While it's more common in the winter, dry scalps with dandruff can happen at any time of the year. While they are often lumped together, dry scalp and dandruff are two different problems and need to be treated separately.
How can I tell the difference?
Dry scalp is caused by a fungal infection on the scalp. It's created by a yeast-like fungus called malassezia, or pityrosporum. Most people have malassezia on their scalps and it rarely causes them problems.
For women with hormonal imbalances, immune suppression, excess stress, illness, an abundance of oil production and lack of shampooing, dandruff can develop. Dandruff is created when skin cells on the scalp die, and mix with sebaceous oil which creates the tell-tale white (or sometimes yellow-tinted) flakes. This issue can be magnified by dehydration, or skin diseases like psoriasis.
How can I manage it?
Prepoo: Use your favorite natural oil (think avocado, coconut, olive oil) to saturate your curls and scalp before you shampoo. Allow the prepoo to sit on your hair for 20-30 minutes before you shampoo. Prepooing will help your curls be less tangled, will moisturize your dry or dehydrated scalp, and will bring shine back to your curls.
Use natural treatments: Before you head to the drug store for Head and Shoulders, consider some natural options.
- Reach for natural oils like coconut and olive oil, both of which have anti fungal properties. Jojoba oil is the natural oil that most closely mimics your body's natural sebaceous oils, which makes it a great choice for dry scalps. It also acts a protectant against bacteria on the scalp and in your curls.
- Castile soap is a great alternative to harsh shampoos. The all-natural soap is great using vegetable oils and is composed of jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive and hemp oils, and sometimes an added fragrance. Castille soap has a high pH, so it can help correct your curls' pH balance.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is the darling of the natural curl care world. Mix 3 cups of organic ACV with 1 cup of water and spray it through your curls, making sure the strands are saturated. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. This chemical-free treatment rinses out clean, adds extra shine, and removes product build up. Most importantly, it helps manage scalp conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff.
What to do if my dandruff persists?
Dandruff and dry scalp are annoying and can be embarrassing. However, it is a very common issue for many curly haired girls. If you've tried some at home remedies without favorable results, consider making an appointment with a dermatologist for guidance and suggestions. For more natural home remedies, click here.