No one is really immune to dandruff, the annoying and sometimes embarrassing condition targets the scalps of all types of people, young and old.
Dandruff can be the result of a dry scalp or a skin condition known as seborrheic dermatitis. It may also be caused by eczema, psoriasis, or, an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus known as Malassezia. Most products available at the store include shampoos with zinc pyrithione, aimed to eliminate fungus and bacteria; ketoconazole, which also fights fungus, as well as coal tar and selenium sulfide, which helps to slow the growth of the scalp’s skin cells. Salicylic acid is also often used to help loosen those flakes so that they can be washed away more easily.
The problem with those store-bought anti-dandruff products is that most contain toxic ingredients, including some of which are specifically used to fight it in the first place, like pyridine zinc which has potential side effects like skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions such as hives or rashes, and even hair loss. Then there are sulfates, which are found in the majority of personal care products. They’re known to cause redness, irritation, and itchiness (ironically, some of the things that come with a case of dandruff), and some sulfates have even been found to disrupt the reproductive, cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
Parabens are commonly used as well, acting as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth and other microbes from invading the product. Parabens are considered to be an endocrine disruptor which can result in hair loss and are also known to irritate the skin leaving your scalp unhealthy.
And that’s just a start. Pretty disturbing, isn’t it? But the good news is that you don’t have to resort to pricey products that may or may not be effective, and could even compound the problem. Instead, why not consider one of these home remedies – they’re generally a lot cheaper, come without all of those side effects, and odds are, you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has been obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of the melaleuca alternifoliate, a plant native to Australia. And, when it comes to dandruff, it’s one of the best remedies there is, thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. The oil is able to battle the fungus that leads to dandruff without drying the scalp. It helps to kill the bacteria that is causing the overproduction of skin cells, which in turn creates dandruff. When applied on the scalp, it penetrates hair follicles, unclogs them and eliminates microorganisms that trigger irritation, itchy scalp and dandruff. In fact, one study showed that shampoos with just 5 percent tea tree oil were able to significantly improve the severity of dandruff.
To use it, simply add about 10 drops of tea tree oil per eight ounces of your favorite shampoo and wash as you would normally, but allow it to sit on your scalp before rinsing so that it can soak up the benefits.
You can also make a more powerful overnight treatment with tea tree oil. Fill a small, empty bottle about three-quarters full with a carrier oil like almond oil or jojoba oil. Add 15 drops of 100% organic tea tree oil such as this one from Plant Therapy and mix well. Apply this mixture to your scalp by massaging it in for several minutes, ensuring your scalp is totally saturated. Place your hair in a shower cap, or another type of covering to avoid getting the oil onto your pillowcase, and keep it on overnight. In the morning, wash your hair as you normally would.
2. Argan Oil
Using argan oil on your scalp can help to reduce dryness while nourishing both the hair and scalp. It’s packed with antioxidants and essential oils which are known to help reduce skin inflammation and prevent dryness.
To use it, warm 5 or 6 drops of pure, organic Argan oil such as this one available from Plant Therapy via Amazon, between your palms and then apply it to your scalp and massage well. Leave it on and place a shower cap on your head to allow the oil to soak into the hair and scalp overnight. Treating your scalp twice a week with the oil will help eliminate dandruff and dryness.
3. Coconut Oil
What can’t coconut oil do? Not surprisingly, it’s also a very effective remedy for battling dandruff. In fact, it’s been used since ancient times to treat a variety of skin, scalp and hair conditions, including dandruff. That’s because it contains antifungal properties, which means that coconut oil can kill the fungus that causes dandruff. As it’s also an effective moisturizer, it helps to moisturize the scalp to prevent or treat dryness, one of the causes of dandruff.
Coconut oil also contains lauric, caprylic and capric acid, medium chain fatty acids that are not only responsible for a significant portion of its health benefits but help the oil penetrate deeper into the hair shaft and scalp. Because it has a soothing effect, it helps to relieve the itch and irritation, and thanks to its multiple nutritional properties, it can help keep the hair and scalp healthier too, and a healthy scalp is better able to fend off dandruff in the first place.
To use it, warm up about two tablespoons of coconut oil in a small bowl (a little more or less depending on the length of your hair) until it liquefies. Apply the warmed oil to your scalp using your fingers, and then apply it throughout your hair, starting from the roots and working your way to the ends. Massage your scalp and hair with the oil for a minimum of five minutes, and then place a shower cap over your hair and leave it on overnight. In the morning, wash your hair as you normally would.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar (like this one available on Amazon) helps to treat itchy, dry skin and it also kills that dandruff-causing fungus and bacteria. The acidic content of vinegar is particularly effective for reducing that annoying flaking. The acidity actually changes the pH of the scalp, which makes it harder for the yeast to grow.
