Which combination do you think would be most effective in dandruff treatment? Sweet orange essential oil and aloe vera gel, peppermint essential oil and rose water, or clove essential oil and micellar water? I like to test out creative remedies.

Dandruff can be the result of a few conditions: seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, a yeast over-growth (malassezia folliculitis), very dry skin or as a reaction to hair products.

These different causes will probably respond better to one ingredient than another. In the UK and US there are just a few that have been approved for use and only these can be marketed as actual treatments - these are:


Zinc pyrithione - this gets rid of a fungal-type of dandruff (a zinc deficiency can be an underlying factor in seborrheic dermatitis.) and Salicylic acid.

Anything else is not strictly approved, so manufacturers can’t make the same claims for success, but that doesn’t mean others won’t be approved after enough conclusive trials have been carried out. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and small-scale trials demonstrating that other ingredients have been successful.

It’s great that you are interested enough to experiment with your own mixtures. Just be careful and stay aware that anything you put on your hair will affect your eyes, lips and skin as you rinse it off in the shower. With that in mind, I wouldn’t advise using clove oil. In fact, you need to be careful of the sweet orange and peppermint oils too, unless you are mixing them carefully into a carrier oil or other solution with the appropriate emulsifying surfactant - a polysorbate (Tween) or similar. Using undiluted essential oil is not a good idea.

The aloe vera is, in my opinion, a good one to try as it has bioactive compounds that can be very soothing and effectual in treating seborrheic dermatitis.

The micellar water is maybe a reasonable base in which to mix the oils and extracts, but alone, it might just make your hair look a bit dull.

Rosewater is great - make sure it is a proper hydrosol and not just distilled water with some rose-scented oil - although if it has a polysorbate in it, it will probably disperse the oils you want to use (and behave much like the micellar water). But remember to dilute. (I always recommend Rodney Young and Robert Tisserand’s book: Essential Oil Safety - for lots of excellent information about oils and how they should be used). Rosewater is full of skin-beneficial ingredients, I use it often to replace water in a formulation. The pH is excellent for the scalp and it will probably soften your hair too. Peppermint is also a good choice, but again, be careful if using the oil. Neem carrier oil can work well and some people have used tea-tree oil and lemon balm with some success.

If you are still in the experimenting zone - maybe try alternating the peppermint for rosemary hydrosol, extract or (diluted) essential oil, it can also stimulate the scalp and so improve hair growth and it has some anti-microbial properties too. Green tea - the extract or hydrosol, the absolute isn’t suitable for this, has an array of catechins which can reduce hair loss and boost moisture in the scalp. Cornflower, oats, rice-water and wheat can soften the hair and skin. These should work if the dandruff is a result of dry skin or seborrheic dermatitis. A good quality virgin coconut oil rubbed gently into the scalp, before rinsing out, has proved to help dandruff from atopic dermatitis and should be safe for most ages to use.

Enjoy your experimenting, but do stay safe.

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