So, you’ve discovered a few little white flakes in your hair, you tried to brush them out but more appeared. You’ve most likely got dandruff, but do not fret! About half the population will get dandruff at some point in their lives – so you’re definitely not alone.
When you come to dandruff, we know you’re looking for the quickest and most effective way to get rid of your dandruff for good.
We’ve put together your best options for doing exactly that, plus a little backstory about the condition so you know exactly what you’re up against. Read on to understand what dandruff is and the best treatments to get rid of it fast.
What do you need to know about dandruff?
So before you start delving into any kind of treatment, you need to actually know what dandruff is and why it occurs.
Having this information in your arsenal will better prepare you and help you figure out exactly what’s going to work best for you.
Dandruff is essentially annoying but also harmless skin condition that affects your scalp. It causes it to flake and itch, but the itching will be quite mild.
The issue with dandruff, is that it’s embarrassing. Nobody wants to be out in public scratching their heads with little white, gray or yellow flakes in their roots and on their clothing.
There are only two ways of dealing with Dandruff
There are two ways of dealing with dandruff; short term and long term. However, the only effective way to deal with it is long term treatment.
If you’re trying to brush your flakes out daily with a comb or blow them out with a hair dryer, you’re going to achieve nothing but an even more irritated scalp and your flakes will inevitably return within a couple hours.
Although easy to dislodge, dandruff flakes are persistent if not treated correctly.
So, long term treatments are the way to go, we know it sounds bleak and like a lot of effort but we promise you it’s not!
There’s a heap of awesome, simple treatments out there that may even already be in your pantry at home.
But first, you need to know a bit more about the root causes of dandruff so you can figure out exactly what’s causing yours and what needs to change in your lifestyle.
Causes of dandruff
Dandruff is a bit of a confusing condition, although extremely common, there hasn’t been much research done to definitively pinpoint the root cause of dandruff in every single case.
For some people, it’s a mixture of factors which is why it can become complicated to diagnose and treat.
When you think flakes, you instantly think of dry skin right? Well that’s not the correct association to be making when it comes to dandruff.
Dandruff is actually the overproduction of oils and sebum on the scalp which clogs the pores and irritates the skin.
So what causes this overproduction? Well there is a well-know culprit of this that is more often than not the main cause of dandruff.
The offender is called Malassezia globosa and it’s a microbe that is present on everyone’s skin.
Basically what Malassezia does is feed off the natural oils on your scalp and breaks them down into oleic acid which sits on your skin.
Now, if you’re sensitive to this acid then your body is going to want to get rid of it ASAP!
To get rid of Malassezia, your scalp will increase the rate at which it renews it’s skin cells, causing an excess of dead skin cells which will clump together and form dandruff flakes.
Depending on how badly you react to the fungus on your scalp, this can range from a little flaking to a lot of flaking. Either way though, it’s going to be noticeable and you’re going to want to get rid of it as quick as you can.
Here’s a few more factors that can contribute to the severity of your dandruff:
- Excessive shampooing/conditioning
- Oily skin/dry skin
- Overgrowth of yeast on scalp
- Diets high in trans and saturated fats
- Lack of brushing hair
- Age (most common from adolescence to middle age)
If you’re unsure of what condition you have, it’s best to consult a doctor to get an official diagnosis. There are a few different scalp conditions that have very similar symptoms to dandruff so it can be easily confused with something else.
Now you have the backstory on dandruff we can get into the most effective ways to treat the condition that will be most beneficial for your skin and lifestyle.
Treatment options – what’s best for me?
Dandruff is one of those conditions that can’t be completely prevented but it can definitely be managed. This is because some people are just more prone to it than others, but this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to control it.
Generally, when you think about dandruff treatments there are two options under the long-term banner; dandruff shampoos and natural treatments.
Depending on what suits your skin and lifestyle best, you can choose to use just one type of treatment and that should be enough for you to see great results quickly.
However, if you can, it’s great to experiment with both options to see what’s most effective for you and avoid the fungus on your scalp building up a tolerance to a repeated treatment.
If your dandruff is severe, it’s best to go see your doctor and have them prescribe you a medicated shampoo or topical steroids so you can get your condition under control.
It’s most likely that these treatments will be temporary and that once your dandruff calms down you’ll be able to explore the options below.
Option 1 – Natural treatments
When it comes to treating your dandruff naturally, Mother Nature has you covered! There are so many easy and budget-friendly options that it can be a bit overwhelming figuring out exactly what works best for you. It’s all about trial and error.
Natural treatments work best for mild to moderate dandruff, this is because the ingredients are so gentle on your skin that it’s sometimes not super effective on severe dandruff.
