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

Leave a Reply

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

Notify of

I was googling and came across this. I can say, with­out a doubt, that after get­ting an argan oil hair treat­ment, my scalp did a full peel. I haven’t seen flak­ing like this since I was a teenag­er.

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 »

[…] 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 […]

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..

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 »

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…


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 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 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.

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!

Mel Stevens

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

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.


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..


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.


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.


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.

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


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

Leigh Laughbaum

Lit­er­a­ture may con­sist of texts based on fac­tu­al infor­ma­tion (jour­nal­is­tic or non-fic­tion), as well as on orig­i­nal imag­i­na­tion, such as polem­i­cal works as well as auto­bi­og­ra­phy, and reflec­tive essays as well as belles-let­tres. Lit­er­a­ture can be clas­si­fied accord­ing to his­tor­i­cal peri­ods, gen­res, and polit­i­cal influ­ences. The con­cept of genre, which ear­li­er was lim­it­ed, has broad­ened over the cen­turies. ‚:‘-

See you real soon


Nizo­ral is the best! The sham­poo is too harsh. Please try to get the creme with 2% Keto­cona­zol. You will need to apply it twice a week for the first month and then I use it once a week to keep it at bay.


Is this sold over the counter?

I’ve had a prob­lem with dan­druff for years and it wasn’t until recent­ly that I start­ed using a mix­ture of coconut oil and black cas­tor oil for my scalp to rid the dan­druff. This mix­ture has helped my scalp so much. I rarely get dan­druff now and my scalp no longer itch­es like crazy. So, I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly say that putting oils on your scalp is bad for dan­druff. I just think it may be dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks. But I know one thing, I LOVE my coconut/castor oil mix. It feels so good to be free of dan­druff!… Read more »
I also get more dan­druff when I use oils on my scalp. I have seb­or­rhic der­mati­tis, and yeah it’s basi­cal­ly a NO-NO for me to put oil on my scalp. What I use that is real­ly good is Oyin’s Homade Frank Juice to mois­tur­ize my scalp and my hair… And it lessens my dan­druff as well! I also use anti-dan­druff sham­poo one a week, as well as ACV wash­es. Top­i­cal steroids work won­ders, but it’s only tem­po­rary and it’s not good for your scalp in the long run, I try to avoid using them unless I have a real­ly bad… Read more »

If I use any­thing with olive oil I get very thick dan­druff! For me, the best thing is to apply oil right after I wash my hair. It doesn’t leave it greasy and my scalp looks good. Coconut oil is not an issue.


olive oil is VERY rich in Ole­ic acid, i took it out of my reg­i­men a few days ago when i found out.


I have oily scalp, and is expe­ri­enc­ing dan­druff, so I can’t apply coconut oil any­more? :(


I’ve tried Shea Moisture’s Deep Cleans­ing Sham­poo and Con­di­tion­er for my dry, itchy scalp. I noticed a dif­fer­ence with one use! I use it once every oth­er week and it has helped relieved my itchy scalp tremen­dous­ly. If I stopped putting oils and but­ters in my hair, it would be dry and brit­tle, so that is not an option!

but, if a deep cleans­ing sham­poo helped to ame­lio­rate the prob­lem, that would sug­gest to me that the prob­lem is not about dry­ness. it seems it’s about a build up on the scalp that needs to be cleared away.  this is not about avoid­ing putting oils/butters on the hair. it’s about not putting them on the scalp and mak­ing sure your scalp is free of build up. your build up can seem like dry, itchy scalp when it isn’t. it’s the same with skin on the face. your skin may appear dull and dry-look­ing when you don’t deep clean it with… Read more »

I agree! If I use prod­ucts with petro­le­um ingre­di­ents I get scalp buildup that resem­bles dan­druff.

i remem­ber years ago a black der­ma­tol­o­gist told me black women should not oil their scalp; it exac­er­bates the prob­lem. i nev­er under­stood oil­ing the scalp. imo, if you have ade­quate­ly washed your hair, it should prob­a­bly be fine breath­ing with­out oil being placed on it. i have seb­or­rheia der­mati­tis that recent­ly flared up for the first time in prob­a­bly ten years. i start­ed apply vine­gar to my scalp dai­ly which great­ly improved it and changed my cleans­ing regime, which i do every six months or so any­way. now, i apply vine­gar to my scalp as a pre­poo treat­ment and then… Read more »
Vine­gar — this sounds good — do you dilute it with lots of water Mer­ry? Recent­ly got a hair con­sul­ta­tion! I wouldn’t have gone if i knew my dry scalp was back! This hair­dress­er was on the ball — she spot­ted my der­mati­tis was back and rec­om­mend­ed i see a tri­chol­o­gist Whilst that is a good idea — they can be expen­sive! I thought this prob­lem had gone but today think­ing about why its back. i put rose­mary oil in my hair with some Indi­an oil… my hair hat­ed it.. and itched for days… I reck­on the rose­mary oil was… Read more »

