No one likes having to deal with the dreaded D (dandruff).
Having a dry scalp and flaking and itchiness is not only a nuisance it’s also embarrassing.
If you suffer from chronic dandruff issues you know how exhausting it can be to try and address it or hide it.
Thankfully dandruff isn’t a serious or contagious medical condition.
It can usually be caused by:
- Malassezia fungus
- Dry scalp
- Not washing your hair frequently
- Hormonal changes
- Increases stress
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
To manage dandruff you can try over-the-counter dandruff shampoo and conditioners though many people find they often come with harsh effects.
If you’re looking for a more gentle and natural solution, you can try essential oils.
Essential oils are commonly used in skin care and hair care products because they work and they’re effective at helping your scalp heal and stay healthy.
Essential Oils As A Natural Remedy
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant compounds that are typically extracted from various plant and tree sources including bark, roots, leaves, stems, flowers, nuts, and even fruit.
EOs contain a rich amount of active compounds that help support the body’s own healing processes.
The therapeutic application of EOs is referred to as aromatherapy.
Research shows EOs offer many health benefits and can be effective at:
- Boosting immunity
- Decreasing stress and anxiety
- Improving sleep
- Relieving pain and discomfort
- Treating colds, coughs, sinus infections, and sore throats
- Addressing allergy symptoms
- Soothing headaches and migraines
- Supporting weight loss
- Decreasing inflammation
- Treating warts
- Healing bug bites
- Treating hemorrhoids
- Soothing arthritis symptoms
- Helping sunburns and skin burns
- Providing constipation relief
- Improving mood and mental health
The 6 Best Essential Oils for Dandruff
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree oil is one of the most effective EOs for treating dandruff naturally.
It’s a powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory.
It can help unclog hair follicles of excess oil buildup as well as dead skin cells, and hair product residue.
If you use tea tree oil weekly it can help prevent further buildup which will help keep your scalp clean.
Hair follicle buildup can cause or worsen dandruff.
Tea tree oil can help prevent infections and can even help with other fungal conditions such as athlete’s foot.
Rosemary oil (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Rosemary essential oil helps reduce excess oil build-up while also reducing fungal and bacterial activity on the scalp.
Because of its powerful antifungal and antimicrobial properties, rosemary is an excellent dandruff destroyer since the condition is mostly caused by a type of fungal overgrowth.
Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint essential oil is a powerful antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial agent that helps cleanse the scalp.
Thanks to the high concentration of menthol, one of its active compounds, it provides a soothing and cooling effect when applied to the scalp.
A 2009 review on peppermint oil published in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research found the oil to be effective at treating both dandruff and lice. (1)
Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Research shows that lavender essential oil can help improve scalp health.
A study published in Toxicology Research found that the topical application once a day, 5 times per week, for 4 weeks resulted in a decreased number of inflammatory skin cells. (2)
Lavender oil is also a known antibacterial and antifungal which helps to keep your scalp and hair follicles healthy and clear of any microbes that may impede hair growth.
As an added bonus lavender oil is also an excellent calmative and sleep aid that helps to lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Since chronic unmanaged stress and hormonal imbalance can lead to dandruff, this is a really good thing!
Clary sage oil (Salvia sclarea)
Sage oil is a powerful antibacterial and antiseptic agent.
It helps soothes scalp inflammation thanks to one of its active compounds – linalyl acetate. (3)
It’s also a sedative with calming properties and a hormonal balancer.
Lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
This powerful and cleansing oil is another scalp go-to.
A randomized, placebo-controlled study found lemongrass oil to be effective at treating dandruff after just 7 days with maximum efficacy reported after 14 days of daily topical use. (7)
It’s also an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal.
Other potentially beneficial EOs for scalp health are:
When used safely and properly EOs usually offer little to no side effects.
When used topically as a natural aid for scalp conditions and dandruff control EOs must always be diluted in a carrier oil in order to prevent skin irritation and reactions. This is especially true for sensitive skin types.
It’s advisable to perform a patch test on a non-affected area of the skin and wait at least 24 hours to confirm that there is no allergic reaction.
If you experience any adverse reaction to any oil discontinue use immediately and consult your dermatologist or healthcare provider.
Be aware of the contraindications for each oil you use. For example, you should never ingest tea tree oil as it’s toxic if taken internally.
You will also want to always choose high-quality, certified organic, and therapeutic grade products to avoid diluted batches and the addition of potentially harmful chemicals.
How To Use EOs for Dandruff
Always dilute your EOs with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil when using directly on the skin and scalp.
As an added bonus these carrier oils are natural oils rich in fatty acids that help nourish skin cells and help minimize dry skin.
Topical application is the best choice when using EOs for scalp health.
Inhalation through a diffuser is not an effective method for this particular focus.
A DIY Scalp Rx Anti-Dandruff Hair Mask
This moisturizing mask serves as a cleanser and exfoliator.
When used once a week it can help maintain your scalp clean and flake-free while also increasing circulation to your hair follicles to stimulate growth.
Symptoms: Dandruff, flaky and dry scalp, itchy scalp
- 4 drops tea tree
- 4 drops lemongrass
- 4 drops rosemary
- 4 drop lavender
- ¼ tsp activated charcoal (purifier and detox)
- 1 tbsp salicylic acid (chemical exfoliator)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (antifungal)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (cleanser)
Mix ingredients into a small bowl and apply evenly to the entire scalp.*
Leave in for 15-30 minutes or even longer.
To remove simply use shampoo and conditioner as normal.
*Perform a skin patch test on each oil prior to applying to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction.
Pro tip: Before applying the mask rinse your hair in the shower with a mixture containing a ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar plus 2 cups of water. Fill the mixture in a drip-top bottle or a spray bottle and apply the generously to your hair. Leave it in for at least 20 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Fully dry your hair before applying the Scalp Rx Mask.