In this video (sponsored by Head and Shoulders) by Veritasium entitled "What Actually Causes Dandruff?", you can hear Dr. Jim Schwartz a Research Fellow at Head & Shoulders say:

The dandruff flakes are just an indicator of a fundamentally unhealthy scalp underlying it by any measure you can dream of making

Is this true? The examples of an unhealthy scalp given are:

  • Inflammatory Cytokines
  • Histamines
  • Blood Proteins
  • Genes: Immune and Inflammatory Response Genes (upregulated), Lipid Metabolism (downregulated).

The premise of this quote and the remainder of this video is fundamentally that dandruff signifies a bunch of a unhealthy gene expressions which have nothing to do with the mere flakes and that Head and Shoulders shampoo reverses these gene expressions making the user healthy.

As said by Dr. Jay Tiesman Genomics Group Leader, Head & Shoulders,

If you treat with Head and Shoulders after three weeks this [gene] signature looks just like someone who doesn't have dandruff. You're looking at 3700 genes clustered on here flip around, going from an unhealthy signature to a healthy signature.

To keep it simple,

  • Does dandruff signify something about your scalp's health?
  • Outside of the annoyances of the flakes, can a shampoo remedy these health problems?
  • 1
    I think there's an implicit assumption here that there is some biological meaning of "healthy" that you can check for. "Health" is a matter of opinion and custom, so if you define "healthy" to be a scalp free of unsightly dandruff flakes, there's nothing wrong with that definition and the claim becomes trivial. Apr 30, 2022 at 15:19
  • I think the Q is unclear - 'unhealthy' is a marketing term in this context. If anyone is interested: The source of the colorful gene expression pics in the Veritasium video: - "Volume 166, Issue s2 Special Issue:The Omics Revolution" - "This supplement was sponsored by Procter & Gamble" it is not made clear whether the usual process of peer review is applied to this sponsored 'special issue' ---- The article(a 100% Procter and Gamble sponsored research, by P&G employees in that P&G sponsored issue) : onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2012.10863.x
    – bukwyrm
    Jul 4 at 10:32


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