The New Duo That Kicks Dandruff In The Butt – But Does It Cleanse Hair Too?

by Gio

neutrogena t gel 2 in 1 dandruff shampoo

Salicylic acid ain’t just for unclogging pores. It helps with dandruff too.

I know because dandruff and I are no strangers. When you have oily hair, you’ll have to deal with it at some point.

I was hoping Neutrogena T/Gel 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo would help. And save me some time in the morning too.

But it has the same flaw of so many shampoos on the market today. They. Don’t. Clean.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid (a.k.a. beta hydroxy acid) is an exfoliant. It dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together, so they can slough off.

It also gets rid of dandruff flakes – you know the dead bits of skin that fall on your skin and make you look like you’ve just been caught in a snowstorm.

The end.

Yep, this is all salicylic acid does. It has NO effect on the fungus that gives you dandruff.

FYI: Do NOT use salicylic acid shampoos on children and teens with the chickenpox or flu.

Piroctone Olamine

Luckily, salicylic acid doesn’t work alone here. It gets a helping hand from piroctone olamine, the newest dandruff fighter on the block.

Unlike salicylic acid, piroctone olamine has anti fungal properties that can kill fungi (and that’s the real cause of dandruff, after all).

Good news: piroctone olamine works well in tiny doses too. A 2000 study found that an anti-dandruff shampoo with 0.75% piroctone olamine and 2% salicylic acid used twice a week for a month was “slightly more effective than zinc pyrithione [another common anti-dandruff fighter]  in reducing the severity and area affected by the scaling.”

The catch? Piroctone olamine is highly unstable. It quickly degrades and stop working when exposed to light. Putting it in a see-through bottle wasn’t the smartest idea, Neutrogena.

Gentle Surfactants


Sorry for shouting and the exclamation marks but it needs to be said. Surfactants aren’t the devil. They’re what’s needed to help dirt and excess oil mix with water so they can be removed.

These “sulfate-free,” “gentle surfactants” shampoos that are all the rage now may be enough for dry hair without buildup. But if your hair is a ball of grease, they won’t cut it.

Have you ever tried washing your oil-soaked pans with baby shampoos? It’ll take you all day. That’s what you’re doing when you’re using a shampoo that’s too gentle on oily hair. Those lazy buggers leave most of the grease on your hair. Ugh!

Unfortunately, the blend of surfactants here (Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine, just to name the main two) IS too gentle for oily hair. And it’s only oily hair that gets dandruff. What were you thinking, Neutrogena?

Let’s Put It To The Test: Personal Use & Opinion

Neutrogena claims T/Gel 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo is so gentle, you can use it daily. Well, if you have oily hair, you’ll have to. A couple of hours after washing, your hair looks all greasy again. 🙁

That’s a shame because this stuff IS good against dandruff. Already after the first use, I could see a reduction in flakes. The more I used it, the more my dandruff improved.

Plus, this stuff isn’t so heavy, smelly and drying as most dandruff shampoos. The texture’s a nice gel, the scent subtle and the formula so gentle, it leaves my hair soft instead than brittle.

But hey, remember that study I showed you above? Patients used a shampoo like this only twice a week. So you can alternate it with a different shampoo that actually cleanses hair. That’s what I did.

Available at: £7.50 at Boots

How do you deal with dandruff? Share your tips in the comments below.

Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Propylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Polyquaternium-22, Sodium Sulfate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Piroctone Olamine, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Parfum

PR Sample. Affiliate links.

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Jami Severstad May 24, 2018 - 5:45 pm

I have seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis, and have dealt with these issues on my scalp since childhood. I’ve tried all the prescription and OTC shampoos over 35 years. Most haven’t worked, or they work for a while and then lose their effectiveness, Neutrogena shampoos (especially T-Gel) falling into that latter category. I also supplemented with homemade rinses of cider vinegar and lemon juice dilutions. I didn’t notice that helped the scalp condition, but it did help the oils. Several years ago, I switched to a sulfate-free tea tree shampoo, and found that it helped my conditions better than the prescriptions did, because it wasn’t drying out my scalp too much and exacerbating my conditions. I didn’t experience the difficulties removing grease like you did, though (this was Nature’s Gate Tea Tree, BTW). I also tried a salon brand, Pureology, and their Hydrate line. It worked about the same as the Nature’s Gate (but at a higher price point). Then about a year ago, I found another salon brand, Surface (made by Wayne Grund), had a line specifically for scalp health: Awaken. Unless this suddenly loses its effectiveness, too, I will never use anything else. Surface uses organic, high-potency, ethically-procured, vegan ingredients. That’s not that important to me, but what I’m impressed with is the results. It has reduced the dreadful, eternal deep itch I felt. It cleans my scalp better than anything else I’ve ever tried and removed all the buildup from the conditions I have; I know this because the few times I’ve had an itch, scratching produces significantly less of the “flurries” and instead I will have a little raw spot, because all the layers of debris are gone. My hair stays cleaner longer, and I don’t have to wash every day any more, which helps balance my scalp even more. An added bonus is the additional hair regrowth I am experiencing. This is the line that is also marketed toward those with hair loss; there are additional products aiming to help that, but I’ve been using the shampoo and conditioner alone. Am I cured? Of course not. But this makes me feel less a walking snowstorm and more human than since I was ten years old.

Gio May 27, 2018 - 7:45 am

Jami, thanks for sharing your experience. Glad you’ve finally found something that works for you.

Natalia Dajczer May 25, 2018 - 4:28 pm

I thought dry hair could get dandruff too? The very powdery type of dandruff.

Gio May 27, 2018 - 7:47 am

Natalia, dry hair can get a dry scalp. They both flake, which is why a dry scalp is often confused with dandruff.


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