15 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Dandruff Permanently

By Simi
15 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Dandruff Permanently

Dandruff is the scalp condition that affects people all over the world. The condition is characterized by the excessive formation of white/yellow flakes on the scalp, or more embarrassingly, on the shoulders of your nice black shirt. So how do you prevent it from happening to you? Well, before we get to that we first need to understand what causes dandruff.

Dandruff has more than one cause. In some cases, dandruff is the result of dry skin. This is why you may notice your dandruff flares up during winter and fall when the air is dry. While in other instances, dandruff can be brought on by oily skin (seborrheic dermatitis). If your sebaceous glands produce excessive amounts of sebum (oil), your pores will clog up from oil and skin cells. This builds up leading to dandruff.

Dandruff is also caused by the yeast-like fungus, malasezzia, which sort of sounds like the name of a Disney villain. Well, sufferers of dandruff would definitely consider malasezzia to be evil. Malasezzia, in fact, is a natural fungus that lives on the scalps of most adults and leads to dandruff only when it is overactive. The fungus only thrives when exposed to dirt, grime, and excessive oil.

And although dandruff is typically not a serious condition, it can be embarrassing and frustrating. Luckily, there are numerous methods available to treat dandruff and prevent it all together. To help you keep dandruff at bay, I’ve compiled a list of 15 affordable and accessible tips below.

1. Wash your hair

Dirty hair and scalp can aggravate dandruff and cause itchiness. Dermatologists normally warn against washing your hair every day, the concern being that your hair and scalp will be stripped of natural oils, thus causing irritation. When it comes to dandruff, however, not shampooing enough will only cause dead skin cells, dirt and oil to accumulate, which the fungi and yeast feed on. An excess of dead skin cells on the scalp may also begin to shed leading to further dandruff troubles.

To rid yourself of dandruff, you first need to remove all the gunk. To do this, it is recommended that you use a medicated shampoo for dandruff specifically. These can be found at drugstores and should contain zinc, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole. Most of these shampoos require daily washing but check the instructions on the product before you start using it.

If you don’t have dandruff, but want to prevent it from ever popping up, then you should wash your hair 2 or 3 times a week. Avoid shampooing more than this, as it could lead to irritation. Moreover, remember to use lukewarm water, as hot water can strip out moisture from the hair and scalp. Choosing a shampoo that contains a clarifying formula will relieve an oily scalp while choosing a moisturizing formula will relieve a dry scalp.

But, whatever the shampoo is, make sure to lather it well with your fingers and leave it in for at least a minute. This will gives your shampoo enough time to remove any bacteria, dirt, and excess oils from your scalp. After waiting, be sure to rinse the shampoo out thoroughly. Not doing so can leave unwanted sebum and shampoo, which will inevitably result in that familiar residue on your head. Use a dry shampoo if you struggle to find the time for three washes each week.

2. Brush or comb your hair

Most stylists agree that a healthy scalp is necessary for a healthy head of hair. One way in which you can achieve this is by brushing your hair every day.  Brushing will aid in the normal shedding of the skin, and loosen dirt and dead skin cells that attract dandruff-causing fungi and yeast. Besides yeast and fungi, poor circulation can also lead to dandruff. Brushing will further combat dandruff as it increases circulation by stimulating the scalp.

Increased blood flow to the scalp means that hair follicles are receiving the nutrients it needs to remain healthy, with zero signs of dandruff. To prevent dandruff, brush or comb your hair from your scalp downward with firm, steady strokes. Starting at the scalp and working your way out will help distribute oil from the scalp along the strands, to the ends where they are most needed. If your scalp is very dry, apply a moisturizing conditioner on the scalp and use a soft nail brush to out any dry skin. Dry skin is often mistaken for dandruff.

While brushing is important, using clean hairbrushes and combs is just as necessary in the fight against dandruff. Clean them with warm water to keep them free of oil residue and dirt. Also, avoid sharing your combs or hairbrushes with others.

