What is dandruff? Defeat the dreaded dandruff flakes with our Lifestyle & Grooming Ed Lee Kynaston's scalp-saving dos and don'ts, of healthy hair.
How to put an end to dandruff - defeat the dreaded dandruff with our Lifestyle & Grooming Editor Lee Kynaston’s scalp-saving advice.
Dandruff often appears in people’s list of top turn offs, along with cold sores, malodorous feet and yellow teeth. You’re certainly not alone if you suffer from it - up to 50% of us do at some time in our lives and men are especially susceptible.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the result of a dry scalp but quite the opposite. In fact, you’re more likely to suffer from dandruff if your skin’s on the oily side.
Though the debate still rages about the actual cause of it, the most likely culprit is a tiny fungus called Malassezia which lives on everyone’s scalp but causes problems in some people. The fungus itself is a big fan of the natural oils your skin produces but in return it creates an acid your skin definitely isn’t a fan of - hence the skin shedding. So what can you do to fight the flakes? Well, here are a few things to take note of…
Not only does constant scratching dislodge skin flakes so they appear more noticeable, research has shown that it actually damages the surface of the hair, too, affecting how it looks and leading to breakage.
Waxes, putties and pomades might be great for normal hair but aren’t so good if you have dandruff since they tend to glue the flakes to the hair.
In fact, if you can go au-naturel all the better as this allows the flakes to fall away. If you do need to use products use less of them and opt for lighter ones like non-sticky gels or mousses.
Don’t confuse dandruff with Seborrhoeic dermatitis. The latter tends to be characterized by bigger, crustier, and oilier flakes and an inflamed scalp. It often affects the hairline around the forehead, though it can also appear behind the ears, in the eyebrows and at the nape of the neck. It tends to run in families, too, and is made worse by stress and certain foods. If you think you may have Seborrhoeic dermatitis see your doctor.
Most sufferers notice that their dandruff has a nasty habit of flaring up when they’re under stress so if you’re living on the wire take steps to axe the anxiety. As for the worry of the dandruff itself, remember - there’s plenty you can do to combat it.
According to trichologist Philip Kingsley a diet high in salt, fat and sugar can trigger outbreaks of the dandruff partly because they adversely alter the scalp’s natural secretions which can help keep skin nasties like the Malassezia fungus under control.
Specially formulated to fight the flakes these often contain anti-fungal agents like Zinc pyrithione, Ketoconazole, Piroctone Olamine or Salicylic acid which is great for un-sticking the flakes.
Others, like Recipe for Men Anti-Dandruff Shampo, feature Piroctone Olamine alongside ingredients to rebalance the skin’s natural sebum levels. On a more fundamental level, though, regular shampooing helps dislodge and wash away flakes sitting on the skin or on the shafts of your hair.
Use every other day, massage into your scalp without scratching the scalp, leave in for a minute or so and rinse hair thoroughly with cool, clean water to remove any remaining shampoo residues. If you find one anti-dandruff shampoo isn’t working - or stops working after a while - simply switch to another.
Good news for outdoorsy types: there’s some evidence to show that men who spend more time outdoors tend to suffer from less dandruff.
Hope this helps. The crucial thing to remember is that dandruff might be annoying but it is treatable.
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