Some natural treatments for dandruff work incredibly well, while others simply don't stack up. Here's the little-known (but extremely powerful) home remedy for dandruff you need to be using right now, along with other natural remedies for a dry and itchy scalp that give quick and lasting relief...
Article by Troy Sawyer (Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Health & Wellness Coach, Sports Nutritionist)
Updated March 21, 2023 -- This post contains affiliate links
There’s a lot of marketing hype around when it comes to dandruff treatments. The big multi-national shampoo and hair care companies constantly bombard you with their latest products designed to (supposedly) get rid of your dandruff and leave your hair “sparkling”. But the problem is these products are super expensive and loaded with dangerous chemicals, many of which you can't even pronounce the names. And to top it off, they only treat the symptom, not the underlying cause.
Remember this… when you use any chemically based shampoo or conditioner, the chemicals are absorbed into the skin and scalp the same as if you go and drink the stuff straight out of the bottle (only slow release!). In addition, the main cause of dandruff is internal not external, so why these products may initially help, they don’t give you any type of permanent cure and in the long run will end up doing you more harm than good!
Dandruff comes in varying degrees and aggressiveness. When you experience a dandruff attack, you'll fall into one of these three classifications...
When you're experiencing a dandruff flare-up, you'll notice the following signs and symptoms...
The main cause of dandruff is an over growth of a yeast-like fungus called malassezia. This fungus is present on normal, healthy scalps (it feeds on the oil secreted by the hair follicles) but with someone who has dandruff, malassezia grows out of control. This fungus causes severe irritation of the scalp, which then triggers a rapid and out-of-control shedding of dead skin cells. The dead skin then combines with the oil on the scalp and clumps together, resulting in what's known as "dandruff flakes". 1
Other known triggers and causes of dandruff include...
· Dry skin (also one of the most common causes)
· Insufficient/inappropriate hair care
· Excessive use of commercial/harsh shampoos
· Adverse sensitivity to chemical hair products/overuse of synthetic or chemical hair & skin products
· Psoriasis of the scalp
· Excess sebum (skin oil) secretion from the skin.
· Excrement of microorganisms that thrive in the skin
· Lack of healthy bacteria/overload of bad bacteria/microorganisms
· Improper diet
In addition, someone who suffers from dandruff will also suffer from oily hair and excessive hair fall in most instances. These problems usually (but not always) go hand in hand. Thankfully, getting rid of these nuisances is easy when using some of the "tried and true" home remedies and natural treatments listed below...
I personally suffered from dandruff in varying degrees for many years. It wasn’t until I discovered what the actual underlying causes were that I was able to cure it for good.
When you search the internet and websites looking for natural and home remedies for dandruff, you'll find that most give you plenty of topical treatments, but few give you the internal therapies, which are actually the most crucial. We, however, like to take a holistic approach when treating dandruff… and it works extremely well.
So here are the top 17 "causes and treatments" for getting rid of dandruff fast. Some you may already be familiar with while others will be unfamiliar and may even seem a bit "out there". Give them a go anyway - we guarantee you'll be delighted with the results!
Be sure to use each of the internal remedies (first four) every day without fail so you not only get rid of your dandruff quickly, you get rid of it permanently. If you don't want a band-aid fix, making use of ALL the internal treatments is crucial. With the external remedies, you will need to experiment. What works for one person doesn't always necessarily work the same for another....
Yeast fungus is a nasty and potentially deadly substance. If allowed, it will grow and thrive in the body releasing toxic chemicals into the blood stream. Candida albicans (thrush) are the most common type of fungus, but there are others.
Remember the yeast type of organism known as pityrosporum-ovle (malassezia) that resides on the scalp of every person? With people that suffer from dandruff, this organism multiplies unrestrained. There are various theories as to why this occurs for dandruff sufferers, nevertheless, one of the remedies we strongly recommend is that you destroy all yeast fungus in the body. Because malassezia is a yeast organism, it makes sense that it can easily be controlled in the same way as other yeast fungus, such as candida albicans, are controlled. We need to point out though that this is just a theory and has yet to be "officially" proven. However, it really does work and we highly recommend you give it a try… you'll be very impressed with the outcome!
The Best (and Cheapest) Ways to Eradicate Fungus...
