Say goodbye to Ol’ Dusty Shoulder
It’s also a natural bodily function that about half the world’s population experience. You’re in good company.
Mild dandruff is unsightly and unpleasant, like you’ve just had a pillow flight with Pablo Escobar in a warehouse stacked high with badly wrapped product…
…or some gnomes have been stood on your shoulders, drilling holes to put up tiny shelves…
…or you’ve been sat in a mystical library while a trainee wizard blows dust off ancient tomes, directly at you…
We could go on.
‘Normal’ dandruff or skin condition?
More serious dandruff could be a sign of a skin condition or another illness. If you suffer from severe, persistent dandruff, or if it's accompanied by an itchy or irritated scalp, you should see a doctor or a dermatologist.
There are loads of better qualified authors on the internet (like Dr. Axe, for example, with his fantastic guide to getting rid of dandruff), so we don’t claim this as the definitive resource for managing dandruff. Rather it’s a round-up of useful information, and a signpost to other sources.
We’ve included a bit of myth busting too. There’s no quick and easy cure for dandruff. In fact, as mild dandruff is a result of normal bodily function (one that is not perfectly understood) there’s no cure at all.
What you put on your head to treat dandruff is one thing. However, without lifestyle changes your dandruff will likely persist. Perhaps forever.
It’s amazing what people put up with. You’re reading this though, so not you. Bravo.
Ever the gentleman
Your Huckle barber will never mention your dandruff. He will offer advice if you ask though. Of his professionalism you can be assured. Much like this legend, who dealt with a customer’s airborne biohazard with commendable discretion.
What causes dandruff?
Well, the real cause of ‘normal’ dandruff is not actually known. You wouldn’t guess that from seeing an anti-dandruff shampoo ad, would you?
These are some other important factors to consider:
Dry skin (and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis)
At one of end of the spectrum (the mild end) it’s simply dry skin. At the other end, it could be a diagnosable condition. Dry skin is a very common cause of dandruff.
Confusingly, oily skin is another common cause of dandruff. Also known as seborrheic dermatitis. To prevent a build up of oil without drying your hair out, washing your hair 2-3 times a week is ideal.
Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that lives on most people’s heads. In some cases it can irritate the scalp and cause an overproduction of skin cells, which leads to flakiness i.e. dandruff.
Many shampoos contain parabens, sodium laureth and lauryl sulfate, which can cause irritation. It’s worth considering a natural alternative to your usual shampoo.
Myths about dandruff
No anti-dandruff shampoo can cure dandruff. They work, when they do work, to manage the condition. When you stop using the product, the dandruff will likely come back.
Unfortunately, many anti-dandruff shampoos contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin and may exacerbate the problem. You have to do what works best for you, but we prefer a natural approach where possible.
Despite this, it’s important to wash your hair regularly. As we mentioned above, a build up of oil on the scalp can also cause dandruff.
We use Davines shampoos in-store and we recommend their Purifying Shampoo as part of a well-rounded approach to keeping your hair and scalp healthy.
There are loads. Experiment and find out what’s effective in your case. Here are two of our favourites:
Oh blessed oil. Is there anything you cannot do? Yes, actually. Loads. But coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids, including lauric acid and capric acid, have antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties, which help to deal with funguses, viruses and bacteria that may exist.
Warm a small amount in the palm of your hands (depending on length and thickness of your hair) then massage into your scalp, and work into your hair from roots to tips. Leave for an hour or two, or overnight, then rinse well.
Coconut oil can improve the overall health of hair, as well as treating dandruff.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
ACV has been used for centuries to treat various bodily issues. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it an effective warrior in the war against the bacteria and fungus that can contribute to dandruff.
Mix undiluted ACV with an equal amount of water and massage into your scalp once a week. Leave for a few minutes then rinse. If your dandruff is more serious, mix a cup of ACV with shampoo and use 2-3 times a week. Find out more about how to use apple cider vinegar to treat dandruff.
The symptoms of stress can manifest themselves all over your body, in all sorts of ways - some much more serious than dandruff. If you feel that stress might be contributing to your dandruff, be good to yourself and make time to try one or more of the following:
- Regular exercise (yoga is great for body and mind)
- Getting more sleep
- Building a raft and floating off towards the sunset
The effect of diet on dandruff
Like the old saying goes, ‘You only get out what you put in’. Nowhere is this more true than with the human body. Of course, your daily trip to the water closet is evidence of that, but beyond bowel movements, skin and hair health is a signpost that can indicate either normal bodily functions, thanks to good dietary and lifestyle choices, or malfunctions, caused by poor choices.
You can help your body run better by eating a balanced, vitamin-rich diet, minimising your sugar intake (including from booze), and avoiding processed foods and processed oils like corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower oil.
Other beneficial steps to take:
Drink plenty of water
This is important for overall health. Lack of water can contribute to dryness of the skin and scalp.
Get good bacteria
The health of your gut impacts the rest of your body. Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are packed with goodness that can help your gut to function normally. You could try taking good quality probiotics too.
Eat more omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are good for heart health, and for the well-being of your skin and hair. These ‘good fats’ are found in oily fish, nuts and leafy green vegetables. Bon appétit.
So there you have it. When it comes to dandruff it’s not as simple as wash and go. With the right advice, and a holistic approach, you too can rid yourself of those pesky flakes.
In the words of Jay-Z, a famous dandruff sufferer…‘If you feelin' like a pimp, go and brush your shoulders off.’