Review :: Polytar Liquid

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  • Ingredients
  • Wash
  • Price


Polytar is an absolute legend of the psoriasis community. If you suffer from mild scalp Psoriasis then this stuff works for so many of you. Bear in mind that it stinks like your grandad’s pipe and will strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils.

User Review
3.5 (6 votes)

buy now on ebay Polytar is one of those shampoos that is extremely highly regarded by sufferers of Scalp Psoriasis in the UK.  It doesn’t seem to have the same reputation globally despite being widely available, and sites like this will go some way to educating people about the global options.

Despite being incredibly popular, GlaxoSmithKline (who manufactures the product) has suddenly ceased manufacturing it at all in the UK.  They won’t explain why either, some suspect they don’t like working with Coal Tar.   Others are claiming that its supplier has run out of the stuff.  Whatever the reason, it is still available on Amazon, typically from Thailand, but the price is still relatively reasonable.

Coal Tar isn’t an active ingredient I personally like.  I’m pretty sensitive to it and it smells, but many many psoriasis/mild seb derm sufferers swear by it so I gave Polytar a go.

My first thoughts? This stuff stinks.  Worse than any shampoo I have used in my life.  It smells like pipe smoke, burnt trees and freshly laid roads.  I knew it was serious stuff there and then.   Most manufacturers would have added perfumes, which can be a nightmare for us with sensitive skin, so despite the smell, I applaud the manufacturers a great deal. Producing a shampoo that smells like this takes bravery.

The shampoo didn’t foam too much when washing until the second application and it dried my hair out a little.  Even after drying my hair I could smell the stuff so I do recommend a good conditioner to try and eradicate the smell.   But do you know what?  It works for millions.  There are compromises though…

The ingredients are disappointingly harsh which may explain my beetroot red face after washing.   There’s a number of ingredients known to cause contact dermatitis in here.  Big no-nos like Cocamide DEA, sulfates, ethanol, a formaldehyde releasing preservative derived from animal urine and an unknown fragrance mysteriously called Fragrance 5412.  Where the fragrance fits in I will never know.  Unless they actually added the smell of pipe smoke?

If you’re not particularly sensitive to the ingredients listed and don’t mind the smell then this Polytar is definitely worth a try. But if, like me, you’re pretty sensitive to the harsh chemicals then there are alternatives such as Alphosyl, Capasal and other coal tar shampoos out there.


  • The site owner. I founded, and have ran this site for too many years now. I have extremely sensitive skin, have suffered from seb derm for all my adult life and this site is my way of doing something about it. Check out my sister site at

4 thoughts on “Review :: Polytar Liquid”

  1. It is rubbish now, not the thick liquid and smell as before but just like an ordinary brand of shampoo with a hint of coal tar. Don’t waste your money on it. Boo to whomever brought it back after it fell off the market. Your a disgrace to even call it polytar again.
    Im off back to Tgel

  2. I used to use the old Polytar liquid shampoo many years ago and it was great – it was a thick brown liquid with a distinctive smell and it worked. Then a few years back it disappeared from the shelves and you couldn’t get it anywhere.

    Anyway, recently I tried this Polytar Shampoo that is now available again and it is NOT the same stuff. It is a pale watery imitation of the old Polytar and it does not work. It isn’t even as good as T-gel or Alphosyl; neither of which I rate very highly. The manufacturer of this rubbish is clearly trading off the reputation of the old Polytar.


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