What Causes Dandruff And How Can It Be Prevented?

Dandruff is the flaky, itchy skin that can rub off a person’s scalp and collect on their clothing. 

Although dandruff is pretty harmless, depending on its severity, it can range from a mildly annoying inconvenience to a highly embarrassing condition. In any case, if you’re someone who gets dandruff then chances are you’ll want to stop it in its tracks.

To do that, it helps to know what’s causing it. So here we’ll go over the six main causes of dandruff, which should help you put into place an effective treatment plan to rid your scalp of this pesky, irritating condition.

Six Main Causes

If you’ve been getting dandruff, chances are it’s being caused by one of the following: 

Dry Skin

The most common cause of dandruff is simply having dry skin, which develops due to the scalp lacking sufficient moisture. 

Dry skin can be caused by a range of factors, including harsh weather conditions, frequent use of hot water and certain shampoos that can strip the scalp of its natural oils (more on this later).

All of this can lead to dryness and flaking, so to address the problem, it’s crucial to keep the scalp moisturised with oils or conditioners that can prevent dry skin-related dandruff.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition associated with an overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia on the scalp. It’s also one of the main causes of dandruff.

The yeast responsible for this skin condition can trigger irritation, resulting in redness, greasiness and flaking, creating that distinctive dandruff snow.

Managing seborrheic dermatitis-related dandruff involves using anti-fungal treatments and gentle, medicated shampoos to control the growth of the yeast. It’s also imperative that you maintain good scalp hygiene and avoid harsh hair products, all of which can trigger symptoms and cause dandruff.

Skin Conditions

As well as dehydrated skin, conditions like psoriasis and eczema can contribute to dandruff due to their impact on the scalp's health. 

In psoriasis, the immune system mistakenly causes skin cells to repeatedly turn over, causing rapid skin growth. This leads to the formation of thick, red patches with silvery scales, and in many cases, these occur on the scalp.

Eczema, on the other hand, involves inflammation, itching and a general redness of the skin. When eczema affects the scalp, it can disrupt the normal balance of the skin’s oils, resulting in dryness and flaking. 

Scratching the affected areas exacerbates the problem, although this can be difficult to avoid due to intense itchiness. This scratching can then lead to the shedding of skin cells, resembling dandruff. 

Managing these underlying skin conditions with appropriate treatments will help to alleviate the dry skin that’s causing the dandruff symptoms, as well as promoting a healthier scalp.

Not Enough Shampooing

Not washing your hair enough or using too little shampoo when you do can also lead to a buildup of oil and dead skin cells on the scalp, which creates the perfect environment for dandruff to flourish.

Regular and thorough shampooing of the hair and scalp helps to prevent the accumulation of flakes, so be sure to wash your hair at least two-three times a week to keep dandruff at bay.

Sensitivity To Hair Products

Dandruff can also be caused by a sensitivity to certain hair products. This occurs when certain ingredients, such as harsh chemicals or allergens, cause irritation on the scalp. 

Choosing products suitable for sensitive skin and avoiding potential irritants is crucial in preventing the type of dandruff that’s related to product sensitivity. Opting for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free hair care items can minimise the risk of scalp irritation, promoting a balanced and healthy environment that discourages the development of dandruff.

Not Rinsing Thoroughly 

Not thoroughly rinsing hair products off the scalp can result in residue, leading to irritation and dandruff. 

Giving your hair and scalp a thorough rinse after using your shampoos and conditioners is vital to ensure any leftover product residue is removed.

Additionally, massaging the scalp while you’re rinsing can further aid in the removal of residue, promoting optimal cleanliness. 

By practising proper rinsing practices, this contributes to a balanced scalp environment, reducing the likelihood of dandruff and ensuring that the hair care products you use don’t do more harm than good!

Organic Ingredients

We’ve all seen the adverts where shampoo companies claim their products eliminate dandruff. The problem is, plenty of these contain the very ingredients that can create the irritation and dry, flakey in the first place, like SLS, chemicals, colours and perfumes! Others do little to nourish and hydrate the scalp.

If you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis or some other skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, chances are these products will merely make dandruff worse, which is why it’s always best to opt for an all-natural, organic shampoo instead.

Organic shampoo contains a number of ingredients that are great for use on the skin. Here are some all-natural elixirs you’ll find in many of our natural hair products that help stave off dandruff:

Aloe Vera

When aloe vera is applied to the scalp, a plethora of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and antioxidants work together to soothe and nourish the skin. 

The gel is also great for providing hydration, warding off dry skin and irritation, while its anti-inflammatory and cooling effects are especially beneficial for soothing sunburns, reducing redness and providing relief for chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Jojoba Oil

This oil is said to be similar to the sebum that’s produced naturally by our skin and it’s been shown to provide a number of benefits when used topically.

By mirroring the skin’s natural oils, jojoba is a wonderful moisturising agent. It’s also non-comedogenic, so it doesn't clog up your pores, making it suitable for various skin types. 

When applied to the scalp, jojoba oil helps regulate sebum production, which prevents excessive oiliness or dryness. And as we’ve already learned, this can be one of the leading causes of dandruff.

Shea Butter

Shea butter contains an abundance of fatty acids, making it an excellent moisturiser and ensuring it nourishes and hydrates the scalp deeply.

Shea butter also contains vitamins A, E and F, which promote skin health and act as a powerful antioxidant to ward off free radicals. 

The skin-healing ingredient also possesses anti-inflammatory properties making it the ally of anyone with chronic skin conditions, while it also possesses a natural SPF of around 6, offering mild protection against UV radiation which is great for those with less hair!

Murumuru Butter

Murumuru butter is noted for its multitude of benefits for the skin and scalp. As well as being rich in essential fatty acids that deeply moisturise the skin, its emollient properties make it an excellent choice if you’re looking for something to soothe your dry, itching skin.

A bonus of using this butter is when it’s applied to the scalp, it helps nourish and condition the hair for a thicker, healthier mane.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is often referred to as "liquid gold," due to its status as the world’s most expensive edible oil. Indeed, litre bottles sell forever £200 each so this is one oil you don't want to spill!

The oil, which is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa) that grows mainly in Morocco, is a potent moisturiser, deeply hydrating the skin and easing dryness.

The luxurious oil is also packed full of antioxidants, including vitamin E, which helps protect the skin from environmental damage and signs of ageing. When applied to the scalp, argan oil is known to nourish and condition, resulting in strong, thick hair and helping you avoid dandruff.

So that covers all there is to know about dandruff. As you can see, this condition can have several causes, but the best way to combat dry, flakey skin on the scalp is by moisturising the skin, washing thoroughly and regularly and using a kind, all-natural shampoo. 

We stock a range of organic shampoo options that contain the above ingredients, so if you’re in search of products that are skin to your skin and help prevent dandruff, you’re in the right place!

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