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Dandruff 101: Identify The Problem

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When we think about common hair issues, there is usually one that is guaranteed to come up: dandruff. Dandruff is something that affects almost everyone that has hair on their scalp. It is the most common hair issue. It’s a problem in and of iteslf on many levels. The first and most apparent is that dandruff is unpleasant and itchy. Your head starts to itch, so you naturally scratch at it, which in turn creates flakes. These flakes fall onto clothing and giving you a snowflake coating around your shoulders. I don’t know about you, but that’s not generally the look that I’m going for.

That being said, one of the major issues with dandruff is that the condition is largely misunderstood. Despite its prevalence, many people don’t know where the problem comes from.When you find out what is actually causing the issues that lead to dandruff, you arm yourself with a better game plan of how to fight it. Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about dandruff and see if we can find the best solutions.

What Is Dandruff?

dandruff is no fun!

Dandruff can involve visible flaking.

First, let’s define what we’re talking about. What is this pesty issue? Dandruff is a skin condition, mostly on the scalp. Contrary to popular belief, this condition is not related to hygiene issues but rather a host of other causes. It’s essentially an inflammation of the scalp from its drying out. Seborrheic dermatitis is often a cause of dandruff as the condition leads to an oily, red and scaly scalp. The symptoms of the condition include itchy and flaky skin. Though diagnosis comes from acknowledgement of the symptoms, the underlying cause is an overgrowth of skin cells. Our skin cells constantly replace themselves, pushing out older cells until they die and fall off. If this replacement process is unusually fast, you get visible flaking in large clumps.

Dandruff results from a range of genetic and environmental factors, usually coming into play during puberty. That being said, there’s no need to wag a finger at your parents or change your hygiene routine…even seasonal changes can cause dandruff. Cold, dry air can have an adverse effect on your scalp and cause further irritation and flaking. As if the weather wasn’t reason enough, dandruff can also be triggered through stress or a lack of sleep which aggravates the scalp. The good news is that it’s an easily treated condition, and  if you suffer you’re definitely not alone!

Dandruff And Scalp Health Explained

Band aid over a crack in the road.

Band-aid solutions are not effective long-term.

When it comes to dandruff, you’ll find that there are some myths worth busting and some truths that would surprise you. Let’s take a look at a few to better understand dandruff and overall scalp health. A common false myth is that dandruff is the only condition of the scalp that causes flakes of skin to appear. When people see flakes, they automatically assume that it’s dandruff and nothing else but the truth is that dandruff is one of many different scalp conditions that share the symptom of flaking skin. Psoriasis, sun damage, and other probable causes share this common symptom. This can be compared to somebody with a headache automatically diagnosing themselves with a fever. There are many other conditions which also share that common symptom.

Depending on the cause of your dandruff, you’ll need a different treatment to cure it. It’s not the case that every dandruff problem exists due to only one primary cause, which can be medicated appropriately. Shampoo manufacturers often lure desperate customers into purchasing their “cure-all.” Different causes require different treatments. Simply covering up the problem without doing anything about the root cause can only lead to a bigger issue down the road. This ‘band-aid’ mentality can be compared to somebody with a headache who pops Advil instead of taking care of an ongoing sinus infection. Now that you’ve got a better idea of what dandruff really is, you can better assess if it’s actually the source of your itchy scalp. And if you’ve confirmed that it is the cause, then here are five ways to help you deal with the problem.

Top 5 Natural Dandruff Solutions

If you’re experiencing the flake and itch, no need to panic. There are so many products on the market that offer dandruff cures that the real problem is actually finding the one that’s going to work. Some of the treatments are better than others. For instance, we did a review of one product, Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo. This company provides one of the more popular methods of dandruff management. Despite the success of their formula, here are five dandruff solutions that make sure to keep it au natural.

1. Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo

Maple Holistics Sage shampoo next to sage and rosemary leaves.

Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo.

If you like the concept of a shampoo that fights off dandruff, we’ve got your back. Maple Holistics is all about offering natural and safe shampoos, as well as cosmetics that benefit your skin and hair. We are well aware of the dandruff problem and that is why we created our Sage shampoo. This proprietary blend of essential oils, vitamins, and minerals works to cure your dandruff at its source. We’ve added sage oil, rosemary oil, and tea tree oil to create a synergy that naturally cures dandruff.

The cause of dandruff often relates to bacterial or fungal issues. The tea tree oil in our shampoo contains anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which means that it kills the culprits and leaves your scalp clean and dandruff free. Meanwhile the sage extract promotes a healthy scalp and improves blood circulation so that this dandruff removal isn’t just a temporary fix. Meanwhile, the rosemary oil calms and soothes the scalp allowing for excess oil and dead skin cells to be effectively washed away. If you’re looking for a natural cure-all dandruff shampoo then our Maple Holistics Sage shampoo might be your first stop.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Pile of green apples.