[…] you can now see, you don’t have to allow acid reflux to rule your life. Acid reflux can be a past issue when you gain some infor­ma­tion and make […]


..So this explains why Moni­stat and oth­er anti­fun­gals work to relieve dan­druff and speed up hair growth, right? This is real­ly inter­est­ing.

Natty Locs

An expe­ri­enced styl­ist will be able to help..


It did hap­pen to me. When I use the cas­tor oil direct­ly on my scalp, it caus­es dan­druff, I also think that I have a sen­si­tive scalp. So, I mix my cas­tor oil with a water based leave in con­di­tion­ner and it works so much bet­ter.


I’m like that with jojo­ba oil. I can use it with oth­er prod­ucts and it doesn’t both­er me but by itself, is anoth­er sto­ry. Quite inter­est­ing how prod­ucts can work like that, huh?


Ooh, I might try that! My favorite con­di­tion­er has oils in the for­mu­la and cause no irri­ta­tion so it might be oils in its pure form that caus­es my sen­si­tiv­i­ty.


It’s good to pro­vide this kind of infor­ma­tion about what may be caus­ing dan­druff, but why not include some sug­ges­tions about how to counter it? I feel this post kind of left the read­er hang­ing about alter­na­tives.

I agree Tori, I was glad to see the arti­cle cov­er­ing this top­ic, but it would have been nice to have had some reme­dies for the prob­lem or oils that one could use if they have a real­ly dry scalp. I have dan­druff issues also because I have seb­hor­ric der­mati­tis, but I also have a real­ly dry scalp as well, no mat­ter what prod­ucts, sham­poos, or con­di­tion­ers I use. I notice that when I use oils on my scalp, I tend to get the itch­ing and dan­druff, but then if I don’t put any­thing on my scalp, then my scalp… Read more »

Have you tried Jojo­ba oil? It is sup­posed to be very close to the scalp’s nat­ur­al oils. I find my scalp real­ly goes nuts when i’ve put coconut oil on (which is a shame as i love it) but using a tiny amount of jojo­ba oil every oth­er day or so seems to do the trick.


Final­ly I have an answer! I had dan­druff and flaky scalp when relaxed. when i did my big chop i got treat­ed by a der­ma­tol­o­gist and i had no fur­ther issues. then the dan­druff and flaky and this new killer itch­ing start­ed and i was so con­fused. i just start­ed anoth­er round of derm treat­ment. imma put that coconut oil on hold and see what hap­pens!


I agree i find oil exac­er­bates my dan­druff as i have seb­or­rhe­ic der­mati­tis in areas of my scalp, how­ev­er I do find neem oil does a good job


I don’t have dan­druff but for some rea­son I can­not use my usu­al oils on my scalp with­out major irri­ta­tion, major as in RUN to the sink and scrub it out imme­di­ate­ly.


This is kind of true for me. While coconut oil did not wors­en dan­druff and my hair loves it, I keep it away from direct con­tact with my scalp. It feels like my scalp is on fire after a few days of direct coconut oil. How­ev­er, I still love it on the rest of my hair and just don’t oil my scalp. Hen­na treat­ments help immense­ly too.


Ive been using Ave­da prod­ucts to help with the itch­ing and flak­ing. Ave­da scalp ben­e­fits sham­poo and con­di­tion­er plus the dan­druff solu­tion spray. For me, those prod­ucts actu­al­ly work because im see­ing less flakes and the itch­ing is start­ing to be relieved.


Hmm, not true! Any­one who looks up coconut oil would see that it can treat dan­druff regard­less of the cause. It has worked for my hus­band and many oth­ers. If you have unre­lent­ing dan­druff it is more like­ly caused by con­di­tion­er. My son gets dan­druff if I put any­thing in his hair besides a very mild organ­ic cleanser. So now I only con­di­tion his hair with apple cider vine­gar. His hair is short and straight so oils would make it too greasy.
[imgcomment image[/img]


She did men­tion that it also depends on the indi­vid­ual sen­si­tiv­i­ty as well.


I expect­ed to see a list­ing of oils that might still be ben­e­fi­cial. Does any­one know of any?