9 Best Salicylic Acid Shampoos

Get your hands on these hair care essentials for healthy, shiny, and smooth locks.

Reviewed by Jill TurnbullJill Turnbull, Hairstylist
By Kirtana DivakarKirtana Divakar  • 
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Different shampoos suit different hair textures, and if you have been looking for the best salicylic acid shampoo, we have everything you need. The market is full of shampoos that promise to make your hair silky smooth and bring back the gorgeous shine. While it is natural to fall prey to such promises, you must have realized that not all of them work for you. Haircare has a lot to do with getting the proper nutrition, nurturing your hair, and cleansing it. Genetic factors also make a big difference in how your hair grows. Here is a list of 9 shampoos that will fight the common hair foes like dandruff, itching, and hair loss and help you flaunt gorgeous hair.

Top Picks

What Is Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid falls is a keratolytic that helps soften keratin in the skin. It is similar to medicines like aspirin. It dissolves the substance that causes skin clogging by alleviating the moisture content in the skin, thereby aiding in the shedding of excessive build-up. It is used as a key ingredient in various skin-care products to help in the treatment of conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.

What Does Salicylic Acid Do

Salicylic acid is used to treat skin and scalp conditions. It performs multiple functions of which treatment of psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, elimination of dandruff, flakes, and redness are some of the most useful ones. Salicylic acid hydrates and helps in the shedding of dead cells by penetrating deep into the skin, leaving it feeling soft and fresh. It also helps to reduce the occurrence of facial and scalp acne, thereby reducing itchiness, irritation, and build-up.

9 Best Salicylic Acid Shampoos


Neutrogena T/SAL Therapeutic Shampoo Image: Neutrogena

This 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner, recommended by doctors, is formulated using salicylic acid, chamomile extract, and panthenol to remove flakes. Jill Turnbull says “It softens the hair and protects it from damage. It helps prevent the recurrence of itchy-scalp by avoiding build-up after every wash. Those who have psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis can find relief by using this shampoo regularly, and The National Psoriasis Foundation has approved it as well.”

  • Natural extracts formula
  • Prevents scale build-up
  • Contains 3% salicylic acid


  • Does not ship to some parts of the world

protip_icon Pro Tip
Leave the shampoo for a couple of minutes after massaging to remove scalp buildup and dirt.

Why It’s Worth Buying: The product has received 6,089 positive Amazon reviews from its users, stating its numerous benefits.
Price at the time of publication: $9.79

Best Color-Free Formula:Neutrogena T/SAL Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/SAL Therapeutic Shampoo Image: Neutrogena

This shampoo by Neutrogena is hailed as the best option to treat any scalp issue. It contains salicylic acid, which helps get rid of crusty, flaky scales on the scalp, thereby reducing itchiness, irritation, and redness. Wet your hair and leave a small amount of the shampoo on the scalp for a few minutes after gently massaging it throughout the hair. For best results, use the shampoo twice a week after consulting with the doctor. Here’s a review video to help you get a better understanding of the product.

  • Color-free formula
  • Preservatives-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Contains clinically proven salicylic acid.


  • Check with a doctor if you are using topical acne treatment, as both treatment options cannot be used simultaneously.

Best Paraben-Free Formula:DHS SAL Shampoo


DHS SAL Shampoo is a treatment doctor recommended to tackle scalp conditions arising from psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff. It helps get rid of crusty scales, itching, and related irritations. Composed of clinically-approved salicylic acid, which helps treat various scalp conditions, has an effect that lasts hours after shampooing. Apply a generous amount on the scalp, lather, and leave it on for a few minutes. It is recommended to use this formula twice a week for the best results.

  • Paraben-free
  • Contains clinically proven salicylic acid


  • Expensive

Why It’s Worth Buying: The product has more than 994 reviews claiming its efficacy.
Price at the time of publication: $11.65

Best In Budget Shampoo:Cosalic Coal Tar & Salicylic Acid Solution Shampoo


The Cosalic Coal Tar & Salicylic Acid Solution Shampoo can treat all your hair-related problems, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, itching, and dandruff, in one go. This salicylic acid shampoo gently exfoliates and removes dirt and dead skin cells and soothes your scalp from inflammation, redness, and rashes. In addition, it has coal tar that helps treat itching, dryness, scaly patches, and flakes on the scalp caused by psoriasis. It can be used daily without any side effects and helps to transform your dull hair into shiny within weeks.

  • Fights dandruff
  • Moisturizes scalp
  • Hydrates
  • Smoothens hair
  • Controls hair fall
  • Chemical-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • GMO-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Travel friendly
  • Budget-friendly


  • Can be drying if used excessively

protip_icon Remember
Do not let salicylic acid shampoo get into your eyes, mouth, or nose, as it can lead to a burning sensation.

