Cradle cap is a common skin condition that is harmless to babies. It will typically clear up on its own, and although it’s not itchy or painful, there are plenty of products out there that can help make it better. Cradle cap tends to appear as yellow, greasy flakes which can make the skin look red and sore. It can affect other areas too, like the eyebrows, nose and nappy area. It generally looks worse than it is, and thankfully cannot be passed on to anyone else.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t pick the crusts – even if they look like they are ready to come off. You might see some hair come away with the flakes too, but don’t worry as this is a perfectly normal symptom of cradle cap. If the condition starts to affect your baby’s entire body or you’re worried about it in any way, see a doctor straight away for some advice.
There are plenty of shampoos on the market that can help soothe the skin and soften the flakes. This guide will help you discover more about how certain shampoos can help with your baby’s cradle cap, and the 5 we think are the best to do so. We’ve researched each one, taking into consideration the key features and pros and cons of each. We’ve also added the price, so you can see which one might be most affordable for you.
By reading this guide, you should be armed with more information on how to safely tackle your baby’s cradle cap, or be prepared in case they get it in the future.
- 1 Things to keep in mind when choosing a shampoo for cradle cap
- 2 Top FAQs about cradle cap
- 3 Mustela Foam Shampoo
- 4 Dentinox Cradle Cap Treatment Shampoo
- 5 Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Foaming Shampoo
- 6 Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash
- 7 Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo
- 8 Final thoughts on the best shampoos for cradle cap
Things to keep in mind when choosing a shampoo for cradle cap
What’s in the ingredients?
Harsh and toxic chemicals are a complete no. It’s really important that you use a shampoo that contains gentle ingredients, as anything else will only make the condition worse and irritate the skin further. It’s best to look for natural or organic ingredients, and never use adult shampoos.
Using your shampoo alongside other treatments
While the shampoos on our list are a great tool to helping ease and soothe your baby’s cradle cap, there are other things you can do alongside shampooing to make a difference, too. Before bathing your baby, try massaging a small amount of coconut, baby or olive oil into their scalp and the affected areas. Then wet your baby’s hair and use a dry washcloth to gently brush away the scaly flakes. You can finish up by rinsing with your chosen shampoo and patting them dry.
Generally, most shampoos on our list aren’t too expensive but as ever, we’ve tried to give you a wide range to discover more about. We know that it can be a very expensive time caring for a baby, so don’t be worried if you need to go for the cheaper option as all will be effective in treating your baby’s cradle cap.
Top FAQs about cradle cap
“What exactly is cradle cap?”
Cradle cap’s scientific name is seborrheic dermatitis. It’s essentially infant dandruff that causes oily, irritated skin. Patches and scaly parts of the skin may appear on the baby’s head, face or body (it’s most commonly found on the head), and it tends to appear either yellow and crusty or red.
“What causes cradle cap?”
Despite years of research, no-one really knows exactly what causes it. Excess oil caused by hormones, yeast imbalance, immunodeficiency, and fungal infections are all potential culprits, but generally, the condition goes away by itself. It’s thought that around half of all babies develop cradle cap, so it’s a very common condition. Don’t be worried if your baby is one of them – you’re not alone and it can be easily treated.
“Is it painful?”
No, not at all. Cradle cap isn’t too dissimilar to dandruff. It can look very painful and sore but it definitely shouldn’t be as bad as it seems. It can cause discomfort if the condition is more severe. If you’re worried, go and see a doctor straight away.
Our top 5 shampoos worth buying for cradle cap
Cradle cap can be scary but don’t worry; there are plenty of good shampoos out there that can help soothe cradle cap. Our expert moms have tried and tested some available options, picking their top 5 and weighing out the pros and cons of each. Take a look below.
Mustela Foam Shampoo
1.9 x 1.9 x 7 inches
Avocado Perseose, 99% plant based
Mustela Foam Shampoo is one of the most popular on the market for cradle cap. It’s free from soap and made with 99% natural ingredients, making it kind and gentle on delicate skin. It’s great as both a treatment and a prevention formula.
The main ingredient used is Avocado Perseose. It’s tear-free and has been scientifically proven to help the development of the skin’s barrier function – effectively stopping cradle cap in its tracks. It also contains BHA and Salicylic Acid to exfoliate away the flakes found with cradle cap. You only have to have a look online to see the many positive reviews from parents sharing that it works.
How to use: Apply to wet hair and gently massage your baby’s scalp. Leave on for 1 to 2 minutes. Rinse carefully. Dry gently.
Pros and cons:
99% of plant based ingredients
A bit harder to find in-store
Paraben, phthalate, and phenoxyethanol-free
Dermatologist and pediatrician tested
Dentinox Cradle Cap Treatment Shampoo
2 x 0.6 x 5.5 inches
Sodium lauryl ether sulfosuccinate
Sodium lauryl ether sulphate
Not only can Dentinox shampoo be used to treat cradle cap, but it can be used once the condition’s gone to maintain the health and cleanliness of your baby’s head and scalp. It’s designed to give instant relief from the symptoms of cradle cap and is perfectly safe to be used from birth.
The two main active ingredients in this shampoo is sodium lauryl ether sulpho-succinate and sodium lauryl ether sulfate. Though they sound a bit scientific and scary, they’re actually medicines (called surfactants) and are great for cleansing your baby’s skin. They’ve been proven to be effective in the treatment of cradle cap and general scalp hygiene.
How to use: Wet your baby’s head. Put about half a teaspoon of the shampoo onto your palm and massage gently into your baby’s scalp. Avoid excess massaging and hot water. Rinse off then repeat the first step. Repeat this every time you bathe your baby until their scalp is clear. You can continue to use this shampoo to maintain a healthy head.
