I have a really sensitive scalp/dandruff. What can I do that’s safe for dreadlocks to help?

DandruffWhatever you do, AVOID USING “TRADITIONAL” DANDRUFF TREATMENTS (such as T-Gel, Head & Shoulders, Selsun Blue, etc.)!!! The products commercially available for treating dandruff at the store have tons of ingredients in them that are detrimental to the health and longevity of your locks. Check out the page on shampoos & soaps to learn more.

The first thing we would suggest is to check out the question about itchiness. If your dandruff has only just started, more or less, since you put your locks in these measures will help to treat the itchiness that accompanies dandruff. Also, here is a list of suggestions for natural dandruff treatments that will help treat the cause and not just the symptoms:

  1. California Baby Tea Tree & Lavender Shampoo: This is a good option if you are really looking for something that is easily attainable and you’re not really much of a do-it-yourself-er. It is a shampoo that is sold only at Target in the baby department. It is formulated especially for sensitive scalps with dandruff. (Click on the California Baby text to be directed to a website where it can be purchased online.) For that matter, any shampoo that has rosemary essential oil in is great for scalp issues, including the wonderful soaps made by Vital Goods.
  2. Cut Out The Sulfates: If you are using a shampoo with sulfates in it (Sodium Laureth Sulphate, for example, is the first ingredient in DreadHeadHQ Dread Soap, so if you’re using that definitely switch to something else!). Sulfate-based shampoos are VERY stripping and drying and tend to really exacerbate scalp issues in folks who have sensitive skin/scalp.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar: This is a DIY route that involves mixing apple cider vinegar (which you can find pretty much any place they sell any kind of food) along with some recommended essential oils that are absolutely FABULOUS for sensitive scalp and dandruff. Check out the General Deep Cleanse page for that recipe. If you are sensitive, try using a little less tea tree oil and a little more rosemary essential oil than what is listed since too much tea tree oil can be drying. The recipe says to only leave it on for 3-5 minutes, but for folks with sensitive scalp sometimes it can be helpful to leave it on for up to 30 minutes.
  4. Scalp Stimulation:  The relative lack of scalp stimulation that you used to get from regularly brushing your hair that you experience when you get/have dreadlocks can lead to a sluggish scalp (poor circulation) which can create issues with dandruff and itchiness. Not only that but it can also hypersensitize the scalp which can make separating and maintenance in general more painful. You can use a hair pick with metal tines like this one: http://www.stylingcrew.com/mebco-lif-stix-pik.html (we give one of these to every client who gets a full set of new dreadlocks one of these to prevent hypersensitization and sluggish scalp!) or this one: http://www.sallybeauty.com/styling-pik/SBS-488532,default,pd.html to stimulate your scalp.
  5. Herbal Rinses: There are herb mixtures you can make and infuse like hot tea. You can use the ‘tea’ to soak your locks and scalp and they are very soothing for sensitive/itchy/flake scalps. (This site has some great suggestions, just don’t try any that call for a heavy oils that aren’t specified as “essential” oils. http://www.homemademedicine.com/home-remedies-dandruff.html)
  6. Powdered Sulfur: As a last resort you can try adding 5% of pure, powdered sulfur to your regular dreadlock shampoo. (Example: So if you use a bottle of liquid shampoo that comes in bottle 12 oz., you would add 2/3 oz of powdered sulfur to a full bottle to have the proper dilution.) There is a fungus that occurs naturally on the scalp, but in excess can cause dandruff and flakiness .Sulfur works by (1) killing (some of) the fungus and (2) attaching to the dead skin cells as well as drying out the excess oil in the scalp. However, it should only be used as a last resort since it is so drying. (Thank you to Heather of VitalGoods for this suggestion!)