Can You Really Use Head & Shoulders as a Face Wash?

Can You Really Use Head & Shoulders as a Face Wash?
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    Head & Shoulders might be best known for keeping those annoying dandruff flakes at bay (and off your black turtleneck), but it’s also good for the skin on the rest of your head — AKA your face.

    That’s right: anti-dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders might not be as trendy as other skincare products, but using them as a face wash can help you get clear skin if you suffer from fungal acne breakouts.

    How Head & Shoulders Works on Acne

    We tend to lump every breakout into one catch-all category called acne. However, there are multiple different types — and sometimes what we call acne isn’t acne.

    Fungal acne fits into that category. Typical acne breakouts happen when excess oil and dead skin cells block the tiny hair follicles in our skin, causing inflammation. However, fungal acne — pityrosporum folliculitis — occurs when a type of yeast called Malassezia grows in those same hair follicles.

    Yeast is a fungus and is also the cause of dandruff, known medically as seborrheic dermatitis. Standard acne ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide won’t do much to eliminate fungus. So, it only makes sense that using the same medicated shampoo that heals your scalp can do the same for your face.


    Active Ingredients

    Head & Shoulders has evolved into being a catch-all term for anti-dandruff shampoos, much like we call all types of facial tissue Kleenex and bandages Band-Aids.

    But it’s just a brand name — in reality, any type of anti-dandruff shampoo used to treat seborrheic dermatitis can help relieve fungal acne breakouts as long as it contains active ingredients like zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole.

    Zinc pyrithione is derived from the element zinc and is shown to help alleviate multiple skin conditions, including fungus that causes dandruff and fungal acne.

    Selenium sulfide is also an effective antifungal treatment and is often used together with zinc pyrithione in anti-dandruff shampoos like Head and Shoulders. It can be more irritating than zinc pyrithione if left on the skin for too long.

    How to Use Head and Shoulders as a Face Wash

    Don’t trash all of your facial cleansers in favor of a bottle of Head & Shoulders or Selsun Blue.

    Instead, use it as a face wash once or twice a day when you have an active fungal acne breakout, and then once or so a week to prevent future breakouts.

    And don’t just slather it on and wash it off right away — it needs time to work. For best results, put it on your face and let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing away. You can also use it as a body wash to banish fungal breakouts on the shoulders, chest, and back; the same rules apply.

    Potential Side Effects

    Using Head & Shoulders as a face wash is pretty safe, but there’s always a chance you can experience a reaction to the active ingredients.

    Zinc pyrithione, for example, can cause a burning sensation or redness, and it’ll sting if you get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

    The Bottom Line

    Head & Shoulders — or any other anti-dandruff shampoo — contains ingredients that can help you heal fungal acne breakouts for a super low price.

    But if the thought of using shampoo as a face wash is less-than-appealing, you can get over-the-counter creams, ointments, and cleansers formulated with zinc pyrithione or selenium sulfide that’ll help you do the same thing.