Although your scalp may be itchy and it’s tempting to scratch away at it as you brush, be as gentle, but firm, as you can. Being too rough can damage your hair and cause dry skin to bleed. Also be hesitant to brush hair when wet, as it is much weaker in this state. If you have to brush your hair while wet, try using a wide-toothed comb instead of a hairbrush.

3. Essential oil treatment

Massaging your scalp and hair with oil is one of the surefire ways to prevent dandruff. This applies to both dry as well as greasy hair. An essential oil treatment fights dandruff caused by dry scalp, as it provides much-needed moisture. When the scalp is dry, oil glands create more sebum to compensate for the dryness. Excess oil production leads to greasy-looking hair but has little to no effect on the dryness of the scalp. Oiling your hair twice a week will help maintain a healthy amount of sebum on your scalp.

Essential oils contain antibacterial antifungal properties and can reduce inflammation. Keeping in mind, dandruff can be a sign of fungus (Malassezia) on the scalp, or of bacterial inflammation of the scalp, it’s no surprise essential oils are on this list. In fact, a study conducted on subjects aged 20-60, all of whom had dandruff, found that lemongrass essential oil greatly improved their dandruff after one week of use.

But, Lemongrass isn’t the only oil that will work. Oils such as cypress, evergreen, lavender, thyme, coconut, almond, and olive oil will all help to fight fungus. You can combine any of these oils together for additional benefits. It is advised to dilute the oils before applying topically as undiluted oils can sometimes be damaging to sensitive skin, or cause dermatitis.

To treat your hair with any of these oils, add 3 drops of the oil to a mashed avocado or mild shampoo. Apply the formula to the roots of your hair and use your fingertips to massage the oil into your scalp for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it out.  If you’re using the avocado method, you can leave the formula on your head for at least an hour before washing it out with a mild shampoo.

4. Apple cider vinegar

Since apple cider vinegar targets the cause of dandruff and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, many people with dandruff find effective and quick relief from using ACV. Dr. Mehmet Oz, himself, swears by apple cider vinegar as a remedy for dandruff. This is because the acidity of ACV changes the pH of your scalp, making it difficult for yeast to mature. ACV is further known to provide instant relief from itchiness, an agony associated with dandruff.

How to administer an apple cider vinegar dandruff treatment depends on the individual using it and how severe the dandruff symptoms are. For mild dandruff, rinsing your hair with equal parts apple cider vinegar and cool water once a week should do the trick. While, for moderate dandruff, apply one cup ACV to your shampoo.

If you experience severe dandruff, massage apple cider vinegar directly into your scalp every second day for a week until symptoms subside. There are, however, possible side effects to using this method. ACV can lead to dry hair or a burning sensation if you have open sores on your scalp. Other than these effects, ACV is completely safe to use. But, be sure to use the organic form of ACV as other unnecessary ingredients may slow down the anti-dandruff effects.

Once your dandruff has disappeared, you will want to continue using ACV to keep dandruff away. Mix a quarter cup ACV and a quarter cup water in a spray bottle and spray your scalp with the formula on your wash days. Let the mixture work its magic for 15-60 minutes and then shampoo your hair as usual. Alternatively, you can shampoo your hair first and then spray your hair with the ACV as a conditioner. Wait 15-60 minutes before rinsing it out.

5. Salt

As it turns out, the key to a healthy scalp, free of dandruff, is already in your kitchen. Whether you’re suffering from chronic dandruff, or experience flare-ups once in a while, the salt will help you fight off dandruff and ease the symptoms. This is because salt acts as a natural scrub, removing the dead skin flakes and excess oil that leads to dandruff.

Clogged pores are one of the main causes of dandruff. But, by exfoliating your scalp with salt, you can loosen the built-up dead skin, and unclog your pores. Clogged pores are also a result of excess sebum production, which can cause extreme irritation on the scalp. Luckily, salt absorbs the excess sebum from the scalp. The absorption effect of salt further helps victims of dandruff living in humid conditions. Extreme humidity can sometimes cause the scalp to be constantly moist, and this is the ideal condition in which dandruff-causing fungi thrive. By absorbing the excess moisture on your scalp, salt helps fight off fungal infection.

