Skin care

Best Shampoo for Scalp Acne – February, 2021 Reviews & Buyers Guide

Acne is no fun regardless of your age or where the acne is setting up shop on your body. Scalp acne is one of the many surprising regions where acne can make its home. The right shampoo is one of the best ways you can combat these little red jerks.

Acne happens mostly due to oil and dead skin cells building up on the scalp–they get mixed in with the hair follicles and before you know it, those red, annoying bumps have popped up.

The scalp is a frustrating place to find acne (well, most places are) because it’s covered by your hair and not as easy to get to when you want to do something about it. Of course, this can be a good thing at the same time because it’s covered up and not visible like acne on the face, neck, arms.

You are a more likely target for ending up with scalp acne if you typically deal with an oily scalp and if you sweat a lot.

Shampoo is a way to force these nuisances to hit the road. There are a few specific ingredients that you want to look for to ensure that you will make a difference on your acne. Look for one of the following ingredients when you’re checking out shampoos for scalp acne: glycolic acid, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, jojoba oil, and/or ketoconazole.

Glycolic acid works as an exfoliator, and when it comes to microbacteria, glycolic can zap it out. Salicylic acid is another exfoliator. Ingredients that act as exfoliators help with acne because they clear out dead skin and buildup so that acne doesn’t have a breeding ground to dwell in.

Tea tree oil is still in the beginnings of its research on health benefits, but the National Institutes of Health are saying that it can help to treat acne. Tea tree oil is an ideal ingredient if you are most interested in natural remedies and products since tea tree oil is a natural oil.

According to the National Institutes of Health, jojoba oil is a natural plant oil that can have a positive effect on acne and can serve as an anti-inflammatory. Since it can lessen inflammation, jojoba will probably have a soothing effect on acne laden scalps.

When using a shampoo, use your fingers to massage your scalp. A nice, gentle massage with your hands is probably the best natural exfoliator you can give yourself. Opening up the pores and allowing buildup to cycle down the drain is good for your scalp, but any more intense exfoliation could be harmful.

One great part about shampoos for scalp acne is that many of them can double as treatment for dandruff.

If you are experiencing pain, or if your scalp acne persists, it might be a good idea to consult a doctor. There are ways to treat scalp acne beyond adding a new shampoo into the mix. Cortisone shots or oral pills might be prescribed.

Here are a few tips while you’re looking for a shampoo to treat scalp acne:

  • Look for one of the ingredients that will deal with your acne directly: glycolic acid, salicylic acid, jojoba oil, or tea tree oil.
  • Look at additional treatments the shampoo might target: thinning hair, color treated hair, etc. If one of these will benefit you, then go for it.
  • Always look for good reviews.

Best Shampoo for Scalp Acne

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Maple Holistics-Degrease

The Degrease Shampoo by Maple Holistics is a shampoo for acne prone scalps. The Degrease Shampoo removes excess oil from your scalp and hair, and it helps to get rid of buildup.

Jojoba oil is one of the ingredients here that throws oils and acne-producers to the curb. The shampoo is also good for sensitive skin.

This and the fact that it is made from natural ingredients are great news. If you have sensitive skin, you know that it can be slightly scary trying new products if you don’t know how your skin will react. The natural products found in the Degrease Shampoo show that Maple Holistics is serious about providing a shampoo that will get rid of scalp acne without harming you.

In addition to treating scalp acne, Degrease works as a hair loss treatment. If you’re noticing hair loss and don’t like it, this could be a good shampoo for you.

The shampoo is free from sulfate, artificial dyes, and artificial fragrances. No animals have been harmed in its production.

Although the shampoo says it can help with dandruff, some have said it does nothing when it comes to dandruff.

Pros and Cons

  • Includes Jojoba Oil
  • Treats Hair Loss
  • Sulfate-Free
  • Removes Grease Buildup
  • Helps with Dandruff
  • For Sensitive Skin
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Natural Ingredients
  • No Artificial Fragrances, Dyes
  • Some Say Doesn’t Help with Dandruff

Maple Holistics-Pure Tea Tree Oil Shampoo

This is a tea tree shampoo for scalp acne. The best part about Maple Holistics is that their products are completely natural. This means that you aren’t up against any potentially harmful chemicals or fake fragrances that could end up having a negative effect on your body and skin.

So, the first pro for Pure Tea Tree Oil Shampoo is that the shampoo is ideal for sensitive skin. You can’t find enough solid products for sensitive skin out there, so you might want to pick this one up if that’s you.

Pure Tea Tree Oil Shampoo is sulfate-free.

The shampoo is meant for dealing with itchy, flaky, and dry scalps. These side effects can come from dandruff, dry scalp, and sometimes acne. The shampoo is advertised to help fight acne.

