Duchess Gum­my Buns says… 

I saw on this hair blog that if you have dan­druff you should avoid putting nat­u­ral oils on your scalp because it would make it worse. If this is true I am so sad because I real­ly loved mas­sag­ing oil into my scalp but i won­der if that’s why my dan­druff is still in a cer­tain spot on my scalp and won’t be relieved by any dan­druff shampoo’s that I have been try­ing?

The Beau­ty Brains respond:

Nat­u­ral oils like coconut, shea but­ter, and oth­ers con­tain a chem­i­cal known as ole­ic acid. To under­stand the effect of ole­ic acid on your scalp we have to talk a lit­tle bit about the caus­es of dan­druff.

Caus­es of dan­druff

We know from the tech­ni­cal lit­er­a­ture there are three key fac­tors that deter­mine if you’ll have dan­druff: the activ­i­ty of Malassezia fungi, the pres­ence of seba­ceous secre­tions, and your own indi­vid­u­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty.

The­se fungi (see pic­ture above) break down the triglyc­erides (fat­ty oils) from your scalp and release fat­ty acids. Recent research by P&> has shown that the fungi prefer sat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acids which means they leave behind the unsat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acids, like ole­ic acid. The struc­ture of the­se unsat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acids allow them to pen­e­trate the skin’s nat­u­ral bar­ri­er where they trig­ger an irri­ta­tion respon­se that leads to flak­ing and itch­ing.

Ole­ic acid can exac­er­bate dan­druff

Ok so we know the fungi won’t feed on ole­ic acid but the ole­ic acid itself can be irri­tat­ing, right? It depends! The key is the third piece of the puz­zle: the “indi­vid­u­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty.” If you’re not prone to dan­druff and you’re using coconut oil to strength­en your hair, it may not mat­ter how much of the ole­ic acid con­tain­ing oils you use. You may expe­ri­ence more ben­e­fit than risk. How­ev­er, the sit­u­a­tion could be reversed if you are prone to itchy, flaky scalp. Addi­tion­al ole­ic acid could make things worse, based on what we’ve read. We real­ize that this may not be a ful­ly sat­is­fac­to­ry expla­na­tion but it did allow us to use the word “exac­er­bate.”

The Beau­ty Brains bot­tom line

Nat­u­ral oils may not be for every­one because they con­tain ole­ic acid which can wors­en dan­druff symp­toms.

Ladies, have you ever expe­ri­enced this? 

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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49 Comments on "How Natural Oils and Butters Can Irritate Dandruff"

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Coconut oil is a nat­u­ral anti­fun­gal, which would make it per­fect for this usage.

Bernardo Anthony

Reviews of empir­i­cal research find that NLPs core tenets are poor­ly sup­port­ed. The bal­ance of sci­en­tific evi­dence reveals NLP to be a large­ly dis­cred­it­ed pseu­do­science.’::”

Remem­ber to browse this use­ful web por­tal


Well recent­ly ive been using olive oil to oil / mas­sage my scalp… Since then ive seen more dan­druff than before using the olive oil… So for me olive oil increas­es my dan­druff :(


The oil is prob­a­bly lift­ing the dan­druff from your scalp…may not be con­tribut­ing to the cre­ation of more dan­druff.


This was help­ful! That is my prob­lem excat­ly. I get dry itchy scalp, when i put oil and creams it on my scalp it make it even worse so im like think­ing what to do?!. I am try­ing ACV with water see how that gos.


If I cant put on nat­u­ral oils what is the sub­sti­tute? I have nat­u­ral­ly dry and curly hair, which gets puffed up into a ball. Dan­druff also increas­es after I wash my hair with sham­poo and con­di­tion­er, with or with­out oil. SO I wash almost every alter­nate day as it looks dull. Even con­sid­ered going pix­ie though I adore long hair:(. Are there any good products/tricks you know which can help me out.


You can use the oils on your hair, it’s just not rec­om­mend­ed to use it on your scalp.