There are numerous methods you can use to experience the anti-dandruff benefits of salt. One of which is to mix 1/2  tablespoon of salt with 1 tablespoon of shampoo. Using your fingertips, massage the salt-shampoo into your scalp in circular motions. After a few minutes of doing this, rinse your hair with cool water until all the salt granules are gone. Finish with a conditioner. Avoid using conditioner on your scalp as this can cause product buildup.

Another method is to use the salt as a pre-wash scalp treatment. Before your next shampoo, separate your hair into several parts and massage your scalp with sea salt. Let the salt sit in your hair for 10 minutes and then wash it out with your regular shampoo and conditioning routine. These methods will exfoliate your scalp and loosen any dirt and dead skin clogging your pores. It will also soak up excess oil, and promote blood circulation, and thus nutrients, to your scalp.

6. Manage your stress

Stress may not be a direct cause of dandruff, it can, however, aggravate an existing dandruff problem. As already established, malasezzia is always present on the scalp. And although stress does not have a direct effect on its presence, stress does weaken the body’s natural defenses. This makes it harder for the body to deal with scalp irritation and malassezia.

Stress also influences your hormonal balance, which controls sebum production. Excess sebum production gives the fungi on your scalp more oil to break down, resulting in dead skin cells flaking off as dandruff. In addition to this, stress may cause the body to overheat and sweat. These conditions are ideal for the dandruff-causing Malasezzia to grow. Sweat can irritate the scalp, and so encourage itchiness and flaking.

Dandruff itself may even cause one’s stress levels to soar, leading to worse dandruff and creating a vicious cycle. For these reasons, it is important that you try to manage your stress to prevent dandruff. Stress reduction can support the effectiveness of shampoo and essential oils by strengthening the immune system’s defense against the fungus.

In fact, if you’ve given the lavender essential oil treatment a go, and have some to spare, you can use it for stress relief. Rub one or two drops on your palms and inhale the scent, or you can rub the drops into your temples. Lavender is known as a calming herb and is often used for anxiety, anxiety, and natural stress relief. Other common techniques to reduce stress include regular physical activity, deep breathing exercises, and meditation. Try to incorporate short walks in nature or yoga into your schedule, or maybe even treat yourself to a massage.

7. Adjust your diet

Eating healthy is a broad term. But, when it comes to preventing dandruff and health care in general, experts have discovered a specific diet you should follow. For controlling dandruff, a diet low in the trans-fatty acids found in margarine and the saturated fats you get in a good steak is recommended. These fats and oils appear to make the oil glands connected to the hair follicles more active, thereby promoting secretion rich in the fatty acids and 5-alpha reductase that dandruff-causing fungi love.

Instead, replace the trans-fatty acids and saturated fats with more minerals and vitamins, especially the B-complex. Foods rich in B vitamins are whole grains, meats, poultry, eggs, dairy foods, and green leafy veggies. Speaking of vegetables, some nutritionists claim that gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has anti-dandruff properties. GLA is obtained from vegetable oils such as evening primrose oil, hemp seed oil, blackcurrant seed oil, borage seed oil, and in oats.

Fish oil is another product that can help you prevent dandruff effectively. Fish oil supplements may not cure dandruff, but they can help in preventing its return. Or you can just eat fish itself. The lean proteins found in fish and non-meat products like beans and nuts, go a long way in keeping dandruff away.

As you add to your diet, remember to also cut out or limit the foods that provide little to no benefit to your body. These include foods rich in sugar or salt, trans-saturated fat, and unhealthy drinks like sodas and alcohol. Instead, you should try drinking more fresh fruit juice or water. Drinking plenty of water will keep your body free of toxins and keep your skin well-hydrated. Having a  hydrated scalp will make you less prone to dandruff.