Before using any new natural treatment, be sure to do a spot test first to make sure you have no negative reactions to any of them. Use a small but visible part of your scalp, leave the ingredient on your skin for about hour beforehand to be completely sure.
Here are the best natural ingredients for fighting dandruff and exactly how to use them.
We know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t about using water on your hair – it’s about drinking it! We’ve listed water here because this is the first step you should be taking to fight your dandruff.
When you don’t get the recommended daily amount of water your scalp won’t be getting the natural moisture it needs, which can exacerbate your dandruff and make you prone to worse flaking.
So be sure to get at least 8 cups of water a day and you may just see an improvement in your dandruff severity.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, meaning it’s able to kill the fungus on your scalp and soothe any irritation that’s been caused.
When purchasing apple cider vinegar, make sure to get a natural variety which contains ‘The Mother’ – a complex strain of good bacteria and enzymes. This will only set you back a few dollars and a bottle will last you a very long time.
Here’s how to use apple cider vinegar to manage your dandruff:
Wash your hair thoroughly, removing excess oils from the scalp to allow the vinegar to penetrate your pores effectively.
- Mix about half a cup of apple cider vinegar in a bowl and add a splash of warm water.
- Section your hair and apply the mixture to your scalp, make sure all parts of your scalp are covered and pay extra attention to areas where the dandruff is more concentrated.
- Massage your scalp for a couple minutes.
- Leave in for an hour, then rinse it out with warm water. No need to use shampoo when done.
Tea Tree Oil
Similar to apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties that will clean and soothe your scalp. It’s also anti-inflammatory and is able to penetrate the skin more effectively than other essential oils, ensuring a deep and thorough treatment.
To use tea tree oil for your dandruff, mix 10-15 drops into your normal shampoo to incorporate it into your normal hair routine. You should see awesome results within a couple weeks.
If your dandruff is flaring up and you need something more targeted, mix half a cup of olive oil with about 10 drops of tea tree oil. Massage this mixture into your scalp and leave it overnight – make sure to pop on a shower cap when sleeping to avoid a mess and to keep the oils on your scalp. Wash it out when you wake up and you should see a definite improvement in the coming days.
Everyone and their dog knows about coconut oil, it’s a superstar in the health food realm and it’s no wonder! This oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, it neutralizes the fungus on your scalp and will create a barrier of moisture to allow your skin to heal itself.
Another excellent benefit of using coconut oil for your dandruff is that it’s known for promoting healthy, shiny hair so you won’t have to sacrifice your locks to fix your scalp.
To use, all you need to do is massage a couple teaspoons into your scalp before you shower. Then just wash it out with your normal shampoo and conditioner – simple as that!
Coconut oil is so gentle on your skin that you can use it as often as you need, but just watch out because if your hair starts to get oily you’ll need to cut down a bit on your use.
Bonus tip – Mix a few drops of fresh lemon juice into your coconut oil before applying to your skin to help to balance the pH of your scalp.
Honey is an excellent deterrent for dandruff. It’s anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and contains a huge list of vitamins and minerals.
It will fight the root cause of your condition and replenish your scalp with much needed nutrients to give it the best chance at recovery.
Here’s two methods to choose from:
- Mix 1 part of water with 9 parts raw honey.
- Massage into the scalp thoroughly.
- Leave for 2-3 hours before washing out.
- Mix two tablespoons with two thirds of a cup of warm water until fully dissolved.
- Pour mixture through hair and massage thoroughly.
- Rinse immediately after massaging.
Option 2 – Dandruff Shampoos
For mild to severe dandruff, there will be a shampoo out there that can definitely help to combat your scalp condition. The market for dandruff shampoos is so wide and varied that there’s something to suit everyone’s hair type and preferences.
When scouting for a great shampoo that will treat your condition and keep your hair healthy and strong, there’s a few important ingredients you need to be looking out for.
This is one of the more common dandruff shampoo ingredients, it’s able to strip your scalp very effectively of it’s top layer of dead skin cells to allow your skin to breathe.
This sulfide limits the amount of cell production on your scalp to decrease flaking, controls your itching and has antifungal properties to kill Malassezia.
Used to treat the most severe breakouts of dermatitis and consequently can be a bit harsh on your scalp but very effective at getting rid of dandruff, use sparingly or as instructed.
Great for long-term treatment of dandruff, uses its antifungal properties to combat bacteria effectively.
This one sounds a bit odd but it will force the skin to shed its top layer of cells and then slow the production of the cells underneath to control flaking and irritation.