Price at the time of publication: $12.96

This anti-dandruff shampoo is formulated using organic ingredients derived from nature. Some of the key ingredients include aloe vera, chamomile oil, tea tree oil, which, when combined with 2% salicylic acid, provides ultimate relief from symptoms that arise with conditions like psoriasis, scalp-redness, and itching. In addition, this product ensures to protect the hair as well as render it looking shiny and healthy for a long time.


  • Contains organic ingredients
  • Paraben-free
  • GMO-free
  • Vegan
  • Biodegradable
  • No preservatives or synthetic colors
  • Cruelty-free


  • Expensive

Price at the time of publication: $14.89

Best For Flakes:RE-fresh Scalp Care Coconut + Soothe Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

RE-fresh Scalp Care Coconut + Soothe Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Image: Refresh Scalpcare

The Scalp Care Coconut + Soothe Anti-Dandruff Shampoo from RE-fresh is formulated with salicylic acid to break down excess oil, prevent the recurrence of flakes, and promote scalp health. This cleanser is enriched with coconut water to provide deep hydration and relieve dryness. White willow bark helps remove dirt and product buildup from the scalp while eliminating dead skin cells to leave the hair clean and healthy. This anti-dandruff shampoo is free of parabens and silicones and is 90% naturally derived. For best results, use this product at least twice weekly and follow up with the Coconut + Soothe Conditioner to rejuvenate the scalp and nourish your hair.

  • Gluten-free
  • Nickel-free
  • Lanolin-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Silicone-free
  • Soy-free
  • Propylene glycol-free
  • Oil-free
  • Dye-free


  • Contains SLS

This shampoo is ideal for treating your dandruff problems effectively. It helps reduce itchiness, redness, and ensures that flaky skin on your scalp doesn’t come back. In addition, this specially formulated anti-dandruff solution promotes the regrowth of healthy hair and leaves it feeling shiny and fresh.


  • Contains 3% salicylic acid
  • Controls itch and scales
  • Gets rid of dandruff


  • Non-refundable
  • Expensive

protip_icon Caution
Do not overuse or apply shampoo with high concentrations of salicylic acid, as it can lead to scalp irritation, dryness, and other skin infections.

Price at the time of publication: $12.99

This formula containing satin oil helps restore the 5 important signs of healthy hair. It is a gentle cleansing formula that cleanses and transforms the strands, reduces flakiness, and prevents scale build-up. It is suitable for dry hair and promotes shine and growth. Apply a generous amount onto your hair, gently massage to produce lather, and rinse off with cold water. For best results, use this shampoo thrice a week.


  • Contains satin oil
  • Restores 5 signs of healthy hair
  • Suitable for dry hair


  • It might not help detangle hair

Best For Color-Treated Hair:NAPURA S6 Active Natural Professional Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

NAPURA S6 Active Natural Professional Anti Dandruff Shampoo Image: Napura Italy

This organic anti-dandruff shampoo from Napura is formulated with a blend of rosemary, lavender, tea tree, and oregano that eliminate dryness and scalp irritation. These moisturizing ingredients keep the hair soft, healthy, and voluminous. The S6 Active shampoo is enriched with essential oils, salicylic acid (5%), zinc pyrithione (1%), and piroctone olamine that combat dandruff. This cleanser maintains the delicate pH balance of the scalp while reducing redness, flaking, and itchiness. The paraben-free formula is gentle enough for color-treated or chemically-processed hair.


  • Soothes irritated scalp
  • Adds moisture and volume
  • SLS-free 
  • SLES-free
  • Cruelty-free



Price at the time of publication: $25.99

Salicylic acid shampoos are very effective at treating flaky scalps and dandruff. However, a wrong choice of shampoo can adversely affect your scalp health. Therefore, here is a buying guide to choosing the best salicylic acid shampoo for your hair.

How To Choose The Best Salicylic Acid Shampoo

  • Ingredients

When choosing a salicylic acid shampoo, those with sensitive skin should take extra precautions. First, check the ingredients list to ensure your shampoo is free of allergens and irritants. Some common irritating ingredients are methylparaben, propylparaben, GMO, paraben, and artificial fragrances.

  • Concentration Level

The percentage of salicylic acid in the shampoo has a significant role in determining how effective it will be when used or how well it will suit your hair. If you’re using salicylic acid shampoo for the first time or have a sensitive or dry scalp, always start with the lowest concentration of around 1-2%. Then, you can gradually increase the concentration to 3% or more once your scalp can tolerate it.

