Don’t you just hate those white skin flakes peppering your crowning glory and sitting proud on your shoulders? Dandruff is quite a common, persistent scalp condition and if you’re struggling with it, you have 50% of the world’s population for company!1
Causes of dandruff: Seborrheic dermatitis | Fungal infection | Stress | Immune system problems | Nerve problems
Sometimes, dandruff could be caused by a skin condition known as seborrheic dermatitis, probably caused by excessive oil production in the scalp, triggered by high levels of hormones. The Malassezia fungus, found in oily parts of your skin, could also accelerate skin cell growth. This eventually results in more dead cells, which combine with skin oils and flake off as dandruff.2 Stress, immune system problems, or nerve-related conditions may also increase your chances of getting dandruff while eczema flare-ups and cold weather can make it worse.3
While anti-dandruff shampoos are usually prescribed to control the problem, unfortunately, they can be quite harsh on your hair. But fortunately, several natural remedies, some available right in your kitchen, can help tackle these white flakes.
1. Apply Onion Juice On The Scalp
- Blend or juice a red onion.
- Apply on hair and keep for 30 mins.
- Rinse out with a mild shampoo.
- Repeat once a week for 2 months.4
Yes, the humble onion can be quite a beauty and health aid. According to research, onion has antifungal properties and is effective against Malassezia. This common kitchen staple contains sulfur and several other nutrients which can work against pathogens, leaving you with a healthy scalp and hair.5 6
2. Rinse Hair With Neem Water
- Boil a handful of neem leaves till the water turns green.
- Use the cool, filtered neem water for the last rinse.
- Or apply a neem leaf paste on your scalp. Leave it on for 1 hour.
- Wash with warm water and a mild shampoo.
Neem has been used since ancient times in India to cure various ailments. Neem’s broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties make it very effective in keeping dandruff at bay.7
Store the neem water and use it for the last rinse whenever you wash your hair.
3. Apply Aloe Vera Gel On The Scalp
- Extract fresh aloe vera gel from a leaf.
- Rub the gel on the scalp and keep for 1 hour.
- Repeat 2–3 times a week.8
Aloe vera is a very popular home remedy for hair and skin problems. It contains several amino acids, minerals like sodium, calcium, and magnesium, and other beneficial enzymes, vitamins, and polysaccharides. Aloe vera has antifungal, antibacterial, and cleansing properties. As your dandruff could be caused by fungi, applying aloe vera will help reduce the flakes.9
4. Apply Garlic Paste On The Scalp
- Crush 5–6 cloves of garlic.
- Add 1 tsp honey to make a paste.
- Apply it on your scalp and keep for 30 mins.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo.10
Garlic, which belongs to the same family as onion, is also known for being antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal in nature. It works really well against Malassezia and can help you tackle dandruff.11 If you have a sensitive scalp, dilute the garlic paste with water.
5. Apply Hibiscus Leaf Paste On The Scalp
- Blend a few fresh, cleaned hibiscus leaves into a paste.
- Apply on the scalp and keep for 30 mins.
- Rinse off with a mild shampoo.
- Repeat once a week.12
Hibiscus in yet another age-old home remedy for hair and scalp nourishment.13 One study looked at the effect of plant extracts on Malassezia, isolated from dandruff flakes on the scalp of affected people. It was found that hibiscus extracts were able to significantly reduce the growth of this fungus.14 A bonus of using hibiscus leaves is that it will leave your hair soft and lustrous.
6. Get A Head Massage With Lemongrass Oil
- Mix lemongrass essential oil with grapeseed oil.
- Massage the scalp. Keep overnight or at least 1 hour.
- Rinse out with a mild shampoo.
- Or use a weak lemongrass tea as hair rinse.
According to a study, applying a hair tonic with 10% lemongrass oil twice a day was able to significantly reduce dandruff in people with the condition.15
Its inhibitory effect against Malassezia is what makes it work so well at combating dandruff.16
7. Massage Honey Water On The Scalp
- Dilute raw organic honey with water in a 80-20 ratio.
