Of all of the hair woes we’ve encountered, dandruff has to be our least favorite. It makes your scalp itchy, irritated, and flaky; meanwhile, you want to wear a hat for the rest of your life. While we love hats, we would never banish our locks to a lifetime of playing second fiddle to a hair accessory. We knew there had to be a better way.
We reached out to Ashley Brown, Mizani artist and brand ambassador, to get the scoop on what causes dandruff, how to get rid of it, and (if all else fails!) how to hide it.
What causes dandruff?
Everyone knows 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, but you just can’t put your finger on it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are several common causes of dandruff. Not shampooing enough, dry skin, changes in weather, sensitivity to hair products, and some medical conditions can all play a role in this embarrassing condition.
Many of these factors change from day to day, so don’t believe you’re immune to dandruff just because you have yet to experience it.
Is there any way to 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.
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.
When it comes to elements outside of your control—a change in weather, say—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.
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 suggests.
If you’re unsure which products are causing you discomfort, discontinue use of 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.
The stylist also says it’s important to take care of your health. Your scalp doesn’t just react to the things that affect it externally. If you’re stressed out or not feeling well, there’s a chance your scalp could react negatively. If you have additional questions about these health topics, your doctor is sure to be a great source of information.
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.
What products are best for anyone dealing with 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. The Mizani Scalp Care Shampoo and Conditioner are formulated with 1 percent Pyrithione Zinc, which helps eliminate recurrence of scalp flaking, scaling, and itching associated with dandruff.
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 or help you come up with a hair care routine that is good for both your scalp and your precious locks.
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, 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.
If you can’t completely get rid of your dandruff, what’s the best way of hiding it?
When attempting to camouflage dandruff you want to hide as much of your scalp as possible. Your scalp is typically most visible where you part your hair, so Brown advises skipping parted styles altogether.
“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. Either out of your face and down, or even up in a ponytail or bun,” she suggests.
If you must have a part, the stylist says “the bigger the better” is the philosophy you should live by.
“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. Wearing sleek, smooth styles will only draw attention to the scalp and ‘part line,’ making your dandruff a focal point,” she explains.
We all know, dandruff isn’t just noticeable on your scalp—it’s often visible on your clothing. Brown suggests wearing light-colored clothing to hide potential flakes on your outfit.
As Brown’s final tip, the stylist has a secret weapon for dry scalps in her arsenal: Mizani Scalp Care Calming Scalp.
“This take-home product is infused with menthol, eucalyptus, aloe vera, and avocado oil to moisturize the scalp and soothe discomfort,” she says. “Just apply a drop of the product to your fingertips and massage into dry, irritated areas, and you're ready to go!”
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.