for textured (aka black) hair, called Head & Shoulders Moisture Care.  This line has its hallmark fungi fighting ingredients, but also contains vitamin E-rich almond oil and coconut essence (cocamide DEA – mixture of amides of the fatty acids obtained from coconut oil). It even contains a sulfate-free co-wash product!  Tell me they aren’t surfing hair boards to learn what we need?!  Other products in the line include shampoo, 2-in-1 and scalp soother treatment.

I personally don’t suffer with dandruff any longer (thank goodness) but still have itchiness from time to time, especially if I have sweat build up on my scalp between wash days.  Therefore I tried the co-wash product after a couple of workouts.  As I said it does not contain sulfates and is recommended for use twice per week.  It does not contain ZPT, but does have two anti-fungal and anti-bacterial ingredients (Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone).  However, for best dandruff and dermatitis fighting results, use the co-wash in conjunction with the other products in the line.  The co-wash smells AMAZING and is a thick, creamy consistency that gave my scalp that great refreshed feeling.

After using the co-wash my scalp felt great and my hair did not feel stripped.  The scalp soother is made for “spot relief” and can be used anywhere, anytime.  After checking the ingredients and seeing it contains glycerin and panthenol (two humectants with great moisturizing properties) as well as peppermint and almond oil, I decided to give it a try as well.  I can definitely see how it could stop itching, it felt great!  Plus the nozzle makes it super easy to apply the product directly to the scalp, a huge plus.


  1. DeAngelis, Y. et al: Three Etiologic Facets of Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis: Malassezia Fungi, Sebaceous Lipids and Individual Sensitivity. Journal of Investigative Dermatol 10: 295–297, 2005
  2. Faergemann, J: Management of seborrheic dermatitis and pityriasis versicolor. Am J Clin Dermatol 1: 75–80, 2000

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