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Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also Hair Care

Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) occurs with the over production of skin oils and cells that then die and flake off in much larger quantities than is normal.  This can occur on the scalp, eyebrows, around the ears, or even on the chest. The excessive dead cells appear as white or yellowish flakes and may include some itching and some hair loss.  The condition is not considered serious although it may be a source of embarrassment. About half the population experiences dandruff at some time and it happens equally among all races and genders. Among youth and adults this is known as dandruff and with infants the same condition is known as cradle cap. 

With some the condition is chronic, for others occasional.  Triggers or increased risk come from exposure to extreme heat and cold, stress, fatigue, use of irritating soaps or lotions (e.g. containing alcohol), and may be hereditary or a side effect of some diseases.  Dandruff is not an allergic reaction, is not contagious, nor a result of bad hygiene.

An Important Note: Almost everybody thinks all flakiness is dandruff, it rarely is. Rather, it is almost always:

  a build-up of hair spray that eventually flakes off the hair shaft

  skin cells damaged (killed off) by hair products. (Interesting tidbit - Dandruff shampoos create their own "job security". They are usually effective at lessening or stopping flaking but they do that by "chemically scouring" the scalp, however, as you might expect, that damages the next layer of developing skin cells which creates more flakes, and the beat goes on ad infinitum.)

  normal sloughing off of dead skin cells that get trapped in a build-up from poor quality shampoo, conditioner and/or styling product and it finally all flakes off together

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Blend for Women

Essential oils based products: Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV),  (...) Salon Essentials Protecting Shampoo and Smoothing Conditioner

Also consider: Basil, Thyme

Suggested protocols:

Light Dandruff:

  Add 2 - 3 drops Melaleuca or Blend for Women daily to (...) Salon Essentials Protecting Shampoo or other high quality shampoo.

Heavy dandruff:

  Massage the following blend into scalp nightly.  Cover with shower cap if necessary. Shampoo out the next morning:

  1 teaspoon VCO or other carrier

  4 drops Lemon

  4 drops Lavender

  4 drops Melaleuca

  4 drops Rosemary

Flaking from bad hair products:

Some note that harsh dandruff shampoos and other products can damage the scalp and cause flaking.  A couple of suggestions to break this cycle:

  Make a scrub for the scalp by mixing 4 -6 drops of Birch, Rosemary, or Wintergreen into 1/2 ounce shampoo, and rub it into the scalp by applying in 1 inch partings in the air. Leave on for 5 minutes and process with normal shampoo and conditioning routine

  To complete breaking the cycle replace the harmful hair care products with high quality shampoo and conditioner for future hair care.

Basic hair health:

  Eating well with Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV) builds strong and healthy hair.

Follow a  good regular routine:

  Shampoo with (...) Salon Essentials Protecting Shampoo, add 1 - 2 drops of Rosemary to slow hair loss.

  Condition with (...) Salon Essentials Smoothing Conditioner, add 1 - 2 drops of coconut or olive oil for dry hair, only use on tips and/or outer half of hair shaft for oily hair. Let the conditioner remain in hair 2 - 3 minutes before rinsing for best results.

  Dry hair and spray (spray is especially effective after hair coloring or perms.) with the following blend:

  2 ounces of water

  4 drops of Peppermint (or other oil of choice)

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Phil - Does anyone have suggestions for dandruff, bad dandruff?

Kathy - Massage Melaleuca, Lemon Lavender, or Rosemary with some VCO or olive oil into the scalp nightly.  Wash it out in the morning.  If it doesn't improve, there may be some candida or yeast to deal with.

Lil - Try Blend for Women with shampoo. Worked wonders for someone I know, and fast too.

Phil - My friend had the dandruff problem I asked about.  I helped him make a mix of Melaleuca, Lavender, Lemon, and Rosemary with virgin coconut oil.  He put it in a small jar and applied it to his head at night, then washed it out in the morning. He said the only bad part was his pillow got oil spots on it, but it wasn't bad.  After about 3 weeks it has nearly stopped being flaky.  He also said his hair just feels healthier.  He now adds Blend for Women to baby shampoo and washes with it.  This was Lil’s idea, and he says that not only does the dandruff seem to be staying away, but he loves the smell of his hair.


