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6 min read / 30 August 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

How to Use Rosemary Oil For Dandruff

Uncover the secrets of using rosemary oil to tackle dandruff head-on.

Although dandruff is not a condition that can cause serious health issues, it can be very difficult to treat and live with.

There are lots of commercial products available on the market, although not everyone is a fan of the large number of chemicals and additives they contain.

Using rosemary oil for dandruff could provide a natural alternative that is kinder to your hair and skin whilst reducing itchiness, flakes and inflammation. We decided to examine this claim in more detail by looking at how using rosemary essential oil for dandruff could be beneficial, along with application methods and other essential oils that may prove helpful.

Why does dandruff happen?

The reason why dandruff can start to appear varies, as there are different causes for different people. Some of these include:

  • Dandruff can be caused by diet and stress factors: The way you eat and manage stress can contribute towards the appearance of dandruff. When you experience high levels of stress it will affect you mentally and physically, with dandruff manifesting as a representation of how your body is feeling. And if your diet is deficient in certain nutrients, such as zinc, it can lead to the onset of dandruff, whilst there are some food allergies that can also trigger its appearance.
  • Environmental stressors affect your skin health: Whether it’s the warm or cold part of the year, your skin is constantly at battle with the surrounding environment, and it can also be the cause of dandruff. Exposure to too much pollution or cigarette smoke can damage the skin, and cold and dry weather can also encourage the arrival of dandruff.
  • Your hormones and genes may be responsible for dandruff symptoms: Your body experiences hormonal changes at different times in your life and this can sometimes be a breeding ground for dandruff. Infants often develop cradle cap (a mild form of dandruff) and dandruff can also start to appear during puberty, with symptoms subsiding as they progress into adulthood. In many cases, dandruff and skin sensitivities appear to genetically pass on in families. So, there is a good chance that your ongoing battle with an itchy and flaky scalp could simply come down to your family history.
  • Some skin and health conditions can trigger dandruff: Conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and more can sometimes be the root cause of dandruff. If you have similar symptoms on your body outside your hair and scalp, a dermatologist or doctor can help to diagnose. Some health conditions that weaken the immune system may also increase the risk of dandruff.

Woman holding a sprig of rosemary on top of her hair

Is rosemary oil good for dandruff?

By using rosemary oil for dandruff, you may also be able to enjoy some of the following benefits:

1. Anti-inflammatory properties that can be good for your scalp

The anti-inflammatory properties found in rosemary can prove useful in relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Compounds such as oleanolic acid, bornyl acetate and carbolic acid can offer analgesic effects. Regular application can ease inflammation and restore a little more balance to improve the all-round condition of your scalp.

2. Heal damaged cells with antioxidant compounds

Antioxidants offer a great way to boost the natural healing process at cell level, working to combat oxidative stress and free radicals – both of which contribute to ageing processes. When tissues and nerves are healed, the carnosic acid antioxidant compound can help to promote the growth of new hair.

3. It can restore the microbiome balance in your scalp

Antifungal and antimicrobial properties can be found in rosemary, which can prove effective at winning the battle against dandruff. Most people with dandruff have too much Malassezia (a skin fungus) and application of the oil may be able to restore your scalp’s microbiome balance to calm and soothe symptoms.

4. Promote skin growth and healthier hair with improved circulation

When massaged into the scalp, rosemary essential oils antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be able to boost blood circulation. Good blood circulation is critical to the growth and lifespan of hair, helping to keep it strong so stands do not fail and eventually die.

Rosemary plants

How to use rosemary oil for dandruff

There are a few different ways you can use rosemary oil for dandruff. Try some of our suggestions below to see what works best for you:

  • Massage into the hair: Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to your preferred carrier oil (such as jojoba or coconut oil) and rub across the palms of your hands to warm. Then, simply massage directly into your hair and scalp, leaving it in for 25-30 minutes before washing it out with a shampoo.
  • Add to your normal shampoo: Another option could be to add rosemary oil to your favourite shampoo. You don’t need to dilute with a carrier oil, as by adding a few drops into a dollop of shampoo you are reducing its concentration. Lather into your hair and scalp as usual and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Make your own hair mask: You can leave the application until after you wash your hair by using your own homemade hair mask. Apply a diluted rosemary oil mixture to your damp hair and leave it in for 5-10 minutes. The rinse thoroughly, then dry and style your hair as normal.

What are the risks of using rosemary oil for dandruff?

Rosemary essential oil is extracted from the rosemary plant and in its purest form is highly concentrated, which means it is only suitable for topical application when mixed with a carrier oil.

However, even when diluted, there is still a small risk that it could irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction. To safeguard against this, conduct a patch test before using the oil on your hair or skin. Dilute a small amount with a carrier oil and apply to the inside of your elbow. Cover with a plaster and leave for 24 hours and if you experience any skin irritation, inflammation or redness, wash the oil off and look for an alternative.

Take care not to combine rosemary oil with too many other products or oils, as it could have a negative effect on your hair and scalp. Rosemary oil is also generally considered safe for pregnant people, although only during the second and third trimester. You should never use any essential oil during the first trimester (13 weeks) due the potential toxicity risks.

Rows of rosemary sprigs

What are the alternatives to using rosemary oil for dandruff?

If using rosemary oil for hair dandruff isn’t for you, the good news is there are some essential oil alternatives you could try, all of which were mentioned as being effective in a

1. Bergamot oil can cleanse your scalp

The antimicrobial properties found in Bergamot Essential Oil could help to cleanse your scalp and reduce the build-up of flakes. Many people also believe that continued use of the oil can reduce dandruff symptoms.

2. Try garlic oil to regain keep on top of dandruff

Although the scent might not be appealing (remember, you can wash it out!) Garlic Essential Oil could prove effective at reducing dandruff symptoms. The oil contains vitamins A and C and is a rich source of fibre, magnesium, sulphur compounds and amino acids, and also contains a stack of minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium and iron – all of which are beneficial to your hair.

3. Sooth itching symptoms and yeast overgrowth with tea tree oil

When Malassezia grows excessively on the scalp it can lead to the onset of dandruff. found that a shampoo containing 5% tea tree oil was able to reduce dandruff symptoms caused by Malassezia. And another study found that Tea Tree Essential Oil was able to reduce greasiness and itchiness associated with dandruff.

4. Thyme oil can provide a natural remedy for dandruff

Two anti-inflammatory compounds, Apigenin and apigenin-7-glucoside, can be found in Thyme Essential Oil. Application to the scalp could ease inflammation issues, whilst combating dry skin and nourishing your hair follicles. Thyme also contains thymol, which can kill bacteria and other germs that may be the cause for inflammation.

Black and white illustration of rosemary

There is a good chance that rosemary essential oil could offer a natural remedy to calm and ease dandruff symptoms. You can try a few different methods to see which one is more suited to your lifestyle and produces the best results. Rosemary oil’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties all combine to produce a potentially powerful mixture that can ease your dandruff symptoms and hopefully restore your skin and hair back to its normal condition.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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