Dandruff is a skin condition that affects our scalp because of superficial fungal infection. As a result, flakes of skin begin to appear accompanied by itchiness. Hz spoke to Dr Shireen Furtado, a Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist at Aster CMI Hospital regarding the same. “Dandruff, otherwise called pityriasis capitis, is the consequence of increased oil creation and overgrowth of yeast on the scalp,” said Dr Shireen. While the exact cause of dandruff is unknown, one can lessen the effect or in some cases get rid of it with the help of a plan including home remedies, yoga, diet, and by maintaining hygiene. This may sound too much in the beginning, but since we have enough time during this unprecedented lockdown, let’s make the most out of it by addressing issues like dandruff. All you need to do is follow the given plan for 21 days to finally start wearing black without any worries. 

Day 1 – Research And Analyse

Research And Analyse

“Dandruff can happen to anyone. In order to identify the root cause, one needs to know if it is really dandruff or a dry scalp condition. Some of the indicators of dandruff are loose white flakes and irritation with scalp oiliness,” said Dr Shireen. Also, the type of hair you have is totally dependent on your scalp type. Therefore, it is essential that before trying any remedy you identify your scalp type. Once you know it, it would be easier to care for your scalp and hair.

  • Normal Scalp – People with normal scalp have good looking and easily manageable hair. If you have such a scalp, you can try most of the ingredients without worrying much.
  • Oily Scalp – The sign of having oily scalp is having naturally greasy hair. The one with such hair type should wash hair more and oil less.
  • Dry Scalp – This scalp type leads to dull looking hair. Dry scalp makes your hair dry and more susceptible to breakage. You need to avoid products that have a high pH scale.
  • Mixed Or Combination Scalp – People with such scalp have dry, frizzy ends and oily roots. Using pH balanced ingredients along with conditioner is recommended.
  • Switch a few steps as recommended depending on your scalp or hair type. This will help prevent any adverse effects. 

Day 2 – Clean Hair Tools

Maintaining hygiene is imperative as over time, your hairbrush, scrunchies, hair bands, and even heat tools can become matted with dandruff flakes, hair, oils, and styling product residue.

  • To remove hair from hairbrush and comb take a long, thin tool, from one direction slide it under all the stuck hair and tug upwards. Pull the remaining with your hand.
  • Take a bucket, fill it up with warm water. Add ½ cup of mild soap or cleansing shampoo (you can also add 2 drops of anti-bacterial liquid). Put all your hair tools in it. Do not put your heat tools in there. Let it soak for 3-5 hours and clean using a paper towel.
  • For your heat tools take a clean cloth, moisten it by adding water, and rubbing alcohol or sanitizer. Rub over the surfaces to get rid of as much dirt and residues.

 Day 3 – Diet Plan

Diet Plan

Healthy eating cannot make you get rid of dandruff but, making wholesome choices can provide the necessary strength and improve the condition of your hair. Ms Edwina Raj, who is Senior Dietitian, at Aster CMI Hospital, told Hz, “There are multiple causes that have been identified in the cause of dandruff, but exposure to various factors can also impact your scalp and hair health. Stress, trauma, poor hydration, medications, medical conditions, heavy metals, smoking are some of those.” She also recommended food items that can help to support the treatment of dandruff. As per her suggestion, one must eat food that is:

  • Rich in nutrients such as zinc, vitamins A, D, B, omega 3.
  • Promote healthy scalp and hair such as walnuts, fish/seafood, liver, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, dark leafy vegetables, nuts, egg, carrots, lentils, and beans.
  • Limit the use of unhealthy processed, red meat, and junk in your diet with adequate intake of fluids.
  • Add a variety of healthy oils in your meal such as coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, rice bran oil to reap benefits.

Day 4 – DIY Brown Sugar Scrub

Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr Shireen Furtado, recommended that while you are using the scrub on the scalp make sure to “rinse it off thoroughly, as they can dry out the hair and scalp.” Also, never go harsh on the scalp, be extremely gentle to just remove the flakes. After all, you don’t want to “degrade the health of the scalp and weakens the tresses from the roots leading to hair thinning,” said Dr Shireen. 

Steps

  • Take your bowl to add brown sugar, oatmeal, 2 tablespoons hair conditioner and mix well. 
  • You can also add coconut or olive oil if you have dry hair. Skip adding oil if your scalp is oily or mixed.

Day 5 – DIY Coconut & Lemon Hot Oiling

“Hot oiling is proven to be one of the best home remedies to remove dandruff due to psoriasis. Coconut oil massage helps loosen the scale of the scalp. However, avoid excessive use of oil on the scalp since it can propagate is the fungal infection,” said Dr Shireen.

