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YES! But How? Flake Off

I like natural products, but I have dandruff. How do I get rid of it without chemicals?
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Tiffany Ran and Alyssa Johnson photo by Alexandria Abdallah

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Tiffany Ran, right, hopes that her bunny, Gloomy, will be a coverboy for YES! Magazine. She plans a career of cooking, writing, and being stage mom to the most famous bunny in the world. Alyssa B. Johnson, left, is enjoying her first attempt at professional journalism, and hopes to continue doing work that involves making a better world.

Photo by Alexandria Abdallah

If you have dandruff, you may have Malassezia on your head. That’s a yeast-like fungus that lives on the scalp. Stress, illness, hormones, or a buildup of oil can cause it to grow out of control, irritating the skin and causing cells to die faster than normal. The cells clump together and fall off in visible flakes. Since Malassezia feeds on oil, washing more often helps keep it in check. Zinc pyrithione is an anti-fungal used in many anti-dandruff shampoos to attack Malassezia. Instead, try diluted oil of rosemary or tea tree, both of which have natural anti-fungal properties.

Dandruff is not always caused by Malassezia. The things that cause Malassezia infections can also cause dandruff on their own, as can dry skin. To keep the skin cell turnover on your scalp in balance, take care of yourself, eat foods with vitamins B and C and healthy fats, and get a bit of sunshine. Shampoo more often if your hair is oily, and cut down on styling products. Try these things, and your dandruff may go away without any treatment at all.


Alyssa B. Johnson wrote this article for What Happy Families Know, the Winter 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Alyssa is an editorial intern at YES!

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