For many of us, dandruff, resulting in an itchy and flaky scalp is a real problem. Sometime in May 2013, my cousin’s wife approached me to ask if I could recommend any products for her husband. She explained that he had really nice hair and would love to grow it a little longer (to an inch or so), but he kept it really short because of too much dandruff. Up until that point, I had never considered that many of the principles I had learned about healthy haircare since going natural could apply to men as well as women. Weird, I know. So I thought about it and came up with a step-by-step regimen that was tailored for the male lifestyle. I tested it on my cousin and then four other relatives from May to November 2013. This article is about the process and results of this experiment. I am not a scientist, but this worked and that’s why I am sharing it.
The key ingredient is Honey; assisted by Tea Tree Essential Oil, Jojoba Oil and a Silicone-free Conditioner.
What follows is a little background to the dandruff story. Thereafter the detailed actual regimen and ingredients.
I have always shared quite widely that my dandruff problem disappeared when I went natural. I attribute this to immediate cessation of mineral oil and all related ingredients (petrolatum, liquid paraffin etc) found in products such as Dax, Sulphur 8 and Blue Magic. Mineral oil is essentially baby oil and this is what many hair products and cosmetics are made of. When I went natural, I right away started using natural oils which do not suffocate the the scalp, but instead allow the scalp to breathe freely. So no more scalping. Ever. Natural oils and butters are mostly edible oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil or unrefined shea butter and some other non edible oils like Jojoba Oil and Castor Oil. I also stopped using prescription medication like Diproson on my scalp and no longer scratched my scalp with a comb in a futile attempt to remove dandruff. In time I also stopped using shampoo with harsh chemicals (sulphates) and switched to a sulphate free shampoo. In general, I was much nicer to my hair and scalp. They both appreciated this new gentler treatment and responded positively by not reacting with a dry and flaky scalp.
The reason so many other people also report little or no dandruff after going natural is that a number of them are building a regimen that is free of harsh chemicals which often cause an allergic reaction on the scalp. Many people do not actually suffer from dandruff, what they have is a very dry scalp or allergic reaction to harsh chemicals used in many shampoos especially and not using a silicone free conditioner. Removing harsh sulphate shampoo, eliminating scratching and scalp suffocating practices like scalping with mineral oil based products and instead using more natural products and investing in moisturising and nourishing treatments for the hair and scalp works for most people.
If these simple tweaks don’t work, then chances are you may actually have a scalp condition that requires medical attention. People with skin conditions such as Athlete’s Foot or Excema who also have dandruff, may be manifesting the same condition on their scalp that is present on other parts of their body. This is a medical condition.
28 Days Later
To combat dandruff, I devised an intense 28 Day regimen for a number of my male relatives. It worked really well. After a few months I revised the regimen slightly. One subject followed the regimen for a month in July 2013. From August, he went back to washing his hair with whatever soap/shower gel he was bathing with. He continues to use the moisturising spritz and his dandruff has not returned. The other subjects have continued using the conditioner and spritz and their dandruff has not returned in almost six months.
I also gave the regimen to my Dad, sometime in August. In November, some two months after he would have completed his regimen, I asked my mum what Dad’s dandruff situation was. Only when she inspected his head did she find some dandruff still left, although it had stopped flaking to the same extent. Unfortunately, I gave them the instructions over the phone instead of writing them down and so they used a 28 day plan in about a week, which I think is the reason why it didn’t clear completely. I have now given them new products with written down instructions and I expect successful results as with other subjects after 28 days.
Why Two Regimens?
They both work, but the original regimen was felt to have too many steps to remember, so I simplified it into 3 steps for Days 1-8 and then 2 steps thereafter.
Revised 28 Day Regimen
- Tea Tree Conditioner
- Honey hair mask (Day 1-8 only)
- Moisturising Spritz
- Rinse hair with warm water. Apply conditioner to wet hair
Using the pads of your fingers, massage conditioner onto hair and scalp for 1 minute and then leave the conditioner for 1 minute. Rinse out with warm water. The amount of conditioner depends on the size of head and length/volume of hair.
You want to rinse out any loose dust or dirt from the hair. The warm water will help to break down oil and product build-up. FYI – warm means warm, not hot. Extremes of temperature are not beneficial to the skin, hair or scalp.
The idea is to stimulate the scalp, but not traumatise it, so do not scratch or use nails. Just like a person, our hair and scalp responds best to gentle treatment.
- Apply honey to damp hair
Apply honey to the whole head, concentrating most on the scalp. Leave for 10 minutes if possible. Rinse with cool water.
Depending on the length of hair, you may want to place a towel on the head to soak up excess water first before applying honey as honey will drip everywhere if the hair is dripping wet. Honey also stings the eyes.