- Massage your scalp with it. Leave on for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Rinse it out with warm water. Use a mild shampoo if needed.
Honey, a supersaturated solution that contains fructose, glucose, several amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, proteins, and minerals, is a true gift from nature. While soothing your scalp and conditioning your hair, it will also regulate pH and prevent infections such as dandruff caused by pathogens17 Honey’s antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties help fight even stubborn cases of seborrheic dermatitis. One study found that people with dandruff who applied 90% honey diluted with warm water for 3 hours every other day experienced significant benefits. Both scaling and itching were resolved in a week. Applying honey weekly even prevented dandruff from coming back.18
8. Try A Tea Tree Oil Massage
- Massage a few drops of diluted tea tree oil into your scalp.
- Leave it on overnight. Rinse it off the next day with a mild shampoo.
- Repeat once a week.
Tea tree oil is an organic oil with strong antifungal properties. It has also been found to eliminate the fungus Malassezia.19
But do avoid other organic oils like olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil, which feed the growth of Malassezia, the fungus associated with dandruff.20
9. Massage Amla Juice On The Scalp
- Mix juice from 2–3 fresh amla with an equal quantity of grapeseed oil.
- Massage it on the scalp and keep for 1 hour. Rinse off with a mild shampoo.
- Or use a paste of amla powder and water.
- Do this once a month.
The antimicrobial nature of amla or Indian gooseberry against Malassezia makes it an effective remedy for dandruff.
This is also why it is used as an ingredient in several commercially available hair and scalp care products.21
10. Try An Orange Peel Pack
- Blend a few orange peels and 5–6 tbsp lemon juice.
- Apply the paste to your scalp.
- Wash it off after 30 minutes.
Orange peel has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the dandruff formation.22 It is also a potent antioxidant that improves hair health and keeps dandruff at bay. Orange zest is also known to have acidic properties that condition the scalp.
11. Give Egg Yolk A Try
- Apply egg yolk to dry hair.
- Wrap your head with a cover for about 30 minutes.
- Use a shampoo to wash it off.
Egg yolk contains biotin, which is a popular ingredient in anti-dandruff products.23 It is known to combat dry skin and reduce flaky scalp. To stimulate the oil balance of the scalp for added benefits, add 5–6 spoons of yogurt to the egg yolk paste.
12. Add Flaxseeds In The Diet
Flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids which nourish your scalp.24 And a deficiency in fatty acids like omega-3 can cause not only dandruff but other issues like excessive thirst, dry or rough skin, and problems with vision and attention. Add powdered flaxseeds to your soups and salads or use flaxseed oil.25 Remember to have plenty of fluids with them since they’re high in fiber and may cause problems with bowel movement.26 27
Dandruff can be kept under control with a regular hair care routine and natural products that suit your hair and scalp. However, if you do not see any improvement in a couple of weeks of using home remedies, do approach a medical practitioner for treatment.
