If you find yourself avoiding wearing black clothing or hiding under hats as a result of your flakes, you’re not alone. Studies show that 50-75% of people will deal with dandruff at some point in their lives. Solidarity is great, but treatment is even better and is the key to avoiding potential long-term complications of dandruff, like hair loss. So read on to learn everything you need to know about dandruff and how you can take steps to defeat it and get back to living your best life.
Introduction to Dandruff
You may be able to identify those annoying white flakes as dandruff, but do you know what it really is? As it turns out, dandruff is really just dry skin cells that flake off your scalp.
While it’s totally normal to shed some skin cells every now and then, dandruff flakes often appear larger, more oily, and more yellow than flakes caused by a simple case of dry scalp. In addition to those pesky flakes, you may also experience symptoms such as itchiness or skin that appears red, oily, and scaly.
What Causes Dandruff?
In order to understand the effects of dandruff and properly treat this condition, you first need to understand the cause. There are several potential causes of dandruff that aren’t necessarily easy to narrow down all on your own. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you pinpoint the exact cause of your dandruff so that you can effectively tackle this issue that often affects both your comfort and your self-esteem.
Here are some of the most common causes of dandruff:
- Seborrheic dermatitis: A skin condition that causes skin flakes, red skin, and itching on the scalp and other areas of the body such as the eyebrows, ears, eyelids, chest, and nose. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it may be caused by an irregular response of the immune system. As a result, those with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis. This condition can be diagnosed by a dermatologist by examining your skin cells through a biopsy.
- Malassezia: A type of fungus that can grow out of control as a result of an excess amount of oil on your scalp. While both Malassezia and oil are components of a normal and healthy scalp, it doesn’t take much for them to become unbalanced and spiral out of control.
Things like over-washing your hair or scalp irritation due to harsh cosmetic ingredients can cause your sebaceous glands to overproduce oil (or sebum). Malassezia feeds off that oil and will start to grow out of control to match the excess oils present on your scalp -- leading to flaking, redness, and itching.
- Contact dermatitis: An allergic reaction that is caused by an irritating substance. As it turns out, the same condition that causes your seasonal allergies could also lead to dandruff. If you begin experiencing dandruff after using a new hair product, contact dermatitis may be to blame. This is especially true if you’re using products with harsh chemical ingredients that are known to be irritating, such as artificial fragrances, dyes, metals, and artificial foaming agents (sulfates).
As a result, it’s always a good idea to look for more natural products that will gently cleanse and soothe your scalp to lower the risk of a reaction or irritation.
- Dry skin: Perhaps the most common cause of flaking is the simplest - dry skin. This is especially true if you live in particularly dry or cold climates that tend to zap all the moisture from your scalp.
If your dandruff is being caused by dry skin, you won’t be experiencing this issue just on your scalp. It’ll also show up on areas like your face, hands, and elbows. To get through the cold, dry winter, we recommend using moisturizing products that will soothe and nourish your dry scalp and prevent dandruff.
...hair loss can be the result of incessant scratching of the scalp to try to relieve some of the discomfort caused by dandruff.
Effects of Untreated Dandruff
The itching and flaking caused by dandruff can be uncomfortable, but are there other effects of dandruff that you should be aware of? As it turns out, leaving your dandruff untreated for an extended amount of time can lead to other issues, including:
- Acne: It’s definitely not fair that one insecurity can lead to another, but it can happen with dandruff and pimples. This is because the dry skin flakes caused by dandruff can actually clog the pores on your face, chest, and back - leading to breakouts. In fact, dandruff is one of the most common causes of back acne. Treating your acne will be very difficult if you’re not also treating your dandruff as the root cause.
- Hair loss: It’s important to note that dandruff doesn’t directly cause hair loss all on its own. Instead, hair loss can be the result of incessant scratching of the scalp to try to relieve some of the discomfort caused by dandruff. Too much scratching can damage your hair follicles, which can be linked to hair loss over time if you’re not careful. A safer way to gently massage your scalp is with an exfoliating scalp brush. A scalp brush will clear away buildup and debris, and a cleaner scalp means thicker and healthier looking hair.
So before you do too much damage to your hair follicles, be sure to soothe and moisturize your scalp to treat itching and discomfort and ultimately prevent hair loss.
How to Treat Dandruff?
Now that you fully understand the causes and effects of dandruff, we can move on to the good stuff - the treatment! Thankfully, dandruff is easy to manage. In fact, there are several different ways that you can effectively treat your dandruff and say goodbye to flakes for good.
- Wash your hair frequently: As you now know, dandruff could be caused by a buildup of excess oils on your scalp. To prevent those oils from building up in the first place, you should be washing your hair on a regular basis, every day if needed, with a gentle and effective dandruff shampoo. Also, be sure to gently massage your scalp when washing to loosen flakes and completely nourish your scalp.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet doesn’t just benefit your insides, it can benefit your outsides as well by helping to prevent dandruff. Be sure to eat foods with higher levels of zinc, vitamin B, and healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6. You should also avoid foods with lots of sugars, bad fats, and preservatives.
- Use styling products sparingly: In order to keep your hair clean and oil-free, you might have to cut down on styling products that can contribute to buildup and oil on your scalp. If you must use styling products, make sure that they are free of harsh ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, and dyes.
What to Look for in Dandruff Hair Products
We mentioned dandruff shampoo. But what does that actually mean? There’s no limit to the shampoos out there that claim to treat dandruff, but how do you know it will really be effective? Here are some things to look for:
- Natural and vegan-friendly ingredients like coconut oil, algae extract, safflower seed oil, and apple extract. You may have heard of using apple cider vinegar to clarify your hair and treat dandruff. An even better option is apple extract as part of a scientifically formulated dandruff care product, because it’s natural, and helps to nourish your scalp.
- Products that are safe for chemically-treated hair, color-treated hair, and all hair types from straight to curly or textured.
- Clean products that are free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and dyes.
- Most importantly, an anti-dandruff shampoo that includes ZPT (Zinc Pyrithione) as an active ingredient, because without a proven and FDA-listed ingredient for fighting flakes, the shampoo isn’t going to treat the underlying cause of the dandruff.
At Jupiter, our line of hair and scalp care products combat dandruff while nourishing your scalp and hair. Our Balancing Shampoo and Restoring Serum are scientifically formulated with the dandruff-fighting active ingredient Zinc Pyrithione to help you treat dandruff at every step. And our scalp care products nourish and moisturize your scalp while leaving your hair shiny and healthy looking. With hundreds of five-star reviews, you can rest assured that Jupiter will help you get to the root of what’s causing your dandruff.
As you can see, dandruff can indeed be linked to hair loss if you’re not careful! The good news is that hair loss from dandruff is not inevitable - there are things you can do to avoid it. This is why it’s so important to implement a beneficial hair care routine right away to treat your dandruff, heal your scalp, and preserve your hair.
If you need help figuring out the right hair care routine for you, check out our custom quiz that will find the right products and tailor the perfect routine for your unique hair and scalp care needs.