To get rid of yeast fungus in the body you need to re-establish a healthy supply of friendly bacteria. This can easily be accomplished by taking a good quality probiotic supplement every day. We suggest you don’t go for gimmick probiotic supplements such as Yakult though. These products are full of processed milk and sugar (two things that yeast fungus actually thrive on), and instead, go with a reputable supplement that contains live lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus, bulgaricus and casei cultures. A recent Hungarian study found that taking oral probiotics reduced the overall symptoms of dandruff by an impressive 57%, so it's definitely worth the effort.
In addition to this, make sure you start culturing your own "probiotic rich" food and drinks at home for an extra supply (you can NEVER have too many of these healthy little critters!) Here's a handy website on how to go about doing this if you're interested... Cultures for Health - How to Easily Make Your Own Probiotic Rich Foods.
Apple cider vinegar is one of natures best "cure all" remedies. It contains potent anti-fungal, antibiotic and antiseptic properties which destroy the fungus and bacteria that cause dandruff. ACV also contains high amounts of crucial probiotics, which of course are powerful fungal killers as well. It works exceptionally well as both an internal AND external treatment for dandruff. Taken internally (orally), ACV helps to eradicate harmful yeast fungus, boost immunity, and elevate the body's pH level. Used externally on the scalp, it raises the scalps pH level, which in turn destroys the dandruff causing fungus and bacteria, along with stopping excess oil production. ACV also heals and soothes the scalp and cleans out clogged hair cuticles and follicles (which helps stop excess hair loss) and is excellent for keeping your hair shiny, healthy and non oily.
How to Use ACV for Best Results...
The first thing you must make sure you do is purchase the correct type of apple cider vinegar. ONLY raw, organic ACV with the mother apple (such as these) should be used and consumed internally. Never use or consume processed vinegar's of any kind as these can actually make your fungal infection and dandruff worse.
To take internally, mix 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml's) of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm filtered water. Add a teaspoon of natural honey for taste if desired and drink down. Drink this concoction twice daily, 10-15 minutes before a meal. Also use ACV as a dressing to sprinkle over salads, etc, as much as you can for an extra supply. If you do find the ACV liquid difficult to drink (many people can't handle the taste), simply substitute this for the apple cider vinegar capsules.
For external use, gently massage some ACV directly into your scalp. Leave on for 10-15 minutes then wash your hair with a mild natural shampoo. Or, if you find the undiluted ACV too strong, dilute down to a 50/50 solution (half ACV, half water), apply to the scalp and massage in. Leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. For best results, do this every second day until your dandruff is gone.
Dandruff is basically a type of dermatitis and is closely related to the skin condition psoriasis. It's mainly caused by a dry scalp, but many people who suffer with dandruff have oily scalps (they also usually have oily skin and suffer from acne).
Supplementing with omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) is definitely one of the "standard" dandruff remedies you must use. In fact, you'll be wasting your time trying to get rid of this condition permanently without supplementing with these important nutrients. The omega-6 EFA, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), helps the body produce hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which help to calm overactive oil glands. Omega-3 EFA’s help prevent inflammation and heal dry skin type disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and of course, dandruff. So whether your dandruff is caused by an oily scalp or dry scalp, it doesn't matter. Essential fatty acids will treat, remedy and reverse it regardless!
Where do you Find Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFA's?
The best source of omega-6, especially gamma-linolenic acid is evening primrose oil (EPO). This oil has been valued for centuries and works amazingly well. You need to take around 3000 mg's a day in divided amounts to get good results.
For omega-3 supplementation you can either take krill oil (the best) or good old fashioned fish oil. If you're going to go with fish oil, you do need to be aware of contamination, particularly mercury contamination, so be sure to check your sources carefully. With krill (Antarctic krill oil is the safest), you need to take between 2000-2500 mg's a day. Fish oil should be taken at a dosage of between 6000-8000 mg's (or more) per day in divided amounts.
So yes, by taking the fish oil with the evening primrose oil that’s a total of 9000-11000 mg's or more a day, and with the krill oil and EPO it's around 5000 mg's per day. This may seem a lot to some people, but remember this… the number one reason why most people don’t get favorable results when supplementing is they simply don’t take enough. The truth is, you can’t overdose on evening primrose oil or krill oil or fish oil, the same as you can’t overdose on eating fish or shrimp or evening primrose… even if you eat loads of these every day! (In today’s world of nutrient dead - chemically altered foods - we all need to be more concerned with "underdosing" rather than "overdosing" when it comes to supplementing).
