Tag Archives: dandruff

Dandruff Vintage Ad

Nothing To Be Embarrassed About: A Closer Look At Dandruff & Dry Flaky Scalp

February 10, 2013

Look up there! It’s a bird. It’s a snowflake. No, it’s your dandruff!

Kidding aside, have you seen those anti-dandruff shampoo commercials where the person gets embarrassed about the white flakes on their shoulders? Well, that’s not actually dandruff.

In fact, a lot of people who think they have dandruff actually have a case of dry scalp. And it’s important to know the difference so you can appropriately treat the correct problem.

Dandruff Vintage Ad

Dry Flaky Scalp 


Dry scalp is characterized by those white, scaly flakes that you often see in anti-dandruff shampoo commercials. This condition is sometimes accompanied by an itchy and irritated scalp.


The possible causes are numerous. It could be caused by hereditary traits, stress, hormonal changes, lack of sebum, insufficient rinsing of shampoo, using too harsh a shampoo, over-washing the hair, using excessively hot water, vitamin imbalance, pollution, change in seasons, air-conditioning and central heating, and sometimes it can be a side-effect of medication.

Possible Solutions

  • Gently brushing your scalp before washing your hair can help loosen dead skin cells.
  • Use cooler water since hot water can strip the scalp of its natural oils and cause it to feel tight and dry.
  • Choose gentle shampoos that will not excessively strip the scalp of its natural oils.
  • Reduce the number of times you wash your hair in order to give your scalp the chance to produce enough sebum and to re-balance its own natural pH.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly. Drinking too little water can cause the skin on the scalp to become dehydrated.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamins A, B, zinc, iron and essential fats, which can help to alleviate the problem of a dry scalp.
  • Avoid using anti-dandruff shampoos for treating dry scalp. Alcohol in anti-dandruff shampoos can dry out sebaceous glands even more.
  • Look for calming serums and lotions that are designed to soothe and re-moisturize the scalp.
  • Hair care products that contain tea tree oil can help soothe itchiness.
  • Treatments with gentle exfoliating beads (like Kiehl’s micro-exfoliating scalp treatment) can help to exfoliate dead skin cells and product buildup.
  • Make sure to rinse out hair care products thoroughly.


Dandruff should not be a cause for embarrassment as it has nothing to do with poor hygiene. It is a shockingly common scalp disorder, one that affects almost half of the adult population regardless of gender or ethnicity.


Dandruff is usually characterized by larger, greasy or waxy flakes or clusters of yellowish grey skin cells. It is a condition usually accompanied by itching.


There are three main factors that (when combined together) can contribute to dandruff:

  1. Overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands in the scalp.
  2. Metabolic by-products of a type of fungus called Malassezia. 
  3. Individual susceptibility. 

Having oily scalp does not necessarily mean you will get dandruff. Dandruff is the result of very rapid skin cell turnover. For people with dandruff, skin cells may mature and be shed in 2-7 days, as opposed to around a month in people without dandruff. Doctors are still uncertain as to why this happens.

One theory is that the fungus called Malassezia, which is normally present in most people, feed on sebum. Its byproducts then produces an inflammatory response in susceptible people. In other words, the flaky, itchy symptoms associated with dandruff may be the result of the immune system’s overreaction to the fungus.

Dandruff is tricky to diagnose because its symptoms easily blur with those of seborrhoeic dermatitis and other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. If you are suffering from severe irritation or if the symptoms extend beyond the scalp, it’s very important to seek medical professional help to diagnose the root cause (ahem) of your problems.

Possible Treatments and Solutions

Although there doesn’t seem to be a solution that can make dandruff go away FOREVER, there are some treatments that can help to control it.

  • Look for shampoos that contain Zinc Pyrithione (like Kiehl’s Anti-Dandruff Zinc Pyrithione Shampoo) which is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent that can help control the yeast population responsible for dandruff.
  • Other ingredients that might also be of help are ketoconazole and selenium sulfide.
  • If using dandruff shampoos, wash your hair between 3-5 times per week to help get the anti-fungal activity to the right level.
  • If using natural remedies, look for oils that possess anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Examples are tea tree oil, neem and sandalwood.
  • Avoid using natural oils that feed the fungus Malassezia responsible for dandruff. This oil, oleic acid is present in the popular four natural oils –  coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil and castor oil.
  • Don’t scratch! It might provide temporary relief, but in the long-run scratching can make matters much worse by leading to pain and inflammation.
  • Rinse shampoo and hair care products thoroughly.
  • Cut down on styling products. The buildup of greasy or waxy hair care products like balms, gels and jellies can make dandruff worse.
  • Look at your diet and lifestyle. Diets high in saturated and trans fats can cause sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which feeds the fungus responsible for dandruff.
  • Incorporate varied fruits and veggies that contain zinc and B vitamins, which may help to alleviate the problem.

So there you have it!

A concise summary of all the information that I gathered about the problems of dandruff.

Personally, I am still on the lookout for more lifestyle-based solutions that will make the problem of dandruff go away. FOREVER.