Although Maple Holistics doesn’t directly advertise their shampoo for dealing with scalp acne, tea tree oil has been found to have potentially healing effects on acne. The National Institutes of Health has found so far that tea tree oil most likely has benefits for handling acne. This is good news because tea tree oil is a natural oil.

Jojoba oil is another natural ingredient that can partner in taking down acne. The National Institutes of Health have shown that jojoba oil is good for a multitude of skin conditions, and acne is on the list.

The shampoo is also supposed to help with thinning hair. If you are noticing that your hair is thinning, you might want to tackle it with Maple Holistics’ Pure Tea Tree Oil Shampoo.

This shampoo can also face head lice and has antifungal and antibacterial properties.

One negative for this shampoo is that some have experienced dryness as a result of using it.

Pros and Cons

  • For Sensitive Skin
  • Sulfate-Free
  • All-Natural Ingredients
  • For Itchy, Dry Scalp
  • Fights Dandruff
  • Prevents Thinning Hair
  • Prevents Head Lice
  • Anti-Fungal, Anti-Bacterial
  • Includes Jojoba Oil
  • Some have noticed dryness

Glycolix 10% Shampoo

Glycolix, 10% Shampoo, can be used on your body, face, and scalp. This makes it a convenient all-purpose product. The shampoo can treat acne, eczema, and psoriasis. It gently exfoliates the skin to loosen up pores and allow for buildup to be removed.

Glycolix, 10% Shampoo, is not a harsh product and should be okay on sensitive skin types.

It helps reduce and prevent acne with both glycolic and salicylic acids, so this one should do the trick when it comes to getting rid of scalp acne.

The shampoo is pricier than some other ones out there.

Pros and Cons

  • All-Purpose
  • Exfoliates Skin
  • Removes Buildup
  • For Sensitive Skin
  • For Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis
  • Includes Glycolic Acid
  • Includes Salicylic Acid
  • Pricey

Teenology- ‘Be in the Clear’ Shampoo

Teenology’s Be in the Clear Shampoo is designed for teenagers who are struggling with scalp acne. The formula unclogs pores, and one of the ingredients that helps with this is glycol.

The shampoo is free of sulfate and cruelty in the USA. It is a unisex shampoo, so it works for male or female.

An attractive feature for this shampoo is that it is gentle on colored hair. If you are a teen who likes to add color to your hair, you might be interested in this Be in the Clear shampoo.

One negative about Be in the Clear is that it includes artificial fragrances.

Pros and Cons

  • Sulfate-Free
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Made in USA
  • Unclogs Pores
  • Safe for Color Treated Hair
  • Includes Glycol
  • Targeted for Teens
  • Includes Artificial Fragrance

Free & Clear Set

This is a shampoo for scalp acne. Free & Clear has created a shampoo and conditioner set to combat scalp issues. The shampoo removes buildup on the scalp, and it is gentle on sensitive skin. If you have skin that gets easily agitated, you might want to consider this set.

The product includes glycol, so it is an effective fighter against scalp acne. Although it works to eliminate excess oils, the set does leave you with healthy moisture.

The shampoo and conditioner are made without harmful chemicals. This is a priceless guarantee since there are many chemicals that can end up creating harm while they’re treating a condition. In addition, the shampoo and conditioner are free of fragrances. This is yet another positive for those with sensitive skin.

There have been a few complaints about the texture of the shampoo and conditioner–some say they don’t lather well when you use them.

Pros and Cons

  • No Harmful Chemicals
  • For Sensitive Skin
  • Moisturizes Scalp
  • Fragrance-Free
  • Includes Glycol
  • Removes Buildup
  • Doesn’t Lather Well

Healthy Hair Plus-ANTI-B Antibacterial Shampoo

Anti-B Antibacterial Shampoo is a shampoo for scalp acne. Healthy Hair Plus’s ANTI-B Antibacterial Shampoo is meant to clean your pores and reduce buildup on your scalp that can lead to acne. This shampoo includes several natural ingredients that help to soothe your scalp and get rid of damaging effects to your scalp.

Witch hazel is one of the ingredients in this shampoo, by Healthy Hair Plus, that can take down extra oils settling into your scalp. It is an element you might find in toners to eliminate acne on the face, too.

The shampoo is antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal. It can lessen inflammation and flakiness that is related to dandruff and other scalp conditions.

Lemon oil has been added as a natural fragrance.

The shampoo is a bit pricey.

Pros and Cons

  • Cleans Pores
  • Includes Witch Hazel
  • Sulfate-Free
  • Antibacterial
  • Helps with Itching and Flakes
  • Natural Lemon Oil Fragrance
  • Antiseptic
  • Pricey

Dermarest-Psoriasis Medicated Treatment

This is a medicated shampoo that can help with scalp acne. The shampoo is fragrance-free, so it might be good for you if you’ve got sensitive skin.