Steps

  • In a steel bowl add coconut oil. Warm it up to lukewarm and then take off from the heat.
  • Add lemon juice and stir well. Apply this to your scalp and hair.
  • Leave it for an hour, rinse with water or mild shampoo.
  • If you have an oily scalp, do not follow this step. Instead, massage your scalp using your fingers to increase blood circulation.

Day 6 – DIY Tulsi Head Steam

DIY Tulsi Head Steam

Tulsi is known to have antibacterial properties that help in keeping the harmful bacteria at bay. Rich in vitamin A, C, K, and E, Tulsi is great to fight against a fungal problem like dandruff.

Steps

  • Take a large pot, add water, and tulsi leaves. Heat it on medium flame.
  • Dip the towel in the pot for half a minute.
  • Put on a shower cap. Then place the steaming towel on top of the shower cap. You want to seal the heat.
  • Put another plastic bag on top of the towel. Also, don’t forget to put another towel around your neck.  Keep it for about 10-15 minutes.

Day 7 - Yoga For Healthy Scalp

Akshar, who is an acclaimed Yoga Guru believes, “it is necessary to have a healthy scalp” to keep hair problems at bay. “There are specific yoga asanas like downward dog or Adomukhi Svanasana and Kapal Bhati to ensure scalp’s health,” told Yoga Guru, Akshar to Hz. 

Adomukhi Svanasana

  • Start on your fours, ensuring palms are under the shoulders and knees below hips
  • Lift the hips up, straighten the knees and elbows, and form an inverted ‘V’ shape
  • Now keep the hands shoulders width apart. Fingers point ahead
  • Put pressure on your palms and open your shoulder blades
  • Try to push your heels to the floor
  • Keep your eye focused on your big toes

Kapal Bhati

  • Sit in any comfortable pose (such as Sukhasan, Ardhapadmasan or Padmasana)
  • Straighten your back and close your eyes
  • Place your palms on your knees facing up (in Prapthi Mudra)
  • Inhale normally and focus on exhaling with a short, rhythmic and forceful breath
  • You can use your stomach to forcefully expel all the air from the diaphragm and  lungs by compressing it
  • Inhalation should happen automatically while you decompress your stomach. 

Day 8 – DIY Cucumber-Lime Detoxifying Shampoo

While cucumbers are loaded with vitamins A and C and silica to boost hair growth, lemon, on the other hand, the citric acid present in lemon helps fight dandruff. The combination of these makes a perfect detoxifying shampoo to fight dandruff.

Steps

  • Mix cucumber and lime juice together in a bowl. Add only ½ tablespoon lime juice and ½ tablespoon essential oil if you have dry scalp
  • Apply it to the scalp in sections.
  • Massage your hair for about 7-10 minutes and then rinse it off from your hair. Apply conditioner of you have mixed or dry hair.

Day 9 – Trim Split Ends

Trim Split End

This step is important to make your hair feel and look healthy. Not trimming split ends can lead to damage and lots of frizz. Also, after dividing the hair is likely to become and thin and break. No matter how well you care for your hair, it's always recommended to trim often.

Steps

  • Start by detangling your hair well. Now, make small and thin sections of the hair.
  • Take the first section, twist it well so that the split ends show up.
  • Using your scissors starts trimming them off by going in just an upward direction.

Day 10 –DIY Yogurt, Honey And Lemon Hair Mask

Using a hair mask has many benefits, especially when it comes to adding moisture and reducing breakage and damage.  The citric acid present in lemon and lactic acid in yogurt is highly recommended to remove dandruff. Honey will help in adding extra moisture.

Steps

  • Take a bowl to add 1 cup of fresh yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon honey together. Beat all three together in a smooth paste.
  • Divide your hair into 2-4 sections and apply the paste on the scalp. Let it sit for an hour then rinse off with water.

Day 11 –Tea Tree Oil To Reduce Itchiness

Tea tree oil is extracted is from fresh leaves and wood of tea tree shrubs. Experiencing itchiness when suffering from dandruff is common. Tea tress oil has anti-inflammatory properties and it is considered very beneficial when trying to relieve the discomfort of itchy scalp. Not only will it soothe the skin but it will also heal infections.

  • All you need to do is apply tea tree oil on your scalp before going to bed. Keep it overnight. Follow the day-12 step to wash your hair.
  • In case you have mixed or oily scalp, dilute tea tree oil before applying. In a bowl add 2-3 tablespoons of oil and add 2 tablespoons of water. Mix well and apply during day time. Rinse off the oil using tab water after 2 hours.

Day 12 – DIY Baking Soda Shampoo

DIY Baking Soda Shampo

Baking soda is a great exfoliant that helps in removing dandruff flakes and excessive oil on the scalp. Baking soda is also loaded with antifungal properties to fight the fungus that causes dandruff.