- Apply moisturising spritz
Shake bottle and apply moisturising spritz to damp hair and scalp. This is a liquid leave-in conditioner to moisturise the hair and also allow the scalp to ‘breathe’.
- Wash and spritz
Apply conditioner to wet hair. Massage and rinse. Apply moisturising spritz
Original 28 Day Regimen
- Tea Tree Conditioner
- Honey Hair Mask
- Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
- Moisturising Spritz
- Jojoba/Grapeseed Hair Oil
So why were steps 3 and 5 removed?
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) works in a similar way to honey in that it has a natural antibiotic properties and therefore works against skin conditions and allergies. Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and a disinfectant. Honey also nourishes and moisturises the hair and skin. From personal experience, I have seen the positive effects of a daily honey mask for clearing the face of spots and blemishes. So when choosing between the two, I felt honey was the better option for its added benefits in dealing with scalp conditions in a gentle but effective way.
For women, who tend to have longer hair than men, I would maintain the ACV step because ACV helps to close the cuticles and make hair appear shinier and softer. I would also maintain the Hair Oil because this step serves to seal the moisture into the hair. Because men tend to wash their hair everyday or every other day, loss of moisture through evaporation is not so much of a problem. But for women who wash their hair once or twice a week (and often much longer), the moisture must be sealed in with a natural oil or butter.
Tea Tree Conditioner
This is simply Tresemme Naturals silicone free conditioner with some tea tree essential oil. Emphasis on the silicone free because silicones cause product build-up on the hair and scalp. These are chemicals which are designed to stick to the hair. These cause irritation to the hair and scalp because they prevent moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and also suffocate the scalp. Tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils because it works against fungus, bacteria and viruses. If you are mixing your own, do not add tea tree oil to the large bottle of Tresemme Naturals Conditioner. Please mix a smaller amount in a separate container. You can buy Tresemme Naturals and Tea Tree essential oil from Pick n Pay or Spar especially. Sometimes Shoprite as well.
Honey Hair Mask
Organic honey is best. This means if you live in Zambia, buy our own local honey. Stay away from imported honey from South Africa because it is highly refined and therefore has been stripped of all its beneficial properties and is useless to you.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
ACV can be bought in any supermarket. It is important to use an ACV Rinse recipe that is pH balanced, or else you will cause your hair to be hard and unmanageable. 1/4 tsp (a quarter teaspoon) of ACV mixed with 120ml of water.
I have written several posts sharing various moisturising spritz recipes. The purpose of a spritz is to moisturise (add water or hydrate) hair. Water is the best moisturiser. Some ingredients such as Aloe Vera Juice (AVJ) are actually moisturising sealants. AVJ when mixed with water decomposes, and so must be refrigerated, especially when the weather is warm. For this reason, I removed AVJ from the spritz recipe as trekking to and from the fridge is not something I enjoy and few guys are prepared to do it.
I use Jojoba Oil because it is the oil that us closest to our skin’s own natural sebum. I add a bit of honey to moisturise. Honey is also a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture. I use a bit of glycerine too because it is also a humectant (this is why we add it to lotion). Tea tree oil is for the scalp and properties given above. Sometimes I also add peppermint essential oil because it has a great fragrance that is not medicinal (like tea tree tends to be) or girlie/feminine (such as lavender or jasmine).
Because the revised regimen is the final step (without sealing), I wanted a slightly heavier spritz to increase the sealing effects. For this reason I add a cream – based leave-in conditioner to the mixture. I use Kinky Curly Knot Today, but any silicone free leave-in conditioner will do. Although, you don’t have to include the leave-in conditioner for this regimen to work. I just like how it feels.
Jojoba/Grapeseed Hair Oil
As mentioned, moisturising requires water or liquid that must then be sealed in. Oil is not a moisturiser because it contains no water. It is a sealant. This is why the regimen emphasises applying the hair oil to damp hair. Dripping wet or dry hair both defeat the purpose of moisturising. One because the oil will just drip off with the water and the other because there is no moisture to seal in and the oil will therefore just sit on top of the hair.
The regimen uses Jojoba and Grapeseed Oil because they are both very light oils and are good for acne and other skin conditions. As noted above, Jojoba is the oil that is closest to the skin’s own sebum. Grapeseed Oil has similar properties. The reason for combining them is because Jojoba is a very very expensive oil, while Grapeseed is very affordable. I use one part Jojoba to two parts Grapeseed or else half and half. I also add tea tree and peppermint. I also use this mixture to cleanse my scalp after a serious working out.
If you would like to purchase the pre-mixed products for this 28 Day Male Anti-Dandruff Regimen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.