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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Foster

DANDRUFF...Public Ememy #1


Hey Beauties,

For this post, I decided to talk about something every client has a complaint about: Dandruff. I recently had a 45 minute conversation about this very thing. Yes 45 minutes! As a Cosmetologist and Trichology student, I actually enjoy having these types of conversations. First, it gives me an opportunity to really dive into the scientific explanation of what dandruff is and what causes it (I’m a nerd). Second, as a stylist I can help treat it, control it, and style your hair afterwards. It’s a “two-for-one” for me! The conversation also made me realize that not a lot of people know about dandruff, which they confuse with dry skin and how its treated. So lets get into what this pain-in-the-a$$ condition is:

A microscopic view of scalp issues

What is Dandruff: The name for dandruff is Pityriasis and it’s defined as the buildup of white, flaky skin cells that are shed from the scalp. Our scalp sheds dead cells every day. A normal shedding process goes like this: the dead skin cells shed, then expels from the scalps surface through shampooing, brushing or simple head movement. After the cells are expelled, the process starts over with new cells. With Dandruff, the new cells accumulate before the old cells are expelled, causing buildup.

The Types of Dandruff: There are two types of Dandruff. The first one is Pityriasis Captis Simplex, which is the most common type of Dandruff. It is white, lightweight flakes that either attaches to the scalp in clusters or are scattered within the hair. This is the type that you’re brushing off your shoulders. This condition can be controlled by a Cosmetologist through a series of in-salon treatments.

Pityriasis Captis Simplex

The second type of Dandruff is Pityriasis Steatoides or Seborrheic Dermatitis. This condition is caused when the dead cells that is supposed to shed, mixes with an over production of sebum (oil) and sticks in clumps to the hair and scalp. It results in large yellow flakes that accumulate on the scalp or skin. This condition CAN NOT be treated by a Cosmetologist. A client with this condition must be seen by a Trichologist for evaluation or a Dermatologist for a prescription treatment if the condition is severe. So please don’t get mad at your stylist if he/she tells you you can not get your hair done if you have this condition.

Pityriasis Steatoides

There are many factors that can cause Dandruff;

• Infrequent or over shampooing,

• Using harsh products

• Weather changes

• Diet

• Overactive sebaceous glands (oily skin)

• STRESS (a huge factor)

• Fungus (everyone had this natural fungus on their scalp called Malassezia, it normally lies dormant, but sometimes it can grow out of control)

• Vitamin deficiency (not enough food with Zinc and Vitamin B, which also helps in hair growth)

• Illness.

The list goes on and on because honestly there is no exact cause for Dandruff. One thing to know is Dry scalp is not and does not cause Dandruff. There are other treatments for Dry scalp which we will talk about in future posts.

How to treat Dandruff: The first way to treat Dandruff is to have a thorough consultation. Your stylist should be asking a lot and I mean A LOT of questions about your lifestyle, the products you use at home, how often do you shampoo when not seeing a stylist, when the last time you saw a stylist and how was that experience, what is your diet like, are you under a lot of stress at home or at work, do you exercise and how often, how do you sleep at night, how many hours, how do care for your hair while you’re sleeping, do you wear a lot of hats, how’s your menstrual cycle (did you know your hair sheds more during your cycle?), do you have allergies, is there breakage when you brush or comb or hair and how much, how often do you wear your hair up, down or sideways. These questions may seem like a lot or very personal and they are but in order for a stylist to give you the best treatment for your condition, we need to know. I promise we’re not being nosy but you’ll be surprised how the things you do on a daily basis affect the condition of your hair.

Healthy lifestyle = Healthy hair

The second way to treat Dandruff is using products made to treat the condition. Anti-Dandruff shampoos made with anti-microbic like selenium, sulphide (not to be confused with sulphates) or zinc. In extreme cases an anti-fungal can be used like Ketoconazole, which is normally given by prescription from a doctor.

Dandruff can be controlled with treatment and patience. When I have a client with Dandruff, I like to first start with a brush treatment or an exfoliating scalp treatment. This not only helps break up the buildup on the scalp and hair, but it also stimulates the scalp to increase circulation (which promotes hair growth). I then rinse the hair throughly, maybe 2-4 minutes of rinsing. This makes sure the hair is saturated allowing the shampoo to penetrate the hair shaft. Next is a Anti-Dandruff shampoo. I really like KeraCare Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. It works amazingly to break down buildup. While shampooing, I massage the scalp. I really go in to make the scalp wake up. In this second stage of stimulation, the scalp is being deep cleansed while the flakes are being washed away. After another thorough rinse, I follow with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. By the end of the service your scalp will feel clean and refreshed, while your hair is bouncy and light.

If you’re willing to help me help you by doing your part in and out of my chair, you’ll be flake free in no time.

I hope this helps understand what dandruff is. If you have a concerns or questions regarding dandruff or any scalp issue, please feel free to contact me for a consultation at I would love to get a treatment set up for you.

Until next time,

Happy Hair!


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