the scalp series no. 1 ~ dandruff
One of the most common questions we get asked is how to improve dandruff. It seems that if you haven't experienced dandruff, you're one of the lucky few. Itchy, flaky scalps can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and often a sign that something isn't right.
So what's the deal, why do so many of us experience this?
We chalk it up to ingredients & rituals. Ingredients~ those that either worsen or improve dandruff, and rituals~ the method of caring for your scalp & body as a whole.
The dandruff ingredient nice list:
~ honey & honeyquat: it's anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and moisturizing
~ salicylic acid (we use it in the form of willow bark extract): a (natural) chemical exfoliant that removes product and sebum build-up, exfoliates flakes, and sloughs dead skin cells. It also helps reduce itchiness, acting as a topical Aspirin
~ butters and oils low in oleic acid: this article states that oleic acid is a key fatty acid in our sebum, which is what the dandruff-causing yest Malassezia are dependent on
~ gentle cleansing agents: Coconut-derived Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate and Sodium Cocoyl Methyl Isethionate help to cleanse the scalp of build-up and excess oil, and are simultaneously gentle and non irritating
~ tea tree oil: this study found that a 5% tea tree oil shampoo was 41% effective in treating dandruff. It helps to reduce oil, itchiness, and manage Malassezia on the scalp (tip: choose our Herb Garden scent to add tea tree oil to any of our shampoo bars)
Psssst... Our Scalp Soothe Shampoo Bar contains every ingredient on the dandruff nice list.
The dandruff ingredient naughty list:
~ olive oil: although olive oil has been touted in the past as a treatment that could improve dandruff, we now know that olive oil is high in oleic acid and could make the condition worse
~ harsh chemicals: this 2018 study finds that the scalp microbiome is closely connected to dandruff. a happy scalp is a balanced scalp. adding harsh chemicals can upset the microbiome balance, causing irritation and a stronger dandruff reaction
~ sulfates: sulfates are chemicals in the form of cleansing agents. they are often stripping, irritating, and can cause even more flaking of the scalp
~ artificial fragrance and colorants: these are commonly irritating to the scalp and may clog pores, resulting in more itching, flaking, and inflammation
The dandruff rituals nice list:
~ gently exfoliate scalp with hands, scalp gua sha, or scalp massager: scalp massage helps unclog pores, loosen dead skin cells, and promotes circulation in the scalp, resulting in healthier hair
~ brush through roots to spread oils & lessen build-up: it can be tempting to avoid your scalp when you're dealing with scalp problems, but leaving it alone lets oil build up, Malassezia thrive, and dandruff worsen. brushing gently from the ends and working your way up through the roots helps loosen build-up and spread the natural oils from your scalp through your hair (yes, this is a good thing)
~ take inventory of your products & ingredients: do you know every ingredient that is in every one of your hair products? if not, it's a good idea to get to know the ingredients that come in contact with your scalp. look for things on the naughty list and decide whether to toss or keep
The dandruff rituals naughty list:
~ a diet high in sugar and fried foods: these promote overgrowth of the yeast which is attributed to dandruff
~ harshly exfoliate & inflame scalp: we've stressed how important it is to gently exfoliate the scalp, but too much exfoliation can lead to an inflamed and wounded scalp. steer clear of using sharp objects, fingernails, or anything else that can cause cuts or lesions on the scalp
~ let residue & skin cells build up: say it with us now...
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS:
treat your scalp with as much care as the rest of your skin. be mindful about how certain products, ingredients, and practices make you feel. remember that intentional self care includes scalp care.