Dandruff – those little white flakes that land all over the shoulders of our black shirts can affect not only our appearance but our self-confidence as well. Imagine looking down to see dandruff flurries all over your suit coat just as you are walking into a job interview. How well do you suppose you will perform? How confident will you be?
According to Mayo Clinic, dandruff is “a common scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp.” Dandruff may be caused by seborrheic dermatitis (irritated, oily skin), a yeast like fungus called Malassezia, dry skin, not shampooing enough, or contact dermatitis from sensitivities to hair care products.
Dandruff can be frustrating and embarrassing, but essential oils are able to help.
Why Essential Oils Are Good For Dandruff
Those of us who have dandruff have often tried a specialty dandruff shampoo. These shampoos are sold over the counter and rely on ingredients like pyrithione zinc, coal tar, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole. Prescription strength shampoos are also available.
The active ingredients in medicated dandruff shampoos work primarily as antifungal and anti-inflammatory agents.
For those of us who prefer to pursue more natural solutions, essential oils provide an answer.
Certain essential oils have historically demonstrated these same properties and capabilities. Some oils have been so successful that their efficacy has even been tested and confirmed in a laboratory setting.
Let’s introduce you to the eight lovely oils that will help you to get rid of your white flaky problems.
Best Essential Oils For Dandruff
1. Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica)
Cedarwood Atlas embodies the multi-faceted ways in which essential oils assist with specific concerns. This oil has demonstrated an ability to curtail the growth of the yeast-like fungus which is one of the most common causes of dandruff.
While the yeast is being dealt with, cedarwood’s antiseborrheic qualities help balance out our bodies’ oil production and its aromatic delightfulness relaxes our stress.
Incorporate some cedarwood atlas into your daily routine by adding a few drops to your shampoo and conditioner.
Best For: A whole body approach to dandruff, especially if you are unsure what is causing it.
2. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Eucalyptus is a healing, rejuvenating oil that impacts both our bodies and our minds. In homeopathic use, eucalyptus has been known to exhibit antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
These traits help eucalyptus to address both the physicality of a flaky, itchy scalp and the emotions associated with it.
Harness the potential of eucalyptus by adding it to your favorite carrier oil and using for massage. Focus on your scalp and work out from there so your back and shoulders can also enjoy the invigorating experience.
Best For: Synergistic calming and revitalization of both the body and the mind.
Note: Do not use on children’s faces.
3. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender soothes our body and mind while also protecting us. These traits are especially useful for dandruff. If our scalp has become very itchy, chances are we scratched at it and now it is inflamed and irritated. Lavender can calm our skin and guard against infection.
Stress often exacerbates dandruff and of course we know how calming lavender can be.
Benefit from lavender’s notorious soothing powers when you make an overnight intensive mask. Simply add carrier oil to the lavender and massage into the scalp. Wear a shower cap and sleep with the mask on. In the morning, rinse and shampoo as normal.
Best For: Soothing broken, irritated skin and discouraging infection.
Note: Maximum topical dilution of 1%
4. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
Lemongrass has long been used to support scalp health due to its powerhouse antifungal properties and ability to help balance sebum (oil) production.
Scientific testing of lemongrass for dandruff supported the naturopathic claims. In double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, a 10% dilution of lemongrass was applied to the scalp twice a day for 14 days.
Dandruff severity was decreased by 75% by day seven and an astounding 81% by day 14!
Experience the benefits of lemongrass for yourself by creating a hair and scalp mask with lemongrass diluted in a carrier oil. Apply the blend to your head taking special care to massage it into your scalp. Leave the mask on for 30-60 minutes then rinse out and shampoo.
Best For: Dandruff that is accompanied or seems to be exacerbated by unregulated sebum production.
Note: Risk of birth defects if used topically during pregnancy.
5. Geranium Egypt (Pelargonium graveolens)
When we get caught in a cycle of dry and oily skin on our scalp, it can be hard to figure out how to stop the vicious cycle. Geranium is a wonderful solution. This oil gently works to balance our scalp’s pH by cleaning, toning, and regulating oil production. Geranium also has been known to exhibit antibacterial and antifungal properties.
If you are mystified as to the root cause of your dandruff, geranium is the perfect go to solution since it can help with any of the main causes of dandruff while still being gentle to your scalp.
Make a toning scalp clarifier out of geranium and a carrier oil. Massage the blend into scalp and allow to sit for 20 minutes before shampooing hair.
Best For: Dandruff caused by candida yeast, malassezia fungus, overactive sebaceous glands, or dry scalp.
6. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a potent bundle of herbal goodness for our hair and heads. This oil has been known to display antifungal and antimicrobial properties which work to eliminate the overgrowth of fungus and bacteria that can cause dandruff. Rosemary also stimulates circulation which in turn boosts cell turnover and helps our bodies purge the remaining dandruff flakes.
In case you needed any more reasons to add rosemary to your hair care routine, here you go – rosemary has been known to help support healthy hair growth and to make our hair sleek and shiny.
Make a hair rinse by diluting rosemary with apple cider vinegar and purified water.
Best For: Supporting well-rounded hair and head health.
Note: Do not use on children’s faces, as it is neurotoxic.
7. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree contains constituents which have demonstrated antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. This oil displays a very well-rounded quality. It can help kill off the scalp fungi and bacteria which are causing dandruff while calming an inflamed and itchy scalp.
If you have an active case of dandruff, try adding some drops of tea tree to your shampoo or conditioner bottle. Be sure to really massage the shampoo/conditioner into your scalp so that tea tree can work her wonders. Leave in for 20 minutes if possible then rinse thoroughly.
Best For: Reducing severity of active cases of dandruff
Note: 15% maximum topical dilution
8. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Some of the medicated dandruff shampoos do incorporate natural ingredients like essential oils simply because of their wonderful effectiveness. Thyme is one of those oils.
Thyme’s fungicidal properties are very robust and explain this oil’s inclusion in commercial products. Thyme also stimulates circulation to improve cell turnover. This can help your skin condition stabilize faster.
Mix a few drops of essential oils with olive oil and oatmeal. Massage into your scalp for a nourishing, gentle exfoliation.
Best For: Addressing the source of dandruff while soothing the affected skin.
Best Essential Oil For Dandruff Recipes
Essential Oils Dandruff Reducing Hair Mask
Mix essential oils, honey, and carrier oil in a dark colored glass jar.
- 8 drops cedarwood atlas
- 8 drops rosemary
- 8 drops tea tree
- 1 ounce fractionated coconut carrier
- 1 ounce olive carrier
- 1 teaspoon honey
Massage blend into scalp and allow to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes. Shampoo.
Essential Oils Scalp Clarifying Rinse
In a glass spray bottle combine:
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
- 8 drops eucalyptus
- 8 drops geranium
- 8 drops thyme
Shake mixture and spray onto scalp. For best results, wait about 5 minutes before rinsing hair.
Essential Oils Scaly Scalp Exfoliator Recipe
Crush up 4 tablets of aspirin. Add to a dark glass jar along with:
- 1 cup brown or white sugar (brown is softer, white is coarser)
- 1-1/2 ounces olive or avocado oil
Stir until oil is integrated. Add essential oils:
- 9 drops lavender
- 9 drops lemongrass
Gently massage exfoliator blend into scalp and allow to sit for a few minutes before shampooing.
- Dandruff is a common scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp
- Essential oils are good for dandruff because they have antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties that address the causes and symptoms of dandruff
- The best essential oils for dandruff include: cedarwood atlas, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree and thyme.