My hunch is that our scalp problems are linked with what we eat being somehow responsible for feeding and multiplying the yeast that contributes to dandruff. There may also be other factors in our diet and lifestyle which can trigger the inflammatory response of our immune system to this fungus. But that’s just my hunch.

I’ll keep you posted when I find more information on longer-lasting solutions for dandruff.

Hope this was helpful!

Haircare & Hairstyle by Nicky Pope
Dandruff vs Dry Scalp, What’s the Difference?Brighter Sides
Scalp Matters: Treating Dandruff and Scalp Eczema – The Natural Haven Bloom
Dandruff: The most commercially exploited skin disease – Indian Journal of Dermatology
Kiehl's Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment & Scalp Purifying Dandruff Shampoo

Kiehl’s Solutions for Flaky/Itchy Scalp & Dandruff

February 7, 2013

Let’s get something straight.

Flaky/itchy scalp should not be confused with dandruff. They are two different problems having to do with the scalp. And both are equally as annoying.

I’ve recently been using two different scalp treatments by Kiehl’s.

Both essentially help to clean the scalp. But one is designed for loosening flaky buildup. While the other is used specifically to help treat dandruff.

Kiehl's Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment & Scalp Purifying Dandruff Shampoo

Kiehl’s is an American cosmetics brand that was founded in 1851. That’s really old for a cosmetics brand.

The first thing you will notice about their products is their packaging. It’s Minimalist. Understated. And utterly Brilliant.

There is nothing on the product itself except text about the product itself. What is so darn clever about this way of presenting products is the absence of any marketing gimmick. They want you to focus only on two things. The product. And what it can do for you.

So the two products we’ll look at today are:

1) Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment

Kiehl's Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment

Micronized Apricot Seed Kiehl's

This is a scalp treatment that is formulated with Vitreoscilla Ferment to help restore a healthy balance to the scalp. The exfoliation feature comes from the micronized Apricot Seed and Argan Shells which you can see in the photo above. These exfoliating beads help to gently and effectively exfoliate and loosen flaky buildup. The treatment purifies and prepares the scalp for shampooing.


Aqua, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Argania Spinosa Shell Powder, Prunus Armeniaca Seed Powder (Apricot Seed Powder), Menthol, Vitreoscilla Ferment, Sodium Hydroxide, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Leaf Oil), Thymus Mastichina Flower Oil, Linalool

FYI: The active ingredient, Vitreoscilla Ferment, is an extract of bacterial culture used to help cells utilize oxygen better. Though I’m not really sure what that has to do with the scalp.

How To Use

Apply to dry or moist scalp before shampooing. Gently massage. Leave on for up to five minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Follow with Kiehl’s Shampoo. Use 1-2 times a week as needed.

My Experience

This product looks like one of my old facial exfoliating creams that had apricot seed powder in it. The texture of this is gel-like, and the smell is minty and herbal.

When you apply this to your scalp, the smell gets stronger and reminds me of Vick’s vapor rub.

Applying this to my scalp was tricky at first because I have A LOT of hair. And to use this effecitvely, you have to get it directly on your scalp. So when I first used it, I ended up wasting a lot of it just trying to get past my hair and onto my scalp.

Once the product is applied, I get a very cooling/refreshing sensation. While gently massaging the exfoliating beads in circular motions throughout my head, I feel incredibly relaxed.

Obviously, I would be that much more relaxed if I had someone else to do the massaging for me.


After using this Kiehl’s micro-exfoliating scalp treatment (in conjunction with the Kiehl’s dandruff shampoo), I can go TWO WEEKS before my scalp even begins to hint at being aggravating. Two weeks, people! That’s a looong period of itchy-free relief for me. I used to be able to go three days tops before my scalp got too itchy and I had to do something about it. So this Kiehl’s scalp treatment combo has worked quite well for me.

Also, one of the main reasons I went for this product is because it does not excessively strip my hair of its natural oils. My hair still looks a bit dry after using this product, but not as dry as it did with other products (mainly the René Furterer Lightness Regulating Shampoo that I’d been using. You can read my review of it here).

I’d never before encountered or used an exfoliating scrub for my scalp. So I think this concept is quite fresh and brilliant.

What I like about it

– Feels really cooling on the scalp
– Doesn’t dry my hair (at least not too much)
– Helps remove excess buildup on the scalp

What I didn’t like about it

– Smells a bit like Vick’s vapor rub
– Difficult to get on your scalp

My Tips on using this product

The point of this product is to get it directly on your scalp. If you’re like me and you’ve got long hair and lots of it, then this is a tip on how to apply this product. It might seem silly, but trust me, if you do this you will end up wasting very little of this (rather pricey) product.

So what I’ve been doing is this. I squeeze out the amount that I want onto a non-stick surface, like a glass plate or bowl. Then with one hand, I separate a long section of my hair along my scalp. Then with the other hand, I rub the pads of my fingers with the exfoliating gel. I then glide them over the exposed section of my scalp. Repeat. I move to the next section of my scalp and with my dry hand, I separate another long section of my hair and apply the product with the other hand until I get every inch of my scalp the best that I can.

If you do this, you should need no more than a tablespoon’s worth of this stuff.