And for a final “extra shot” of EFA’s, you can buy chia seeds and/or linseeds (flaxseeds) from your local supermarket or health food store and use these to sprinkle on your cereals and salads every day. These seeds taste amazingly good and compliment the krill/fish oil and evening primrose oil really well.
Okay, we admit this is not actually a direct remedy for dandruff, as such, but the fact is the number one cause of virtually every ailment and disease in the world today is nutritional deficiencies. So if you rectify all nutritional deficiencies in the body, then you'll not only help to treat your dandruff, you'll also help to reverse any hidden problems or underlying ailments that you may not even be aware of!
Remember the Number 90...
Our bodies need 90 nutrients every day. The problem is our foods can no longer supply us with these vital nutrients (this has been repeatedly proven in multiple studies), so we must supplement. Taking a green food supplement such as wheat grass or chlorella (which are both excellent prebiotics), along with a good plant-based colloidal mineral supplement (dandruff sufferers also need lots of extra zinc) is a sure fire way to make sure you take in the nutrients your body needs every day.
In our view, this treatment will not only help to treat your dandruff... it’s also a very cheap way to extend your life!
You Are What You Eat...
It's been shown that eating the wrong type of foods definitely does have a negative impact for dandruff sufferers. Yeast containing foods and beverages such as bread, cheese, beer and wine, along with any refined and processed foods (cakes, sweets, chips, margarine, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, etc) are the worst culprits. These foods allow toxic yeast fungus to grow and thrive, as well as sucking valuable nutrients from the body.
This one is simple - any food that doesn’t come from out of the ground and off the land should not be eaten!
Foods Dandruff Sufferers Need to Devour...
What you need to be eating more of are high antioxidant foods such as blueberries, goji berries and raspberries, along with herbs such as garlic, rosemary, ginger and turmeric. Antioxidants are known to help with many skin conditions including psoriasis and dermatitis. Because dandruff is a form of dermatitis - and closely related to psoriasis - expect them to help with this also. Make sure you consume wild-caught salmon 2-3 times a week for healthy omega-3's (EFA's) as well.
In addition, it’s common for many dandruff sufferers to have food allergies and suffer from food intolerance's (caused by low immunity) so eating high antioxidant foods and taking supplements will help to cure this problem as well. If you think you may have any type of food intolerance or sensitivity then it would be advisable to avoid all foods that contain gluten and nuts.
Lets first begin with the subject of "stress" and what it does to you...
Yes, eliminating this problem from your life is much easier said than done. But this terrible malady actually kills millions and millions of people around the world every year and is a major cause of dandruff! If you have dandruff and you’re highly stressed then this is a powerful warning sign.
This one is very simple folks. Get rid of the stress - or at least tone it down significantly - or else finding a remedy for dandruff will be the least of your worries!
Is Sensible Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Really a Treatment for Dandruff?
Ah, the sun. It makes you feel so amazing and alive when you’re out in it doesn't it? It seems to give your whole body a wonderful, almost tingly feel as its rays touch your skin and penetrate right inside your body.
That’s because the sun is seriously good for you!
Don’t listen to all this rubbish about how the sun is bad for you. It makes your body produce natural vitamin D, which research is just now beginning to prove prevents and treats just about every disease known to man (no this is not an exaggeration!). Regular sunshine also renews and rejuvenates the skin, which offers some remarkable benefits for dandruff and psoriasis sufferers...
In the Archives of Dermatology August issue, the results of an in-depth study by a team of scientists from St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin confirmed that UV-B light increases the body’s production of vitamin D and in turn treats psoriasis.
Researchers took 30 patients with severe forms of psoriasis (and low vitamin D levels) and treated them with narrow-band UV-B light three times a week for three months. Another 30 patients with psoriasis (and low vitamin D levels) were given no UV-B therapy.
The results were stunning to say the least!
Over the three month period, the UV-B group’s vitamin D levels increased dramatically and their psoriasis virtually disappeared. The untreated group’s vitamin D levels stayed the same and their skin condition didn't improve at all - in some cases it actually became worse. 4
So how does this study relate to dandruff? Well, dandruff is very closely related to psoriasis and eczema. In fact, dandruff can actually be caused by psoriasis or eczema! This leads many experts to believe that UV-B rays can also be effective in the treatment of dandruff. Even WebMD recommends sensible sun exposure for dandruff sufferers as they believe this practice helps suppress the malassezia fungus.3 Even though more research is still needed to confirm this, don't wait until then. Get out in the sun right now and get some of those UV-B rays on your scalp!