Christine -   I have a friend who has had seborrheic dermatitis (severe dandruff) for years and is wondering if there are any oils that might help.Or maybe diet?  She has been told about coconut oil and will try that, but are there any oils she could mix with the EVCO? Thanks for any help anyone has had.

Pat – She should try (...)’s new shampoo and conditioner? It’s a great start along with the LLV. She can also add either Rosemary or Peppermint to the shampoo.

Joanna - She could be allergic to sodium lauryl sulfate. It causes really bad reactions and is in most foaming shampoos. I am very sensitive to most shampoos, but the (...) shampoo and conditioner are just awesome! It's really worth a try.  (I know it all seems like hype with the shampoo and conditioner, but they really are good.)


Tinas - My Dad has a scalp problem.  He describes it as red itchy bumps all over his scalp that go down his neck and back of his ear. He says they dry up and scab over.  He had them a couple of months ago and went to the doctor and the doctor didn't know what it was but prescribed him an antibiotic which did take care of the problem but now they are back.  He called me because I introduced him to oils about a month ago and was wondering what you would suggest he tries to get rid of this problem.  He can't sleep at night because it itches so badly.  I am pretty new to the oils and still learning a lot so any help would be appreciated.

Loryjean - I would try either singly or in combination-depending on what you have- Lavender, Basil and roman Chamomile, and I would put three drops each in about an 1/8 cup of fractionated coconut oil and apply that to the scalp night and morning. These oils have soothing and antibiotic/antimicrobial properties. You might also look at the candida issue, because overgrown yeast often manifests itself elsewhere in the body.  

Robert - There are a number of oils that might be effective.  Your best bet is to start trying them till you find the best.  I would either mix the essential oils with your shampoo.  Likely 2 drops per ounce. Or you could mix the oils with a carrier like EVCO and apply to the scalp for about an hour before showering, then shampoo and rinse.  If it's really bad, apply with scalp massage before bedtime, wear a shower cap to bed, then shampoo in the morning. I would consider; Melaleuca, Frankincense, Lavender, Sandalwood, and/or Geranium.

Patricia - I would make a blend of Coconut Oil and Melaleuca and rub it into the scalp at night before he goes to bed. He can wash it out in the morning and repeat this procedure until clear. He also should do the GI Cleansing Formula Cleanse followed by the Probiotic Defense Formula.

Jan - There is an old scalp irritation remedy I learned as a young hairdresser using aspirin and shampoo. I'm not sure what it is about the aspirin that makes it work but my guess is that 1 or 2 drops of Wintergreen or Birch in a half ounce or so of toxin free shampoo would do the same thing. The method is to mix up the formula, before wetting the hair, rub it into the scalp and complete the shampoo as usual. If your father tries it, would you please let us know how it worked? Thanks,

Dian - The Birch oil is better than aspirin.  Aspirin is a synthetic form.

Jan - Yes, the aspirin is crushed and mixed into the shampoo and I would definitely try the Birch or Wintergreen first. More often than not, what we call dandruff is simply dry, damaged skin caused by hair care products which may or may not lead to low ... infections.  Aspirin contains synthetic salicylic acid.  Birch and Wintergreen contain extremely high levels of natural methyl salicylate.  The two chemicals are extremely closely related and both are antiseptic in nature.  I'm not a chemist, however logic tells me it's the antiseptic agent that usually clears the scalp irritation. I'll go for the naturally occurring variety in Birch and Wintergreen! Note: almost all dandruff shampoos contain coal tar and/or other known or suspected carcinogens! No thanks!

Jan - I absolutely agree!! To do the scalp treatment, part the hair and rub a tiny amount of the essential oil/shampoo mixture into the scalp. Continue the process with half inch partings, massage the scalp a minute or so and continue with shampoo as normal. BY FAR, it's better to use a shampoo that's free of toxins, including fragrances!


