Ingredients in Head & Shoulders Sensitive Skin Shampoo

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Proctor and Gamble, the manufacturer of Head and Shoulders shampoo, claims that its sensitive care shampoo alleviates the signs and symptoms of dandruff in a soothing, hypoallergenic formula. The manufacturer's website claims the product is dye free and dermatologically tested. Head and Shoulders Sensitive Care shampoo contains one active ingredient and 20 inactive ingredients.

Active Ingredients

The only active ingredient listed for Head and Shoulders Sensitive Care shampoo is pyrithione zinc in a 1 percent concentration. This chemical has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and is used in the treatment of dandruff, according to "Personal Care Formulas."


Head and Shoulder's Sensitive Care shampoo contains four detergents, including sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. These ingredients are surfectants that foam when agitated with water, allowing the shampoo to lather up. The shampoo also contains cocamide MEA, a detergent derived from coconut oil, as outlined by "Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary."


Dry, sensitive scalps benefit from added moisture, according to "Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary." Head and Shoulder's shampoo for sensitive skin contains five ingredients meant to add moisture to the hair. Glycol distearate is a compound made from petroleum and fatty acids. It works to add moisture to the hair, and also to keep the ingredients in the shampoo from separating over time. Dimethicone, a silicone based moisturizer, coats the hair folliciles to reduce the appearance of damage or rough spots. Cetyl alcohol is both an emollient and an emulsifier. Polyquaternium 10 adds moisture and keeps hair follicles from sticking together, giving the hair a thicker, fuller appearance, according to "Cosmetics Unmasked." Magnesium sulfate is a chemical compound derived from magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. It draws moisture from the air and imparts it into the hair and scalp. Magnesium carbonate hydroxide works in much the same manner as magnesium sulfate. Sodium xylene sulfonate allows water to dissolve in other substances, keeping the formula together and allowing moisture to penetrate to the hair in spite of other ingredients in the shampoo.

Extracts and Vitamins

Head and Shoulders Sensitive Care shampoo has two plant extracts listed in its ingredients. Aloe barbadensis leaf, or aloe, is calming and soothing to dry, irritated skin. Anthemis nobilis, or chamomile flower oil, serves to heal painful skin and soothe dry areas of the hair and scalp. The shampoo also contains tocopheryl acetate, or vitamin E.


Preservatives extend the shelf life of the product and keep potentially harmful microscopic organisms from growing in the shampoo. Sodium benzoate, benzyl alcohol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone all work for this purpose, as stated by “A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients.”

Other Ingredients

Water and salt, or sodium chloride, are also contained in this product. A listing for an unspecified fragrance also is given. The shampoo contains zinc carbonate, a product that causes the shampoo to look opaque or cloudy.