Before I tell you if it’s dandruff, answer these three questions:

  1. Is your skin generally dry, maybe all year round but definitely in winter?
  2. Are your flakes big and/ or yellowish, and if you touch your scalp it feels kind of oily?
  3. Do these flakes appear after a week of applying many, many products (without a wash in between)?

Your answer to the questions above will determine whether you’re being eaten alive by your scalp fungus…

Or you’re a touch heavy handed with those products we all spend a fortune on. Or you is just ashy, boo.

Let’s see if it’s one of these three things:

  1. Dandruff

Most people assume scalp flakes are dandruff and then assume it’s because of poor hygiene practices, however, the latter assumption is usually not true. One of the causes of dandruff is a sensitivity to the scalp fungus we all have called Malassezia. This darling scalp dweller feeds off the dead skin on our scalps. Unfortunately, some people are sensitive to the oleic acid that’s pooped out by these organisms and it causes accelerated shedding of dead skin cells that clump together because of the oils on your scalp and then fall onto your neck and shoulders in large, oily (sometimes yellowish) flakes. Scientists don’t really know why some people are sensitive to Malassezia and some aren’t, but they guess that genetics, stress, hormone imbalances and illness likely play a role. Dandruff causes flakes, mild inflammation and itchiness – so, be careful when pat-patting that scalp, frequent scratching of your red, swollen, tender scalp will just lead to bleeding and sores.  

  1. Dry Scalp

If you generally suffer with dry skin on your body, you likely suffer from dry scalp, which also has it’s share of flakes but these are smaller and more powdery than dandruff flakes and are generally whiter. The triggers for dry scalp are cold, dry air (so it’s more apparent in winter), reactions to products you’re using on your hair or dehydrated sebaceous glands aggravated even more because you’re not drinking enough water. Your scalp is also quite itchy but it’s definitely not oily to the touch like in a case of dandruff.

  1. Product Buildup

Yes, all your layering of products may be the reason behind your flakes! Buildup is an accumulation of products that dry and flake in the hair. The resultant flakes are more translucent than white, and they tend to be located on the hair strand, and not on your scalp. To fix this wash your hair more regularly and check which products don’t mix well together because mixing incompatible products will surely leave you looking super flaky.  

Go see a doctor!

Dandruff and dry skin can be treated with home remedies, regular and specialized shampoos and in some cases prescription shampoos. But when the flakes are because of eczema, scalp psoriasis or Seborrheic Dermatitis you should consult your doctor on how to treat them.

Try these quirky remedies to deal with your flakes or visit our store to see what products we recommend…

  • Lemon is highly acidic and can be an excellent way to restore the scalp’s pH. A lemon juice and water rinse could be just what your scalp needs. Or an apple cider vinegar rinse, since it has the same pH as lemon. Use a spray bottle and distribute either mixture on your hair and scalp, let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse out with warm water.
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  • Tea tree oil is well known for its antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and itch-relieving properties, making it an excellent choice for reducing the side effects of any scalp irritation. A few drops of pure tea tree oil into your shampoo is all you need to reap the benefits. Or you can mix with a carrier oil like jojoba and massage it gently into your scalp 30 minutes before shampooing or as an overnight treatment before a wash day.
  • Aloe vera rubbed directly onto your scalp should help soothe and treat dry scalp. Try slicing the leaf from a live aloe plant for the most efficient result.
  • Garlic also works because it has a host of antimicrobial properties which make it an excellent remedy for getting rid of bacteria that could cause dandruff. Some crushed garlic mixed with honey on your scalp for 10 minutes before washing your hair with regular shampoo will do wonders.

Our quirkiest suggestion is Aspirin, which contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in many medicated dandruff shampoos. If you are for it, crush two aspirin tablets into a fine powder and add it to your regular shampoo. Let it sit on your hair for two minutes and then rinse out thoroughly.

Nyaki Tshabangu

An aspiring visionary with an ornate love of natural hair plants, hand luggage traveling, and podcasts

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