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

Whatever 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. Dreadlock-Safe Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Seriously — finding this is like discovering a unicorn in the wild. Luckily, I’m constantly on the look-out and have discovered precisely TWO anti-dandruff shampoos out there are actually dreadlock-safe! (1) Everclean Unscented Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: (it’s unscented — add you own essential oils for scent!) and (2) Davine PURIFY Shampoo. Both of these are only sold in approximately 8 oz bottles so I suggest buying 2 or 3 at a time as you may go through it fairly quickly!
  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: Mebco Lifstix or this Styling Pik from Sally’s 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. (One great option is this pre-blended Dandruff Blend “Hair Tea” made by Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Company.)