11 Essential Oils for Dandruff That Work & How to Use Them

A common scalp problem, dandruff affects nearly half of the adult population, and both men and women [1].

This condition, which causes flaking of the scalp skin, is usually not serious but can affect one’s self confidence [2].

Three factors are often pointed out as the culprit: a fungus called Malassezia, excessive sebaceous secretions, and scalp sensitivity [3].

Medicated shampoos are often used as treatment for dandruff but you can also do it the natural way and use the following essential oils.

See to it that you follow the instructions carefully especially regarding the dilution of the essential oils.

1. Tea Tree Oil

If you’re a fan of essential oils, there’s a big chance that you’ve already tried using tea tree oil.

Most people know about its wonderful benefits for the health, and how it can help relieve a number of ailments.

Did you know that it has been a hundred years since tea tree oil was first used in Australia [4]?

During the last decades, it has also grown very popular all over the world mainly as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory [4].

Among the many issues that it can resolve is dandruff, as it has been proven to have antifungal activities against Malassezia fungus [5, 6, 7].

Australian researchers note that it is highly effective against 54 isolates of Malassezia, which include M. furfur, M. slooffiae, M. sympodialis, M. obtusa, and M. globosa [5].

Its antifungal actions are similar to those of popular dandruff medications such as  ketoconazole, miconazole and econazole [5].

And these can be attributed to the presence of active compounds such as terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene and linalool [6].

Its anti-dandruff effects are similar to those of ketoconazole, miconazole and econazole [5].

Tea tree oil’s efficacy and safety as a dandruff treatment was established in a study that can be found in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology [8].

Out of the 126 patients with dandruff, those who were asked to use a 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo for four weeks had a reduction in dandruff by over 40 percent [8].

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 25 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1/2 cup of distilled water
  • 1/2 cup of liquid castile soap
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix castile soap and 1/4 cup of water.
  • Add coconut oil.
  • Add tea tree oil.
  • Pour mixture in a glass jar.
  • Shake to blend.
  • Pour one-fourth cup of water into the mixture.
  • Combine one teaspoon of mixture with baking soda.
  • Mix well.
  • Use as shampoo three to four times a week.

2. Lavender Oil

Most popular for its soothing and relaxing effects, lavender oil is the first thing on people’s minds when stress levels get too high.

Simply inhaling the scent of this oil is enough to calm your nerves and senses.

Now what many people do not know is that lavender oil also has many benefits for the skin.

One of these is that it fights fungal infections.

Proven to possess antifungal and antimicrobial properties, lavender oil can be used to treat dandruff as well as other hair problems such as alopecia [9].

Alopecia is a form of hair loss that commonly affects men more than women.

In a clinical trial involving 20 individuals, it was shown that a shampoo formulation with 0.5 percent lavender oil was successful in treating dandruff and improving scalp hygiene [10].

This is not a surprise since this essential oil has been proven effective in inhibiting the activities of Malessezia fungal strains [11].

What it does is prevent the fungus from spreading to the other parts of the scalp and causing further infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of distilled water
  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • 6 drops of tea tree oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a glass jar.
  • Put on a small amount on your scalp.
  • Massage it gently for five minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Follow this remedy once a week.

3. Rosemary Oil

Another essential oil proven effective in reducing the appearance of white flakes on the scalp is rosemary.

Findings of a 2015 study show that it has potent anti-dandruff effects, working against Malessezia fungi [12].

When the researchers conducted this laboratory experiment, they found out that that at a concentration of 15.6 μg/ml, rosemary can significantly inhibit the activities of fungus that cause dandruff [12].

In another study featured in the American Journal of Research Communication, it was reported that rosemary oil has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that can help resolve dandruff, and at the same time, can help promote blood flow to the scalp [13].

All these findings tell us that rosemary is indeed a reliable and safe solution for this annoying and embarrassing problem.

What You’ll Need:

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  • 3 drops of rosemary oil
  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 3 teaspoons of baking soda

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine rosemary oil, water and baking soda.
  • Mix well.
  • Massage mixture onto scalp.
  • Use this solution twice a week.

4. Thyme Oil

Do you use thyme for your cooking? If yes, you probably love its minty nutty smell and flavor that gives depth to your dishes.

You’ll love it even more when you find out how potent its oil extract is as a medicinal remedy.

For your dandruff issue, this oil can certainly help.

In fact, it is one of the most common ingredients used in anti-dandruff shampoos [14].

Research suggests that thyme oil has antifungal activities against Malessezia, preventing it from growing and spreading in the scalp [15].

Unlike the usual dandruff medications that you’ll find in the market, thyme oil does more than just slow down flaking, it completely puts an end to it since it eliminates the source of infection [15].

The fungicidal effects of this oil can be attributed to the presence of carvacrol, an active compound in thyme species [15].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of thyme oil
  • 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Dilute thyme oil in jojoba oil.
  • Apply mixture on the scalp after shampooing.
  • Massage scalp gently.
  • Rinse with water.
  • Use this technique three times a week.

5. Peppermint Oil

So you’re not sure whether it’s dandruff or head lice that’s causing itchiness on your scalp?

Well, you can get rid of both problems by using peppermint oil.

The oil extracted from the leaves of peppermint plant is known for its cooling sensation on the skin that helps eradicate not only dandruff but also lice [16].

Peppermint oil contains antiflake compounds such as menthol, zinc and selenium, which is why it’s an effective anti-dandruff remedy [17].

It can also help in toning down inflammation, which does nothing but aggravate the flaking.

Moreover, this oil is noted for boosting blood flow in the scalp [18].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 5 drops of peppermint oil

Recommended Directions:

  • In a bowl, mix water, baking soda and peppermint oil.
  • Put a small amount on your scalp, and massage.
  • Rinse with water.
  • Do this once a day for one to two weeks.

