The 5 Best Shampoos for Psoriasis and Color-Treated Hair

For people with scalp psoriasis, finding a shampoo that reduces flaking and soothes itching without altering your hair color can seem like an impossible task. But looking for a few key ingredients in a sulfate-free and/or color-safe formula is the easiest way to identify the best shampoos for psoriasis and colored hair. “Medicated shampoos can help clear up thickened areas of skin, which we call plaques,” dermatologist Lina Kennedy tells Bustle. “For example, salicylic acid can be used to soften and lighten the scaly area,” she says, explaining that this ingredient helps improve psoriasis symptoms and allows any prescription medications to better penetrate the skin. “Other ingredients that may help include tea tree oil, ketoconazole, hydrocortisone, and oats,” adds Dr. Kennedy. Although coal tar is another ingredient recommended by Dr. Kennedy for treating scalp psoriasis, it can be a problem for people with colored hair (especially blondes) as it can cause discoloration and spots. . So, that’s one ingredient you’ll want to avoid.

The expert

Dr. Lina Kennedy, MD, FAAD., is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic and surgical dermatology. She currently practices in Southern California with Stefani Kappel Dermatology.

How to Minimize Psoriasis Irritation

Although you want to carefully read the instructions for the shampoo you choose, Dr. Kennedy advises that in general, medicated shampoos should only be used two to three times per week. “Too much of these helpful ingredients can dry out the scalp or cause irritation,” warns Dr. Kennedy. “Different hair types may have different washing schedules, and it’s important to take this into account when treating scalp psoriasis,” she adds.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that your hair dye could actually make your psoriasis symptoms worse. “Hair dye shouldn’t trigger psoriasis, but it may make the irritation of affected skin worse,” says Dr. Kennedy. “The affected skin is already compromised,” she explains. “Alcohols or other harsh chemicals can cause stinging, burning, and irritation. Additionally, some people may be allergic to paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical used in hair dye.”

If your over-the-counter attempts to treat scalp psoriasis aren’t working, don’t panic. Instead, make an appointment with a dermatologist, who can better determine a treatment plan. “Dermatologists have many prescription options that can greatly help scalp psoriasis,” shares Dr. Kennedy. “We are able to prescribe other medicated shampoos and stronger steroids.”

Shop the best shampoos for psoriasis and color-treated hair

Press? Here are the best shampoos for psoriasis and color-treated hair:

1. Best Drugstore Medicated Psoriasis Shampoo: Nizoral Scalp Psoriasis Shampoo and Conditioner

2. Best Psoriasis Soothing Shampoo: Aveeno Oat Milk Shampoo

3. Best prestige shampoo for psoriasis: Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

4. Best Tea Tree Oil Shampoo For Psoriasis: DERMA E Scalp Relief Shampoo

5. Best Shampoo For Sensitive Skin Psoriasis: Vanicream anti-dandruff shampoo


Best medicated shampoo

For a medicated shampoo specifically formulated to treat scalp psoriasis, there’s this two-in-one Nizoral Scalp Psoriasis Shampoo and Conditioner. The formula contains 3% salicylic acid to help soften and lift scales and dandruff from the scalp, as well as anti-inflammatory tea tree oil. While some medicated shampoos may be too harsh for colored hair, Nizoral is sulfate-free and formulated with soothing and hydrating ingredients like green tea extract, panthenol, and vitamin E. It’s also free of colorants, d alcohol and artificial fragrances, for those with skin sensitivities.

Active ingredients: Salicylic acid, tea tree oil Cut: 11 oz. Cruelty Free: Nope

Relevant notice: “I’ve had psoriasis for years, and it regularly breaks out with scaling and itching on my scalp. I’ve tried so many options that never seem to work. This shampoo was so good and relieved — I’m thrilled to have found it.”


Best soothing shampoo

If you’re looking for a soothing shampoo (or something gentle to alternate your medicated shampoo), try this one Aveeno Oat Milk Shampoo. Oat-derived ingredients are recommended by Dr. Kennedy to soothe itching and irritation, and Aveeno combines colloidal oatmeal extract with hydrolyzed milk protein and sweet almond seed extract to keep the scalp and hair hydrated. The sulfate-free formula is safe for color-treated hair, and despite the moisturizing ingredients, the shampoo is still lightweight, so it won’t weigh down finer hair textures.

