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Dandruff: What Your Dry, Flaky Scalp Is Trying to Tell You

It’s something we don’t often like to talk about, but it happens to just about everyone at some point. Yup, I’m talking about dandruff. Whether you’ve experienced dandruff once in your lifetime or struggle with a serially dry and flaky scalp, you know that either way, it’s no fun.

Having dandruff can make it harder to wear your favorite hairstyles, make your routine more time-consuming, and can seriously put a damper on your confidence. That’s why we’ve created this in-depth guide for how to deal with that dry and flaky scalp for good.

Want to know what causes dandruff and learn how you can stop those pesky flakes in their tracks? Keep reading for our go-to guide on banishing dandruff for good.


What Causes Dandruff?

At its core, dandruff has to do with the skin cells on our scalp. Just like the skin cells on the rest of our body, the ones on our scalp are constantly dividing, multiplying, and being replaced with new cells. The dead cells are then shed off and normally that’s where the story ends.

But if the skin cells on your scalp can’t keep up with themselves and are dividing too fast, then you’ll start to see a problem with buildup, flaking, and eventually full-blown dandruff. And like most things, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to your dry, flaky scalp.

Let’s go ahead and tackle some of the most common causes of dandruff:

Dandruff Cause #1: Yeast Overgrowth on Your Scalp

One of the most common causes of dandruff is the overgrowth of Malassezia, which is a fungus that lives on our scalp and skin. This yeast can irritate your scalp and cause excess skin cell growth. This is why most dandruff shampoos on the market are based on antifungal and antimicrobial ingredients.

Dandruff Cause #2: Your Scalp is Dry

Dry scalp is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—your scalp isn’t getting enough moisture! When that happens, your skin becomes irritated and begins to flake off, leading to dandruff.

Common causes of an overly dry scalp include cold weather/air, old age, and negative reactions to hair products.

Dandruff Cause #3: You’re Not Washing Your Hair Often Enough

Depending on your hair type, you should be washing your hair at least about three times a week. If you go too long without a wash, all the oil, dirt, and product buildup can irritate your scalp and cause dandruff.

If you are a product junkie, you should consider switching your regular shampoo to shampoo scrub from time to time. Our recommendation? Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub. This sulfate free scalp scrub will reset your scalp in no time.

Dandruff Cause #4: Your Diet and Lifestyle Need to Change

We know that a poor diet and inactive lifestyle can lead to a variety of health problems, but did you know it could also be causing your dandruff? A diet that’s high in sugar can trigger insulin spikes, which can in turn lead to an overproduction of oil that causes dandruff.

Dandruff Cause #5: Your Scalp is Oily / Irritated

Just like when your skin gets too oily and you find yourself with a new breakout, your scalp reacts similarly when its oil glands go into hyperdrive.

There can be many culprits behind an oily scalp, including genes, diet, hormonal imbalances, pregnancy, and menopause.

Dandruff Cause #6: Your Scalp is Sensitive to Your Hair Products

You probably know of a few foods that upset your stomach, but did you know that there can be just as many hair products out there that upset your scalp? That’s right. Not every hair product works on everyone and if you’re dealing with dandruff, the products in your shower caddy might be to blame, especially if you have a sensitive scalp.

Consider switching to a dry and flaky scalp treatment, like the Instant Relief™ Scalp Spray specifically made to cater to the needs of flaky and irritated scalps instead of sticking with a product that may not be doing you any favors when it comes to dandruff management.

Another thing that might be easy to oversee is the cleanliness your hair brush and other styling tools. To avoid scalp irritation remember to wash your hair brushes regularly. If you keep brushing with a dirty brush with dandruff residue it can just aggravate the problem.

Dandruff Cause #7: You’ve Got a Skin Condition, Like Psoriasis or Eczema

Certain skin conditions, like scalp psoriasis, can cause or even exaggerate a dry, flaky scalp. Make sure to consult your dermatologist if you suspect this may be the case.

