Dandruff, those telltale white flakes, are the sign of an itchy scalp the net result of which are mini snowstorms of dead skin littering your shoulders. Unsightly and embarrassing, it’s not the most serious thing ever but dandruff can be stubbornly persistent and very difficult to treat effectively.
What causes dandruff?
Human skin is in a permanent cycle of renewal. Old cells come to the surface where they die and flake off. Usually, this process goes unnoticed as the tiny skin cells are microscopic and barely visible to the human eye. Dandruff is caused by an over replacement of skin cells so that the shedding process consists of a greater volume of skin flakes which are larger and more visible.
It’s no great reveal that people with dry skin or even skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and going to be more likely to suffer from dandruff. Sensitive skin can be another trigger as sensitive skin will dislike certain hair products which in itself can create a reaction that leads to dandruff.
Long periods of dry winter weather can trigger dandruff outbreaks; if the air is cold and dry enough to dehydrate your skin then expect it to be doing the same to your scalp. Dandruff almost always improves during the warmer months. Dandruff can also be triggered by stress or sickness just as in the same way your skin may visibly suffer in periods of anxiety or illness.
What are the best home remedies for dandruff?
If you don’t want to use a branded proprietary shampoo from the pharmacy then there are plenty of alternative home remedies that are effective at treating dandruff and avoid the need to resort to harsh and potentially harmful chemicals.
Hair support – try Hair Support from Rocky Mountain Oils, mixed with Jojoba (2 teaspoons) and Tea Tree oil (4 drops). Add Jojoba and essential oil drops to a glass container, pour the blend into the palm of your hand and then massage it into your scalp. Let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes or a maximum of ten hours. Rinse out with your favorite shampoo.
Try Hair Support essential oil blend (contains: Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Ravintsara, Cedarwood, Holy Basis and Sage. Mix with Jojoba and Tea Tree oil to treat dandruff.
Green tea – combine green tea with some essential oil of Peppermint and white vinegar and massage it onto your scalp for five minutes before rinsing off and shampooing and conditioning your hair in the normal way. Green tea and Peppermint oil contain antioxidants and anti-microbial properties which can help promote a healthy scalp plus the peppermint is cooling and the vinegar gently astringent so together they will calm and soothe irritation and inflammation.
Apple cider vinegar – dilute the vinegar, one part vinegar to one part water, and use this instead of your normal shampoo. Some dandruff is caused by a fungus called, Malassezia, and apple cider vinegar can kill this fungus as well as providing relief from an itchy scalp. Apple cider vinegar will help restore the natural pH balance on your scalp.
Coconut oil – mix five to ten drops of tea tree oil with five tablespoons of coconut oil and then apply to your scalp just before you go to bed, massaging the oils in well. Leave all night before rinsing off in the morning. A shorter and still beneficial option if you are short of time is to leave it on for 30 minutes whilst you relax in a warm bath. Tea tree oil soothes itching and inflammation and coconut oil as well as being a carrier oil to mix other essential oils into, can also fight fungal dandruff.
Lemon juice – squeeze some juice from a lemon and massage in two tablespoons to your scalp, leave for a minute before rinsing off with one teaspoon of lemon juice in a cup of water. Lemon juice contains acids that can break down the fungus which causes dandruff but it does not harm the hair or the scalp in the way that some chemically-based hair treatments can.
Baking Soda – sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda onto wet hair and leave for one minute before washing off with shampoo. Baking soda can gently exfoliate your scalp without irritating it and also fighting against the presence of fungus. It is good for oily hair without stripping it of all its natural oils.
Essential oil blends – essential oils can be used to massage a dry and sore scalp, relieving irritation, and calming inflammation. Many essential oils have antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties as well as anti-fungal and so can also help maintain a healthy scalp as well as offering symptomatic relief from the misery of dandruff. And, they smell divine. Always remember that essential oils are too powerful to be used directly on human skin without dilution first. Use a base or a carrier oil like coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
Tips to treat and get rid of dandruff
- Many people follow that almost natural instinct to wash their hair less if they have dandruff, worried that they will dry out the scalp even more and make dandruff worse. In fact, the opposite is true. Washing your hair less frequently will only cause a build-up of skin cells and oil on your scalp and lead to more outbreaks of dandruff. But overwashing hair or using the wrong products will also make the matter worse – it’s a question of striking the right balance and, using the right hair treatments
- Try and maintain a healthy lifestyle – poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise will contribute to dandruff as well as other health problems. Allocate time each day to de-stress whether that is through exercise, meditation, or just a warm bath with some relaxing and fragrant oils. This is also a great time to treat an itchy scalp too
- Drink plenty of water – remember if your scalp is suffering then your skin is too. Stay hydrated.