Of all of the hair woes out there, dandruff is definitely one of more the annoying ones to deal with. It makes your scalp itchy, irritated, and flaky, and it can be a bit of a headache (no pun intended) trying to remedy the issue. Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with itchiness or flakes—or resort to wearing a hat—for the rest of your life.
We spoke with Ashley Brown, a hairstylist and brand ambassador for Mizani, to get the scoop on what causes these flakes, how to get rid of dandruff, and (if all else fails!) the best ways to hide it.
Why do I have so much dandruff?
So many people are all too familiar with the horror of waking up in the morning only to find your scalp has become a flaky, irritated mess. Immediately, you begin to think about what could have possibly caused the dandruff. Did you go too long between washes? Forget to rinse adequately? Use a styling product that created lots of flakies? Or is it just genetics?
All the above are potential causes of dandruff, as are weather changes, dry skin, and sensitivities to certain hair products. Additionally, there are medical conditions that can all play a role in creating dandruff. The best way to figure out what’s causing your dandruff is to speak with a professional, such as a dermatologist, doctor, or even a stylist who has knowledge about dandruff. Once you pinpoint the causes, you’ll be on the fast track to resolving the issue.
Can you prevent dandruff before it happens?
Brown says the best way to help prevent dandruff is to be proactive about the health of your scalp. As soon as you notice any signs of flaking, itching, or irritation on your scalp, it’s time to reevaluate your hair care routine. Not sure exactly what to look for? Brown has some key examples.
First, when trying to decide how often you should shampoo and condition your hair, pay attention to the way your scalp and hair feels. If you experience scalp discomfort and irritation just two to three days after your wash day, that’s a good indicator that you should wash and condition your locks every two to three days. Meanwhile, if your scalp doesn’t start to feel the slightest bit of irritation until day six or seven, you’re probably okay to shampoo and condition once a week.
Second, regarding elements outside of your control—such as a change in weather—Brown says you can potentially avoid dandruff by anticipating your hair's needs. If you know your mane becomes dry in the colder months, make some time in your hair care routine for intensive treatments.
As a general rule, Brown says you should be just as vigilant when using hair products—both your favorite formulas and new products.
“When you use hair care products, are you noticing itching, discomfort and/or irritation? If so, isolate which products are causing your scalp to have this reaction and discontinue use,” she says.
If you’re unsure which products are causing you discomfort, stop using one product at a time for a few days and see if the irritation subsides. Once you’ve identified the product, eliminate it from your routine and replace it with a similar product with a gentler formula.
Finally, Brown also says it’s important to take care of your general health. Your scalp doesn’t just react to the things that affect it externally. If you’re stressed out or not feeling well, it’s possible your scalp might react negatively. If you have additional questions about these health topics, we recommend consulting your doctor.
If your scalp shows visible signs of distress beyond dandruff, such as discoloration or silver scaling, Brown says it’s time to see a professional. Again, if you have more questions, your doctor can provide the best information for you.
How do I get rid of dandruff?
Pinpointing the exact causes and then working to address them one by one is the best approach for how to get rid of dandruff. For example, if you’re not washing as frequently as your hair and scalp require then it’s important to adjust your shampoo and conditioning routine accordingly. Or if the weather has turned very dry, integrating a more hydrating conditioner might help. In cases of dandruff caused by a medical issue, a medicated shampoo may help.
If you’re dealing with dandruff and your at-home attempts to treat it are futile, Brown suggests heading to a trusted salon before going straight to the dermatologist. While a dermatologist is sure to help solve any scalp woes, their specialty is skin—not skin and hair. A licensed stylist can administer a scalp treatment and help you come up with a hair care routine that keeps dandruff at bay.
Should I wash my hair everyday if I have dandruff?
You shouldn’t necessarily wash your hair everyday if you have dandruff. While you may need to shampoo and condition more often than you do now, it’s more important to find the correct frequency. Washing too much can actually contribute to flakes since it can dry out your scalp. Everyone produces oil at different rates and needs to wash according to their specific needs; it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
How to Hide Dandruff
While you’re waiting to get a better grasp on your dandruff situation, you can temporarily conceal the issue. A hat is always an easy go-to, but do make sure it’s clean and that you’re giving your scalp time to breathe. Fortunately, a hat isn’t your only option when it comes to camouflaging flakes.
Brown says that one of the best methods is to hide as much of your scalp as possible. Since your scalp is typically most visible where you part your hair, avoid parted styles until you figure out how to get rid of dandruff on your scalp.
“Wearing your hair back out of your face, with no part line, will reduce obvious signs of dandruff in your hair and on your scalp,” Brown suggests. “Try wearing it either out of your face and down, or even up in a ponytail or bun.”
If you must have a part, Brown says to live by the motto, “the bigger the better.”
“Style your hair with lots of volume and texture—think fuller beachy waves or voluminous curls. This will lead the eye away from the scalp,” she explains. “Wearing sleek, smooth styles will only draw attention to the scalp and ‘part line,’ making your dandruff a focal point.”
Dandruff isn’t just noticeable on your scalp—it’s often visible on your clothing, too. Brown recommends wearing light versus dark clothing to hide potential flakes on your outfit.
As a final tip, the stylist has a secret weapon for dry scalps in her arsenal: Mizani Scalp Care Calming Lotion.
“This take-home product is infused with menthol, eucalyptus, aloe vera, and avocado oil to moisturize the scalp and soothe discomfort,” she says.
To use, just apply a drop of the product to your fingertips and massage into dry, irritated areas, and you're ready to go.
Our Best Products for Dandruff
When Brown has clients dealing with dandruff, she relies on Mizani’s Scalp Care line. Brown keeps the professional-grade products stocked in her salon and advises her clients to pick up the consumer products to use at home.
She considers the Mizani Scalp Care Shampoo and Conditioner some of the best dandruff shampoo and conditioner duos out there. They are formulated with 1 percent pyrithione zinc, an ingredient that helps eliminate the recurrence of scalp flaking, scaling, and itching associated with dandruff.
Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo also contains pyrithione zinc to keep dandruff under control and provide relief. It's also formulated with mint, an antibacterial ingredient that can further calm your scalp. Another shampoo option is Redken Scalp Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, a dermatologist-tested treatment that helps fight and control dandruff while leaving hair smooth and silky.
In cases where you need a deep cleanse to help remove dandruff, try a scalp scrub like Kérastase Scrub Apaisant Deep Clean Fusio Dose Scrub. Formulated for all scalps, including those with sensitive skin, this dandruff shampoo deeply cleanses to remove product buildup while addressing flakes, dandruff, and dryness.
The Mizani Scalp Care Lotion Calming Lotion that Brown mentioned earlier is another product to keep in your dandruff-busting toolbox. This leave-in treatment soothes your scalp with aloe vera, avocado oil, and eucalyptus oil for a quick cooling and calming effect.
In addition to using the above products, there are also some things you should avoid. Brown warns against getting any chemical services like color treatments or relaxers until your dandruff has subsided, becomes more manageable, or you’ve discovered the cause of the dandruff. Chemical services can irritate the scalp, further exacerbating the problem. If you decide to disregard Brown’s warning and the dandruff gets worse, she urges you not to pick at the problem.
“It is very important to never scratch or pick at your scalp,” Brown explains, as you don’t want to risk making the dandruff worse.
If you have more questions about severe scalp issues or how to get rid of dandruff, your doctor can provide the best information for you. For any persisting conditions, consult your dermatologist in case the issue is more than just dandruff.
Now that you’re armed with Brown’s best dandruff tips, you’ll never allow dandruff to be the reason you cancel your plans ever again.
Interested in more expert tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.