No Getting Sunburned Though...
Of course, if you stay out in the sun until you end up looking like a lobster with a burnt head then this is not good. Depending on the time of season, you need between 30 minutes to an hour of uninterrupted sun exposure every day. And definitely no hats, sunscreen or sunglasses are allowed! The face, hands - and for dandruff sufferers - the scalp (or anywhere you have dandruff) are the most important areas to be exposed. If you live in a place where sunlight is scarce during certain months of the year, you'll need to take vitamin D supplements. In fact, it's a good idea to take vitamin D3 supplements (the same as what the sun produces) anyway... just for insurance!
So remember, the sun is actually your best friend, not your worst enemy. Take advantage of its incredible benefits. It’s available to all of us every day. And best of all… it’s totally free!
From this point on, please vow to only ever use natural soaps, shampoos and conditioners - not just on your scalp, but your whole body as well.
The fact is all man-made chemicals are dangerous… and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! They also exacerbate skin conditions such as psoriasis and dandruff.2
If you only use natural hair products containing ingredients such as coconut oil, tee tree oil, Neem oil, MSM biological sulphur, rosemary, green tea and apple cider vinegar, you'll notice an astonishing difference with your dandruff in just a few short weeks (but we mean all natural with zero chemicals). Of course, they will likely cost you more money to purchase, however, the long term health benefits do make them worthwhile.
Potent Topical Home Remedies for Dandruff...
In addition to using natural shampoos, 2-3 times a week mix up a batch of baking soda with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (the same as what we recommend you drink) with a small amount of water. Make into a paste and rub and massage this into your scalp and hair, then leave on nice and thick for at least 30 minutes before washing and shampooing off (with your natural shampoo of course). Baking soda and apple cider vinegar help remove dead skin cells, along with absorbing excess oil from the hair and scalp. Because they both contain powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, they take control of and destroy the dandruff causing malassezia yeast fungus quickly as well.
Along with doing this, try and use organic coconut oil on your hair and scalp a couple of times a week. Buy the extra virgin kind from health food stores or online and gently rub and massage a small amount into the scalp 30 minutes before washing your hair. Coconut oil contains strong anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties as well and has been proven to get rid of dandruff fast. It's also a great hair moisturizer and will add plenty of lust, shine and softness to your hair.
More Brilliant Topical Treatments and Home Remedies for Dandruff...
Neem Oil (Indian Lilac): Neem oil is an excellent remedy for dandruff. It contains strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial ingredients that not only help to treat dandruff, but virtually any scalp infection (it even gets rid of head lice). Apply neem oil to your scalp and leave on for an hour before rinsing off. Do this 3 times a week for best results.
Olive Oil: Another fantastic topical remedy for dandruff, olive oil is a great natural moisturizer for the hair and scalp. To use effectively, slightly heat the oil and massage well into the scalp before bedtime. Leave on overnight if possible and rinse off with a natural shampoo in the morning. Repeat twice weekly.
Tea Tree Oil: Studies have shown that shampoos, even with just 5% tea tree oil in them, are highly effective against dandruff. If you can't find this oil in any natural shampoos, simply add 3-4 drops of tea tree oil to whatever good quality natural shampoo you can find. It works a treat!
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is one of those dandruff remedies that most people aren't familiar with. It's extremely good for the scalp and the health and hydration of hair follicles. Simply apply some colloidal oatmeal to your hair and scalp and massage in well. Leave on for at least an hour then rinse off.
Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is a very effective and dirt cheap remedy for dandruff. The acidity of the lemon juice helps to balance the pH of your scalp. Massage 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice into the scalp and hair. Leave on for an hour or so before rinsing off. Repeat 2-3 times a week.
As an alternative, you can also mix lemon juice with either garlic or sandalwood essential oil and a small amount of manuka honey. The anti-microbial properties contained in the garlic and sandalwood enhance the effectiveness of this treatment even more, and the manuka honey helps soothe the scalp (and takes away the strong garlic smell). For best results, mix one part lemon juice to two parts garlic or sandalwood then add a small amount of manuka honey.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is very soothing to a dry, itchy scalp and helps to stop the awful itching quite quickly. Buy some of the natural aloe vera gel or oil and rub/massage into the scalp when needed.
