Zinc Pyrithione



No known benefits

Zinc Pyrithione at a glance

  • Cosmetic preservative that is effective against many pathogens
  • Most popular in anti-dandruff shampoos
  • May be suitable for “fungal acne”
  • Comes in the form of white to slightly yellow crystals as a raw material

Zinc Pyrithione description

Zinc pyrithione is a cosmetic preservative and anti-fungal ingredient that is effective against many pathogens. It’s been in use for over 50 years and is most popular as an active ingredient in over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos. It’s also found in body washes, facial cleansers, treatment creams, and other personal care products. It is approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration for use in leave-on products in amounts between 0.1–0.25% and from 0.3–2% when formulated for use in rinse-off products. These amounts are considered safe for skin. Zinc pyrithione’s mechanism of action still isn’t completely understood; researchers just know it works for a wide range of concerns related to overgrowths of various strains of yeast and other fungi. It seems to have a disruptive effect on these substances, dismantling them so they can no longer replicate and cause further problems for skin and scalp. Interestingly zinc pyrithione tends to work differently depending on what it’s up against, one of the reasons it works for such a broad range of yeast-related issues. In recent years, zinc pyrithione has gained attention in social media circles as a key ingredient to treat “fungal acne” (also known as Malassezia folliculitis). While there are studies supporting this assertion, diagnosis and treatment of this condition should be handled by dermatologist. As a raw material, zinc pyrithione comes in the form of white to slightly yellow crystals. Technically speaking, this is an aromatic zinc compound, which is a chemistry term to describe an ingredient whose molecular structure has a specific ring structure referred to as “aromatic”. This is not to be confused with “aromatic” as in perfume or fragrance ingredients.

Zinc Pyrithione references

  • CosmeticsInfo.org, Accessed December 2022, ePublication
  • Science Direct, Accessed December 2022, ePublication
  • International Journal of Molecular Sciences, September 2021, page 1-30
  • Scientific Reports, August 2018, pages 1–11
  • Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, February 2016, pages 140–144

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.