Amber - A friend of mine does hair for a living and wants to incorporate some oils into her routine when she washes her clients hair. I would love to hear your suggestions for what oils or blends you think would be enjoyed by her clients.  I have experimented with some of the oils on myself and my husband but it has been hard to eliminate any oils from the list since we loved them all!  Do you know which oils are particularly beneficial to the scalp and hair?  I found a suggested blend for dandruff (Melaleuca, Lavender, Lemon, and Rosemary), does anyone have any recommendations for a relaxing blend and maybe an invigorating blend? I was also wondering if anyone has had luck using oils for balding men or women?  

Loryjean - I tried the coconut oil and Peppermint treatment; it was really messy but my hair was extra soft for days! Did take a couple of washings to lose the oil feel, but I have thin hair and it weighs down easily. I have thought about adding oils to my unscented shampoo, but then I would be "stuck" with a certain fragrance until the bottle was empty, and I'm having too much fun trying out all the different options!

Denise - To help with the large bottle of shampoo problem, use one of the tiny bottles of shampoo you can get at a hotel or from the travel section at Target or Walmart. That way I can use it for 2-3 washes to see if I like it and what it does to me, then rinse it out and start again.

Jan -  Ok, I don't use any shampoo and my hair has never been cleaner or smelled better or been more manageable. I actually use baking soda with a few drops of Lavender oil. Then I rinse with raw apple cider vinegar and a few drops of Lavender. 1/4 cup vinegar, 16 oz of water, and 4 drops of Lavender. Then for extra shine, one drop VCO rubbed into the palm of my hands and barely placed over the hair. Put it on the fingertips and start at the scalp. It works for me. You may have "icky" hair for a couple weeks, but I never did. I love it. Experiment. It's fun.

I essentially built my other essential oils business while doing hair. I mostly used Peppermint and/or Lavender for headaches, allergies, relaxation, and as a conversation starter. With chemical services, after the last rinse and before applying the conditioner, I liberally sprayed the hair with "Peppermint water" mixed at the rate of 2 drops per ounce of water. The Peppermint helps remove residual odors from the chemicals, tightens the hair shaft and helps close the cuticle layer which helps "set" the color or perm and makes the hair smoother and more shiny.

Also I diffused a purifying blend or a blend somewhat like Respiratory Blend or Protective Blend everyday in my shop. There are other things one can do as well, but that's a good start and certainly demonstrates the value of oils.

Pat - I have been using Rosemary with my organic shampoo and find that I have new hair growing in. I also use Peppermint for a stimulating experience, Lavender and Grounding Blend for relaxation and Melaleuca for general hair health.

Rosemary is supposed to be a great oil to regenerate the hair follicles, Peppermint and Melaleuca really give you a tingly wake up call, and Lavender will relax you. You can use the oils so many ways depending on what you want to accomplish. I have even used Grounding Blend when I felt I might pull my hair out!


Dehaas - Do you have any experiences (or know of others) with  Rosemary working for men’s balding?

Loryjean - I am eager to try the Rosemary on my thin hair. There's no point to pulling my hair out, because it's falling out all on it's own. The Peppermint I tried was interesting, but I think the coconut oil had more effect; smooth and shiny. No blow away straggles when I put it up, either, which was nice. Is there an oil that helps to keep color in? My daughter uses henna, and it washes out naturally; she'd like it to stay a little longer each time.

Pat - I do not know about men, but my hair is getting new growth on top where I am quite thin, and I put Rosemary (a couple of drops) in my shampoo every other day.

Lynda - do you know of any other oils that are good for thinning hair?  Rosemary and Peppermint are two oils that those of us who have had or currently have seizures should avoid.  I have very thin hair and would like to find something that could help

Pat - I have been doing some research for my own situation and this is what I have found, at least the condensed version. Hair loss and thinning is caused by hormonal imbalance (such as increased testosterone), or inflammatory conditions, and genetics. Essential Oils are excellent for cleansing, nourishing, and strengthening the hair follicle and shaft. Rosemary, above all encourages hair growth.

