The Best Home Remedies for Dandruff, According to Dermatologists

More than half of Americans struggle with dandruff, a chronic skin condition caused by dry skin, sensitivity to hair products, or yeast. The most common symptoms are itchiness and white flakes on dark clothing. You can use at-home remedies such as coconut oil and crushed aspirin for relief, but there are also over-the-counter shampoos that can help.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is one of the best natural remedies for dandruff. Geeta Shah, MD, a dermatologist in Maryland, explains that it can help reduce some of the yeast that contributes to flaky skin. She recommends massaging a small amount into your scalp and leaving it there for at least 15-20 minutes. “The longer the better,” she says. “Some people even leave it on overnight with a towel or shower cap so it penetrates a little deeper.” Keep in mind that this may take a few washes to fully rinse out of your hair, so maybe don’t try this right before date night.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a high pH level, which can help inhibit the growth of flake-causing yeast. Just as coconut oil, you should dilute it before applying to your hair. Dr. Shah recommends mixing half apple cider vinegar and half water and then applying it to your scalp for at least 15 minutes. However, you may still have to do some additional washing of your hair after using the vinegar: “even after shampooing, the smell of apple cider vinegar can linger,” she says, “but it fades quickly.”

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Most over-the-counter dandruff treatments contain salicylic acid, which can help reduce flaking, says Dr. Shah. To use, crush a few aspirin and mix with water to create a paste that you can apply to your scalp. Alternatively, add crushed aspirin to your shampoo for an instant reduction in dandruff severity.

Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which helps to reduce flaking, says Dr. Shah. To use it, crush some aspirin and mix with water to form a paste that you can use on your scalp. You can also add the crushed aspirin to your shampoo for an instant dandruff-fighting boost.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera doesn’t necessarily kill the yeast that can cause dandruff, but it can help with other conditions. It’s anti-inflammatory, so it helps with itchiness and redness. Use a small amount on your scalp for fast, cooling relief.

Aloe vera doesn’t treat dandruff–while some products may contain ingredients that attack the yeast that often causes white flakes, there isn’t any research on how well aloe vera works in this way. However, for those who have a lot of inflammation from the condition, aloe vera can be effective. “Aloe helps with itching and irritation,” notes Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Just rub a small amount on your scalp for fast and cooling relief.

Tea tree oil

An easy way to relieve the symptoms of inflammation is by using tea tree oil. Mona Gohara, MD, a Connecticut dermatologist and clinical professor at Yale University suggests adding a few drops to your regular shampoo to calm your scalp.

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Tea tree oil is another natural anti-inflammatory that should be in your home. “Many people with scalp inflammation also have dry scalp,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a Connecticut dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale. A few drops of tea tree oil in your shampoo can help soothe your scalp.

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