A new bad habit I’ve picked up during the pandemic is scratching my head. It’s not an anxious tic from doomscrolling Twitter but the result of a terrible case of les pelliculaires — or, sigh, dandruff. I’ve been in denial for months. My scalp was as flaky as a croissant, but worse, it was so, so itchy. August humidity and a bike helmet did not help. I woke up at night with phantom itches. I felt anxious from trying to not scratch my head.
I tried all the “chic” shampoos, including, yes, the pink, good-smelling one and every shampoo that had “scalp” in the product name. Ultimately, the only one that really and truly worked is decidedly unsexy. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo comes in a navy-blue bottle with a sticker that proclaims that it “Controls Flaking, Scaling, and Itching.” It’s a favorite on Reddit’s dandruff boards, and its active ingredient is ketoconazole, an anti-fungal treatment. (It is an OTC version of what dermatologists would prescribe).
While it annihilates dandruff, it also decimates any moisture on the scalp. It is incredibly effective and incredibly drying. I only had to use it once and it gave me my first true peace with my scalp. I recommend that you only apply it to the scalp, massage it in for five minutes, and then tilt your head to the side as you rinse it out so that it doesn’t trail down the rest of your hair. Then follow up with the most decadent conditioner you can find, so that your hair doesn’t feel like hay. (I like Sisley’s Restructuring Conditioner With Cotton Proteins and Davines Alchemic Conditioner).
Each bottle is only $10, and unlike the Selsun Blue of my youth, there’s no memorable scent. And apparently, Nizoral also comes with myriad other uses. When I posted about it on Instagram, people told me how it’s helped with fungal acne, maskne, and even cradle cap for babies. It seems like a good idea to keep it around.
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