Dandruff is more than an unaesthetic looking nuisance. Affecting both women and men, dandruff can lead to hair thinning, it can make hair fall out, and it makes the scalp itchy. It doesn’t matter if you have dry or oily hair, you can still get dandruff and experience all the unpleasant symptoms that come with it. There is a slew of anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners on the market, promising to soothe the scalp and prevent the hair from falling out. However, most of them are packed with harsh soaps and ingredients that don’t help the sensitive skin recover. It’s the natural, herbal shampoos and treatments that will, most of the times, get rid of dandruff, keeping oils under control and alleviate the itching.
What is Dandruff?
In a nutshell, dandruff stands for the tiny flakes of dead skin on a person’s scalp that can fall off and be noticed in their hair or on their shoulders. Distinctive through itching, dandruff is a very common condition that can appear in adults, teenagers, and kids. Not easily treated, dandruff can lead to embarrassing situations, anxiety and, in its more severe form, even to social isolation. In this case, a medicated shampoo might be needed that will target the specific issues of the irritated scalp.
Since our skin cells are continuously renewing themselves, the dead skin cells are pushed up by the new ones. When new skin cells are produced faster than the old ones can die, more skin is shed and dandruff comes into play. It’s not uncommon for dandruff to be triggered by extreme temperatures. This condition is generally accompanied by redness or irritation. In some cases, dandruff that presents large, excessive flakes could point towards an underlying illness: head lice, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis or even a fungal infection. The surest way to find out what you’re confronting with is to ask the help of a dermatologist.
It’s commonly believed that dandruff is caused by a dry scalp. However, this is not true. Washing your hair less often will not help dandruff get better. Instead, using the right shampoo will target the special needs of a dehydrated scalp, while assuaging the irritation and calming down the dandruff symptoms.
If you’ve tried out every anti-dandruff shampoo and treatment under the Sun, yet nothing has worked for you, you might want to give these organic suggestions a try. Some of them use ingredients that you might already have in your kitchen cupboard, while others are special concoctions that target certain symptoms. Bottom line is that they won’t harm your scalp and will fight dandruff naturally.
What To Look For in an Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
The ingredients within an anti-dandruff shampoo make a huge difference to its success. Many products use one main ingredient or a selection of several. Here are some essential ingredients to bear in mind throughout your search.
Coal tar soothes your scalp to create an anti-itching effect. Any anti-dandruff shampoo containing this ingredient must be massaged into the scalp and left on for five minutes before rinsing.
This is another effective go-to ingredient for anti-dandruff shampoos and it removes a fungus called malassezia that lives on most adults with dry scalps. If this isn’t removed, it’ll lead to white, flaky skin cells in your hair. Most anti-dandruff shampoos usually contain around two percent of this powerful ingredient and is best used as a treatment rather than for daily use.
This active ingredient prevents the buildup of malassezia in the first place by breaking down the collection of dead skill cells in your hair. It’s a gentle ingredient so you can use it every day, but you won’t see an instant effect. With regular use, it can successfully treat dandruff though you’ll need follow-up with a conditioner to add moisture back into your hair.
This acid reduces flaking from forming by breaking down dead skill cells on your scalp. It’s also a mild ingredient so it reduces any irritation and soreness so you’re less likely to itch and contribute to dandruff.
5 DIY Recipes For Dandruff
Soothing Honey Shampoo/ Treatment
Compared to the above-mentioned recipe, this one is much simpler and only requires two ingredients: raw, organic honey and filtered water. Honey is packed with vitamins A, C and B complex as well as with potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. If you’re reticent about applying a thick paste made out of honey and water to your scalp, you’ll be relieved to find out this treatment is not a mere assumption. The notion that honey can treat dandruff is backed up by a study conducted on ten females and twenty males back in 2001. The experiment required the patients with seborrheic chronic dermatitis to apply a mixture of 90% honey and 10% warm water on the affected areas. After gently rubbing in the honey for a couple of minutes, the study’s subjects had to leave the mixture on for three hours. After a week, the first results made themselves felt: the itching subsided. Another week later, the scaling was gone. The patients who kept following the weekly treatment didn’t experience a relapse. However, a dozen out of fifteen patients who stopped the honey shampooing technique relapsed in the following four months.
