Having dandruff can be embarrassing. You might be out in public with freshly-washed hair, and still your shoulders are coated with those tiny white flakes of skin. You have probably tried all of the dandruff shampoos and treatments available, you are wondering if there might be an easier – and more natural – way to rid yourself of dandruff.
What Is Dandruff, and What Causes It?
Let’s start by talking about what dandruff is. Simply put, it is a very common, chronic scalp condition characterized by flaking skin. For the most part, it is not harmful, yet it can be extremely frustrating to live with.
Dandruff can be caused by several different, sometimes contradictory factors:
- Dry skin. If your skin as a whole has a tendency to be dry, the skin on your scalp may be dry as well. The flakes caused by this kind of dandruff may be smaller and less oily than those caused by other things.
- Oily skin. Sometimes when skin is chronically oily, it can become irritated – a condition called seborrheic dermatitis. The symptoms are red, oily skin covered with yellow or white scales. It may also affect other parts of your body, such as your eyebrows and the backs of your ears. This is one of the most common causes of dandruff.
- Not shampooing often enough. If you wait several days between shampoos, you may experience a build-up of oil that can lead to dandruff.
- Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that most adults have on their scalps, but it irritates some people more than others. When the scalp is irritated, extra skin cells grow and then may fall off.
- Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis may lead to dandruff.
- If your skin is very sensitive as a rule, you may have contact dermatitis caused by shampooing too frequently or using harsh hair products.
As you can see, dandruff can be caused by many different things. Fortunately, there are ways to handle it that do not involve harsh chemicals or a lot of money.
Natural Remedies for Dandruff
Here are 15 of the best natural remedies for dandruff. It is important to note that some of these remedies may work better than others, depending on what is the cause of your dandruff. For example, people with dry skin may respond better to treatments that involve oils and moisturizers, while people whose skin is naturally oily will probably want to stick to more astringent treatments.
Rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Apple cider vinegar helps to restore the natural pH balance of your scalp, and it also fights yeast. Mix equal parts water and vinegar, then add about twenty drops of tea tree oil. Apply the mixture to your scalp and massage it in. Leave on for about five minutes, then rinse. Repeat 2-3 times per week.
Baking soda is a natural exfoliant that can help to remove excess skin and absorb oil. Wet your hair, then massage a couple of handfuls of baking soda into your scalp. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse. Do not shampoo your hair after this treatment.
After shampooing, rinse your hair with one part white vinegar to four parts water instead of plain water. The acetic acid in vinegar can help to relieve itching and kill yeast.
Heat extra virgin olive oil until it is slightly warm, then massage it into your hair and scalp. Wrap your head in a warm towel and let the oil sit for at least 45 minutes or overnight. Afterwards, shampoo and condition your hair. You can do this treatment several times a week if you have a dry scalp.
Mix one cup of plain yogurt with two teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper. Apply it to your scalp (do not spread it through your hair) and cover it. Let it sit for at least a half an hour, then rinse and use a mild shampoo. Pepper is a natural anti-fungal, and the yogurt will moisturize and help prevent the flaking of your scalp.
Mix freshly squeezed lemon juice with baking soda until it forms a paste. Apply it to your scalp. Leave on for several minutes, or until you feel it start to itch, then rinse it out with cool water.
Listerine has anti-fungal properties that help to fight bad breath. Those same properties also make at an effective remedy for dandruff. Try rinsing your hair with Listerine twice a week to help fight yeast and keep your scalp from flaking.
Fenugreek seeds are a powerful anti-fungal that can help to fight dandruff. Soak the seeds overnight, then grind them into a fine paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Mix the paste with a few teaspoons of plain yogurt and apply it to your scalp. Let it sit for several hours, then rinse and use a gentle shampoo.
If your scalp is dry, separate two eggs and whisk the yolks until they are combined. Apply the mixture to your scalp and massage in. Cover with a shower cap and let it sit for a couple of hours, then rinse and use a gentle shampoo. Warning: this particular treatment does not smell good, but it works!
Aspirin contains salicylates, which are a common ingredient in dandruff shampoos. Try crushing two aspirin tablets and mixing them with a gentle shampoo. Washing your hair and rinse. If you still feel the aspirin powder on your scalp, you can shampoo a second time.
Aloe vera gel is soothing to the scalp and also has antifungal properties. Take about 5-6 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and massage it into your scalp. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so, then rinse.
Neem leaves are an Indian herb sold in ayurvedic stores or online. They can be an effective treatment for dandruff. Simply soak a handful of leaves in 4-5 cups of not water overnight, then use the water as a rinse for your hair. You can also crush the leaves into a paste and apply the paste to your scalp.
Sunlight can help dry up extra oil on the scalp that may contribute to dandruff. Obviously it is important not to spend too much time in the sun, especially if you have pale or sensitive skin, but try to spend 15-20 minutes in direct sunlight every day.
The Omega-3 in cold water fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna serves as a natural lubricant for your scalp. This remedy alone will probably not cure dandruff, but anything that helps keep your scalp healthy can help reduce the amount and severity of dandruff.
Eat plenty of fruits and veggies. Let’s face it – we really are what we eat. Getting enough of the micronutrients that help keep your body as a whole healthy can also help to prevent dandruff. Some vitamins that may be particularly helpful are vitamins C and E. Dark leafy greens and citrus fruits are great sources of Vitamin C, and you can get your daily dose of Vitamin E from avocado or nuts.
Figuring out the best remedy for you may take some trial and error. If one remedy doesn’t yield the results you want, try another. It is important to give any remedy you choose a chance to work, as it may take several treatments to get results.