Nothing ruins a fly look—or shakes your confidence—like finding pesky flakes on your scalp, in your hair, or on your clothes. A recent report by Mintel found that Latinas are particularly concerned about the white stuff so we decided to get to the root of the problem (pun intended).
“I have been seeing a higher number of women suffering from dandruff and dry scalp lately, and most times the causes are out of our control,” says Cynthia Alvarez, celebrity hairstylist and Dove spokesperson. “Often times, genetics and a yeast sensitivity may be the cause of dandruff while with dry scalp, stress and dehydration may be the culprit.” No matter what’s causing your flakes, here’s how to tackle ‘em, once and for all.
1. First: Is It Dandruff or Dry Scalp?
“It’s important to start by being able to tell the difference between the two,” says Alvarez. A quick way to know is to get a good look at the flakes you’re producing: dry scalp produces flakes that are white in color, fall off the scalp easily and are smaller in size and can be treated by rehydrating your scalp. Dandruff flakes are larger and don’t fall off the scalp easily and you might need a medicated treatment.
2. Rinse and Relief
Alvarez says there’s no cure for dandruff but most people find itch relief and keep flakes at bay with medicated, anti-dandruff shampoos. “The active ingredient discourages the build-up of bacteria and helps to effectively cleanse the scalp of existing flakes,” says Alvarez.
However, not all anti-dandruff shampoos are created equal as most smell terrible and are extremely drying to your hair. When looking for a medicated shampoo, look for one that has conditioner built into it like Dove DermaCare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo says Alvarez, which contains nourishing coconut oil and Shea butter.
3. It's All in the Technique
The key to using these shampoos properly is to rub them into your scalp for at least two minutes for the active ingredient to work its magic, and then you can rinse the flakes away, advises Alvarez. If after trying over the counter shampoos for several weeks you still see no noticeable results, consult with a dermatologist.
4. Stop Stressing Out
“We may not put much thought about our lifestyle and the effect it can have on our skin,” says Alvarez. “Dehydration and excessive use of hair products can lead to a dry scalp so being mindful of these things can relieve the symptoms.” Also taking daily probiotics can inhibit the over production of yeast on the scalp which aids in preventing dandruff.
5. Don’t Wash Your Hair Everyday? That’s Okay.
“If you do not wash your hair more than once a week and suffer from dandruff, your solution may lie in a prescription strength treatment,” says Alvarez. These shampoos are not meant to be used as frequently and offer longer-lasting results.
6. Naturalistas Welcome
If you’re more of a DIY-er, you can create your own healing potions with ingredients that have vitamins and natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Alvarez loves these:
Scalp Soother: Mix ½-cup of apple cider vinegar with ½ cup of water. Massage the mixture onto your scalp for a few minutes and rinse. Don’t wash your hair for 8-12 hrs.
Tress Treatment: Fill a spray bottle with water and add ¼ cup of raw honey. Spritz on strands and scalp and leave on for three hours. Then rinse with warm water.
Sleep Mask: Fill an application bottle ¾ of the way with water and add 10-15 drops of coconut oil. Apply the mixture onto your scalp, cover with a plastic cap and leave on overnight. Shampoo and condition with your favorite medicated shampoo the following day.
Awesome Add-In: Mix 4 tbsp. of coconut oil with your favorite anti-dandruff shampoo. Apply the mixture to your hair and gently massage. Leave on for one hour, then rinse well.