Same hap­pens with me. Was googling to know if it was only me to expe­ri­ence such a weird thing. Coconut oil was wors­en­ing my dan­druff. And no sham­poo helps to get rid of it com­plete­ly. It gets lit­tle bet­ter with some though. Noth­ing big..

I do not even know the way I stopped up right here, but I assumed this sub­mit
used to be great. I do not know who you are but cer­tain­ly you’re goingg to a
well-known blog­ger for those who are not already.

Mel Stevens

The pro nat­u­rals argan oil com­plete­ly elim­i­nat­ed any dan­druff I had in my hair!

how to get rid of dandruff instantly

Hav­ing read this I thought it was very infor­ma­tive. I appre­ci­ate you
tak­ing the time and effort to put this short arti­cle togeth­er.
I once again find myself spend­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time both read­ing and com­ment­ing.

But so what, it was still worth it!


I used coconut oil for a long time hop­ing it would get rid of my dan­druff. The more dan­druff I got, the more oil I used. It wasn’t until my sis­ter sug­gest­ed it that I con­sid­ered coconut oil as the cul­prit. My dan­druff had spread and was much worse. Did some research and found out about ole­ic acid. So now I know my scalp is sen­si­tive to it. I only use oil as a pre-poo treat­ment now.

I have nev­er had any prob­lems with dan­druff, ever. I decid­ed that I want to try and grow my hair out and I read online about the many ben­e­fits that would come from mas­sag­ing coconut oil onto your scalp such as strength­en­ing hair and increased hair growth through stim­u­la­tion to the scalp and pro­vid­ing nec­es­sary and help­ful nutri­ents. About 24 hours after the oil treat­ment my scalp became very ten­der. With­in about 24 more hours my scalp start­ed to break out. Who knew you could get zits all over your head? it was very painful and irri­tat­ing. Now here we… Read more »

I have been using Amla oil for my hairs.I have a very bad dan­druff due to which my hairs are falling. I have observed that coconut oil does not suit me. So what should I do?


I am not prone to dan­druff, but recent­ly I start­ed using coconut oil on my hair because it just leaves it so nice since I nat­u­ra­ly have super frizzy hair. Point being, ever since I start­ed using coconut oil, I have began to have dan­druff. Is there any­way to bal­ance this out? :( I feel like I’m stuck between hav­ing shiny, smooth hair or clean look­ing hair…

A cou­ple years ago there used to be a pro­duct called Skin Zinc. They had a liq­uid spray that could be sprayed on your scalp and it worked like mag­ic! I have bad dan­druff and I promise u, THIS pro­duct tru­ly works!! But as they say, all good things soon come to an end. Sud­den­ly Skin Zinc was no longer avail­able . With­out any expla­na­tion what­so­ev­er, the order­ing num­ber was out of ser­vice, and no one was sell­ing it online!– except some­one on ebay who tried to take advan­tage of the sud­den lack of sup­ply and rise in demand, so… Read more »
Kelly Doe

But I don’t under­stand.. I’ve found a lot of sites where it says that coconut oil is a treat­ment for dan­druff. Coconut oil is the only thing I’ve changed in my hair care rou­tine, and now I have dan­druff. I have no idea what to think or what to do..


[…] will con­tin­ue to use coconut oil on my scalp and hair, unless I notice my scalp reacts to the high ole­ic acid con­tent with irri­ta­tion – which I pray it will […]

I know this is an old thread, but I found it googling this exact prob­lem… using all raw organ­ic cocoa but­ter, shea but­ter, coconut oil, man­go but­ters even on my face, were mak­ing hor­ri­ble itch sca­ly patch up the mid­dle of my scalp! I quit using the but­ters & oils on my face & ONLY cleanse with soap. I use jojoba oil for face, and seems the dan­druff itch­ing and odor com­ing from scape is improved. I also use Nizo­ral sham­poo that did NOT work on the dan­druff until I stopped the use of but­ters & oils on my face… Read more »