Apple cider vinegar

I’m starting to believe that ACV is truly a cure for everything. And dandruff seems to be no exception. This substance contains anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that maintain your overall scalp health. What’s more is that sometimes a pH imbalance is the cause of dandruff, and vinegar helps to rectify this problem. Not only will apple cider vinegar help treat your scalp environment, but it will boost your hair and skin health with its additional benefits. For instance, it’s anti-inflammatory properties will quell irritation. A nutrient powerhouse, apple cider vinegar provides the vitamins (including C and B) and minerals essential for healthy hair.

For a quick and highly effective home remedy, pour 1/4 cup of this liquid gold into a spritz bottle with water, apply generously to your scalp and let sit. Wash out thoroughly with a mild shampoo once a week to treat your dandruff the natural way. I say mild shampoo because follicle clogging from product build up is also a contributor to dandruff that ACV can help with. Use a mild shampoo to reduce a re-build-up following the vinegar’s unclogging efforts. The unfriendly yeast will struggle to grow in this newly acidic environment, and you’ll be itch-free and flake-free in no time.

3. Aloe Vera

This ancient, all-purpose remedy does everything you could want for your hair and more! Aloe Vera has been used for centuries for its natural healing abilities and is known for its skin repairing properties. When it comes to fighting dandruff, Aloe Vera might be your go-to natural remedy. It contains a high vitamin C content which means that it fights the fungi on the scalp while expelling the debris in hair follicles. The proteolytic enzymes in Aloe Vera repair dead skin cells on the scalp which helps to slow the process of excess cell turnover that causes dandruff in the first place.

The antiviral properties of Aloe Vera means that it acts as anti-inflammatory to help soothe general dryness and itchiness. Therefore, not only will this natural powerhouse heal dandruff, but the gel will also relieve itchiness and promote augmented growth of healthy hair. Massage pure Aloe Vera gel into the hair and scalp and wrap your hair in a warm, damp towel. After five minutes rinse your hair out with a mild, gentle shampoo and condition as normal. Repeat this treatment weekly to soothe your itchy scalp and reduce dandruff from the root.

4. Tea Tree Oil

Woman dropping oil from bottle into hand.

Tea tree oil for an anti-dandruff treatment.

If you’re suffering from dandruff, tea tree oil might be your saving grace. It’s well-known for its antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. With the three holy grails of ‘anti’s’ how could it not work wonders on your flaky scalp? Because of tea tree oils potent anti-fungal properties, it has the potential to reduce the yeast overgrowth in the scalp that exacerbates dandruff. The fact that this oil has been used for centuries to treat wounds and infections should only reassure you that tea tree oil really has those medicinal properties that your dandruff needs.

If a shampoo that contains 5% tea tree oil just won’t cut it, try adding five to ten drops of the essential oil into your current natural shampoo and shake. Massage into your scalp and rinse thoroughly to see a reduction in dandruff. I’m a big fan of using essential oils and other natural products to make my own concoctions and nourish my hair from within.  Why treat separate symptoms, when you can heal your hair and skin from the inside out? If you agree, then tea tree oil might be the place to start.

5. Baking Soda

Where do I start with baking soda? This sneaky powder sitting on your kitchen shelf has the potential to work wonders on your scalp. Baking soda has the ability to remove the excess sebum that your scalp produces and washes off all those added oils. Essentially it helps to balance the overall pH of the scalp. As if that wasn’t enough it’s also a natural antiseptic which means that it treats your dandruff-inducing fungal infection from the root.

Baking soda might be your remedy for a flake-free, healthy scalp. If you’re not sure where to start just add 2-3 tablespoons of soda to lukewarm water and mix well. Massage this mixture gently into your scalp and leave on like a hair mask for around a minute. Follow this by shampooing your hair with a mild shampoo as normal. You should keep in mind though that this definitely isn’t a long-term solution to your flake-fears. Extended use of baking soda on the hair has the potential to dry it out. So, use it until you see your dandruff ease up but not as your long-term go-to shampoo concoction.

You may also like our Cedarwood Dandruff Shampoo


Dandruff can be ‘ruff! It’s no fun to sprinkle your shoulders with white flakes every time that you shake your head. Especially when it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is that dandruff is a very common condition and has many options for treatment. Whether your dandruff is a result of genetic or environmental factors, the natural solutions are the ones that are guaranteed to solve the issue from the root cause. Once you know the cause of your dandruff (for example, a fungal issue, inflammatory problem or skin cell build up) you’re on the right path to finding the perfect natural treatment to cure it.

A special formulated dandruff-fighting shampoo like Maple Holistics Sage shampoo or, if you’re feeling brave, a home-made natural concoction like ACV or baking soda, are just examples of the numerous natural alternatives to your standard chemical-based dandruff treatments. Do your best to be kind to your hair, scalp, health, wallet, and environment by choosing the best treatment for you. With these natural remedies, dandruff will be a temporary nuisance of the past. Go ahead and try them for yourself.