The healthiest version of ourselves involves addressing what we eat, what we use in our environment, and what we do in our everyday lives influenced by the viewpoint that nature provides us with much of what we need to accomplish these tasks. We often find ourselves worried about this or that environmental pollutant and yet forget about the items we use everyday on our skin. This is a review of 5 natural home remedies for dandruff and itchy scalp.
WHAT IS DANDRUFF?
Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis is a common scalp disorder causing itching and excessively dry skin flaking on the scalp. Common causes are irritated oily skin, dry skin, bacterial or fungal growth on the scalp, certain inflammatory skin conditions and other such factors.
While there is no magic button to push or switch to flip, dandruff can be controlled or even eliminated by following a healthy hair care routine using simple, natural home remedies. Some will be more effective for more advanced dandruff that is not antifungal resistant and some may be useful only in minor cases of dandruff. In this microwave age when we expect immediate results, we must remember that natural remedies may take time to show results. After all, your scalp didn’t develop dandruff overnight!
Ranking the Natural Choices
While ranking the natural choices for dandruff treatment may seem a bit counter-intuitive, there are individuals who wish to try all-natural treatments before heading the doctor for the treatment of dandruff. While dandruff is not a life-threatening condition, it certainly can drastically impact the quality of one’s life on a personal, medical and social basis. Certainly, there’s nothing to be lost by trying one or all of the following choices. But in the end, if after 2-3 months of trying one of the choices (one at a time), a visit to the doctor would certainly be in order as there are other conditions which may need to be addressed.
Natural Choice #5. Baking Soda
Baking soda as a mild exfoliant helps remove dead skin cells and absorbs excess oil. It may help the balance pH levels on the scalp and thereby reduce the growth of fungi that cause dandruff.
Method of use: Wet your hair and rub a handful of baking soda onto your scalp
. Wait 2 minutes, rinse well with warm water. Do NOT shampoo. Repeat 1-2 times a week.
Pros: Least expensive alternative. Easiest of all the choices to use.
Cons: Will probably be effective for minor cases only.
Shelf Life: 6 months after opening
Natural Choice #4. Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil
Scalp treatment with apple cider vinegar and Tea Tree Essential Oil restores the pH balance of the scalp and inhibits the growth of yeast. Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural hair clarifier and helps clean clogged pores and hair follicles.
Method of Use: Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 3 ounces of warm water, and 15-20 drops of tea tree oil. Apply to the scalp and massage. Allow the mixture to remain on the hair 5-10 minutes. Wash hair with castile soap and use the remainder of the mixture to rinse hair. Repeat 2-3 times weekly.
Pros: Less time involved in masking the hair prior to washing.
Cons: Odor of apple cider vinegar and tea tree may be offensive.
Price: Tea Tree is $10-$12 per ounce yielding 30 uses per ounce.
Apple Cider Vinegar: $.27 per ounce/treatment
Shelf Life: 1.5- 2 years
Natural Choice #3: Coconut Oil and Lemon Juice
Coconut oil is the best source of monolaurin, a well known antiseptic substance found in breast milk, it is antifungal and contains Vitamins E. It moisturizes dry scalp and provides relief from itching. Lemon (or lime) juice contains citric acid which restores the normal pH balance of the scalp thereby inhibiting the overgrowth of yeast on the scalp. The astringent effect of lemon juice balances the sebum level of the scalp, preventing it from becoming excessively greasy or dry and itchy.
Method of Use: Gently melt a tablespoonful of coconut oil and mix in one and one-half teaspoonfuls of slightly warm lemon juice. While it is still in a liquid form, rub into the scalp and massage for 1-3 minutes. Leave on the hair for 20 minutes and wash the hair with a mild soap such as a castile soap (made with olive oil). Rinse with a cup of water warm into which 4 tablespoonfuls of lemon juice has been added as your last rinse. Repeat 2-4 times weekly.
Pros: Benefit of using coconut oil (antifungal, Vitamin E), lemon juice (pH regulator, Vitamin C) and Olive Oil (in the castile soap) is a trifecta of beneficial, natural ingredients.
Cons: Coconut oil may produce a greasier moisture than our #1 choice; lemons must be fresh (do not use artificial lemon substitute).
Price: Coconut Oil $.50/ounce for 2 treatments
Lemons: Market price
Shelf Life: Coconut Oil 2 years
Natural Choice #2. Tea Tree Oil
Product Description: Tea tree oil, Melaleuca alternifolia, is one of the most widely respected and used essential oils. It is remarkably beneficial in supporting optimal immune function, healthy skin and hair, is antifungal and supports overall wellness.
Method of Use: Add 5-6 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of our #1 recommended oil and apply to the hair. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes or overnight and then wash your hair with a castile shampoo (made of olive oil) once or twice weekly.
Pros: Tea tree essential oil has strong antifungal properties, making it a good treatment for dandruff, especially when diluted with our #1 Choice.
Cons: Has a medicinal, woody scent which used at 15% rate is not strong, but may offend.
Price: $10-$12 per ounce yielding 10-15 uses per ounce.
Shelf Life: 1.5 – 2 years.
Natural Choice #1. Jojoba Oil
Product Description: 100% natural jojoba offers the traits and benefits of both an oil and a wax. It is highly emollient and penetrating. It closely resembles the natural sebum within our skin. It does not clog the pores and provides excellent non-greasy moisture to the skin. Read my in-depth review of jojoba oil here.
Pros: Sebum (skin wax) is deposited into hair follicles, resulting in dandruff and/or seborrhea, split ends, or excessively dry or greasy hair. Jojoba oil penetrates and dissolves sebum deposits and regulates excessive secretions in the scalp. It is an excellent carrier oil for Tea Tree (our #2 choice), allowing for cost-effective, complementary treatment.
Cons: While adverse reactions to the oil are rare, they may occur. Patch testing is advised for those with sensitive skin.
Price: $2-$3 per ounce
Shelf life – 2 years. Obtaining 100% pure jojoba oil assures the oil you use has no additives, the plants from which it was harvested had no pesticide use or were not genetically engineered to produce higher crop harvest and that the oil is cold pressed from the seeds of the jojoba plant.