Black Pepper and Pink Rock Salt: Black pepper and pink rock salt are rich in selenium and zinc, both of which are highly effective for controlling dandruff. The best way to use this treatment is to grind up some black pepper and pink rock salt then add a teaspoon of each to some natural yogurt and mix in. Rub and gently massage the mixture into the scalp and leave on for an hour before washing off. In India, they swear by this treatment so be sure to give it a go!
Raw Eggs: Yes, raw eggs are also excellent for treating and controlling dandruff. Not only this, they will leave your hair looking shiny and healthy! Just beat two eggs then apply to your scalp and hair and leave on for 30-40 minutes. Rinse off with your natural shampoo afterwards.
Reetha (Soapnut, Soapberry, Shikakai): Reetha or Sapindus Mukorossi is a medicinal herb that's been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to strengthen hair and treat scalp problems such as dandruff. It contains strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agents. One particular ingredient, saponin, is exceptional at making your hair healthy, shiny and lustrous when used on a regular basis. Reetha is a perfect treatment for dandruff sufferers. It cleans, exfoliates and moisturizes the scalp and hair follicles and is especially good for people with sensitive skin.
Reetha can be made into a paste and applied to the scalp and hair. Buy some reetha powder and mix with a slight amount of water to make a paste. Apply to the hair and scalp daily, gently massaging in, then wash with a natural shampoo afterwards. Or, simply purchase some soapnut shampoo (such as this one) and use daily.
Essential Oils: Essential oils (the 100% pure oils) work outstandingly well for virtually any type of hair and scalp problems, including dandruff. The oils that attack scalp fungi, inflammation, dryness, and excessive oil secretion are the ones you should be looking at using. These include lemongrass, tea tree, lavender, wintergreen, patchouli, thyme, cinnamon, oregano, cypress and frankincense oils. All of these contain powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, along with specific soothing and calming ingredients. They also have the necessary research to back up their effectiveness. 5,6
100% essential oils are very strong and concentrated and should always be mixed with a carrier oil (coconut, almond and olive oil are the best). Honey is also a good option. Remember to never apply an essential oil directly to your scalp or it will burn. A good rule of thumb is 3-4 drops of essential oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil.
If you're interested, here's a simple homemade recipe you can easily make to treat and get rid of your dandruff...
8 drops lemongrass oil.
8 drops frankincense oil.
6 drops tea tree oil.
1 teaspoon local or manuka honey.
4 ounces of coconut, almond or olive oil.
Mix ingredients fully in a container.
Gently massage into the scalp for 3-4 minutes.
Leave on for at least 30 minutes (try and leave on overnight for severe dandruff).
Shampoo and condition your hair and scalp well afterwards.
Store remaining mixture in a sealed container for further use.
Use this recipe 3 times a week for best results.
Another handy and simple option is to add a few drops of essential oil(s) to your natural shampoo and/or conditioner. This also works very well.
That ends this article on the best natural and home treatments for dandruff. We believe you now have everything you need to get rid of your dandruff for good and get your hair and scalp healthy again. If you begin (and continue) to use the first four internal remedies diligently, you won’t have to worry about dandruff or scalp problems again. You'll also be the healthiest and feel the best you’ve felt in a long time. With the other remedies (external remedies), start with one or two first and see how they go. Give them a solid 3-4 weeks to work. If you find they aren't doing the job or working quickly enough then look to try some of the others. Like we said, what works for one person doesn't always necessarily work for another.
In addition, it’s very common for people who suffer with dandruff to suffer from psoriasis and eczema. If this relates to you then we highly recommend you also read our article on "natural remedies for psoriasis" for more information. It contains some excellent tips and home remedies that will help you get your skin back in tip top condition. If you happen to be suffering from seborrheic dermatitis (seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff are two closely related dermatologic conditions) then we also have an informative Q&A on this subject.
You can click on the links below to go to either of these articles.
All the best!
Go to "natural treatments for psoriasis" article
Go to "Powerful Natural Remedy for Seborrheic Dermatitis"
Mar 15, 23 12:00 PM
Mar 12, 23 11:00 AM
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