The Down-Low on Dandruff

Dandruff is far from desirable yet it finds its way back onto our scalps more often than we'd like. Those pesky white flakes show up overnight and take weeks to get rid of. So wtf is dandruff and why does it happen? 


Keep reading for the full down-low on dandruff. We're going to help you get to the root of this common hair issue so you can say BYEEE to dandruff once and for all. 


Ready? Let's dive in.

What is dandruff and what are those flakes?

When you scratch your scalp and see a little snowfall, you know the culprit: dandruff. Dandruff, specific to the scalp, is a condition caused by the increased turnover rate of dead skin cells.


And the flakes? Those white or yellowish flakes are dead skin cells. They can be dry or oily, depending on your scalp's condition. Either way, gross.


It's normal for dandruff to be itchy, but it usually doesn't cause inflammation like redness. If you have reddish, irritating symptoms, you might have a more severe condition like seborrheic dermatitis. 

What causes dandruff?

Done with the what, now the why. Like, why is your scalp skin flaking off? Unfortunately, there are many causes for dandruff that we don't have control over. For example:

An (overly) oily scalp

The overproduction of sebum is a common cause of dandruff. When your scalp produces too much oil, you promote the overgrowth of Malassezia yeast, a naturally-occurring fungus that feeds on sebum. Don't worry, both sebum and yeast are normal for skin flora, but too much will lead to dandruff.

It's in your genes

Turns out you can blame your momma for flakes. Being susceptible to dandruff can be passed down the gene pool. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to fix this situation. Similarly, if you have a weakened immune system due to a medical condition, you're at higher risk to attract the flakes.

You're stressin'

Take a deep breath, but dandruff can grow more severe with stress. According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of dandruff worsen with elevated stress levels.

A change in weather

Twice a year, we're all more prone to dandruff. When? We're likely to get dandruff during drastic weather changes, like when the seasons shift. Next time you're swapping out your wardrobe for cooler weather, give your scalp a little TLC.


We don't like to point fingers, but you could be the problem. Improper scalp care is a HUGE cause of dandruff. If you don't regularly wash your hair or cause product build-up, you're welcoming flakes to the party.

How to cure dandruff once and for all

We have good news and bad news. Unfortunately, there is no true cure for dandruff. However, with the right treatments and scalp-loving ingredients, you can drastically improve dandruff and manage it.


For a holistic, natural approach to soothing dandruff, try:

  • Tea Tree Oil - clears blocked pores and prevents dryness
  • Coconut Oil - fights dandruff with anti-fungal properties
  • Aloe Vera - moisturizes and soothes irritated scalps
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - balances the PH of the scalp


If you still notice flakes, try an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo. These medicated shampoos should ease dandruff and reduce flakes thanks to ingredients like selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and coal tar. 


For next-level dandruff (think bleeding, hair loss, pain), speak with a doctor or dermatologist for prescription medications, scalp products, and even topical steroids. 

Holistic products to fight dandruff

Natural scalp elixirs can help bring some balance back to your scalp. Look for a natural, light-weight product like CBDetox. This serum includes calming tea tree oil plus nano-CBD to deliver nutrients to the scalp, balance PH levels, and remove buildup and flakes.


Byrdie featured CBDetox in a recent article:

"This tea tree and hemp oil elixir will do the trick. It’s designed to be applied to a damp or dry scalp twice a day, and works to gently slough away the build-up of sebum and dead skin cells, leading to less itching and flakes overall."

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More on the blog: The Beauty Benefits of CBD