Active ingredient: Colloidal oat extract Cut: 12 oz. Cruelty Free: Nope

Relevant notice: “This product helps against psoriasis. Very gentle on the hair, [and] works great for itching and other symptoms related to psoriasis.”


Best Prestige Shampoo

You don’t have to part with your salon-quality shampoo to treat psoriasis, thanks to Oribe. That of the brand Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo uses 2% salicylic acid to reduce flakiness and flaking in a color-safe formula that protects your hair from the bleaching effects of UV exposure and pollution. To soothe the scalp, blueberry and sugar maple extracts have been included in the formula, along with moisturizing and fortifying ingredients like panthenol, pea sprout extract and hydrolyzed quinoa. And as with all Oribe hair products, the shampoo is infused with their signature Côte d’Azur scent, which was developed in conjunction with a perfume house (and has become so popular that the brand is now selling it as a perfume).

Active ingredient: Salicylic acid Cut: 8.5 oz. Cruelty Free: Yes

Relevant notice: “I don’t have dandruff, but I do have psoriasis. It’s largely controlled by UV therapy and BHAs, but I do end up getting a little on my scalp, and every week or so I feel like the itchiness is starting to set in. is easily treated with one of the drugstore psoriasis shampoos but the problem is they are super, super harsh and make my shoulder length hair look like straw. […] It’s massively effective while still managing to feel indulgent and luxurious. […]”


Best tea tree oil shampoo

If you don’t want to alternate shampoos, try this color-safe formula that relies on plant-based ingredients to reduce flaking and itching. DERMA E Scalp Relief Shampoo uses extracts of neem, burdock and bearberry to improve scalp psoriasis, as well as tea tree oil and willow bark extract. Although there is salicylic acid in the formula to help with flaking, there are also plenty of soothing and moisturizing ingredients here (like aloe vera extract, vitamin E and panthenol) to help prevent your hair and scalp from getting too dry.

Active ingredients: Tea tree oil, salicylic acid Cut: 10oz. Cruelty Free: Yes

Relevant notice: “This product is amazing for relieving dry/flaking scalp. The smell is nice. […] Combined with the conditioner, the hair is smooth and easy to comb. The shampoo does not bleach my colored hair.”


Best gentle shampoo for sensitive skin

Although most of the shampoos on this list omit common irritants like sulfates, alcohols, and fragrances, everyone’s skin is different. As Dr. Kennedy points out, while ingredients like tea tree oil can be helpful in treating psoriasis, the essential oil can also be irritating to some. For hypersensitive and allergy-prone skin, Vanicream anti-dandruff shampoo is free of botanical extracts, essential oils, fragrances, sulfates and other common irritants. The formula uses 2% pyrithione zinc to relieve symptoms of psoriasis and is safe for color-treated hair.

Active ingredient: Zinc pyrithione Cut: 8 oz. Cruelty Free: Nope

Relevant notice: “I would definitely recommend trying this if you have extremely sensitive skin, psoriasis or eczema, or are really sensitive to smells. I’m always uncomfortable and itchy on my scalp and all over my body, and it helped lessen the itching so much. It doesn’t do anything special to my hair, but [it] leaves it soft and clean, […] and is so good for my scalp and my extreme sensitivity to scented smells. […]”


You might also like: This pre-shampoo treatment

To help fight the symptoms of psoriasis before you shampoo, Yes To created their Tea Tree Soft & Soothing Scalp Scrub. Designed to be massaged into the scalp once or twice a week, the scrub contains tea tree oil and witch hazel, which can help relieve symptoms of psoriasis, as well as apple cider vinegar. apple to balance and clarify the scalp. You’ll want to rinse it out completely and follow it up with shampoo and conditioner, but it’s been formulated without silicones or sulfates, so it’s safe for color-treated hair.

Active ingredients: Tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar Cut: 6 oz. Cruelty Free: Yes

Relevant notice: “My son and I love this product. We both have psoriasis, and this gentle scrub is amazing. Not too rough, but still a great gentle scrub. It also rinses off very cleanly.”


Dr. Lina Kennedy, MD, FAAD., board-certified dermatologist in Southern California

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