How Much

€21.50 for 100 ml bottle / $20.00 for 3.4 fl oz bottle

2) Kiehl’s Scalp Purifying Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo

Kiehl's Scalp Purifying Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo

Pyrithione Zinc is an active anti-dandruff ingredient. This shampoo helps to deeply cleanse the hair and scalp. But specifically, it’s designed to help prevent the recurrence of symptoms associated with dandruff. It contains a blend of Rosemary Leaf and Marjoram Oil essential oils.


Aqua (Water), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Sodium Chloride, Glycol Distearate, Zinc Pyrithione, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Sodium Benzoate, Carbomer, Polyquaternium-10, Salicylic Acid, Menthol, Citric Acid, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Rosemary Leaf Oil), Thymus Mastichina Flower Oil, Linalool, Aloe Barbadensis/Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hydroxide

How To Use

Shake well. Lather. Rinse. In case of contact with eyes, rinse them immediately. For best results, use at least twice a week or as directed by a doctor.

My Experience

The shampoo is white with a creamy, sticky texture and a minty smell.

When I first applied this shampoo, I noticed that my eyes stung a bit though I’m pretty sure I hadn’t gotten any of it in my eyes. I think my eyes were affected by the smell. Which is odd, because the scent is not as strong or Vick’s vapor rub-y as the exfoliating scrub.

The second time I used this however, I didn’t have this same experience.

Once applied, this shampoo gives me the same cooling/refreshing sensation as I do from the exfoliating scrub. While massaging this onto my scalp, the shampoo gets sudsy at first. But that quickly goes away.

Then when I rinse it off, I notice that the water running down the drain has a brownish gray tinge to it. I wonder where that color is coming from, since the shampoo is milky white when it comes out of the bottle. I don’t think it’s because I have terribly dirty hair. I noticed the same things happens whenever I use René Furterer’s Lightness Regulating Shampoo.


Using Kiehl’s Dandruff Shampoo in conjuction with the micro-exfoliating scalp treatment relieves me of itchy, flaky scalp for about two weeks. And it doesn’t excessively strip my hair of its natural oils. So this Kiehl’s scalp treatment combo has worked quite well for me.

What I like about it

– Feels really cooling and soothing for my scalp
– Doesn’t dry my hair
– It doesn’t smell like Vick’s vapor rub
– I can go two weeks without suffering from my usual scalp problems

What I didn’t like about it

– At first, it kind of stung my eyes a little

My tips on using this product

Before buying this product, you should probably figure out first if you actually suffer from dandruff or from flaky/itchy scalp. As I first mentioned above, the two shouldn’t be confused for one another.

If you do have dandruff, then this is a real deal treatment shampoo and you should follow its recommendation of using this at least twice a week.

How Much

€17.00 for 250 ml bottle / $18 for 8.4 fl oz bottle


This Kiehl’s scalp treatment duo has given me longer lasting relief than other treatments that I’ve tried before. But I wonder if all I really need is just the micro-exfoliating scalp treatment. And whether I could have gotten the same relief even without the dandruff shampoo.

I’ve only used them together, so I haven’t been able to see whether one will work just as well without the other. This is something that I will have to test out and see in the coming weeks.

I’m not as crazy about the dandruff shampoo as I am about the scalp exfoliating scrub.  But as much as I like these products and despite how well they’ve worked for me, the fact of the matter is, they provide me with only temporary relief.

I want to be rid of my scalp problems for good. And I don’t think these products are gonna do it.

So that’s why, in the next post, we are going to be talking about the difference between flaky/itchy scalp and dandruff.

Because what I want to know are possible solutions that will get rid of them FOREVER.

Who’s with me?

Oh, Hair!

Oh, Hair!

February 5, 2013

One of my new year resolutions is to take better care of my hair.

Actually, my hair is already quite healthy. It’s really thick and strong. I don’t have problems with split ends. I haven’t colored my hair in years. And ever since my hair dryer MELTED under the heater last year, I’ve stopped using heating tools.

I only have two concerns when it comes to my hair.

First, my hair is very very dry. Second, sometimes my scalp gets really oily, flaky and itchy.

Yeah, I know… gross.

So I have done a couple of things to address these two problems.

1) I’ve gotten a Khiel’s hair rescue package in the mail. 


2) And I’ve added this book to my collection of beauty literature.


The three Khiel’s product that you see are the Scalp Purifying Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo, the Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment and the Magic Elixir which is a rosemary leaf and avocado oil treatment to help moisturize the scalp and hair. I’ve already tried all three and they’ve worked wonderfully. I’ll be doing a review of them quite soon, so there’s that to look forward to.

Also, the Haircare & Hairstyles book by Nicky Pope has sections dedicated to understanding your hair type, common hair and scalp problems and styling tips and tools techniques. The book is full of helpful information which I’m quite excited to share with you in upcoming posts.

And finally, to help give you a better perspective on why my hair needs rescue…

Here are some photos of me + my hair = don’t be scared!

Oh, Hair!

Oh, hair

Oh Hair!

The plan is… as I get better at hair care, my hair photos will get less scary.


What about you? What are your hair concerns?