6. Patchouli Oil

A plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family, patchouli is widely used for its aromatic and medicinal properties [19].

For many decades, traditional healers have relied on this oil for treating numerous ailments, including those that affect the skin.

It’s no surprise that patchouli oil is also commonly used for treating dandruff.

And that’s because this essential oil has been proven to have potent antifungal properties that get to the root of the problem [20].

The active compounds that cause these actions include patchouli alcohol, a-guaiene, d-guaiene, seychellene and a-patchoulene [20].

What You’ll Need:

  • 6 drops of patchouli oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils.
  • Mix well.
  • Apply a thin layer on hair and scalp.
  • Cover head with a towel.
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with water.
  • Repeat three times a week.

7. Chamomile Oil

Have you ever tried drinking a cup of chamomile tea?

If yes, then you probably know about its soothing and calming effects.

Its oil extract is not any different.

Although you cannot take this oil orally, you can enjoy its benefits by applying it on your skin.

You have to know that it’s one of the herbal solutions popularly used in hair and scalp care, and in eliminating problems like dandruff [21].

This oil, derived from an annual plant that can be found in Asia, Africa and Europe, contains terpenoids and other components that inhibit the growth and formation of fungi on the scalp [18].

These same compounds also work to block the activities of enzymes that cause inflammation [18].

By toning down scalp inflammation, the intensity of itchiness and discomfort will be reduced.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 5 drops of chamomile oil
  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • Towel
  • Hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Put all the oils in a bowl.
  • Mix well.
  • Massage mixture into your hair and scalp.
  • Soak towel in hot water for a few minutes.
  • Squeeze out excess water.
  • Let it cool a little.
  • Wrap it around your head.
  • Let it sit for one hour before shampooing hair.
  • Use this remedy three times a week.

8. Sandalwood Oil

In 2004, Indian researchers formulated an anti-dandruff shampoo and used sandalwood oil as one of the main ingredients [22].

The experts included this in the product because it’s proven to work against fungal infections, and at the same time, tone down swelling and itchiness.

Results reveal that the shampoo formulation they prepared worked so well in improving dandruff [22].

In as short as two weeks, dandruff sufferers have recovered, thanks to sandalwood oil’s antifungal, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory effects [22].

This study justifies the use of sandalwood oil in traditional medicine in resolving this scalp issue.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 3 drops of clary sage oil
  • 7 drops of sandalwood oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put all ingredients in a bowl, and mix.
  • Use your fingers to apply and massage the mixture on your scalp.
  • Cover head with a warm towel for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Shampoo and rinse afterwards.
  • Use this remedy twice a week.

9. Pomegranate Oil

Like its fruit, the oil from pomegranate also has amazing benefits for the health that you should definitely take advantage of.

If you’re suffering from dandruff, and want to put an end to this problem once and for all, this can be a viable solution for you.

Chemical compounds in pomegranate oil have been found to have antidandruff, anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties [18].

Pomegranate oil’s antifungal activities against the fungi that cause dandruff have also been well-established in scientific literature [23, 24].

Iranian researchers explain that the extracts of pomegranate leaves are highly active against Malassezia species [23].

They were able to arrive at this conclusion after using agar well diffusion methods on both water and alcohol extract of pomegranate [23].

The bio-active compounds such as phytochemicals identified by the researchers are what were responsible for inhibiting the activities of the fungi [23].

These scientific findings are enough to convince anyone that this oil is indeed an effective solution for dandruff.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of pomegranate oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Add pomegranate oil to sweet almond oil.
  • Put mixture on the scalp.
  • Spread evenly, and massage.
  • Use this remedy three times a week.

10. Sage Oil

Sage is another must-try solution for dandruff.

Native to Mediterranean regions, it is a frequently used herbal plant that contains many potent chemical compounds such as gallic acid, apigenin and linoleic acid [18].

Many of its compounds have been found to successfully remove dandruff-causing fungi [18].

Like the other essential oils listed here, this one also disrupts its growth, formation and spread.

Sage oil has been proven a number of times to be a safe and effective way to resolve dandruff.

What You’ll Need:

  • 25 drops of sage oil
  • 25 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of warm water

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.
  • Shake to mix well.
  • In a bowl, pour water and add three teaspoons of the vinegar mixture.
  • Use this to rinse your hair after shampooing.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • Do this procedure four times a week.

11. Juniper Oil

Here’s another quick, effective and safe way to get rid of dandruff: make use of juniper oil.

There are several ways juniper can help end your dandruff problems.

For one, it has been confirmed to have antimicrobial properties, which means that it can kill the pathogens causing the infection [25].

Also, it can help ameliorate the redness and inflammation of the scalp, which is a common result of infection, and frequent scratching [26].

As with all the other essential oils listed here, it’s also important to dilute juniper oil before using it on any part of your body.

This way, you can avoid experiencing its unpleasant side effects, which include skin irritation.

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of juniper oil
  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • 5 tablespoons of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Mix well.
  • Transfer oil blend into a glass jar with a lid.
  • Apply a thin layer on your scalp.
  • Massage gently for five to 10 minutes.
  • Let it sit for another 10 minutes before rinsing.
  • Wash it off with warm water.
  • Dry your hair with a clean towel.
  • Repeat procedure once a day for one to two weeks.

Dandruff is not something you should panic about.

However, as it can cause embarrassment, you have to resolve it right away using these essential oil remedies.

All these have been proven safe and effective in combating this problem.

For you to make the most out of its benefits and avoid experiencing any adverse reactions, you have to follow the instructions carefully.