Dandruff, those pesky white flakes which seem to always find your darker clothing on the most auspicious of occasions can not only feel uncomfortable on your scalp, but also for your self-esteem.
Today we wanted to share with you what a holistic approach to dandruff management means and why and how it can benefit you more than just a topical approach.
The causes of dandruff
There are many causes of dandruff and whilst we don’t claim to be experts on the subject, we have outlined a few simple reasons why your scalp may be flaking. If dandruff is severe, we always recommend seeking medical support as well as the advice of a professional naturopath.
- Dry Skin as a result of fungal infection, gut issues, food intolerances or allergy reaction
- Hormone responses
- Poor hydration
- Poor hair care, insufficient or too frequent hair washing and brushing.
- Harsh chemicals
Whilst it might not be easy to pin-point exactly what the cause of dandruff is, we always recommend a holistic self-care approach to your wellbeing, to help you support any health issues, including dandruff. Holistic means looking after your mind, body and soul as all the elements are interconnected and contribute to your overall wellness. Just remember, small steps lead to big things.
Here are a few ideas:
Stress responses can manifest in the body in interesting ways, stress hormones that increase inflammation can wreak havoc with your health, particularly your skin.
Whether you choose to increase exercise, start a daily meditation practice, journal daily or simply take some extra ‘down-time’ by reading your favourite book or enjoying a cup of tea, putting the phone down and spending a little extra time on nourishing yourself with a specific goal to reduce stress is key.
If you’re thinking that your self-care time is scrolling on your phone, think again. The act of checking your phone regularly as well as the actual content you’re viewing can trigger a stress response releasing cortisol, the stress hormone within your body. Every time you check your phone a small amount of dopamine releases, after a dopamine hit you experience a let-down, which means you start to crave the dopamine hit again, igniting the addiction and building stress within the body. Try setting certain times aside for your phone during the day and then replace the impulsive phone viewing moments with a moment of true self-care listed above, or perhaps another healthy option that resonates for you. You will really notice the difference.
Sugar and High inflammation foods
Did you know that certain foods can increase inflammation in the body and therefore trigger skin problems? Well Dandruff is a skin inflammation response. Key contributors to inflammation are refined sugar, white starchy carbs such as pasta, fried foods, ‘bad’ fats, processed foods and gluten.
When consumed, these foods also create an insulin spike in the body, which then effects your hormones and oil production in your body. Herein begins a cycle where the body attempts to balance the oil production on the skin’s surface, particularly the scalp, face and back and your scalp then wavers between flakes (scalp dryness) and excess oil.
Adopting a low inflammation diet, replacing high inflammation foods with plenty of fresh leafy greens and vegetables, a moderate amount of fruit and lean meats, particularly fish and plenty of water will help. Try to avoid complex carbs and white starchy foods and dairy as much as possible, instead reaching for plant-based milks and yoghurts, tempeh or tofu. A small handful of nuts, some coconut oil or half an avocado offers your body ‘good fats’ to support your brain function and help balance oil production in the skin.
Yeast promoting foods
Dandruff can occur as a result of a yeast infection. Whether it originated in the gut or is a skin related fungal problem, some foods can feed the yeast, increasing the flakes in your scalp.
Look to omit foods such as sugar, dairy, yeast in breads or pizza doughs and even mushrooms (which are essentially a fungus) from your diet. Beer and Wine can also play a big role in feeding the yeast infection and should be avoided.
If you have been on a course or two of antibiotics, this can trigger a yeast infection as antibiotics kill not only the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria in your body. If this is the case, consult a health professional about taking a series of probiotics to restore the good bacteria in your body.
The skin is the largest organ in your body. The application of chemicals to the hair (and therefore the skin), especially when they aren’t washed out (such as styling products), can result in skin irritation and therefore flaky scalp.
This can also be the case if you are not washing the shampoo or conditioner properly from your hair on hair-wash day.
When choosing hair products, opt for those that are:
- chemical free,
- free of soaps, sulphates, silicones, parabens
- free of drying ethanol-based alcohols
Being a naturopath formulated brand, NueBar Shampoo and Conditioner bars are completely free of all of these additives, instead we choose the best that nature can provide in plant-based, chemical free organic rich ingredients.
If your skin is super sensitive, you may also consider avoiding essential oils. Generally added for the scent, essential oils can cause irritation to those with ultra sensitive skin. If this feels like you, you can consider our fragrance-free range which has been formulated especially for you.
In making our bars, we’re super conscious about ensuring a little goes a long way. Therefore, we choose to make NueBar bars by hand, rather than via machine, as this means we can reduce the amount of hardeners in our bars, to give you a softer bar and gentler care for your hair, face and body.
Your hair washing + brushing routine
Hair grooming is a very personal thing as it differs for every hair type, as well as a person’s lifestyle.
Washing your hair too regularly strips away the scalp and hair’s natural oils. If your scalp becomes too dry, it will flake, resulting in dandruff.
The body, including your skin, is designed to respond with balance if something is out. Therefore, washing too often can also result in an overproduction of oil as your body seeks to balance the scalp and hair’s natural oils.
Excess oil can create issues such as seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that causes red, scaly patches to form on the scalp. These scaly patches drop off creating dandruff.
So how often should you wash? Begin with every 2-3 days. If you find your hair is too oily, increase the frequency. If it becomes too dry, you may wish to consider alternating your shampoo was with the co-wash method, which is conditioner-only washing (also known as the no-poo method), we have written an article all about it here.
Also, be sure to choose a shampoo that is right for your hair type. You can find the perfect NueBar Shampoo and Conditioner for your hair type here on the NueBar Hair product finder.
So why is regular brushing important to keep dandruff at bay? Brushing and combing your hair not only gets the knots out, but it also cleans your hair and scalp of surface dirt and dead skin cells. Daily brushing prevents a build-up on your scalp, reducing your dandruff issues.
Hydration is always a good idea
Lots of water consumed daily will not only keep your skin well hydrated, it will also flush out any toxins or nasties in your system.
As we mentioned before, yeast and high inflammation foods can result in gut problems and consequently, scalp problems. Similarly, without enough water, your skin can dry out and flake.
Opt for filtered or spring water where possible. If you find you would like a little flavour, the odd herbal tea (without milk) here and there will also count towards your daily water intake.
Whilst we can’t promise that adopting all of these strategies will completely eradicate your dandruff, we can assure you that you will see some improvements not only with the flakes, but your overall holistic wellbeing.