  • Scalp Type

Salicylic acid is generally a safe and sound ingredient for all hair types. However, those with sensitive scalps may react adversely to the component, which is irritating. When using salicylic acid, those with extremely dry scalps should also proceed cautiously, as it may cause excessive dryness and inflammation. Opt for a shampoo with soothing and hydrating ingredients to prevent this. Even the oiliest scalps can dry out with the excessive use of salicylic acid. Therefore, it is advisable to use it less frequently.

Now that we have taken a look at the 10 best salicylic acid shampoos, let us know more about using them.

How Often Should I Wash My Hair With A Salicylic Acid Shampoo

Shampoos containing salicylic acid contain a small concentration of the substance in them. Therefore, regular usage of such shampoos to treat one’s scalp conditions will not adversely affect the hair. In fact, it will help add shine, volume, cleanse hair, and make it look healthier and more nourished than before.

Is Salicylic Acid Safe To Use

Yes, salicylic acid is safe to use, provided the below-mentioned points are adhered to:

  • Run an allergy test by using a small amount initially.
  • Then slowly use it every other day and wait for skin reactions.
  • Skincare products containing salicylic acid can be used regularly until the skin condition has been treated if no reaction/skin irritation occurs.
  • It is recommended by doctors to use products containing salicylic acid in moderation.
  • Since it penetrates deep into the skin to remove build-up and bacterial growth, don’t over-use the product.
  • Follow directions carefully, as mentioned in the leaflets.
  • Consult a doctor before trying out any treatment options to get relief from psoriasis, dandruff problems, etc.

Infographic: Salicylic Acid Shampoos: Washing Tips & Potential Side Effects

If you have an itchy scalp, a salicylic acid shampoo is what you need to regain your hair health. Salicylic acid shampoos cleanse and nourish your scalp and make your hair silky smooth. Check out the infographic below to learn how to wash your hair the right way with a salicylic acid shampoo to reap its benefits.

Salicylic Acid Shampoos: Washing Tips & Side Effects (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Shampoos are the most important part of your hair care routine. They keep your scalp and tresses clean, smooth, and free of frizz and tangles. They are also ideal for maintaining your scalp free from greasiness, residue, and smell. Each shampoo type is uniquely formulated to match your scalp and hair needs. And the best salicylic acid shampoo is one such shampoo type that helps soften the keratin on the skin and eliminate flakes, redness, dandruff, and redness. These shampoos are also known for removing clogging and residue. In addition, the shampoos listed above reduce itchiness, flakes, scalp acne, and buildup. But consider shampoos that are gentle on your scalp and hair. And restrain from investing in formulas that have a thick  consistency.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

The author of this article, Kirtana Divakar, is a haircare buff and loves experimenting with different hair care products. She browsed multiple forums to check user feedback and researched the products in detail to compile this list of the best salicylic acid shampoos for her readers. These products can remove product build-ups, and impart shine and bounce to the hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can salicylic acid shampoo be used daily?

Yes, salicylic acid shampoos can be used daily. But if you have sensitive skin, these shampoos can aggravate your scalp and develop irritations. In such cases, wash your hair with salicylic acid shampoos twice weekly.

Does salicylic acid help with dandruff?

Yes, salicylic acid effectively eliminates scaly, flaky, and hyperkeratotic skin. It also moisturizes dry scalp and improves its health.

Does salicylic acid help with hair loss?

Yes. Salicylic acid does not directly promote hair growth, but it reduces the amount of DHT, a hormone that restricts the growth and development of hair follicles. A low DHT means less hair fall and salicylic acid contributes to reducing hair fall.

How long should I leave salicylic acid on my hair?

You should leave salicylic acid for a minimum of five minutes on your scalp. This is enough time for the acid to get rid of your flaky skin and moisturize the scalp. Remember to wet your hair with lukewarm water and lather the shampoo gently to avoid irritating your affected scalp.

What happens if you leave salicylic acid on too long?

Leaving salicylic acid on for too long can have adverse effects. It can penetrate the pores and start drying out your scalp further.

What should you not use with salicylic acid?

Vitamin C should not be used with salicylic acid. The layering of these ingredients can disturb the pH level of the scalp and damage your hair’s health. Also, skip using salicylic acid with retinol to prevent excessive skin sensitivity and redness.

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic that helps soften keratin in the skin and is a key ingredient in various skin and scalp care products. In this article, StyleCraze provides a list of the 10 best salicylic acid shampoos that can help fight dandruff, itching, and hair loss while nurturing and cleansing hair. These shampoos are formulated to treat scalp conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, hydrate the scalp, and prevent the buildup of dead skin cells. However, it’s important to use them as directed and avoid getting them into your eyes, mouth, or nose.

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