How I Cured My Dandruff and Itchy Scalp

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When I was 13 years old my dandruff was so bad my Mom told me to put baby oil on my scalp at night, thinking it might help. I took my showers at night at the time so the next morning I didn’t have enough time to wash the baby oil out.

I was a metalhead with long hair and all day in school my hair was not only incredibly oily (even my English teacher made a comment!), but the dandruff and itchiness was still rampant. It wasn’t a fun day.

15 years later, I finally figured out how to get rid of dandruff. You might cringe at first, but hear me out.

I haven’t washed my hair in 6 months.

You might not believe me, but it’s true.

Before I get into the process (it’s not simply “don’t wash your hair”), let’s talk about what causes dandruff.

According to this BBC News Health article, dandruff and itchy scalp are caused by overactive Malassezia fungus. This fungus is naturally found on human skin, but if it’s overactive it causes a fast turnover of skin cells. In other words, Malassezia produces flakes faster in dandruff sufferers than in people without dandruff.

If you have oily hair (like me) then you’re more susceptible to dandruff, since Malassezia feeds on sebum, the oily matter produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin.

You’d think not washing your hair would just make your hair even more oily, right?

In the past if I didn’t wash my hair for one day I’d have gross oily hair until I washed it again.

Then in February of this year my friend Rachel randomly mentioned that washing your hair every day isn’t necessary and actually makes it look worse.

I immediately stopped washing my hair.

I decided to test it out for 30 days. That means the last time I can remember washing my hair is sometime in March!

The interesting thing is after a few days my scalp seemingly stopped producing so much oil. I don’t know the science behind it, and I haven’t been able to find conclusive studies about it, I just know it works.

Some people use baking soda and vinegar. Or lemon juice. These products don’t strip your hair of its oils.

But I don’t use any product of any kind in my hair.

How To Stop Shampooing Your Hair

Even if you don’t have dandruff, not washing your hair will be beneficial for you. That’s because when your hair is full of natural healthy oils you don’t have to douse it in hair styling products.

Step 1: Commit to 30 days

If you don’t give your body time to adjust to this new way of living you won’t get any benefit out of it.

Step 2: “Wash” without washing

This is the real secret. When I tell most people they just think it’s gross and don’t hear me out. :)

When I hop in the shower in the morning I give my scalp a vigorous 15 second rinse under the water. This gets the visible oiliness out of my hair, but doesn’t actually strip my scalp of any oil.

It’s washing without washing.

When you first do this you’ll notice that your hair might feel a little “sticky.” Don’t worry, you have to give it time to adjust.

Step 3: Conditioning

The natural oils in your scalp are now your conditioner. Don’t use any conditioning products.

Step 4: Towel dry and comb

Towel dry your hair and comb it out. Don’t use a hair dryer if you can help it.

Step 5: Style without product

Style your hair as you normally would, but don’t use any additional styling products. See how it works.

If anything, you will probably use a lot less styling product than normal.

It will take a while for your hair to adjust so if you have dandruff and itchy scalp don’t expect it to go away immediately. Give it 30 days.

Comments Have Been Turned Off

After 164 comments and the same questions repeated a bunch of times I’ve decided to turn off the comments. If you have a question, the answer is either in this article (don’t skim, read) or in the comments. Cheers!



166 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Karol and everyone!
    A few weeks ago, i started the no-poo method because my hair is fine and oily and i am sick of it looking greasy. I always wear it up because when i leave it down, it can look oily after a few hours after my last shampoo. I can’t touch my hair or wear a headband even for a few minutes or else it looks automatically oily. to I know the more you wash it, the oilier it gets, so i decided to forgo shampoo altogether. For the first 3 weeks, i did the Baking Soda/ Apple Cider Vinegar cleansing, but my hair got oily really quickly… sometimes more quickly than with shampoo. It also smelled a bit. So, a few days ago, i started the water-only method (and wood comb). Before, my hair was “thin-oily”, now it’s “thick-oily”, which looks much much better. I can even “poof” it up in order to hide the oily look. My boyfriend says it looks fine and doesn’t smell at all. So far, so good!
    I’ve been cleaning with water-only every other day. How often do you guys do it? Should i be rinsing it every day instead?
    I really hope i can get to a point where my hair looks fresh when i wake up in the morning.
    =)

    • Hey KirinBir,

      As stated in the article I rinse mine every day. But if every other day works for you then there’s no reason to change. There are no hard and fast rules. :)

      Cheers,
      Karol

    • Yeah, already had a receding hairline so I can’t really comment. But interesting links. No actually scientific proof (theories are worthless) but interesting none-the-less.

  2. This was an exciting read! I’m all for DIY “beauty” treatments & this is the first time I’ve heard of someone actually putting the no-wash experiment into formal practice. . I’ve never tried it myself, as I used to have waist-length hair, but even then conditioner never got near my scalp. Now you’re making me want to retire the shampoo, too… I have the same kind of hair as you mentioned- oily tendencies with a dry scalp!

    Your site is quite intriguing with the breadth of topics you choose to cover! Keeps one interested :)

  3. […] is my $1,589.49 bag of toiletries. :) I don’t use regular soap (I use Dr Bronner’s) and I haven’t used shampoo in over 2 years, so I collected the toiletries from my hotels because I thought it would be funny. It’s funny […]

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