Of all the hair issues you can wake up and encounter — greasy, flat, split ends — finding a bunch of unsightly white flakes nestled among the follicles has to be one of the worst.
The most annoying thing about dandruff is that no matter how much you wash your hair, those pesky flakes don’t seem to disappear.
And the more you attempt to brush them out? The worse they seem to get.
According to shampoo company Head and Shoulders, one in two of us will experience dandruff at some point in our lives, so it’s a fairly common issue that plenty of people can relate to.
How To Combat Dandruff
Thankfully, there are also ways to effectively combat the white stuff.
We asked Dr Rolanda Wilkerson, principal scientist at the anti-dandruff haircare brand to share her advice.
“A common misconception of dandruff is that it’s associated with lack of hygiene,” she starts off.
“However, this is not the case, and it is actually a really common issue — more than 50% of the world’s population experience dandruff at some point.
“In the same way that the skin on our body has a unique way of telling us when something is not quite right, our scalp and hair does too.
“For example, weather and climate can be a key player, with cold or dry weather exacerbating the issue.
“Dandruff is caused by a fungus called ‘Malassezia globosa’ which lives on the scalp.
“It’s the reaction that the fungus has with an individual’s skin which determines whether they get dandruff or not.
“The fungus feeds on the scalp’s natural oils and creates an acidic by-product that can cause irritation — depending on your genetic predisposition.
“If your skin gets irritated by this acidic by-product, then it naturally accelerates the production of new skin cells, which clump together. This leads to the white skin flakes that are the most visible signs of dandruff.
“While dandruff cannot be cured, it can be treated. Early and invisible signs of dandruff — such as itching, dryness, irritation and oiliness — and visible signs of flakes, can be treated in a variety of ways.”
Here, Wilkerson gives her top tips for treating dandruff and preventing it in the first place.
“Comb the scalp and hair to get rid of dead skin and extra product. Be sure not to do this too hard as this could cause additional scalp skin issues and make it worse.”
“Use an anti-dandruff shampoo like Head and Shoulders regularly, and try not to combine it with other beauty products, states Dr Wilkerson
Following an anti-dandruff product with a beauty shampoo or conditioner will wash away the active ingredient and its dandruff-fighting power.”
Cleanse and hydrate
“Massage your shampoo into the scalp to boost blood-flow, and apply conditioner to your scalp as well as the ends of your hair.”
“Using a hair dryer or added heat can dry out the scalp.”
“Stress can trigger dandruff in some people, so taking time out for yoga, meditation, general relaxation and fitness can help to reduce symptoms.”
Try home remedies
“Some people swear by home remedies to provide temporary relief of dandruff, such as a few drops of tea tree oil.”
“Some fatty, salty or sugary foods like cheese and chocolate can trigger dandruff, as well as not consuming enough foods that contain zinc, vitamin B and omega 3.”
Don’t ignore your scalp
Dr Rolanda Wilkerson concludes: “It’s important to note that taking care of the scalp is just as vital as taking care of the skin on the rest of the body.
“Taking preventative care can not only reduce any signs of flaking that you may see, but it can also address any further signs of an unhealthy scalp that are invisible to the eye — like excess oil, dryness and itching.”