Dandruff has to be one of most annoying hair maladies to have. It’s embarrassing because sometimes people can see it, it flakes on to your clothes and lets not forget the discomfort caused by the itchiness.
I spent most of my high school life fighting a losing battle against it and it only died down when I went natural. However, it wasn’t because I went natural that it went away, it’s because of the change in my hair care methods. In my case, hair products with petrolatum or mineral oil cause dandruff so I avoid them.
Who else has had to sit patiently for 30 minutes on wash day while someone “loosened” dandruff from their scalp by scratching it with a small comb? That was a regular occurrence for me. I had to do that because washing alone would not sufficiently clean my scalp. I also went through a small arsenal of anti-dandruff shampoos which would help but I hated being dependant on them. Strictly speaking medicated anti-dandruff shampoos should only be used by those with a serious scalp condition that is determined to be the cause dandruff.
What is dandruff?
Dandruff is essentially when your scalp or any hair bearing part of your body overproduces skin so it flakes off and dies. It irritates the scalp in the process and causes itchiness. In infancy, scalp dandruff is commonly known as “cradle cap.” (See Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care for cradle cap treatment)
What causes dandruff? (Source)
- Dry scalp
- Not shampooing often enough
- Skin conditions such as eczema — a chronic, inflammatory skin condition — or psoriasis — a skin condition marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales.
- Sensitivity to some hair products, known as contact dermatitis.
- A yeast like fungus called malassezia which lives on the scalps of most adults, but for some it causes the scalp to overproduce skin cells which results in dandruff.
- Irritated oily skin, known as Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales
To effectively treat it, you of course need to know what may be causing it for you. The best approach is to use a process of elimination. e.g Start with moisturizing more and regularly basing your scalp with a good natural oil to see if your issue may just be a dry scalp.
- Use natural products. By natural products I mean products that have no sulphates, parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum etc. Basically any products made solely of ingredients that exist naturally in nature. If you have contact dermatitis , natural products will be less irritating for your scalp.
- Shampoo more often or clarify regularly. Clarifying or shampooing more often will get rid of product build up which can cause dandruff.
- If you have a skin condition, you may have to seek a medicated shampoo that also treats your skin condition. Alternatively you can try natural dandruff remedies. Some remedies will be given in the next section.
- Limit use of styling products. (Overuse of product causes product build up)
- Apple cider vinegar rinse: Mix a quarter cup of ACV with a quarter cup of water and spray on to scalp. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse with plain water. Do this twice a week.
- Baking soda: Wet your hair and then rub a handful of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. Skip the shampoo and rinse with plain water. Your hair may get dried out at first, but after a few weeks your scalp will start producing natural oils, leaving your hair softer and free of flakes.
- Lime: Squeeze the juice from 1 to 2 limes. Apply it to the dandruff zone. Scratch into the scalp area and leave for for about 3 minutes. Then rinse out. Repeat each day over 2 to 3 days; the dandruff should start to retreat.
- Tea tree oil: Mix a couple of drops of pure tea tree oil in with your regular shampoo and wash as normal.
- Coconut oil: Before showering, massage 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil into your scalp and let sit for about an hour. Shampoo normally. You can also look for a shampoo that already contains coconut oil.
- Lemon: Massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 1 cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat this daily until your dandruff disappears.
Remember if none of the treatments or remedies work you should see a dermatologist to determine the root cause of your dandruff problem.