5 Natural Dandruff Remedies: Tea Tree Oil, Stress Reduction, and More

Tea tree oil, honey, stress reduction, and more can help keep your scalp healthy and your dandruff at bay.

Head of hair suffering from dandruff

Dandruff can be caused by a number of factors.

© Cristi_m | Dreamstime.com

Dandruff can be a real bother; not only is it no fun to have itchy, irritated skin, but many people are embarrassed by this condition as well. If you’ve tried medicated shampoos and found no relief, or if you prefer all-natural alternatives, these natural dandruff remedies are just what you need. Tea tree oil, honey, stress reduction, and more can help keep your scalp healthy and your dandruff at bay.

What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff can be caused by a number of factors. In some cases, dandruff is simply a symptom of dry skin or a reaction to cosmetic products. One of the more frequent causes of dandruff is an oily skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, where your scalp produces excess oil. Dandruff is also often associated with an overgrowth of a fungus called Malassezia, which feeds on oils and irritates the scalp.

5 Natural Dandruff Remedies

1. Tea tree oil. This essential oil is number one our list of natural dandruff remedies for a reason. It has been used for centuries for its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects, and it has been well studied for its beneficial effects on dandruff care. Tea tree oil is effective at fighting Malassezia, which can help improve symptoms of itchiness and greasiness.[1] In one study, a 5% tea tree oil shampoo applied daily for four weeks helped to reduce dandruff symptoms by 41% without any adverse effects.[2] To use tea tree oil at home, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and massage into your scalp. Let sit in your hair for a few hours before washing it out with mild shampoo. Natural shampoos that use tea tree oil for dandruff treatment can also be found at natural grocers.

2. Honey. Honey also has antifungal effects against the Malassezia fungus, which means that it can be an effective treatment for dandruff.[3] Try looking for natural shampoos that use honey as an active ingredient, or massage your scalp with raw honey as a home remedy.

3. Other herbs. Although there are no studies documenting their effects, sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic are often used as effective dandruff treatments.[4] Try making herb-infused hair rinse to treat your dandruff by boiling these herbs in water. Or, find the essential oils and combine with coconut oil for a scalp treatment.

4. Reduce stress. Stress can be an exacerbating factor for many skin conditions like dandruff. In one study, stress often preceded outbreaks in patients with seborrheic dermatitis. Try a variety of stress-management tools, including cognitive behavioral therapy, breathing techniques, and more to get your stress, and your dandruff, better under control.[5] For stress management tips, read more here.

5. Treat your hair with natural products. Many shampoos and conditioners on the market contain harsh chemicals that can be very irritating to the skin on your scalp, which can increase your symptoms. Choose products that use natural ingredients, as well as those that are labeled appropriate for sensitive skin. Avoid using hair products like gels, hairspray, and hair waxes, which can build up on your hair and make your dandruff worse.

If you suffer from an itchy and flaky scalp, it is time to find relief. Start off by trying a tea tree oil shampoo in place of your regular shampoo. Or make your own tea tree oil scalp treatment at home as described above. Experiment with other natural topical products like honey, rosemary, or others to see what works best for you.

Share Your Experience with Dandruff Remedies

If you have had luck using natural dandruff remedies, please share your tips in the comments section below. I have heard anecdotal reports of apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, aloe vera, and others working well to relieve symptoms. What works for you?


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This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated. 

[1] J Drugs Dermatol. 2008 Jul;7(7):699-703.

[2] J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5.

[3] J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):306-13.

[4] Phytother Res. 2003 Nov;17(9):987-1000.

[5] Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2007 Nov;134(11):833-7.

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UHN Staff

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