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It’s not like you to be flaky. So turn to these natural home remedies for dandruff instead of drugstore remedies. They’re as effective as conventional dandruff shampoos, without the worry of potentially harmful chemicals. To name a few common ingredients found in many drug-store products: Coal tar, used in OTC dandruff shampoos in the United States, is a known carcinogen, ranked a 10 on a scale of 1–10 on The Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database ( 10 being the most hazardous to your health). Coal tar is banned in Canada and some parts of Europe. Resorcinol is another ingredient to watch out for; it may irritate mucous membranes, and if it gets into an open wound, it can cause a blood disease called methemoglobinemia. And an antifungal agent called ketoconazole can result in itching, rashes, and even hives.
4 Natural Treatments for Dandruff
Here are some better ways to eliminate those flakes and scalp itch—and they’re as close as your kitchen cabinet and medicine chest.
1 – Coconut Oil
Since one of the causes of dandruff is dry skin, coconut oil can ease dandruff by moisturizing the scalp. “Dandruff is a pesky problem and is often due to dry skin,” says Emily Kane, ND, LAc, a naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Juneau, Alaska, and author of two books on natural health, including Managing Menopause Naturally. “For those who have dry hair as well, coconut oil and tea tree oil can be blended together (1 Tbs. coconut oil to 1 tsp. tea tree oil, depending on how much hair you have). It’s best to apply this mix twice a week 30 minutes before washing hair, and wrap hair with a thin, wrung-out towel that has been dipped in hot water.”
2 – Tea Tree Oil
Finding the right treatment for dandruff can be tricky. Just as dry skin can cause dandruff, conversely, irritated, oily skin (seborrheic dermatitis) is a potential cause. Another culprit is a yeastlike fungus known as malassezia. Tea tree oil works well in these cases, as it has both drying and antifungal properties. “Rub a few drops of tea tree oil in the palm of the hand and apply to clean hair after getting out of the shower,” says Kane. “Gently massage into scalp and distribute with fingers to ends.”
3 – Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar makes it difficult for yeast fungus to grow on your scalp. “It can be used as a rinse to help get hair ‘squeaky clean’ after washing, but in general, vinegar is going to be a bit harsh for hair, so it should not be left on—always rinsed out,” advises Kane.
4 – Baking Soda
This home remedy can banish flakes without overdrying. “Some folks will fare well by alkalinizing their scalp with a baking soda slurry left on for 5 minutes, then shampooed, twice a week,” says Kane.
Natural Dandruff Shampoos
Effective dandruff shampoos often contain selenium and about 5% tea tree oil. Make sure any shampoo you use is fragranced with only pure essential oils. Synthetic musks (fake scents such as those found in candles and cheap perfumes) are highly toxic and bad for your health and the environment.