Here Are 7 Ways to Get Rid of Dandruff For Good

If you’re ready to stop dealing with dandruff, there are several ways you can bring your scalp back to a healthy place. Stick around because we’re going to jump into our tried-and-true methods for banishing that dry, flaky scalp for good.

1. Try a Dandruff Shampoo

The best dandruff treatment? A high-quality dandruff shampoo. I recommend choosing a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that won't dry out and irritate your scalp even further. Keep an eye on the active ingredients and look for products that contain antimicrobial ingredients, like Dermosoft® decalact MB. It is a natural, highly effective active ingredient developed to fight microorganisms causing fungal skin disorders like dandruff and athlete's foot. In my opinion the best dandruff shampoo is the Instant Relief Dandruff Shampoo that has a gentle, antimicrobial formula. For best results, pair it with the soothing Instant Relief™ Scalp Spray!

2. Switch Up Your Diet

Switch Up Your Diet

Like we mentioned before, your diet is way more important to your scalp’s health than you might realize. If you’re struggling with dandruff and a dry, flaky scalp and can’t seem to fix it, consider giving your diet a makeover.

Adding biotin, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, along with plenty of fruits and veggies can help improve your scalp’s oil production and help the overall quality of your skin, hair, and nails. If it’s difficult to add all of these vitamins and minerals through your diet at once, take a supplement to help get you started.

3. Start Washing Your Hair More Often

Start Washing Your Hair More Often

Oftentimes we’re told that we’re washing our hair too often. And while that may be the case for certain hair types and people with dry hair, if you’re dealing with a dry, flaky scalp, you should be washing your hair more often.

If you currently wash your hair only two times a week, try washing your hair every other day. And if you already wash your hair daily, consider this next tip we’re about to give you.

4. Try a Scalp Scrub

Try a Scalp Scrub

One of the easiest ways to get rid of excessive buildup and dandruff is to try our favorite dry, flaky scalp treatment—the scalp scrub. Our Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub is specifically formulated to help remove product residue, excess oils, and hard water minerals and get your scalp back in tip-top shape.

Simply use in the shower once a week and follow up with Scalp Delight™ Detox Conditioner for best results.

5. Don’t Scratch

Don’t Scratch

Remember how your mom always told you not to scratch or pick at your pimples? Well the same principle applies to a dry, flaky scalp and bumps on the scalp. We know it can be tempting to scratch your dandruff off (especially if it’s causing your scalp to feel itchy), but it’s one of the least helpful things you can do.

Instead of using your sharp nails to scratch and irritate your scalp further, try gently tapping your scalp with the palm of your hand to relieve the itching sensation without irritation.

6. Change Your Hair Care Products

Change Your Hair Care Products

If your current hair care routine is making your scalp unhappy, it’s time to switch things up. A good shampoo and conditioner pair should nourish, protect, and moisturize your hair and scalp without creating more dandruff or causing irritation.

If you’re looking for a hair care duo that checks off all of these boxes, look no further. Our Split Fix™ Duo helps hair become visibly healthier and more resilient. And we’ve got a formula for thinning hair too!

Due to it's gentle, sulfate-free formula the Instant Relief Dandruff Shampoo can be used on a continuous basis too!

7. Swap Your Pillowcase

Swap Your Pillowcase

Don’t just stop at the products you use in the shower though. You can do your scalp a huge favor by controlling what you sleep on at night. While most pillowcases are made of material that isn’t very breathable, a Silky Bamboo Pillowcase protects your hair from damage and is especially helpful for those with sensitive scalps.

Treatments You Can Do at Home For a Dry, Flaky Scalp:

If you can’t get your hands on any new products quite yet or want to see results more quickly, you can always have a go at a dry, flaky scalp treatment you can DIY from the comfort of your own home.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary Oil:

You may have heard of using rosemary oil to help combat acne and oily skin, but did you know it can be an effective way to treat a dry, flaky scalp too?

Rosemary has proven antimicrobial properties, including anti-fungal agents. People who experience dandruff usually have too much of the common skin fungus Malassezia. The antimicrobial effects of rosemary oil work to get your scalp microbiome back in balance.

