Before I talk about how to get rid of dandruff, I must explain what dandruff actually is. In the simplest terms, dandruff is a scalp condition, caused by a fungus called Malassezia. The fungus feeds on the sebum (the oily matter secreted on your scalp), as well as on the dead skin cells.
The fungus, though, is actually a normal part of our scalp. The problem occurs when the fungus feeds on the sebum, breaking it down and irritating the scalp. The end result is a dry and itchy scalp, dead skin cells turning into visible flakes, and a new level of sensitivity.
So, what can you do? First off, wash your hair on a regular basis, and you might avoid dandruff all together. But if you still have dandruff, there are several easy, home remedies to get rid of dandruff. Let’s get started.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
I’d like to start with the easiest, and most commonly used, remedy for eliminating dandruff. And that is vinegar, specifically apple cider vinegar.
The acidity of the vinegar helps soothe your dry skin and eliminate the fungus that’s causing dandruff. Apply a mixture of equal amounts of vinegar and water on your scalp, let it stay there for 20 to 35 minutes, and then wash your hair. As simple as that.
2. Baking Soda
It is only fitting that we start with the two most commonly used ingredients in home remedies: apple cider vinegar and baking soda. There is nothing that these two cannot fix, dandruff included. Baking soda, unlike vinegar, acts as a scrub for your hair, and helps you exfoliate your scalp.
The result is the same itch-free and dandruff-free scalp—you just get there via a different route. The best way to reap the benefits of baking soda is to add some to your regular shampoo and wash your hair with it.
When you talk about dandruff, you’ll hear many people telling you to “salt it.” Salt is an abrasive, and it can scrub dandruff off in a matter of minutes.
Now, imagine your head is a vegetable, or a piece of meat. Grab a saltshaker, and shake the salt onto your head. After you’ve salted your scalp, massage it so you can spread it all over. Work through your hair, and after 15 minutes of gentle massage with round movements, shampoo your hair.
Neem extract is part of almost every skin medication. The reason is simple: the extract is rich in anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, both of which are extremely important in the fight against dandruff. Look for natural neem extract derived from neem leaves.
Never look for concentrated versions of neem oil, as they can further irritate the skin.
5. Tea Tree Oil
I know I mentioned at the beginning that oiling your dandruff can be anti-beneficial. However, that doesn’t apply to essential oils such as tea tree oil. With its anti-fungal properties, the oil extract can be quite potent in the battle against dandruff. One to two drops in your regular shampoo is all you need.
The result will come in a matter of days if you shampoo your hair on a regular basis.
Many call garlic “the king of home remedies.” And they’re not wrong. There isn’t any illness, condition, or disease that can’t be healed—or at least prevented—by garlic. I know the odor is disagreeable to many, but the effect is well worth it. Avoid cooked garlic for home remedies. You want the fresh, raw garlic that releases tons of oils and juices when you crush it. So, crush one garlic clove, mix it with water, and then apply on your scalp. After some time, wash with shampoo.
I know people hate the smell, but here’s a secret. You can neutralize the smell by adding honey and ginger to the mixture. The effects will be the same, and there will be no trace of that odor.
7. Olive Oil
This is one of the oldest folk remedies out there for dandruff. You need approximately 10 drops of olive oil. Massage the oil on your scalp, cover with a cap, and let it stay overnight. In the morning, wash your hair with your regular shampoo, and you are good to go.
For those who want to take things to another level, you can use shampoo with olive oil in your morning shower.
8. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is the queen for skin conditions, and that applies to dandruff as well. There is nothing better for soothing skin irritations than aloe vera. The best way to use it to get rid of dandruff is by squeezing and extracting some aloe vera gel directly on your scalp.
After applying, massage your hair, and then wash it off with anti-dandruff shampoo.
You have a headache? Grab an aspirin. You have dandruff? Crush one aspirin and massage it on your head. Many of the medical anti-dandruff shampoos contain salicylic acid, and aspirin contains the same ingredient.
Alternatively, crush two aspirins (strive for a fine powder). Add the powder to your regular shampoo, and when you are washing your hair, make sure to leave the shampoo on your hair for two to three minutes. Rinse and wash.
10. Egg Yolks
Similar to garlic, egg yolks have a bad smell, but they are just as effective. For this treatment, make sure your head and hair are dry. Apply two egg yolks on the scalp area, massage it over, and then cover with a plastic bag. Let it stay for 60 minutes, and then wash with shampoo.
I recommend washing your hair twice to ensure there’s no smell/oil from the eggs yolks left on it.
Fun fact: did you know that Listerine, one of the most popular mouthwash products on the market, was once used by doctors for anti-dandruff purposes? It happened during the 1930s. Nowadays, any mouthwash will do. The trick is to wash your hair with shampoo, follow up with mouthwash, and then finish it off with conditioner.
12. Coconut Oil
Unlike egg yolks and garlic, coconut oil actually smells good while treating your dandruff. The problem with coconut oil is that it can be pricey. But hey, if it gets the job done, you don’t ask about price.
For the treatment, you need three to five tablespoons of coconut oil. Put the oil in your hands and gently warm the oil so it melts. Apply on your scalp and with gentle movements, massage your entire head. Let the coconut oil stay on your scalp for one hour, and then wash your hair with regular shampoo. As with olive oil, you can wash your hair with a shampoo that contains coconut oil for even better results.
If someone should ask you to name the biggest enemy of fungus, tell them acid. And lemon is extremely rich in acid. But don’t worry, lemon acid is not harmful.
For a dandruff treatment, squeeze one lemon on your hair (approximately two tablespoons). Massage your scalp, moving from the center to the outer part of your head. Rinse with water. Now, continue the treatment by mixing another teaspoon of lemon juice with one cup of water. Rinse your hair with the lemon-water mixture. Repeat the treatment for one week, and you’ll see results.
The best way to get rid of dandruff is to prevent it all together. For that purpose, I’ll share with you some precautionary measures you can take.
- Do not oil your hair. One of the biggest myths is that oiling is your hair will help you get rid of dandruff. That’s not true. Oil can do more harm than good to your dry and itchy scalp. I know it might sound like the easy solution, but your scalp will be grateful if you avoid oiling.
- Get some sun exposure. Now I’m not saying you should go out in the sun during peak hours, but a few hours of sun exposure are actually good for your hair. There hasn’t been a study linking dandruff and sun exposure, but this one is from my own experience. Try it; you have nothing to lose. One assumption I have is that the sun helps to dry up the excess oil on your hair.
- Eat healthy. You want vegetables (especially leafy greens), fish oils, and lean protein to keep your hair healthy and shiny
- Brush your hair after showering. This is the best natural way to distribute the oil on your scalp over the entire head surface. When you brush your hair, always start from your scalp, and then work your way outward.