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How to Get Rid of Flakes in Hair: Best Home Remedies & Products


If you scratch your head and notice white flakes fall on your shoulder, there’s a high chance you have what’s known as a flaky scalp. This could be the result of different conditions, one of which is dandruff. Research has shown that dandruff affects 50% of people worldwide, affecting men more than women. While it’s not exactly a serious medical condition, it’s still important that you know what it is and how to get rid of flakes in hair.

Table of Contents: 

  • What is dandruff?
  • What’s the difference between having dandruff and a dry scalp?
  • Can a lifestyle change prevent my scalp from becoming dry and flaky?
  • What products can I use to treat dandruff and my itchy scalp?

What is dandruff?

While the matter is still under discussion, according to American dermatologist Dr. Amy McMichael, dandruff is another term for mild seborrheic dermatitis, a non-contagious skin condition where the skin overproduces oil and other secretions and forms itchy red patches, greasy scales, and white or yellow crusty or powdery flakes on the scalp. The National Eczema Association states that flaking can appear in association with scalp psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, or other similar conditions.

Dandruff can appear in people of all ages, including babies and newborns. In their case, they experience what’s called cradle cap—dead skin cells develop and stick to the scalp of the baby when the oil glands on their skin produce more oil than necessary. 

Dandruff then becomes more common among people who hit puberty and sometimes subsides when they hit around 50 years old.

Aside from the head, flaking can appear on your face, nose, ears, eyebrows, eyelids, chest, and other parts of your body.

What’s the difference between having dandruff and a dry scalp?

It’s normal to mistake a dry scalp with dandruff and vice versa because both have the same symptoms, most notably the flaking. However, what makes them differ from each other is the cause - your scalp becomes dry when it lacks moisture and the sebaceous glands don’t produce enough sebum, while dandruff (usually) develops when there’s too much oil on your skin or you’re dealing with yeast (Malassezia) overgrowth. 

Can a lifestyle change prevent my scalp from becoming dry and flaky?

The answer to that is: yes, it definitely can. According to New York-based cosmetic dermatologic surgeon Dr. Howard Sobel, staying hydrated is the first step to treating an itchy, flaky scalp. Water not only makes your skin look better, but also minimizes the production of flaky skin cells on your head. 

You should also eat foods rich in Vitamin B12 as it helps balance pH levels and oil production. Vitamin B12 additionally contains properties that can moisturize and condition your hair, increase blood circulation to your scalp, and prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol, among other things.

More importantly, you should do your best to reduce or avoid stress as it triggers symptoms of dandruff and an itchy scalp. Malassezia, for instance, can thrive on your scalp if your immune system is compromised due to stress, so try and take it easy every once in a while. Get enough hours of sleep, exercise, follow a balanced diet, and set boundaries at work to help you feel more at ease every day.

What products can I use to treat dandruff and my itchy scalp?

Lifestyle changes are the first line of defense in treating dandruff and, generally, an itchy scalp. If they didn’t work, you can always turn to effective shampoo products and hair care tools to treat your scalp and reduce flake production.

Here are some products you can use:

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate symptoms of dandruff. This was proven by a study conducted on the effects of tea tree oil, at 5% concentration, on 126 patients for four consecutive weeks. The result? The severity of the symptoms of dandruff was reduced by 41%. 

It’s important to note that tea tree oil can sometimes irritate sensitive skin, especially in its pure form, so if you’re planning to use it on your scalp, do a patch test first. Check after 24 hours if you have an allergic reaction to it. If not, you can apply tea tree oil to the rest of your scalp. Remember to dilute the oil properly in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or argan oil.

Coconut oil

Speaking of coconut oil, many studies have proven the effectiveness of coconut oil as a remedy for dandruff and dry skin. To treat your dandruff or itchy scalp, apply coconut oil directly to your scalp, comb it throughout the length of your hair, and leave it on for a few minutes. This is to ensure that oil covers your hair and skin. Similar to tea tree oil, some skin types may be too sensitive for coconut oil. Do a patch test on your skin to check if you have an allergic reaction to it.

WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

Pour a dollop of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo onto your palm and massage it onto your scalp. Leave on for three to four minutes—add an extra one to two minutes if your hair is oily and covered in dandruff—and rinse thoroughly afterward. The product contains safe ingredients such as natural apple cider vinegar, nettle leaf extract, saw palmetto extract, all of which help detox an itchy scalp, dissolve and remove build-up, fight dandruff-causing fungi, and balance your scalp’s pH levels. 

Activated Charcoal & Keratin Shampoo

With a botanical blend of sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, and aloe vera extract, Activated Charcoal & Keratin Shampoo can absorb, trap, and remove excess oil, pollution, product build-up, and flakes from your scalp. It also soothes and replenishes moisture on your scalp, giving your hair the healthy and nourishing boost it needs! Simply wet your hair with warm water, apply a generous amount of the lathered shampoo onto your scalp, and rinse and follow it up with a conditioner for moisture. For added shine, rinse the conditioner with cold water.

Scalp Massager Brush

Use this scalp massager to thoroughly, but gently, remove flakes from your scalp and hair and stimulate hair growth. Designed with soft silicone bristles, the product helps circulate blood to your hair follicles, break down hardened excess sebum, dirt, dandruff flakes, and other impurities. 

Rahul Bhatia

Rahul is the published author of "Heads Or Tails" and Quora writer with over 1.6 million views. He is a keen observer who enjoys the simple joys of life. He strongly believes true beauty is not how beautiful your face is but how beautiful your heart is.

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