8. Pay attention to the weather

 If you live in a cold climate or are currently in Winter, you are at risk of getting dandruff. The warmth of our heated houses combined with the cold when we step outside can dehydrate the scalp, thereby causing dandruff. In fact, according to New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., low humidity can aggravate dandruff.  However, having a humidifier inside your home can help.

A humidifier will moderate the hot, indoor air that dehydrates the skin and increases itchiness and flaking. By adding moisture to your home environment, a humidifier will prevent the dry skin and flaking that can lead to dandruff. But make sure you clean your humidifier unit every 2-3 days. When left unused, humidifiers become a breeding ground for mildew and other bacteria. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can increase moisture in your home during the winter months by stocking up on houseplants, or leaving the bathroom door open when you have a steamy shower.

Unfortunately, dandruff is not restricted to cold weather. Although hot weather during Summer normally improves dandruff, the University of Michigan Health Services reports that exceptionally hot weather can have the opposite effect. Too many ultraviolet rays directly hitting your scalp can soak up the moisture in your hair. So what should you do?

You should still try to spend some time in sunlight, as the sun fights off dandruff by promoting the production of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 stimulates the production of healthy oils on the skin and scalp and helps prevent dandruff. But, you should also avoid exposing your scalp to the sun during peak hours when the sun is at its strongest. Experts further advise staying away from tanning bed and heat from blow dryers and other hair styling devices.

9. Aspirin

Medicated shampoo is the most common dandruff treatment, but, by adding crushed aspirin to your normal shampoo you can create your own medicated shampoo at home. This is possible because aspirin contains salicylates, which is the same active ingredient in medicated shampoos containing salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is actually found in numerous face washes as well, owing to its moisturizing qualities. But applying an aspiring-shampoo mixture to your hair will not only moisturize your dry scalp but also reduce inflammation that causes dandruff. Also, although the aspirin powder is fine, it will assist in exfoliating the flakes and grime on the scalp.

To use aspirin as a dandruff treatment, simply crush two or three uncoated aspirin tablets into a fine powder. You can crush the tablets by folding them into a napkin and crushing them with a rolling pin or the back of a metal spoon. Then proceed to mix the powder with a tablespoon of your regular shampoo, wet your hair with lukewarm water, and lather it with the aspirin-shampoo formula. Leave the mixture to set for a couple minutes so that the salicylic acid can absorb into the hair, and then rinse it out with cool water. Remove any powder left behind with a second wash using your mild shampoo.

When choosing your shampoo, try to get one that is dye-free, fragrance-free, and with as few ingredients as possible. Additives like perfumes can increase product buildup on the scalp and aggravate dandruff. Don’t mix the aspirin with medicated shampoo, either.  Alternatively, if you prefer to not mix aspirin with your regular shampoo, you can mix the aspirin powder with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Massage the mixture into your scalp and wait 30 minutes before washing it off.

10. Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera is a handy gel or plant to keep around your home, as it offers a range of benefits, including a healthier scalp and zero dandruff. According to experts, the moisturizing properties and vitamins and minerals contained in aloe vera is exactly what the scalp needs to be dandruff-free. With regular use, aloe vera can treat your dandruff and prevent is from ever coming back.

Aloe vera contains pectin, the same ingredient that causes the jam to stay firm and not get runny. The pectin in aloe vera works as a sort of ”cell cement” that allows cells to be stimulated, divide, and grow, to form new, healthier cells. A scalp with fresh, healthy cells is less prone to dandruff than one that is without. In addition, aloe vera also has anti-fungal properties, which help prevent dandruff caused by melassazia fungi. While, for dandruff caused by dryness, aloe vera’s cooling gel will moisturize the scalp and soothe inflammation and itchiness.