By adding 4-5 drops of rosemary oil to your shampoo, you can quickly create a dry, flaky scalp treatment that can help get your hair back to normal. Or simply use Grow Perfect™ Thickening Spray, that combines both refreshing rosemary oil and spearmint oil!

Rosemary oil works to help manage dandruff by reducing yeast overgrowth on your scalp and can also relieve the itchiness and soreness often associated with a dry, flaky scalp.

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Another great dry, flaky scalp treatment is good ol’ apple cider vinegar. Either add a tablespoon to your shampoo or spritz onto your scalp via spray bottle for a dandruff-busting effect.

The acidic nature of ACV works to stop the growth of certain dandruff-causing microbes and can help balance your scalp’s pH levels if they’re out of whack.

Coconut Oil:

Oh coconut oil, what can’t you do? Turns out this miracle oil is pretty great at relieving a dry, flaky scalp with its über-moisturizing properties.

Before washing your hair, apply a generous amount of coconut oil to your scalp as a mask, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then wash your hair as normal. Repeat once a week to help relieve dandruff.

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Aloe Vera:

Here’s another dry, flaky scalp treatment you might not have heard of before. We all know aloe vera is the bomb when it comes to bringing sweet, sweet relief to sunburns, but like coconut oil, aloe vera can also help a dry scalp retain more moisture. Plus, aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe and relieve an itchy scalp.

Again, apply like a mask and let sit before rinsing and washing hair as usual.


Alright, listen up. This dry, flaky scalp treatment should be used with caution, as it may cause irritation if your scalp is sensitive.

If you want to DIY a lemon treatment for dandruff, we suggest not applying lemon juice directly to your scalp, but mixing a tablespoon or so into a mixture of coconut oil and sugar to create a gentle scalp scrub you can use to slough away buildup. Just make sure to stop your usage immediately if you notice any burning, redness, or irritation!


Instead of sugar, mix salt with your favorite oil to create another dry, flaky scalp treatment. After scrubbing (gently, mind you!), follow through with your shampoo and conditioner. You know the routine.

Olive oil:

Now here’s something nearly everyone has in their kitchen. If you find yourself dealing with a dry, flaky scalp on the reg, using olive oil can help you out in a pinch.

Just massage 1-2 tablespoons into your scalp for one minute. Use Scalp Delight™ Scalp Massage Brush for extra scalp relaxation! Then leave on for 15-20 minutes, rinse, and shampoo like you normally would. This is also a great treatment for bringing new life to dull or damaged tresses!

Top 3 Products for Dandruff Relief

If you're dealing with pesky dandruff, finding the right products can make all the difference. Here are three highly effective products specifically formulated to combat dandruff and soothe irritated scalps:

1. Instant Relief™ Dandruff Shampoo

Say goodbye to flakes and itchiness with the Instant Relief™ Dandruff Shampoo. Formulated with antimicrobial and antifungal ingredients such as Dermosoft® decalact MB and tea tree oil, this gentle shampoo provides instant relief for irritated and sensitive scalps. Its soothing formula helps to combat yeast overgrowth while maintaining the scalp's natural balance.

2. Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub

Treat your scalp to a refreshing detox with the Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub. Formulated with rosemary oil, rice powder, and soothing oat extract, this scrub effectively removes buildup and flaky skin from the scalp while providing relief from irritation and discomfort. Its gentle exfoliating action helps to unclog pores and promote healthier hair growth as well.

3. Instant Relief™ Scalp Spray

This scalp-soothing treatment is a leave-in spray formulated with ingredients that provide instant relief for irritated and flaky scalps. Whether you're dealing with dandruff or simply seeking to prevent scalp issues, this spray has got you covered. Enjoy a calm, comfortable scalp with every application.

Now that you know pretty much everything there is to know when it comes to dandruff, we hope you’re able to banish that pesky dandruff once and for all!

Has Hairlust helped you say bye to dandruff and that dry, flaky scalp for good? Show us your before and after pics and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram at @hairlust!

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