What is often labelled as "winter dandruff' isn't really dandruff, but just dry scalp. You know those hot showers you love? Those are so wonderful on cold winter mornings but they're likely to blame for your dry scalp.
Here's how to know if you have dry scalp vs actual dandruff or other scalp conditions.
The flakes are small and white
They come off easily because they're dry, not oily or waxy
There's no smell to them or your scalp
You get "winter dandruff' every year in December and it magically goes away in April/May
Your scalp feels tight and/or itchy all over (instead of in just one or two areas) but not unbearably so
Easy Solutions for Dry Scalp
So the easiest solution is to turn down the temperature of your water when you shower, specifically on hair washing days. We're not suggesting that you get into a cold shower, get in at whatever temperature you need to, just turn it down as much as you can before washing your hair. Your skin all over including your scalp will thank you.
If you normally air dry, blow dry briefly on low heat to get your scalp dry. Our scalps don't like to be damp for too long so air drying in the winter with the temperature changes can aggravate it. And no going to sleep with your hair tied up, or plopped/wrapped in a towel or buff in any season, for the same reason.
Use a Scalp Scrub to exfoliate and calm. Innersense makes an amazing one in their True Enlightenment Scalp Scrub, formulated with Hawaiian Red salt, which is rich in volcanic clay and minerals. Apple fruit restores hydration to the scalp while celery seed extract and peppermint oil stimulates blood flow. Tea tree oil extracts help to soothe inflammation and irritation. You can also DIY a scalp scrub with a few simple ingredients that you probably already have at home. All you need is:
Your favourite shampoo or conditioner (use conditioner if your scalp feels tight)
Any large crystal sugar like demerara or raw sugar
Optional - a few drops of peppermint or tea tree oil * Make sure not to touch your eyes if you add these*
Mix approximately equal amounts of sugar and shampoo or conditioner together in your palm to make a paste, adding the peppermint or tea tree oil if desired. Apply to a wet scalp and scrub with fingertips (not fingernails) in circular motions until the sugar has dissolved. Rinse, shampoo, and condition from there. Style as per usual.
What happens if none of those things worked?
We're looking at your scalp during your visit anyways for any potential issues, so just ask one of us to have a look at any areas of irritation you're experiencing. We will chat about known allergies, scalp health history, and have an up close look at your scalp. You may need a medicated shampoo if you have actual dandruff, a more in depth treatment like a scalp facial, or you may possibly have other common scalp concerns like eczema or psoriasis. While we definitely aren't permitted to diagnose the latter, we can give you some tips to reduce flareups while you wait 12+ months to see a dermatologist.