Before you go to sleep, gently massage aloe vera gel into your scalp and leave it to work its magic overnight. The following morning, the gel should be rinsed out using tepid water and a mild shampoo. If you are unable to grow your own aloe or have severe dandruff, try using a mild shampoo that contains aloe vera as the key ingredient. When choosing your shampoo, make sure it does not contain harsh sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate inside or additives such as perfume.

Aloe vera shampoos contain all the anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal agents of natural aloe vera gel. The anti-inflammatory compounds, glycoproteins, in the shampoo will ease the itching sensation associated with dandruff. Repeat this treatment every second day for two weeks. A noticeable difference in your dandruff and the overall health of your hair should occur after this period.

11. Tea tree oil

While excess oil is just one cause of dandruff, some other natural oil can play a huge part in preventing it. Tea tree oil, for instance, contains strong anti-fungal compounds that make it an excellent dandruff remedy. In fact, a study conducted by the Australian Tea Tree Oil Research Institute and the Department of Dermatology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital shows that shampoos with just 5 percent of the oil can lessen the severity of dandruff.

The researchers found that the anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil act against the yeast related to dandruff. They then investigated the tolerability and efficacy of 5% tea tree oil in subjects with mild to moderate dandruff. After 4 weeks of use, the tea tree oil group reported significant improvement in itchiness, scaliness, and greasiness.

To experience the anti-dandruff qualities of tea tree oil, mix two or three drops of the oil into a portion of mild shampoo. After wetting your hair with lukewarm water, massage the tea tree oil shampoo into your scalp, scrubbing gently. Leave the shampoo to set into your scalp and hair for about 5 minutes before rinsing it out. Repeat this treatment every time you wash your hair, to keep dandruff at bay.

Alternatively, you can add two or three drops of tea tree oil into 1 tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil. Rub this mixture into your scalp and leave it in for at least an hour or overnight, before washing it off with a mild shampoo. Try to do this treatment before each shampoo day. But bear in mind that tea tree oil can sometimes trigger allergies, in which case, you should use a shampoo containing at least 5% tea tree oil.

12. Baking Soda

Some of the ingredients we use everyday double as effective dandruff cures. Baking soda, for instance, inhibits the activity of dandruff-causing fungi. Symptoms like scalp irritation and flaking are also controlled by baking soda. This is due to the pH balancing and natural cleansing components of the substance.

Baking soda will balance the pH level of your scalp, and its absorbing effect will clear any excess oil and grease from the scalp without causing extreme dryness.  While the gritty texture and natural cleansing properties of baking soda will exfoliate any buildup of grime and dead cells from the scalp. All these qualities of baking soda create an inhospitable environment for dandruff-causing fungus to thrive. However, if you have any open wounds or sores on the scalp, skip baking soda and try another remedy on this list.

To use baking soda as a dandruff prevention treatment, wet your hair with cool water and rub a handful of baking soda into your scalp. This action will exfoliate your scalp and loosen any dirt and dead skin cell buildup. After doing this, you simply have to rinse the baking soda out and can skip the shampoo. In fact, baking soda is used as a shampoo replacement by many ‘No Poo’ followers, as the substance cleans hair just as well as shampoo.

But, I’m not saying you should hop on the ‘No Poo’ bandwagon. Excessive use of baking soda can cause your hair to dry out at first. However, this dryness will disappear after a few weeks as your scalp will begin to produce its own natural oils to compensate. This will leave your hair free of dandruff and much softer than it was before. If you would like to join the ‘No Poo’ movement, wash your hair with baking soda instead of shampoo, and condition your hair with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

13. Raw Honey

Raw honey is another kitchen ingredient that holds the key to a flake-free, itch-free scalp. Raw honey is not processed like conventional brand-name honey and tends to differ in color and be much thicker. This natural substance offers numerous health benefits, including anti-dandruff qualities.

