Homemade Dandruff Treatment

In an attempt to “green up” my beauty regimen, a few months ago I stopped using shampoo and conditioner. Instead of shampoo, I now use a paste of baking soda and water. I then rinse my hair with watered down, organic, apple cider vinegar. I have been really happy with the results. My hair has been soft, manageable, and healthy. Once a week or so, I rub a little coconut oil into the ends of my hair to give it a little extra moisture, but that’s it. All in all, my hair is loving it!

My scalp on the other hand is a different story. A few years ago I started suffering from dandruff that progressively got bad enough that I began using over-the-counter dandruff shampoo. Once I stopped using the shampoo, my dandruff began to creep back. Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, is thought to be due to a combination of over-production of skin oil, and irritation from a yeast-like fungus called malessizia. Most dandruff shampoos sport some sort of anti-fungal as their active ingredient, so it got me to thinking, why not make my own treatment?

This recipe calls for zinc oxide. Zinc pyrithione is the active ingredient in many dandruff shampoos, and while the chemical composition is slightly different, since we are using it in a scalp treatment rather than in a shampoo, I thought it would help. Also, I happened to have a bag of zinc oxide powder already, as it’s also the active ingredient in my homemade sunscreenWarning: while the zinc oxide powder is safe to apply topically, please wear a mask when working with the powder, because you really don’t want this stuff in your lungs!

The other ingredients are olive oil, which is really good for all sorts of skin problems, and tea tree oil, which also has great anti-fungal properties. This recipe is enough for one treatment, but you could easily multiply the recipe and store the leftovers in a jar or hair color applicator bottle.



1. In a small container that you won’t mind throwing away or saving to use for future treatments, combine the olive oil, zinc powder, and tea tree oil and stir to combine.

2. With a stiff bristled hairbrush, rub your scalp using a circular motion to loosen the flakes of skin so the treatment can penetrate.

3. Part your hair into small sections and apply the dandruff treatment with your fingertips or a hair color applicator bottle, being sure to rub in into your scalp well.

4. Leave the treatment on at least an hour, but longer is better. You can cover your pillow with an old towel and leave it overnight for maximum results.

5. Wash your hair and scalp thoroughly until all the oil is washed away. It usually take 2 or 3 washes for me. The zinc may leave your hair a little dry and stiff for a day or two, I like to rinse with apple cider vinegar after washing it out. The apple cider vinegar is also anti-fungal in it’s own right, and the acid helps neutralize the pH on your scalp. It also makes my hair soft and shiny, which I like!

If you have a bad case of dandruff, use this treatment every day for a week, or until it’s under control. After that, once every week or two should keep it at bay. I still have trouble if I skip a wash or when the weather decides to make drastic changes. All in all, I’m pretty happy!

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