What is Dandruff? And The Truth behind Dandruff

A scaly, itchy scalp condition where clumps of skin cells come together to create flakes you can see in your hair. Mild dandruff can be caused by a number of things, including bad reactions to hair products and dry skin.

More severe cases may actually be caused by seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin condition that may be partially driven by yeast and hormone changes. Some people are sensitive to the naturally existing yeast on the scalp but for most of us, it’s a harmless part of our scalp and skin flora and feeds on the oil on your skin. If it’s allowed to overgrow an inflammatory response can happen to lead to a buildup of flaking skin cells.

Common Dandruff Myths

  1. You don’t need to exfoliate your scalp - Especially if you think excessive product buildup is playing a role in your dandruff an occasional exfoliating treatment may help. The bonus is it feels really great!

  2. You can’t use styling products if you have dandruff - In general it’s important to investigate the products you’re using to ensure they aren’t irritating, but as long as you’re washing regularly to prevent buildup then you can keep styling with products. However you might want to cut back on the amount of products you use to minimize the change of a bad reaction.

  3. All flakes are a sign of dandruff - There are some conditions that cause dandruff-like flaking. If you notice some flaking it could also be dermatitis, scalp psoriasis, or eczema. What looks like dandruff could be many things. If you’re not sure or if you’re having trouble treating it on your own it’s important to get it properly diagnosed.

  4. Dandruff always comes from having a dry scalp - Did you know if you have an oily scalp it’s more likely to get dandruff? Malassezia yeast feeds on the oil on your skin and scalp. They thrive when there’s more of it present, making this condition more likely when you have an oilier scalp.

  5. Bad hygiene causes dandruff - Even the most diligent hair washers can find themselves suffering from dandruff. It can be because of various personal components, which include overproduction of hair oil or an excess of parasitic microorganism that live normally on our scalp.

Many additives in mainstream dandruff shampoo formulas can be downright unsafe and irritating. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to avoid these unsavory compounds - it’s just a matter of learning their names and reading the ingredients labels. 

5 Ingredients you Don’t want in your dandruff Shampoo

  • Synthetic Fragrance - If your shampoo label says “fragrance” consider that a catch-all for thousands of different chemicals. And because of the way the law is there’s no way to know exactly which ones. Play is safe and avoid any product with this on the label.

  • Formaldehyde - Sometimes formaldehyde is used as a preservative, or shampoos contain preservative ingredients that release formaldehyde over time. It’s a known carcinogen and it can be absorbed through your skin or you can inhale it in the air as it’s released. A lot of folks experience an allergic reaction so it’s definitely not wanted if you're trying to fight dandruff.

  • Sulfates - These are a chemical included in many liquid cleansers to create foam. They help other ingredients mix together, meaning you have to do less scrubbing to get clean. The negative of sulfates is that they can be too harsh, stripping out much of your scalp and hair’s natural oil. This can lead to increased irritation, itching, and dryness.

  • Coal Tar - Sometimes coal tar is an active main ingredient in some dandruff shampoos because it can be an effective treatment for scalp psoriasis. However, coal tar has been known to cause some serious side effects. It’s also a recognized carcinogenic meaning it can cause cancer in humans, actually it’s used in cosmetics but is banned in many places in the world. Coal tar shampoos can also darken or stain the appearance of your hair!

  • Parabens - These are synthetic chemicals commonly used as preservatives. They keep products fresh by keeping microbes from growing in them. But consumer research is proving parabens are dangerous and something to be concerned about because of its ability to mimic human hormones.

At-Home Remedies

Baking soda is not only amazing for baking but is also a powerful disinfectant when it comes to cleaning anything, including your scalp.

STEP 1 - Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with water until you reach the perfect paste consistency. 

STEP 2 - For best results, part your hair in sections and apply a few drops of olive oil before spreading the paste on your scalp, and let it sit for 5–10 minutes.

STEP 3 - Thoroughly rinse the mixture out. For best results, repeat this procedure regularly—once or twice a week.

Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the best home remedies for dandruff.

STEP 1 - Mix half a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar with half a cup of water.

STEP 2 - Massage it well into your scalp and then leave it in for about 10–15 minutes.

STEP 3 - Rinse off with cold water. Repeat this routine regularly every few days until you start seeing results.

Bentonite clay mask Bentonite clay pulls toxins and kills the fungus that’s causing embarrassing flakes. Try a bentonite clay mask on your hair and scalp once a week to vanish dandruff!

(Do NOT use a metal bowl or spoon, as the metal will activate the clay.) 

  • Step 1 - Purchase a high-grade bentonite clay from a place you trust.

  • Step 2 - Mix 1 cup of bentonite clay, 6 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, and 3 TBSP of water in a ceramic, plastic, or glass bowl. 

Optional, add 3 tablespoons of carrier oil (castor, coconut, or almond) to the mixture for added moisture.

  • Step 3 - Let the mixture sit for 15 seconds allowing ACV to fizzle and activate the clay.

  • Step 4 - Stir vigorously until the consistency looks like yogurt.

  • Step 5 -  Make sure hair is detangled and damp.

  • Step 6 - Apply the mixture to hair in sections, making sure to cover the scalp, roots, and ends.

  • Step 7 - Once the mixture is all over the hair, cover the head with a shower cap, and wait for 25-30 minutes.

  • Step 8 - Wash mixture out very carefully. Focusing on the scalp and hard to reach areas of hair. If possible rinse hair multiple times to ensure all of the mixture is out. Follow up with a conditioner of your choice. 

Once all mixture is out of the hair, keep water running to rinse any leftover mixture that could be inside of the drain.  This will prevent any damages happening to your shower!

Rhassoul Clay is unique because it contains a much higher mineral content than other clays. It provides optimal repair and renewal to both skin and hair by nourishing the skin and scalp tissue cells with pro-vitamins and trace minerals such as silicon, iron, magnesium, potassium and sodium.


  • Step 1 - Mix all the ingredients together to form a smooth paste. Adjust the quantity of aloe vera juice for desired texture.

How To Use

Wet hair. Massage a handful of clay mixture into the scalp. Start at the roots and then work your way down to the ends until all hair is well coated. Leave in for 5-10 minutes (do not let dry!) and rinse out thoroughly with warm water.

Note: This recipe makes a very generous amount. There is easily enough for one application in long hair. For short hair you could halve this amount.


❑  If your flakes are caused by a dry scalp you’ll want to make calming and moisturizing your scalp a priority. That may be switching to a gentle, fragrance, and sulfate-free shampoo and occasionally using a deep moisturizing conditioner or hair mask.

❑  If you have mild seborrheic dermatitis or common dandruff you should start with an anti-dandruff shampoo (or home remedy) which can help manage the yeast that drives dandruff. *The best approach for you depends on your skin type, the severity of your condition, and whether your symptoms affect your scalp or other areas of your body.)

❑  If your flakes are caused by a contact dermatitis reaction be sure to use gentle shampoos and conditioners that will keep your scalp moisturized without aggravating it while it heals. If your scalp feels overly sensitive you might need to reduce the frequency of shampooing.

❑  If your dandruff is more severe, insanely itching, or causing bleeding those are signs it may be due to a more serious condition like eczema, psoriasis, or something more severe.

Ultimately remember that dandruff is very common with many possible causes. Once you do the detective work to find out why you’ll be better able to effectively manage those flakes.

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