Pros and cons:
Very effective treatment
The medicine can cause side effects
Parfum is used to scent
Clean, fresh scent
Not a tear-free formula
Suitable from birth
Can be used on sensitive skin
Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Foaming Shampoo
2 x 2 x 6 inches
Oatmeal, Vitamin E, Organic Shea Butter, Aloe Vera, Organic Flower Extracts, Pharmaceutical Grade Tea Tree Oil, Amino Acids
Don’t be fooled by the price – this shampoo is incredibly effective. Made from completely natural ingredients, including oatmeal; which is a natural exfoliator, and organic shea butter; which moisturizes and soothes the skin, it’s packed with loads of good stuff that will remove your baby’s cradle cap and heal the skin underneath.
The great thing about Bella B Bee Gone is that it can be used as a daily shampoo to keep your baby’s skin nice and healthy. It has a light, natural scent, and a foaming formula, making it super easy for moms and dads to use. In a few washes, you should see cradle cap completely removed.
How to use: Rub some of the shampoo onto your baby’s scalp and let the lather sit there for about 2-3 minutes. This will allow the shampoo to work its way into the layers of scabs to soften them. Once the skin and cradle cap patches are thoroughly soaked, grab a soft brush and gently remove the cradle cap. Rinse and repeat as many times as you need to.
Pros and cons:
Made in the USA
At first, cradle cap can look worse while the formula’s working
Natural and organic ingredients
Light, fresh scent
Can be used daily
Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash
2.4 x 2.4 x 8.6 inches
NO HARSH CHEMICALS: No cocamidopropyl betaine, sulfates (SLS, SLES, SCS), eye-numbing agents, triclosan, formaldehyde, salicylates, parabens, phosphates, MEA, DEA, TEA, gluten, petroleum-based ingredients, animal by-products, perfumes, dyes or caustics
Puracy shampoo is loaded with natural ingredients. It contains absolutely no harsh chemicals, so it’s perfectly safe to use on sensitive skin. It’s also a 2-in-1 formula, which is really handy if your baby’s cradle cot is appearing on other parts of the body other than the scalp. You can use the shampoo directly onto the skin or pop some into the bath water to help reach other areas of the body.
It’s claimed to be tear-free, and while this is true it can cause a little bit of discomfort to eyes by the cleansers attempting to clean the mucus from your baby’s eyes. It can be easily washed out with fresh water but it’s something to be careful of when you’re washing your baby’s head. But overall, it smells great and is an incredibly effective treatment for cradle cot and other skin irritations.
How to use: Rinse skin thoroughly with fresh water. Apply the formula to a washcloth, hands or directly into the bath. Massage into your baby’s wet skin and hair. Rinse with warm water.
Pros and cons:
Developed by doctors
Bit more expensive than other brands
Suitable for all skin types
Not quite as tear-free as it should be; can cause irritation
No harsh chemicals
Made in the USA
Light grapefruit scent
Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo
4.2 x 1.5 x 7 inches
Natural Colloidal Oatmeal, Organic Calendula Flower, Natural Coconut Oil, Natural Shea Butter
Made with plant-based ingredients, Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo is gentle and kind on your baby’s skin. The formula contains oatmilk, which is great for soothing dry and sensitive skin. It also contains Organic Calendula, which specifically helps with cradle cap as it soothes the scalp and moisturizes dry patches, causing them to naturally drop off or come away effortlessly with a gentle brush.
The only real downside is that it can take a few weeks to see results. This is because there are no medicinal ingredients present, only natural, so it just takes a bit longer to work its magic. Before using this shampoo, make sure you do a skin test using a small dollop of the product. If you see a reaction, consult your doctor straight away.
How to use: Apply to wash cloth and gently massage baby’s hair, scalp and body, avoiding eye area. Alternatively, dispense a small amount into bath water. Gently rinse skin.
Pros and cons:
Made with plant-based natural ingredients
Not the most pleasant smell
Certified B Corporation – organic formula
Quite expensive for its size
Good for babies with sensitive skin
Can take a few weeks to see results
Rich in vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories
Paraben and phthalate-free
Can be used on newborns
Final thoughts on the best shampoos for cradle cap
There’s plenty of choices when it comes to finding a shampoo to treat your baby’s cradle cap, as we hope this guide shows. One shampoo won’t be right for everyone, so it’s a case of trial and error to find the right one for your baby. Study the ingredients list carefully and make sure there’s nothing in there that your baby might react poorly too – otherwise, give the one you like the sound of best a go.
Our overall winner has to be Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Foaming Shampoo. It’s affordable and made with completely natural ingredients, so it’s totally safe for your baby to use. We love the foam formula too – this makes it really easy to use in the bath and allows the shampoo to really penetrate the skin and affected area to soften it, making the cradle cap easy to remove. When used alongside a brush you should discover an effective treatment for cradle cap.
For more severe cases of cradle cap, Dentinox Cradle Cap Treatment Shampoo is a fast-acting, effective formula that gets to the root of the problem. If you don’t mind medicinal ingredients then this shampoo might be a great shout. It’s both a treatment and a cleansing shampoo, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your baby’s cradle cap should disappear after a few washes.
However, all 5 shampoos are well worth a try. All have their pros and cons, it’s just a case of deciding which one is right for you.
We hope this guide has helped you understand more about which shampoos for cradle cap are on the market. If you have any other products you’d like us to review, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. And if you’d like to know more about any of the products tested in this guide, let us know in the comment section and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.