They’ve happened to every guy, whether it’s from stress or only in winter—flakes from your scalp, otherwise known as dandruff. Dandruff is more common than you think (50 million Americans experience it1) and it’s also more common in men than in women.2 Dandruff can show up on clothes, especially dark colors, and can be annoying and embarrassing. The most common type of dandruff, a mild form of a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, isn’t serious. But it can be a kind of distress signal from your scalp, which may have underlying issues.
Luckily, the itching and flaking from dandruff is nearly always treatable.3 In this guide, we’ll explain what causes dandruff and how to prevent it altogether. With the right products and routine, you can easily treat and even prevent dandruff before it happens.
What Causes Dandruff?
If you’re asking yourself “why do I have dandruff?,” it’s because your scalp is thrown out of whack by one or more triggers. The primary causes of dandruff include oily skin, dry skin, and sensitivity to hair care products. In some cases, it can also signal other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.4
Oily skin can, over time, experience a buildup of dead skin cells and oxidized sebum (your skin’s natural oil), which can cause dandruff.5 Dry skin on your scalp tends to flake when it doesn’t have enough moisture. A third common cause of dandruff is sensitivity to hair care products, especially many of the most prevalent ones on the shelf as they’re made with drying and irritating ingredients.
Are There Different Types of Dandruff?
All dandruff has an underlying cause, which can change how and when it appears. Harmless dandruff caused by dry or oily skin can come and go as the weather and your hormones change. But dandruff tied to the fungus malassezia or to diseases like eczema and psoriasis can be more persistent or even chronic.6 Here’s a list of the general types of dandruff.
Dry skin dandruff
Oily skin dandruff
How to Treat Dandruff
So you’ve identified you have dandruff. Now what?
- The first step is to make sure you are simply shampooing regularly to reduce excess oil and eliminate the buildup of dead skin. If that’s not working or if it’s making the issue worse, move on to step 2. There’s a possibility that your scalp is reacting to one or more ingredients in your hair care products, as many conventional shampoos are made with drying and irritating chemicals. Alternatively, your shampoo may just not use ingredients that are effective at maintaining the balance of your scalp .
- Next, move on to the most effective and common way to treat and control dandruff: a dandruff shampoo.7 But be warned: not all of them use highly effective, naturally derived ingredients. Shampoos with Tea Tree Oil, like our Invigorating Shampoo, have been shown to reduce the severity of flakes, according to experts.8 Ours uses Tea Tree, Menthol and Witch Hazel to remove excess oil and product residue as well as soothe scalp dryness and itchiness.
- In addition, we recommend trying a scalp scrub, like our Purifying Scalp Scrub, which balances your scalp’s pH levels, removes excess oil and product buildup, and exfoliates the skin that becomes dandruff later on.
How to Prevent Dandruff - Keep Your Scalp Healthy
Treating dandruff is one thing, but preventing it altogether is another. Keeping flakes from happening in the first place is all about scalp health. You need to give it the right amount of moisture and maintain balanced pH levels to keep dandruff at bay.
- If you’re experiencing flakes and itching, try switching to a product with naturally derived ingredients so no harsh chemicals can throw off your scalp off balance and cause irritation.
- Use a dandruff shampoo or a shampoo with Tea Tree Oil on an ongoing basis to help prevent flakes by returning balance to the scalp and maintaining the proper oil and moisture levels.
Lastly, exfoliation is a big part of preventing flakes. Experts agree that exfoliating your scalp with a product like our Purifying Scalp Scrub is a great way to treat dandruff as well.9 Exfoliation is key to breaking down the dead skin cells that become flakes.
Why Scalp Exfoliation?
Okay, scalp exfoliation isn’t part of your typical grooming routine. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great addition to promote the health of your hair and scalp. If you experience dry, itchy scalp or dandruff, try exfoliating one to three days per week with a gentle scalp scrub like our Purifying Scalp Scrub. Here's how it works:
Our formula uses a gentle grit from Jojoba Esters and Perlite Spheres to physically remove pesky flakes and Salicylic Acid to break up dead skin. Plus, it has pH-balancing ingredients like Apple Cider Vinegar and Citric Acid and Tea Tree Oil which can tame dandruff from first use.
Not only will scalp exfoliation foster a healthier scalp, but it can lead to healthier hair too.10 Regular exfoliation can clear the area around each follicle, allowing it to grow stronger and more resilient.
Keep Your Scalp Healthy with Hair Care from Oars + Alps
Now that you know how to treat dandruff and prevent it altogether, consider using products that put scalp care first. Oars + Alps’ line of hair care products for men uses naturally derived ingredients for a gentler approach to scalp health, which can help treat and prevent dandruff.
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