The acne-fighting agent here is salicylic acid at three percent. This helps to reduce the buildup on the scalp, and it can take out scaliness, too. It soothes itchiness--whether it’s related to acne or psoriasis. Essentially, this shampoo can help you deal with all the side effects of experiencing acne on your scalp.

Dermarest is a medicated shampoo. It can also be used to treat psoriasis. A beneficial side effect is that the shampoo leaves your hair with shine.

The shampoo is designed to reduce itchiness on your scalp, but some reports are saying that they still experienced itching after taking the shampoo.

Pros and Cons

  • Fragrance-Free
  • Includes Salicylic Acid
  • Helps with Scales on Scalp
  • Soothes Itchiness
  • Medicated Shampoo
  • Treats Psoriasis
  • Gives Hair a Shine
  • Some Continued to Experience Itchiness

Healthy Hair Plus-Antifungal Shampoo

Healthy Hair Plus has this shampoo for acne on the scalp. The shampoo and conditioner work side-by-side to promote a healthy scalp. It addresses a lot of scalp-related issues: fungus, inflammation, bacteria, and acne.

As an antifungal, this product can work against dandruff production. It destroys bacteria, too, so you are getting protection from a bunch of potential ugliness on your scalp. As an acne treatment, Healthy Hair Plus can eliminate buildup that gets acne started in the first place.

Jojoba oil is the main ingredient in this shampoo that can do away with scalp acne, as well as glycol. The product includes a slew of other natural oils like coconut oil and grapefruit seed extract.

Some users have said that the shampoo leaves their hair feeling limp.

Pros and Cons

  • Includes Shampoo + Conditioner
  • Anti-Fungal
  • Eases Inflammation
  • Reduces Buildup
  • Kills Bacteria
  • Includes Jojoba Oil
  • Includes Natural Oils
  • Includes Glycol
  • Might Leave Hair Limp

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo comes from one of the most respected and well-known brands for treating the scalp. The brand is sold in over seventy different countries around the world.

Neutrogena T/Sal offers therapy for the scalp by working against several scalp conditions: dandruff, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis. Many use it to ward off scalp acne, too. It includes salicylic acid, which is one of the known combatants against scalp acne.

The shampoo prevents oil and skin cells from building up on the scalp and creating an opportunity for acne to form and stay. Neutrogena says that you should notice positive effects on your scalp even after using the shampoo for the first time.

The shampoo also cuts down on flakiness and soothes itchiness on your scalp. It is free of both fragrances and alcohol, so it is a viable option if you have sensitive skin.

The shampoo has been recommended by dermatologists.

Some have complained about the smell of the shampoo, saying that it is unpleasant.

Pros and Cons

  • Includes Salicylic Acid
  • Prevents Scalp Buildup
  • Effects after First Use
  • Cuts out Flakiness
  • Dermatologist Recommended
  • Fragrance-Free
  • Helps with Dandruff
  • Relieves Itching
  • Alcohol-Free
  • Quality Brand
  • Unpleasant Smell

SAL3 Soap Set

SAL3 is a major game changer if you’re battling scalp acne–or any other kind of acne. This soap form of shampoo includes three percent salicylic acid and ten percent of sulfur. This dynamic duo fights acne like, well, none other.

According to the National Institutes of Health, sulfur has major skin benefits. Not only does it treat conditions like scabies and seborrheic dermatitis, but it is an excellent ingredient for getting rid of acne.

SAL3 is an environmentally friendly option. If you haven’t heard of the growing trend to purchase bars of shampoo instead of bottles of shampoo, then here’s an introduction.

Shampoo in bar form is better for the environment because you’re not wasting countless plastic bottles. This shampoo bar, although it might seem weird at first, is easy to use. You take it in hand and massage it into your hair. It also diminishes wastefulness which can happen easily with liquid shampoos. (There are some who like to overdo it out there.)

The bars come in a pack of three.

Some people aren’t a fan of the smell. If you did any sulfur experiments in high school chemistry, you might understand why.

Pros and Cons

  • Includes Sulfur
  • Includes Salicylic Acid
  • Bar Form
  • Set of 3
  • Some don’t like the smell


Acne on the scalp is never a good thing. Since this is a sensitive area of your body to have acne, it’s a good idea to look for something to treat the condition gently.

Shampoo is a simple way to make a difference with scalp acne. Most shampoos for scalp acne can be used regularly, so you should start seeing the effects within two weeks or so.

These shampoos are for mild and moderate scalp acne. If you do find yourself with unresolved scalp acne, or if the condition gets worse, you might want to consult a physician.