‘Tis the season for icicles and snowflakes—but if there are scalp flakes decorating your head and shoulders, you’re probably wondering what you can do before all the relatives arrive and the cameras start to come out. Don’t worry—over 50 million Americans experience dandruff, and there are multiple solutions and treatment options available. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of dandruff from our Cary hair stylist. 

What Causes Dandruff? 

The biggest myth about dandruff is that it’s caused by dry skin. Supporting this belief is the true fact that dandruff does get worse in the dry winter months. However, most dandruff is actually caused by a yeast-like fungus that lives on your scalp called malassezia. All scalps have malassezia, just like all mouths contain bacteria and all eyebrows have microscopic mites (sorry). 

The malassezia fungus’ favorite food is the oil your scalp produces. Once the malassezia feeds off these oils, it converts it into byproducts, one of which is oelic acid. (It’s very similar to the way cavities form—bacteria on the teeth eat sugars and carbohydrates, and convert them into acid that destroys the enamel.) About 50% of the world is sensitive to oelic acid, and if you are one of them, your body will react by increasing the speed at which your skin cells renew. The flakes are the body’s attempt to “shed” the irritant. The takeaway? If you want to get rid of your dandruff, you need to make your scalp less oily, not more. 

The Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

The best way to control your dandruff is to use an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione and/or ketoconazole. Both of these “holy grail” ingredients work to kill the extra yeast and fungus on your scalp. For a lighter approach (or when your symptoms have calmed down), try a shampoo with salicylic acid, which gently exfoliates your scalp. A few good, affordable options include: 

  • Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo
  • Neutrogena T-Sal Shampoo
  • Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-dandruff Shampoo
  • Ducray Kelual DS Intensive Shampoo

Be aware that not all products will work the same for everyone. Try sticking to one formula for at least 28 days (a.k.a. a full skin cycle) to see if it works or not. If the shampoo you’re using is working, you’ll likely start to see results within a couple weeks. If you’ve tried everything and still haven’t noticed a difference, find a dermatologist or doctor who can prescribe a tougher solution. 

Artisan Hair is a Cary hair salon specializing in Brazilian blowouts, hair gloss treatments, hair coloring, ombre highlights, balayage highlights, and more. It is our goal to serve as a hair care resource to the Cary NC community. To request an appointment with us, click here