How to Treat Dandruff Naturally

Skip the harsh chemicals and try these gentle, natural alternatives

Flax oil works to fight dandruff
Flax seed oil is part of our 2-punch natural dandruff treatment.

Dandruff strikes almost every adult in their lifetimes. The good news is dandruff is highly treatable naturally without having to resort to the chemicals found in over-the-counter dandruff shampoos. There are many natural products that have powerful healing properties for the scalp and skin. Used in tandem with hair brushing, they can help get rid of the flakes for good.

You won't get dandruff from overuse of products or from not washing your hair enough. Dandruff is typically caused by one of two big culprits, either a fungus called "Malassezia furfur" or seborrheic dermatitis. Most adults have fungus on their scalps, but it can get out of control, feeding on oil secretions and leaving clumps of dead skin cells.

You may not be suffering from dandruff as much as dry skin, which is typically seasonal and can affect the scalp as well as your skin. Flakes caused by dry skin will be very small and dry, whereas dandruff caused by fungus or dermatitis consist of larger flakes that are oily.

This recipe works for both dandruff and on dry scalp because it kills fungus but also heals and moisturizes the scalp.

Some flakes can be caused by eczema. If you get flakes around the hairline, try applying borage oil to the hairline. Simply prick a capsule and rub the oil along the flaky areas. The flakes should clear up after several applications.

This recipe uses organic flaxseed oil, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil and rosemary drops, all of which fight the yeast and fungus that grow on the scalp. I love the addition of the sugar to the oil because it acts as a natural exfoliant for dry flaky skin, but you can leave the sugar out. Note: If you have your hair professionally colored, skip the tea tree oil, which can strip your hair of its color.

Eva Scrivo, NYC hairstylist and author of Eva Scrivo On Beauty, also strongly recommends brushing your hair and scalp daily with a boar's hair hairbrush to help remove dead skin from the scalp.

If you are not interested in making your own dandruff remedy or want a natural product for those days you don't have time to make this recipe, I recommend Ecco Bella Hair and Scalp Therapy Shampoo. This organic shampoo gets great reviews and fights the flakes using a formulation of herbs and oils.


  • 2 tbsp flaxseed oil.
  • 1 tsp finely granulated white sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg's)
  • 4 tea tree oil drops (buy from a health food store or online)
  • 4 drops rosemary oil
  • 2 tbsp hydrogen peroxide

Prep Time: 5 minutes


Mix a tablespoon or two of flaxseed oil and a teaspoon of sugar into a bowl. If you don't have liquid flaxseed oil, you can puncture 3-5 flaxseed oil capsules.

Brush hair thoroughly before you begin. A vigorous brushing will loosen dandruff and promote a healthy scalp. The distribution of your scalp's natural oils is also good for hair.

Rinse hair in the shower, thoroughly wetting every strand.

Apply the mixture to the scalp and massage in.

Wrap hair up in a hot wet towel and let the flaxseed oil soak in for about 20 minutes. You can also put hair up in a shower cap. Of course, if you are short on time, you can skip this 20-minute let-the-oils-soak-in step.

While you're letting the flaxseed work on your dry scalp, mix up 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp hydrogen peroxide, 4 drops of tea tree oil, 4 drops rosemary oil and 2 cups lukewarm water. For best results, put it in a spray bottle.

Get in the shower and rinse out the flaxseed oil from the scalp using a small amount of shampoo. Rinse thoroughly.

Turn off the water and separating your hair into sections, spray the scalp thoroughly with the vinegar/hydrogen peroxide/water mixture. Note: AVOID GETTING MIXTURE IN EYES.

Massage the vinegar into the scalp.

Wrap hair again in a hot wet towel or in a shower cap (less messy). Let the vinegar mixture soak into your scalp for 20 minutes to an hour. (Yes, you can skip the marinating if you are short on time, but do let it sit on your scalp for at least a minute).

Rinse thoroughly.

Try this method out for a couple weeks. If it doesn't work or you don't want to attempt the natural method first, you can also fight dandruff with OTC dandruff shampoos. My 2-punch system solves most dandruff problems. For really bad dandruff that won't go away with the natural method and the OTC methods, I recommend visiting a dermatologist.

More recipes:

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