Single oils: Lavender, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, and Clary Sage

Blends for thicker hair:

Blend #1

  3 drops of Rosemary

  5 drops of Lavender

  4 drops of Cypress

  2 drops of Clary Sage

Blend #2

  10 drops of Lavender

  10 drops Sandalwood

  8 drops Rosemary

I suppose you could try these without the Rosemary, but it is the best ingredient that I have found so far. I am still looking but this might help for now.

Jan - The fact that good quality, natural henna washes out over time is one of the benefits, of course. To make it as stable as possible, I suggest adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of fractionated coconut oil (FCO) to the henna mixture at the time of application. Then just before applying the conditioner, I'd spray Peppermint liberally throughout the hair (2 drops per ounce of water), leave that on for 3 or 4 minutes, then right over the Peppermint use a non-toxic conditioner, rinse, and finish by smoothing a VERY small amount of FCO through the hair before styling.

Henna will also last longer if it is mixed with hot water, apply it while it is still hot, and keep it hot with a hair dryer or wrapped in a hot towel while it is processing. From an ex-hairstylist, happy to be doing (...) instead!

Loryjean - That's really helpful; thanks, Jan. We do the henna with hot water and wrap it, plus apply heat about halfway through the processing time. This next time we'll try your suggestions; I really appreciate it!


Samara - I had a baby 7 weeks ago.  My hair has been falling out since then.  I know they say it's normal, but there's got to be something that will help.  It's everywhere!

Also, my sweet baby girl cries from about 11pm - 2am.  Nothing seems to comfort her.  Digestive Blend hasn't been working.  Any ideas?

Mindy - Not sure about oils for this one but my guess would be reflux. Are you nursing? Have you tried cutting dairy from your diet? If she is on formula try switching to a dairy free one. Sooo many "colic" cases are food related. Most of those are dairy, followed by soy then gluten. Could also be the iron in your prenatal if your nursing. I'd say a good 75% of moms I know had to cut dairy from their diets for their newborns, and of the other 25% most of those were blind or in denial.

Hopefully someone else has oil advice. I know gripe water works very well too. Oh the hair is hormone related so use oils to balance out your hormone levels.

Lina - I know for one of our friends Lavender worked with her baby... just to relax.

Leah - I use Calming Blend on my baby, stops the tears real quick! Still needs comforting and love, but eardrums don't have to be blown. Another thing I've used on my baby several times when he seemed to be distressed (opposed to irritated, overtired or upset) is Soothing Blend. Usually on his back or the back of his head. Yup, straight on... but he handles it fine and is usually smiling within 10 or 15 minutes later.

As for the hair, mine stopped falling out so badly when I started using the SanoBella shampoo. Can't use the conditioner, the Peppermint is too strong and hurts my milk supply.

Ramona - I lost hair after all 6 of my babies and it never would come back in.  After my sixth was born, I literally looked like I was balding-it was awful!  About that time, I found (...).  I started taking the supplements and used Rosemary on my hair (just put a drop or two in my conditioner) and rubbed it in.  Within about 2 months, not only did it stop falling out, but it grew back.  I looked like a six year old for a few months, as I had new growth everywhere-but I wasn't complaining!  When they released the shampoo/conditioner I started using that and now my hair is better than ever! I LOVE these products!

Tanya - Congrats on being a new mom! I second the Rosemary for the hair...my husband uses it for his balding head and it's cleared up his dandruff as well.

I use most of the oils described above on my babies, but the one that has become my go-to oil is Wild Orange. I find a drop on the tunny does wonders for helping my kids sleep and for any tummy issues. Usually I hear a few "toots" soon after I give them a little tummy massage with Wild Orange an coconut oil. Are you familiar with infant massage? Google it...it's so easy and so effective, especially when used with the oils.

And one more small pieces of advice that I was given with my second baby...when your baby is upset and crying, try to monitor your own breathing and tension. Your baby will feed off of it. Try to take slow, deep breathes and relax your muscles, and that will transfer to your child. It might not stop it, but it really can help!

Samara - Thanks everyone!  I tried cutting out dairy yesterday and she was about 75% better last night.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I don't know if slowing my breathing helped her or not, but it sure helped me

Protocols folks recommend for children



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