Preparing this shampoo is very easy. Choose high-quality organic honey so you can reap all the benefits from its minerals and vitamin complex. Mix it with some warm water and only make enough for one use. Wet your hair and start working the mixture onto your scalp. Take the time and massage the paste into the affected areas. This stimulates the blood flow and makes sure the honey reaches all the itchy and flaky areas. Leave the treatment on for three hours, wrapping your hair in a warm towel. When the time is up, rinse it with warm water, or follow up with a vinegar and water mixture that is another strong ally against dandruff.
Hydrating Coconut Milk and Castile Soap Shampoo
If you’d rather make your own anti-dandruff shampoo from mild ingredients than spend $20 on a bottle of harsh ingredients that will only fuel your rash, this recipe is for you. You will need a fourth of a cup coconut milk, half a cup liquid castile soap, half a cup vegetable glycerin, two tablespoons of your natural oil of choice (jojoba, coconut or almond oil are our top three suggestions) and three to four drops of a high-quality essential oil for fragrance. Pour all the ingredients into the bottle you want to use and shake it well. The ingredients have a tendency to separate after a few hours, so make a mental note to shake the mixture well before each use. This mild shampoo can be used every other day since it’s not stripping and it leaves your hair feeling soft and looking shiny. Daily shampooing is not recommended because your hair needs its natural oils to nourish the whole strand of hair.
Purifying Apple Cider Vinegar
You can use apple cider vinegar in two ways. Both of these will fight dandruff and alleviate itches and rashes. While it doesn’t have the most appealing smell, apple cider vinegar is beneficial for the irritated scalp. It balances out the pH and gets rid of the dead skin cells that become the unwanted flakes on your shoulders. The first way to incorporate apple cider vinegar in your hair washing routine is by adding one cup of vinegar to one liter of warm water and rinsing your scalp and hair after cleaning it with a mild shampoo. Not only will this relief itching and calm down irritations, it will also leave your hair easier to comb, shinier and softer. If you’re worried about the smell sticking to your hair, don’t worry. It will go away in a day.
The second method for using apple cider vinegar requires a spray bottle. Mix one part water with one part apple cider vinegar and pour the concoction in the bottle. Then, starting from the roots, spray the water vinegar solution, massaging your scalp as you go around it. Wrap your hair in a warm towel and let the active ingredient do its job for fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, you can rinse your hair only with warm water.
Cleansing baking soda
We’ve been schooled on the sundry benefits of baking soda. From cleaning the kitchen to making an excellent facial scrub, baking soda has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to this, it can also combat dandruff. A mild exfoliator, it also acts as a fungicide, leaving the scalp squeaky clean and dandruff free. Using baking soda instead of shampoo might seem counterintuitive. The results might not show up overnight, but used on a regular basis, baking soda hair cleanses will gradually remove dandruff. To make this DIY shampoo, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda, a cup of filtered water and, optionally, a couple drops of rosemary oil. The ratio for this one is one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of water. Prepare the mixture in a bottle or a glass, making sure it becomes a thick paste. Use it just like you would use a regular shampoo. If you’re not ready to completely replace shampoo with baking soda, ease your way into it by adding a tablespoon of baking soda to your shampoo. You can use this technique every other day until you start seeing an improvement. After the dandruff is completely gone, you can cut back on shampooing with baking soda and only use it once every two weeks, for maintenance.
Balancing tea tree oil
Most people think adding oil to an oily scalp is only adding salt to injury. But they couldn’t be more wrong. An oily scalp might indicate, in fact, that the skin is trying to overcompensate dryness by secreting more sebum. Tea tree oil is not bad for oily dandruff. On the contrary: tea tree oil has been proved to reduce greasiness, itchiness and to fight hair loss, making it the best shampoo for dandruff for some. Great for treating spots and blemishes, tea tree is also helpful when dealing with dead skin cells that transform in flakes. To prepare the mixture, combine a cup of warm water with one tablespoon of tea tree oil. Add it to a spray or squirt bottle and apply it on your scalp after shampooing. Don’t rinse it out. The fungicidal properties will soothe the scalp, making itchiness and soreness a thing of the past. Never apply tea tree oil on your scalp undiluted since it’s too strong and it can give you a rash.