Essential oils for Dandruff and Itchy Scalp

If you have been a victim of flaky scalp, you know that the struggle is for real! It is a quite common condition and 1 out of 2 people experience it at some point in their lives regardless of age. White flakes which are visible in your hair are actually a result of excess oil production in the scalp. As soon as we see dandruff on our scalp, the first thing we do is to run to the market and garb an anti-dandruff shampoo.

However, if dandruff shampoos aren’t your thing and want to go for a more natural way, essential oils can be really helpful. They are known to help with a variety of problems including dandruff, hair loss, headaches, low energy.


Dandruff is an embarrassing scalp condition in which scalp produces white flakes which are visible entangled with hair especially on top of the head. This condition is usually accompanied with itching which sometimes aggravates the condition.


The exact cause of dandruff is unknown. Possible cause includes increased oil production and secretion. A yeast called Malassezia which lives on everyone’s scalp feeds off on the natural oil produced by the skin called sebum. Sebum is present to keep your hair and skin on the scalp moisturised. This yeast feeds on the excess oil and dead skin cells on the scalp, causing more skin cells to shed which are visible as flakes.

In addition to this, there are a number of reasons which attributes to dandruff:

  • Irritated oily skin
  • Not washing hair often
  • Dry skin on the scalp
  • Diet and lifestyle
  • Stress
  • Allergic reactions to hair and skin products
  • Overgrowth of yeast fungus called Malassezia
  • Other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema


Essential oils are powerful essences of plants derived through steam distillation and contains both the aroma and health benefits of the plants they are extracted from. They are extracted from, plant parts like bark, flowers, leaves, rinds, roots and seeds of fruits and plants.

One of the most fascinating aspects of essential oils is that they are readily absorbed by the body when used aromatically or topically applied. Essential oils can help in booting circulation and nourishment of the scalp which naturally helps in eliminating dandruff. Some essential oils are known to balance pH levels of the scalp which is important to keep scalp healthy and free from infections.


For those looking for a natural approach to tackle dandruff, there are few essential oils which are known for anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties which works wonders in eliminating dandruff. To get rid of dandruff, use these essential oils in your hair care routine:

Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary is a gentle oil and my go-to oil for skin and haircare. It has anti-fungal, astringent, and decongesting properties which helps to reduce excess oil build-up and flakes. The anti-fungal properties help tackle overreactive fungal activity in the scalp. It is well known for its regenerative properties and stimulates follicles which in turn helps in hair growth and development. Rosemary oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent which helps in getting rid of bacteria and fungus which are common causes of dandruff.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree oil is one of the most commonly recommended essential oils for dandruff. Tea Tree oil contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol which possess powerful anti-microbial properties which is helpful in reducing dandruff as it supresses the growth of fungi and bacteria on the scalp. It contains antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties which soothes dry, itchy scalp while also healing it. A natural germicide and antiseptic, it kills any germs attacking your scalp. 

Cedarwood Essential Oil

Cedarwood’s anti-inflammatory and cleansing qualities help reduce inflammation which occurs due to dandruff. It also helps in reducing itchiness, irritation and redness. Cedarwood oil also improves blood flow in the scalp which in turn helps in improving the health of the hair from the roots.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils and is commonly used for its relaxing effects on the body. Lavender oil is known to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. If dandruff has resulted in itchiness or irritation on the scalp, lavender oil can soothe the skin and the mind. It is safe to use on sensitive scalp as well as younger children.

Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense is a gentle oil and suitable for sensitive skin. It has fresh and clean aroma which makes hair smell divine. Frankincense oil is rich in esters which can help heal the root cause of dandruff. It is useful for inflamed scalp conditions and can help soothe dry, mature eczema.

Other essential oils which are good for dandruff include Lemon Essential Oil which is known for its clarifying properties and works a wonder tonic with oily scalps, Basil Essential Oil which not only helps fight white flakes but also conditions and improves blood circulation, Clary Sage Essential Oil is extremely effective on oily, dry and frizzy hair as it regulates oil production and controls dandruff by limiting the sebum in the scalp and Geranium Essential Oil helps to clean dry scalp, protects hair and helps in strengthening and healing damaged hair.


Coconut Oil

The health benefits of coconut oil are vast and includes more than just hair. It is an amazing moisturiser and can penetrate hair better than any other oil. Coconut oil helps in improving hydration, reduces irritation and prevents fungal growth on the scalp. The key ingredient in Coconut oil which makes it effective in combating dandruff is lauric acid, a fatty acid which is antiviral and antibacterial in nature and can help decrease inflammation caused by dandruff.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is rich in Oleic acid, an antioxidant which restores and rejuvenates hair and scalp. The oil provides moisture which helps to reduce dandruff from flaking. It is one of the best natural conditioners. The antioxidant and antibacterial properties of this oil makes it a good cleanser which can help remove build-up which clogs hair follicles. Olive Oil is light and helps dissolve all the dirt, excess oil and grime which is present on the scalp.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is very similar to the natural sebum produced by the scalp. It helps to dissolve the sebum and dirt clogging hair follicles. This in turn helps to reduce dandruff. The anti-inflammatory properties of jojoba oil helps to soothe irritation.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant which is known for its healing properties. The gel which is present in the leaves of the plant, contains several bioactive compounds, such as amino acids and antioxidants which are known to reduce dandruff. Aloe vera may help improve moisture in the skin and promotes faster wound healing. It may also help in reducing inflammation which helps with dandruff symptoms like itchiness.


You can add any of the essential oils mentioned above to your shampoo and benefit from their properties. Alternatively, you can make your own DIY hair oil by combining essential oils and carrier oils to get rid of dandruff.

#1 Anti-Dandruff Hair Mask

Combine all the ingredients and gently shake to mix them. Massage on scalp and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse with a mild shampoo. This treatment can be used thrice a week to get rid of dandruff and promote healthy hair.

#2 Scaly scalp and Dandruff Hair Oil

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Massage this oil on your scalp in light circular motion. Leave it overnight and wash with a mild cleanser next morning making sure no oil is left. This oil can be applied twice a week.

#3 Scalp Clarifying Rinse

Take 250ml distilled water, add apple cider vinegar, aloe vera gel and essential oils. Mix all the ingredients and store in a cool place. Shake and spray onto scalp and leave for 5-10 minutes. Wash your hair with a mild cleanser.

#4 Homemade Anti-Dandruff shampoo

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Apply on scalp, let it sit for 5 mins and rinse well.


  • Essential oils are only for external use and should never be ingested
  • Store essential oils out of reach of children and store them apart from other products. Some essential oils can be fatal to pets and therefore always research before using them
  • Essential oils must ALWAYS be diluted before applying on skin as they are highly concentrated as can cause irritation. You can dilute them in carrier oil of your choice and the max concentration of essential oils should be 3-4%
  • Always do a patch test before applying on larger areas of skin
  • Do not apply Lemon Oil during the day if you are going out in the skin as it can cause skin sensitivity and irritation.
  • It is unclear what effects essential oils have on pregnant and breastfeeding women. While some consider them safe, many doctors advice pregnant women to avoid use of essential oils
  • Always buy pure essential oils and stay away from fake counterparts as they wont contain same therapeutic benefits


There is no doubt that essential oils can work wonders when used appropriately. They offer natural approach to reducing dandruff and can be better than using a hair product with artificial ingredients.

Diet and lifestyle plays an important role on the scalp condition. It is important to follow a healthy diet which includes fruits, colourful vegetables & proteins along with good amount of water. One must ensure to get enough sleep as lack of sleep adds to stress levels which can exaggerate scalp or hair conditions like dandruff.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider for any medical condition.

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