When dandruff happens
There are a lot of things to love about rocking your natural curls -- but one thing that’s less than desirable is dandruff.
Dandruff is annoying enough. It’s unattractive. It makes styling your hair a chore. And it can be difficult to manage or reverse. But these problems are elevated when you have to be extra careful with the products you use to treat the issue.
To tackle dandruff, you need to first address the underlying cause.
Causes of dandruff
Shampooing too infrequently
Simply put, if you wash your hair too infrequently, skin can flake off and collect on your scalp. You should wash your hair at least once a week, if not more frequently, to avoid dandruff. Having an oily scalp is more likely to lead to dandruff as dandruff loves the oil (sebum) your scalp produces and thrives when there’s more of it. In fact, excessive oil production can lead to seborrheic dermatitis, but more on that later.
If your scalp is sensitive to certain ingredients, it may have a reaction with skincare or haircare products causing contact dermatitis. Once you remove the offending product, your scalp should heal in time.
Yeast, which can aggravate your scalp, can cause excess skin cell growth which can result in dandruff.
Seborrheic dermatitis (SD)
If none of the other causes seem likely, it’s probable that you have seborrheic dermatitis -- one of the most common causes of dandruff. SD often causes red patches of skin covered with flaky white “scales.” Talk to your dermatologist if you think you have SD.
Once you’ve identified and addressed the underlying issue, you can effectively treat dandruff.
Treatments for dandruff
Use over-the-counter (OTC) dandruff shampoo
You may be able to get some relief by using over-the-counter shampoos that are formulated to help with dandruff. Finding a solution may take some trial and error, so if you haven’t had luck in the past, try again. Sometimes alternating two or more shampoo types can also help.
Applying an exfoliating scalp mask once to twice a week will help speed up recovery from a dandruff flare-up and can also help prevent them. Exfoliating masks gently lift away flakes and helps to return the rate of skin cell turnover on the scalp to a normal, healthy level. Scalp exfoliators with salicylic acid or hydrocortisone are preferred, as opposed to those with sea salt as higher concentrations of sea salt can irritate the scalp.
Certain foods like full-fat dairy products, sugary and spicy foods, and champagne can trigger dandruff.
Leave in moisturizer
Using leave-in moisturizers between hair washings can help keep your scalp nourished and moisturized all the time, making it more difficult for dandruff to form.
Apply aloe vera to your scalp just before washing your hair and allow to set for a few minutes. Massage it into your scalp and then wash it away with your normal shampoo. Not only does aloe vera have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, but it’s also a mild exfoliant.
Research and studies have shown that a flaky scalp can cause or even worsen hair fall in certain individuals. If your scalp is irritated, it can adversely effect hair growth. And thick, scaly patches can also attach to the hair follicles causing fallout.
And of course, make sure to use products that keep your hair moist and healthy all year round.