When it comes to dandruff, applying raw honey to your scalp once a week can treat scaling, itching, and inflammation. In fact, a study investigating the effects of rubbing diluted honey on 30 patients with severe dandruff, proves this. Each patient would rub the honey on their scalp for 2-3 minutes every second day, and leave it on for 3 hours. The patients found their scaling and itching to disappear within a week. 12 of the 15 patients who discontinued the honey regimen relapsed within 2-4 months. While the 15 patients who continued with the regimen once a week reported no relapses.

There are many reasons as to why raw honey has this effect on dandruff. One of which is that raw honey is a natural humectant that helps hair lock in the moisture and prevents dryness. Another reason is that honey delivers a powerful fusion of vitamins and minerals to the scalp and hair follicles. Some of these vitamins and minerals are Vitamin A, D, C, E, beta-carotene, B-complex, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and manganese. All these nutrients nourish the scalp and keep the skin and hair follicles in a healthy condition, in which fungi cannot thrive.

To use raw honey as a dandruff treatment, wet your hair and apply diluted raw honey (10% water and 90% honey onto your scalp). Massage the formula into your scalp for about 3 minutes, and then leave it to settle for 3 hours before rinsing it out with warm water. Repeat this method once a week to keep dandruff out of your life.

14. Beetroot

Beetroots have always been praised as a superfood. Not only does its vibrant hue make an aesthetically-pleasing addition to a dish, but the food itself provides the body with awesome health benefits. Beetroot is high in anti-oxidants, Calcium, Iron, Vitamins A and C, and Potassium. This powerful supply of nutrients to your body will keep your scalp healthy and in optimal condition to control overactive fungi.

The carotenoids in beetroot also improve blood circulation, which is necessary for the scalp and hair to get the nutrients they need to fight dandruff. To experience the benefits of beetroot on your hair, halve a beetroot and rub both pieces directly on your scalp for 10 minutes. Allow the beetroot juice to seep into your scalp for 15 minutes. This method will moisturize your scalp from within, while also helping to remove dead skin cells. Repeat it once every week.

 An alternative method is to use boil the beetroot before applying it to your hair head. The first step is to cut up the vegetable into small pieces, as this lessens cooking time. Next, boil the beets in a pot for about 30 minutes so that the essence infuses into the water. Wait for the ‘beet water’ to cool down before massaging it into your scalp. Leave the beet water to seep into your hair overnight. Cover your bed with a plastic to prevent your linen from being stained purple. When you wake up, rinse the water out and repeat this treatment weekly.

Another method is to combine beetroot with another dandruff remedy, such as baking soda. First, add enough water to the baking soda to create a paste. Rub your scalp with this paste before applying fresh beetroot juice on your scalp. Leave the paste and juice to set into your scalp 15 minutes, and then rinse your hair with cool water.

15. Neem

Neem, also known as Indian lilac, is one of the most popular home remedies for preventing dandruff. This is because the leaves are packed with antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Plus, neem helps open clogged pores that can lead to scalp irritation and dirt and grime buildup. All these properties of neem create an uninhabitable environment for dandruff-causing fungi. But neem doesn’t just treat dandruff, it can also help with other hair problems like hair loss, itchiness, and scalp acne.

There are numerous ways in which neem can be used to treat dandruff, which makes it a convenient remedy. One such way is to create your own neem shampoo at home. To do this you must add half a teaspoon of neem oil to your regular shampoo bottle. Shake the bottle so that the ingredients can combine well. Use this shampoo twice a week for the best results. If you find the neem oil to be too potent for your liking, try mixing it with other essential oils mentioned above.

Alternatively, you can mix neem oil with two teaspoons of fenugreek powder. Apply the paste to your scalp and only wash it off after 3 hours. Fenugreek is rich in protein and amino acids, and also offers antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities. When you combine fenugreek and neem together, you create the perfect treatment for a healthy, flake-free scalp.

If you are unable to find 100% pure neem oil, then you can use neem leaves instead. Add a handful of leaves to 4 cups of water and leave it to boil for 10 minutes. Strain the solution once cool and use it as a rinse after shampooing your hair. Do this after every shampoo wash for the best protection against dandruff.

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