|↑1||Sommer, Bettina, David P. Overy, and Russell G. Kerr. “Identification and characterization of lipases from Malassezia restricta, a causative agent of dandruff.” FEMS yeast research 15, no. 7 (2015).|
|↑2||Dandruff – does your head feel itchy?. Women’s and Children’s Health Network.|
|↑3||What Is Dandruff?. The Nemours Foundation.|
|↑4, ↑8||Mitaliya, K. D., D. C. Bhatt, N. K. Patel, and S. K. Dodia. “Herbal remedies used for hair disorders by tribals and rural folk in Gujarat.” (2003).|
|↑5||Tabassum, Nahida, and Mariya Hamdani. “Plants used to treat skin diseases.” Pharmacognosy reviews 8, no. 15 (2014): 52.|
|↑6, ↑11||Shams-Ghahfarokhi, Masoomeh, Mohammad-Reza Shokoohamiri, Nasrin Amirrajab, Behnaz Moghadasi, Ali Ghajari, Farideh Zeini, Golnar Sadeghi, and Mehdi Razzaghi-Abyaneh. “In vitro antifungal activities of Allium cepa, Allium sativum and ketoconazole against some pathogenic yeasts and dermatophytes.” Fitoterapia 77, no. 4 (2006): 321-323.|
|↑7||Sharma, Shalini, U. M. Upadhyay, Siddhi U. Upadhyay, Tanvi Patel, and Pratiksha Trivedi. “Herbal Armamentarium for the culprit dandruff.” International Journal of Phytopharmacy Research4, no. 1 (2013): 23-28.|
|↑9||Qadir, M. Imran. “Medicinal and cosmetological importance of Aloe vera.” Int J Nat Ther 2 (2009): 21-26.|
|↑10||Petrovska, Biljana Bauer, and Svetlana Cekovska. “Extracts from the history and medical properties of garlic.” Pharmacognosy reviews 4, no. 7 (2010): 106.|
|↑12, ↑13||Rao, NS Balaji, D. Rajasekhar, and D. Chengal Raju. “Folklore remedies for dandruff from Tirumala hills of Andhra Pradesh.” Ancient science of life 15, no. 4 (1996): 296.|
|↑14||Patil, Ulhas K., Kalyani Muskan, and Narendra Mokashe. “In Vitro Comparison of the Inhibitory Effects of Various Plant Extracts on the Growth of Malassezia furfur.” Inventi Impact: Cosmeceuticals (2010).|
|↑15||Chaisripipat, Wannee, Nattaya Lourith, and Mayuree Kanlayavattanakul. “Anti-dandruff Hair Tonic Containing Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) Oil.” Complementary Medicine Research 22, no. 4 (2015): 226-229.|
|↑16||Wuthi-udomlert, Mansuang, Ployphand Chotipatoomwan, Sasikan Panyadee, and Wandee Gritsanapan. “Inhibitory effect of formulated lemongrass shampoo on malassezia furfur: a yeast associated with dandruff.” Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health 42, no. 2 (2011): 363.|
|↑17||Burlando, Bruno, and Laura Cornara. “Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 12, no. 4 (2013): 306-313.|
|↑18||Al-Waili, N. S. “Therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey on chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.” European journal of medical research 6, no. 7 (2001): 306-308.|
|↑19||Satchell, Andrew C., Anne Saurajen, Craig Bell, and Ross StC Barnetson. “Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 47, no. 6 (2002): 852-855.|
|↑20||Andleigh, H. S. “A note on the growth of Malassezia furfur.” Mycopathologia 9, no. 1 (1958): 20-22.|
|↑21||Hemamalini, V., V. Deepa, G. Shanthi, and S. Rajarajan. “EVALUATION OF ANTIMYCOTIC ACTIVITY OF PHYLLANTHUS EMBLICA LINN. ON TWO ISOLATES (MALASSEZIA FURFUR AND MALASSEZIA OBTUSA) FROM DANDRUFF AND PITYRIASIS VERSICOLOR.” International Journal of Biological & Pharmaceutical Research 5, no. 9 (2014): 763-767.|
|↑22||Arora, Mamta, and Parminder Kaur. “Antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of orange pulp and peel.” Int J Sci Res 2 (2013): 412-5.|
|↑23||Chhavi, Singla, Drabu Sushma, and A. Mahammad. “Potential of herbals as antidandruff agents.” IRJP 2, no. 3 (2011): 16-18.|
|↑24||Patel, Seema J., Komal B. Harihar, and Vanditha MG Sagar Hugar. “Evaluation of Anti-Acne and Anti-Dandruff Activity of Seed Protein Extracts.”|
|↑25||Richardson, A. “Fatty acids in dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and the autistic spectrum.” Nutr Pract 3, no. 3 (2001): 18-24.|
|↑26||Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑27||Rudin, Donald O. Omega 3 oils. Penguin, 1996.|