Steps

  • In a bowl add 1 tablespoon baking soda and a half cup of water. Mix to form a paste. Use it on a scalp like a shampoo.
  • If you have dry scalp use ½ tablespoon baking soda and 1 cup of water to make the paste. Also, apply conditioner after washing your head on the lengths.

Day 13 - Meditate To Reduce Stress

Stress is known to increase the level of perspiration in the body, and it also causes the scalp to become dry. All these factors increase dandruff which can be eliminated through the practice of meditation. Hz spoke to Yoga Guru, Akshar regarding the same. 

He told us, “Meditation reduces stress making your mind calm, and relaxed. It not only promotes mental health but also nourishes your skin, hair, and scalp. Asanas like Headstand Pose or Sirsasana along with increasing blood flow to the scalp to improve hair health can also be done as a meditative pose to alleviate stress which is one of the causes of dandruff.”

Day 14 – Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is versatile and can be used in different ways, especially when it comes to removing dandruff. The vinegar and a good quantity of acids that are considered helpful in boosting the process of shedding dead skin cells or dandruff flake on the scalp.

  • All you need to do is gently massage apple cider vinegar into your scalp. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and rinse off using tap water.
  • If you have dry scalp mixed of combined scalp finish with conditioner. And, if you have dry scalp dilute ACV and then apply. Lastly, finish off with the conditioner.

Day 15 – Cold Shower

Cold Shower

In an attempt to get rid of dandruff, you also need to maintain scalp health. Other than yoga, meditation, and a healthy meal cold shower can help by boosting blood circulation. As the cold water hits the upper layer of the scalp it causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates, thus making hair grow over time.

Day 16 – Hot Oil Massage  

As Dr Shireen said “Hot oiling is proven to be one of the best home remedies to remove dandruff,” repeating hot oil massage just like we did 10 days ago on day 5 makes complete sense.

Follow the same steps as described on day 5. However, if you have an oily scalp, do not follow this step. Instead, massage your scalp using your fingers to increase blood circulation.

Day 17 – DIY Exfoliating Sugar Scrub  

It is important to gently scrub the scalp to remove the dandruff flakes that are still left. Follow the same procedure that has been described for day 4. Do remember to “rinse the scrub off thoroughly, as they can dry out the hair and scalp,” as recommended by Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr Shireen Furtado.

Day 18 – DIY Neem Anti-Fungal Hair Steaming

Neem Anti Funga

While earlier we used tulsi to fight against fungal problems this time you can use neem as it also has antibacterial properties. However, remember to keep the quality of leaves less.

Steps

  • Take a large pot, add water, and 2-3 neem leaves. Heat it on medium flame.
  • Dip the towel in the pot for half a minute.
  • Put on a shower cap. Then place the steaming towel on top of the shower cap. You want to seal the heat.
  • Put another plastic bag on top of the towel. Also, don’t forget to put another towel around your neck.  Keep it for about 10-15 minutes.

Day 19 – Sanitise Hair Tools

These are the same hair tools that you have been using since you started the process of removing dandruff that is a fungal problem. You don’t want dandruff to come back. That’s why sanitising and cleaning your hair tools again is of utter importance. Follow the steps described on day-2.

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Day 20 – DIY Aloe Vera, Neem Hair Spray

In order to keep your scalp hydrated and free from dandruff at the same time, you must use aloe Vera, neem hair spray after regular intervals. Aloe Vera is great for nourishing hair and scalp, and neem will keep dandruff from coming back. Use it every third day.

Steps

  • Boil 2-4 leaves of neem in 1 cup of water. Let it cool after boiling.
  • Take out the pulp of aloe Vera leaf in a bowl. Make a paste by crushing it.
  • Add neem water. Mix well. Now, filter the water in a spray bottle and it is ready to use.

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Day 21 – DIY Aloe Vera, Lemon Shampoo

DIY Aloe Vera, Lemon Shampo

In the end, you want to use a shampoo that keeps dandruff from coming back, but at the same time hydrate and condition your hair. the aloe vera, lemon shampoo is just the thing you want.

Steps

  • Cut a leaf of aloe vera plant. Scrape out the pulp using a spoon.
  • Now, add a bit of lemon zest by grating a lemon skin.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (use ½ tablespoon if you have dry scalp)
  • Grind it all together in a grinding machine and your shampoo is ready to use.

While it is seen that “herbal remedies maintain the scalp, they need to adhere to diligently on a regular basis. But, sometimes many of the natural products like camphor, onion paste, neem pack, or any of the oils can cause an adverse effect and aggravate the condition,” said Dr Shireen Furtado, a Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist at Aster CMI Hospital. In case, during or after following the 21-day procedure the itch persists, it is best to consult an expert.