What is the main cause of dandruff?

Sep 15 2020Jenny

What is the main cause of dandruff?

I’m sure we’ve all had occasions when, in the midst of styling our hair, we discover those pesky white flakes in our scalp. Dandruff is a common problem but what causes it and what can we do to address it? I answer these questions in today’s blog.

What’s dandruff?

The human body constantly sheds old skin cells and replaces them with new ones in order to maintain healthy skin. However, occasionally this process speeds up leading to the build-up of dead skin cells on the scalp and hair, otherwise known as dandruff.

However, dandruff can also be an attempt by the body to eliminate toxins that haven’t been removed through the more usual channels such as sweat and urine – lovely!

Sebaorrhoeic dermatitis

Despite the fact that sebaorrhoeic dermatitis is fairly common, this is a condition that not many of us are familiar with. In fact, many sufferers aren’t even aware they have it in the first place!

The problem occurs when too much yeast grows on the surface of the skin causing it to become itchy, flaky and red. It regularly occurs on the scalp, though the backs of the ears, face and centre of the chest can be affected too.

Other skin conditions

Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp that can contribute to symptoms like dandruff. However, other common skin conditions such as eczema, ringworm and psoriasis also make it more likely that dandruff will develop.


An allergy, whether it is to cat dander, cosmetic products, or anything else for that matter, can also contribute to dandruff. That’s because allergies tend to lead to symptoms such as itching, redness and flaky skin.

Not brushing hair

Ok, there’s not many of us who can go a day without brushing our hair but are you brushing it enough? This encourages the skin to shed naturally and in doing so it reduces the likelihood of dandruff developing. Therefore, not brushing your hair can, you’ve guessed it, worsen dandruff.


Although stress does not cause dandruff itself, it is thought to exasperate the problem. That’s because stress weakens the defences of the immune system meaning a skin irritation is more likely to crop up.

The air

If the air is too hot or too dry, this can dry out the scalp and make dandruff worse. Also, changing temperatures, such as moving from an air-conditioned house to the warm outdoors, can exasperate the issue.


Nowadays many popular shampoos are filled with abrasive ingredients such as alcohol which strip the hair and scalp of their natural oils and thus contribute to the problem of dandruff. However, shampooing your hair too frequently (let’s say twice a day for example) can also dry out the scalp and bring on the problem of dandruff.

Helpful hair care products

From changing your shampoo to trying natural oils, there are various steps you can take to minimise the problem dandruff.

Since I’ve just been talking about the issue with many popular shampoos, let me start by offering up an alternative. Dr Hauschka’s Revitalising Hair and Scalp tonic is bursting with natural ingredients such as neem leaf, rosemary and arnica. These ingredients not only soothe and hydrate the scalp to help reduce dandruff, but they also leave the hair feeling, soft, smooth and shiny too!

Another natural option for treating the signs of dandruff is argan oil. Made from kernels off the argan tree, this acts as a moisturiser and so soothes and hydrates the scalp. However, argan oil has a host of other benefits too as it improves the health of the hair and even defends against heat!

Many argan oil products include a host of added ingredients so if you choose to try this out for yourself I’d highly recommend turning to John Masters’ Argan Oil. This has absolutely no other ingredients - it’s just pure, unfiltered argan oil!