How to Get Rid of Dandruff: 10 Natural Treatments
Skip the dandruff shampoo and try these homemade dandruff treatments to banish those pesky white flakes.
What gets rid of dandruff?
Dandruff may be the result of a dry scalp, or a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff causes also include skin dryness or sensitivity to hair products, or, very commonly, an overgrowth of a yeastlike fungus called malassezia, according to the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, the flaking and itching could be symptoms of psoriasis or eczema, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Drugstore dandruff remedies might include shampoos with zinc pyrithione, which targets fungus and bacteria; ketoconazole, which also fights fungus; coal tar and selenium sulfide, which slow the growth and die-off of skin cells on your scalp; and salicylic acid, which loosens flakes so they can be washed away. Here’s how to get rid of dandruff using trusted at-home remedies. These are the best dandruff shampoos for your type of dandruff.
Aspirin contains the same active ingredient (salicylic acid) as many medicated dandruff shampoos, points out the Mayo Clinic. Keep flaking in check by crushing two aspirins to a fine powder and adding it to the normal amount of shampoo you use each time you wash your hair. Leave the mixture on your hair for 1-2 minutes, then rinse well and wash again with plain shampoo.
Tea tree oil
An in vitro study found that tea tree oil shampoo showed a 78 percent reduction of the growth of microbes associated with dandruff. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your favorite shampoo as you wash normally. Watch out for these sneaky causes of dandruff that have nothing to do with dry skin.
Baking soda [couldn’t find expert/research to support and this can actually cause scalp irritation]
Your kitchen could hold the key to an itch-free, flake-free scalp. Some ingredients you use every day double as effective dandruff remedies—like baking soda. Wet your hair and then rub a handful of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. Skip the shampoo and go right to rinsing. Baking soda reduces overactive fungi that can cause dandruff. Your hair may get dried out at first, but after a few weeks, your scalp will start producing natural oils, leaving your hair softer and free of flakes.
Apple cider vinegar [couldn’t find expert/research to support]
Here’s how to get rid of dandruff using the elixir that some people say heals everything. Dr. Mehmet Oz swears by apple cider vinegar as a dandruff remedy, as the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow. Mix a quarter cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter cup water in a spray bottle and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week. Make sure you avoid doing these things that are horrible for your hair.
Mouthwash [couldn’t find expert/research to support]
To treat a bad case of dandruff, wash your hair with your regular shampoo, then rinse with an alcohol-based mouthwash. Follow with your regular conditioner. Mouthwash’s anti-fungal properties help prevent dandruff-causing yeast from growing.
Coconut oil [there are studies linking coconut oil to decreased inflammation but nothing connecting it to dandruff]
If you want to learn how to get rid of dandruff using something that people actually put in their hair, try coconut oil. Before showering, massage 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil into your scalp and let sit for about an hour. Shampoo normally. You can also look for a shampoo that already contains coconut oil.
A small study found that subjects using a tonic containing 10 percent lemongrass oil showed an 81 percent dandruff reduction after two weeks. Since lemongrass oil may cause irritation, you should dilute it by adding a few drops to your shampoo. You also need to learn about scalp psoriasis and what dermatologists wish you knew about the condition.
Salt [couldn’t find expert/research to support and this can actually cause scalp irritation]
The abrasiveness of ordinary table salt works great for scrubbing out dandruff flakes before you shampoo. Grab a saltshaker and shake some salt onto your dry scalp. Then work it through your hair, giving your scalp a massage. You’ll find you’ve worked out the dry, flaky skin and are ready for a shampoo. Pair one of our other dandruff remedies with your shampoo for the full treatment.
A review of 23 studies of aloe vera reported that the plant has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help treat dandruff. And a small study found that a topical aloe vera gel was effective at treating seborrheic dermatitis on the face. If you’re not sure why your head is itchy, here are some more possible reasons you feel like scratching your scalp.
Garlic [couldn’t find expert/research to support]
Garlic’s antimicrobial properties are perfect for eliminating dandruff-causing bacteria. Crush garlic and rub it into your scalp. To avoid that potent smell, mix crushed garlic with honey and massaging into the scalp before washing as usual.
Olive oil [research suggests this can make dandruff worse]
An overnight olive oil soak is a folk remedy for dandruff. Massage about 10 drops into your scalp and cover with a shower cap overnight. Follow your regular shampoo routine in the morning. For a quicker cure, look for a shampoo that contains olive oil. Now that you know how to get rid of dandruff, make sure you know about these other scalp conditions you should never ignore.
- Mayo Clinic: “Dandruff”
- American Academy of Dermatology: “Dandruff: How to treat”
- Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology Research: “In-vitro evaluation of herbal and chemical agents in the management of dandruff”
- Complementary Medicine Research: “Anti-dandruff Hair Tonic Containing Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) Oil”
- BioMed Research International: "The Review on Properties of Aloe Vera in Healing of Cutaneous Wounds"
- Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases: "A novel cosmetic antifungal/anti-inflammatory topical gel for the treatment of mild to moderate seborrheic dermatitis of the face: an open-label trial utilizing clinical evaluation and erythema-directed digital photography."