To use this treatment, mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water and set it aside. After washing with your normal shampoo, apply the mixture onto your wet hair. Massage it into your scalp and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing. Also, discover another 10 incredible benefits of washing your hair with apple cider vinegar.
5. Baking Soda
Baking soda works in a number of ways for battling dandruff. First, it’s an excellent exfoliator, gently exfoliating the scalp without irritating it while also helping to remove dead skin cells. This is an essential process in order to ensure that flakes aren’t allowed to build up. It’s absorbing properties help to remove excess oil, dirt and dead skin cells from the scalp, and it also helps to clear any excessive sebum from the scalp without causing excessive drying. As baking soda is alkaline, it also works to balance the scalp’s pH level, preventing further problems.
There are multiple ways to use baking soda for treating dandruff, including:
- Simply add a quality brand of baking soda like this one available on amazon, to your usual shampoo.
- Combine baking soda with apple cider vinegar into a paste and apply the mixture onto your scalp; massage gently to help scrub dandruff away, and then rinse your hair with cool water.
- Mix baking soda with rosewater to make a paste, and then apply the paste on your scalp. Massage it in gently for 2 or 3 minutes to help loosen flakes and dead skin cells. Rinse your hair with cool water, but do not use shampoo.
6. Raw Honey
Honey, particularly in its raw form, offers an extensive range of surprising benefits, including fighting dandruff and issues like seborrheic dermatitis. It’s a natural humectant which helps the hair hold onto moisture to prevent dryness, while also delivering a potent infusion of vitamins A, C, D, E, B-complex, beta-carotene, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.
Research from 2001 that was published in the Journal of Medical Research found that applying honey that’s been diluted with 10 percent warm water to affected areas, and allowing it to be absorbed for three hours before rinsing, was able to provide relief to that incessant itch – and relieve scaling within a week. The experts said the results are because of honey’s powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, noting that problems like dandruff are typically the result of an overgrowth of fungus.
Of course, applying honey to the hair and scalp sounds like a rather messy event, but most users say that the reward of a dandruff-free head of hair is well worth it.
To use this remedy, get your hair wet and then apply raw, diluted honey, like this one (90% honey and 10% water). Massage it into your scalp for 2 to 3 minutes and then allow it to sit for a few hours. Afterward, rinse with cool water.
7. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is proven to get rid of dandruff naturally. Its acidity helps to balance the scalp’s pH, keeping dandruff at bay. Use it by massaging two tablespoons in your scalp and allowing it to sit for just a few minutes before rinsing with cool water. Then mix a teaspoon of lemon juice into 8 ounces of water and rinse your hair again with that. Repeat daily until dandruff is eliminated.
8. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is cooling, helps to soothe an irritated scalp, and it also works to mildly exfoliate while its antifungal and antibacterial properties work to eliminate the fungus that leads to dandruff. It also helps to thoroughly clean the scalp, eliminating debris that gets accumulated in the pores and balances the scalp’s pH. Using the plant itself is not only much cheaper than buying a shampoo that contains aloe vera, it’s a lot more effective as those products tend to contain only a very small amount.
In addition to its antibacterial and antifungal properties that allow it to get to the root of the problem, it contains analgesic properties that help to stop the itching that can actually the problem worse that it already is. That’s because scratching the scalp to get to that itch stimulates the production of the sebaceous glands, and even promotes infections in wounds.
You’ll need one to three snips of the aloe vera plant to make use of this method – if you don’t have a plant already, they’re easy to come by and relatively cheap. Once you have the plant, cut the aloe vera leaves lengthwise with a knife. Extract the gel that oozes from the inside of the leaf with a spoon and put it into a container. Get your hair wet, and then apply the gel directly onto your scalp. Massage it in for several minutes in order for it to penetrate deeply. Now, put a towel on your hair and wait for about 30 minutes before washing as normal.
9. Olive Oil
Olive oil offers a number of properties that help battle dandruff and improve the health of the scalp and hair. It’s loaded with antioxidants, as well as vitamins like A and E which helps to lessen the damage done by hair care products, and acts as a natural moisturizer for moisturizing the scalp, preventing dryness and flakes as well as reducing dandruff. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties further work to fight against dandruff and other hair problems. As olive oil contains polyphenols, it not only helps to free the scalp of debris like dirt and oil, but it smoothes out dry, frizzy hair without creating greasy buildup.
Using the “warm olive oil massage” method is particularly effective for achieving a healthier head of hair, and dandruff-free scalp. Simply warm up one-half to one cup of organic olive oil either on the stove or in the microwave, testing it with your finger to be sure that it’s not too hot for applying to your scalp. Apply the oil to your scalp, massaging it in, and then working it through the hair with your fingertips. Comb through your hair and then cover it up with a towel or shower cap. Allow it to set for about 30 minutes, or as long as overnight, before washing your hair as you normally would. Use the treatment once a week until the problem is eliminated.