Essential Oil Hair Care: Dandruff

Essential Oil Hair Care: Dandruff

Who likes dandruff? Yeah. I don’t either. It’s pretty annoying. This is the next installment in our Essential Oil Hair Care series.

What is dandruff

Skin cells die every day. They flake off on their own and that is normal. However, when your scalp flakes off excessive amounts of dead skin cells, it is called dandruff.

There are two types of dandruff, simple dandruff (Pityriasis), and greasy dandruff (Seborrheic dermatitis).  Simple dandruff is just dry flaking of superfluous skin cells of the scalp. It’s the easiest to deal with. It’s also the most common one. The one you see the most often. (3)

Seborrheic-Dermatitis Dandruff

Seborrheic-Dermatitis Dandruff

Greasy dandruff is more severe and definitely nasty looking. It appears as thick, greasy patches which can easily become infected resulting in scabbing and inflammation. (3) As this is a dermatitis or eczema problem, you can also look at recipes in the Aromatherapy Skin Care: Chronic Skin Conditions  article. There are more treatments for eczema in that article that could help your greasy dandruff. As with anything, always test on a small portion of hair and scalp before covering your head with it.

Usually what causes dandruff problems is a low production of sebum — an oily/waxy matter produced to lubricate and waterproof the skin. Most commercial dandruff shampoos work by stripping the top layer or two of skin off your scalp. Often these commercial products actually make it harder for your skin to naturally produce sebum so you can’t stop using the product because your dandruff gets worse. Vicious cycle.

Best oils

While the essential oils used for simple and greasy dandruff are pretty similar, I have still broken them up into types of hair because with simple dandruff, you could have naturally dry, normal, or oily hair.

Rosemary oil 3For oily hair:

  • Cedarwood, Cypress, Lavender, Rosemary, Patchouli, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Radiata, Peppermint

For normal/dry hair:

  • German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Geranium, Peppermint, Juniper Berry

For greasy dandruff

  • Rosemary, Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus Globulus, Tea Tree

Best herbs

  • Burdock, Sage, Willow Bark, Aloe, Oregano, Bay Leaf, Chamomile, Calendula, Horsetail, Nettle, Marsh Mallow

Points of interest

  • The easiest way to make your shampoo of choice is to get an unscented, pH balancing bottle of shampoo and add the essential oil(s) of choice to it. Add 6 drops per 1/4 cup shampoo. The easiest way to mix the ingredients is to empty out the bottle into a bowl, add the oil(s), and vigorously mix with a wire whisk to blend everything together. Use a funnel to get the shampoo back in the bottle.
  • Scratching dandruffIf you mix together a shampoo like above, make just 1/4 cup first and try it out to make sure you like it. That also makes it easier for you to make different blends.
  • Rocky Mountain Oils sells a blend called Hair Support that works great on dandruff. Mix it into a shampoo using the above method.
  • A really good scalp massage with one or more of the essential oils listed above can help stimulate production of sebum and help you slough off the dandruff easier.
  • For some people, they do better if they don’t wash their hair daily. Others do better if they do. It’s an individual thing so you’ll need to pay attention to what works best for you.
  • Watch the usual things — diet, exercise, sleep, stress, etc. These things should be obvious but it’s still important to pay attention to them.
  • Some medical treatments can cause more issues with dandruff. For example, I had problems with dandruff when I went through chemotherapy, even though I lost all my hair. So I  worked on babying my scalp with essential oils. If you are going through any big medical issues that have you taking harsh medications, do something good for your scalp.
  • While we also have an article on dandruff in the Natural Men’s Care series, the recipes will be different, though the beginning information is much the same. It’d be good to look through the recipes in each to see if anything strikes your fancy that you would like to try.


Be sure to try these recipes on a small portion of your scalp first to make sure your skin can handle it before using it all over your scalp.

Make-It-Yourself Herbal Shampoo

  • 8 ounces Distilled Water
  • 1 ounce Herbs of choice
  • 3 ounces Liquid Castile Soap
  • 1/4 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 25 drops of Essential oils of choice (From above)

Bring water to a boil. Add the herbs, cover, and let simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Strain and cool. Slowly add the castile soap to tea, then mix in the jojoba and essential oils. Store in a shampoo container. Shake well before every use. (4)

Woman scratching her dandruff furiouslyNatural Hair Rinse

  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1 tablespoon Chopped Fresh Lavender Leaves and Flowers
  • 1 cup water

Mix together all the ingredients and let sit overnight in a glass jar with a lid. Strain before using. To use, simply pour over your wet, clean hair, massage well into your scalp, then rinse with warm or cool water. Helps with mild dandruff. (9)

Simple Dandruff Oil Treatment for Normal to Dry Hair

  • 5 drops Geranium
  • 5 drops Lavender
  • 5 drops Roman Chamomile
  • 1 teaspoon Wheatgerm oil
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients in a dark colored glass bottle. Shake well to mix together. Start with wet hair to make it easier to shampoo out. Massage 1/2 teaspoon into your scalp and hair paying special attention to ends. Cover head with a towel and leave for up to an hour before shampooing. Use weekly as a conditioning treatment. (3)

Hair CareGreasy Dandruff Oil Treatment

  • 8 drops Lavender
  • 5 drops German Chamomile
  • Contents of 2 Vitamin E capsules or 2 Evening Primrose capsules
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients in a dark colored glass bottle. Shake well to mix together. Start with wet hair to make it easier to shampoo out. Massage 1/2 teaspoon into your scalp and hair paying special attention to ends. Cover head with a towel and leave for up to an hour before shampooing. Use weekly as a conditioning treatment. (3)

Hair Tonic for Seborrhea

  • 1 cup Spring Water
  • 1 cup Aloe Vera juice
  • 15 drops Clary Sage
  • 10 drops Rosemary

Mix all ingredients together and store in a dark colored glass bottle. Keep sealed. After shampooing and conditioning hair, massage a small amount of tonic into scalp and hair. Leave in. (7)

And finally,

Dandruff is a common problem. And it’s annoying. So what do you like to do to treat dandruff? Which recipe are you going to try first? Please tell us in the comment section at the bottom of the page!

Good hairReferences

  1. Seasons of Aromatherapy, by Judith Fitzsimmons and Paula M. Bousquet
  2. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy & Herbalism, by Julia Lawless
  3. The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy, by Chrissie Wildwood
  4. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family, by Rosemary Gladstar
  5. Natural Beauty at Home: More than 250 Easy-to-Use Recipes for Body, Bath, and Hair, by Janice Cox
  6. Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care, by Erich Keller
  7. Green Beauty Recipes: Easy Homemade Recipes to Make Your Own Natural & Organic Skincare, Hair Care, and Body Care Products, by Julie Gabriel
  8. Naturally Healthy Hair: Herbal Treatments and Daily Care for Fabulous Hair, by Mary Beth Janssen
  9. Natural Beauty for All Seasons, by Janice Cox

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What is a good shampoo recipe for color treated hair?


Mercola maintains that dandruff is a fungal parasite. I started taking some really good probiotics and it certainly helped my dandruff! Unfortantly I just had 8 weeks of antibiotics for a heart infection so I have a raging case of dandruff again, though I've been taking the probiotics at the same time I guess not enough to overcome it. So the oils will be a great help to I hope totally overcoming it again! :) Thanks for the article!


Thank you for sharing on hair care. There must be some fungal infection on scalp. Therefore, the care is important. I liked your hair caring tips.



  1. […] In all my research and all the questions I have asked and have been asked while putting together the Essential Oil Hair Care series, I think dry and damaged hair is the most common hair issue facing people today. (The second is dandruff.) […]