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Man with dreadlocks itching his scalp.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff in Your Locs

Man with dreadlocks itching his scalp.

No matter how your hair is styled, dandruff can afflict your scalp and make life a little less joyful. Of course, we maintain that dreadlocks are not only a beautiful way to wear your hair and express yourself, but they’re also clean and healthy. We preface our discussion of dandruff with those facts to say that dandruff isn’t only an issue for some loc-wearers, but rather it’s an issue of scalp health and stimulation, which can, and does, affect many people regardless of hairstyle.   

But if you do have locs and are currently dealing with a bout of dandruff, we’ve got some good advice for you. 

Related: How to Get Lint Out of Locs

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a scalp condition that shows itself as dry skin flaking off your scalp. While it isn’t contagious or serious, it can be persistent. If you have dark-colored hair or wear dark-colored clothing, dandruff will become particularly noticeable as it comes off your scalp and lays on your shoulders. Dandruff may also make your scalp itch more than usual, which makes the flaking worse.  

Contrary to popular belief, dandruff is not caused by poor hygiene practices. Although, infrequent shampooing may make it worse. Research is still looking for the exact causes of dandruff.

Are you looking for insights into all things locs? We provide vegan, residue-free loc hair products. Check out Lion Locs for more information. 

A Possible Cause of Dandruff

Although we don’t know all of the causes of dandruff, we do have some clarity. For instance, we know that dandruff is the result of accelerated skin cell loss and production. This just means that your skin cells are dying and being replaced so quickly that it’s causing irritation and flakes.

Here are a few possible internal triggers for dandruff:

  • Stress
  • Hormones (highs and lows)
  • An acidic diet (meat, sugar, milk, coffee, and alcohol)
  • An impaired immune system due to illness
  • Certain medications

Here are some possible external triggers:

  • Infrequent shampooing
  • Shampoos based on soap
  • Not rinsing well from shampooing - leaving residue on the scalp
  • An imbalanced environment - too hot, too cold, or too humid 
  • Wearing hats, caps, or helmets too long - creating a moist environment for fungal growth
  • Frequent hair coloring

For you, dandruff may be triggered by any one of these or by none of them. 

Related: How to Stop Your Scalp From Itching if You Have Locs

How to Treat Dandruff in Locs

If you have dandruff, here are a few things you may do to correct the situation.

Use Dandruff Shampoo

The first solution to try is a shampoo specially designed to rid your scalp of dandruff. These shampoos have ingredients like zinc pyrithione, glycolic acid, and tioxolone, which treat the flakes, itching, dryness, and control oil production. They also calm the inflammation and irritation of your scalp. They’re designed for all hair types, but if you have locs, you should pay special attention to rinsing your hair after shampooing it. 

While using an anti-dandruff shampoo:

  1. Follow the directions on the bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo you’re using.
  2. Shampoo your locs more frequently.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.

Note: Try to find an anti-dandruff shampoo formulated for dreadlocks. Hopefully, it will be residue-free, making it easier to rinse away. 

Oil Your Scalp

Depending on the severity of your dandruff, you may find that massaging your scalp with a nutrient-rich oil is an effective remedy for dandruff. 

There are several essential oils indicated for this:

  • Tea Tree Oil - This oil has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. 
  • Frankincense - Regulates your scalp’s moisture.
  • Rosemary - This oil has antifungal and astringent properties.
  • Peppermint - This oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
  • Geranium - This oil will strengthen and protect your hair shaft and scalp.
  • Cedarwood - This oil has anti-inflammatory properties.

These oils may be applied to the scalp using a carrier oil (just to be safe) like olive oil or castor oil. Gently massage oil into your scalp. If you wish, you can leave it for a period and then shampoo out. But you can also use a small amount regularly and leave it in. 

Another two oils that may also work are coconut oil and olive oil. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you’re looking for a natural remedy for dandruff, consider apple cider vinegar (ACV). It contains natural alpha-hydroxy acid, which removes dead skin cells by gently exfoliating your scalp and hair. ACV has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. All of this makes ACV an excellent treatment for dandruff.

ACV Application

You can apply the ACV via a spray bottle. Mix one cup of ACV with two cups of water in a bottle and spray it onto your scalp and hair. Gently massage your scalp. Then leave it on your hair for 5 to 15 minutes before you rinse it out. Follow this up with an oil massage, and repeat it once or twice per week. 

Alternatively, you may just moisten a cotton ball with ACV and wipe your scalp in the affected areas.

Young man with locs in a high ponytail.

Lemon Juice

Similar to ACV, lemon juice is acidic and antifungal. Massage about two tablespoons of lemon juice into your scalp and leave it there for 2 to 5 minutes. Although it may sting a little, this can be very effective for getting rid of dandruff. Mix one teaspoon with one cup of water and rinse your scalp with it. Repeat this as often as you need to.

Alternatively, you can mix lemon juice with coconut oil and massage it into your scalp. Leave it there for 20 to 30 minutes before you rinse it out. Do this once or twice per week. 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Washing Dreadlocks

Last Thoughts on Getting Rid of Dandruff

Dandruff may not be a serious condition, but it can be a real nuisance - especially if you can’t get rid of it. Above, we have outlined treatments that will get it under control, from the more traditional methods like anti-dandruff shampoos to the more natural ways like essential oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.  

Are you considering the loc journey or are you already on it? We know that your locs are more than just a hairstyle or look, it’s a lifestyle. Bring us on your journey. Check out Lion Locs to learn more. 

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