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Dry Flaky Scalp Treatment (All Natural, DIY + Video Demo)

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Have a flaky scalp that doesn’t respond well to anything? I have an at-home treatment that works.

This diy scalp treatment is gentle, it will cleanse and dissolve the buildup off your scalp, get it balanced and healthy again.

Plus, it will make your hair silky soft, shiny, and weightlessly clean.

When you have a healthy scalp, you will have stronger, more lustrous hair.

This all natural treatment for flaky scalp is easy to do, doesn’t cost much, but you need to commit to it. There’s no overnight remedy, this is a treatment you will need to do weekly until the flakes completely go away, and possibly once a monthly for maintenance.

You’ll love the results, it’s worth the time and effort.

3-step natural hair treatment for flaky scalp

STEP 1

Applying a mixture of Jojoba Oil and a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to your entire scalp (on dry hair). You will apply a generous amount to fully coat your scalp and leave it on for at at least an hour (can be left on overnight). This will soften, loosen and dissolve all the build up of dead skin cells and hardened sebum on your scalp.

STEP 2

Thoroughly combing oiled hair with a fine tooth comb after oil has been left on your scalp for at least 1-2 hours. This will gently lift the loosened flakes and dead skin off your scalp.

STEP 3

Rising hair and scalp with a diluted vinegar rinse after washing and conditioning hair. This will further clarify and dissolve leftover build up off hair and scalp without stripping or drying out hair.

(full detailed instructions and measurements below).

FOR BEST RESULTS

  • Don’t use in conjunction with medicated dandruff shampoos, scalp scrubs, or strong dandruff treatment hair care products.
  • Best to use mild shampoos and conditioners made without sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) which is a strong surfactant/detergent that can irritate and dry out scalp making flaky scalp worse.
  • This scalp treatment is suitable for all hair types, textures and lengths.
  • It is safe to use on color treated hair, but I recommend waiting 1-2 weeks after coloring hair before using this treatment.

How does this scalp treatment work?

Unlike using a scalp scrub or harsh medicated shampoos, treating your scalp with an oil, or “oiling your scalp” will naturally dissolve and loosen up the buildup on your scalp without being rough or harsh. Your scalp is quite sensitive. The buildup of sebum, flakes and dry plaques can be stuck to your scalp like glue. Rather than trying to rub the dead skin off or chemically dissolving it which can irritate your scalp and make it red and raw, better to dissolve the “glue” with oil, so the flakes and dead skin just come right off.

The longer you leave the oil on, the easier it will be to remove the buildup of flakes, dead skin and hardened sebum.

I recommend using Jojoba Oil because it’s closest in composition to our natural sebum and extremely gentle on sensitive scalps. It also a medium weight oils which makes it easy to apply and spread on the scalp and hair without being too light, heavy, or sticky. It will condition your scalp and hair as it treats it.

Adding a few drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil to the Jojoba Oil will help dissolve the flakes and dead skin. Plus, Tea Tree Oil boosts the treatment with its anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal compounds. Small amounts of Tea Tree Essential Oil is also anti-inflammatory, which can help soothe and balance an irritated scalp.

Leaving an oil on your scalp isn’t enough for exfoliating and removing dead skin and flakes. After leaving the oil on the scalp for at least an hour (preferably longer if you have the time), you need to very gently comb your scalp with a fine tooth comb, passing the comb along your scalp, from root to tip. Lightly combing your scalp will lift and exfoliate buildup from your scalp. Don’t be rough or heavy handed with the comb, you’ll see that gently passing the comb along your scalp effortlessly lifts all the flakes and buildup.

And not to worry if not much flakes and dead skin lifts up, or the opposite, it seems endless how much dead skin and buildup keeps lifting every time you pass the comb along your scalp. Washing your hair and using the special diluted vinegar rinse, will dissolve and remove even more.

After you’ve thoroughly combed your hair, you will then wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner. Depending how much oil you put on your scalp and how strong your shampoo is, some of you might need to shampoo your hair twice to remove all the oil.

After conditioning your hair you are going to use a diluted vinegar rinse which is a clarifying scalp and hair treatment that will further remove any residues and build up from your hair and scalp. Vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) helps balance ph of hair and scalp, making hair strong, shiny, soft and smooth (especially good for dry, brittle, frizzy and damaged hair). It too has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties making it good for dandruff and soothing an itchy scalp.

I personally get the best results leaving the vinegar rinse in my hair. I don’t rinse it out. Leaving it in, makes hair weightlessly soft with a glossy shine. As your hair dries, the vinegar scent evaporates and disappears. If you find the scent unbearable, you can rinse it out with cold water a few minutes after applying the rinse (but I’ll warn you, you will get much better results leaving it in).

How often should you do the treatment?

In the beginning, I recommend doing the Jojoba and Tea Tree Oil treatment and vinegar rinse once a week, for 4 weeks until the flakes are gone. Once your scalp is balanced and healthy, you can do the treatment once a month for maintenance which will help keep your scalp and hair buildup-free and maintain lustrous shine.

What you need

The suggested quantity is for medium length hair. If you have short hair, cut the quantities of the Tea Tree Oil and Jojoba Oil in half. If you have very long hair, you can double the recipe.

  • 1 tablespoon Jojoba Oil
  • 6-8 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil (make sure it’s 100% pure, high quality tea tree oil, no added ingredients)
  • Fine tooth comb
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water (if your home water is very hard or treated with chlorine, try using bottle spring water for the rinse which may contain less minerals and be gentler on your scalp and hair)
  • A small bowl to mix the Jojoba Oil and Tea Tree Oil
  • A measuring cup to mix the vinegar and water
  • Mild shampoo and conditioner to wash your hair after the scalp oil treatment

Instructions

Best to do the treatment on the day you are planning to wash your hair (when your hair is dirty). If you want to leave the scalp oil treatment on overnight, do it the night before washing your hair.

You will be applying the tea tree scalp oil treatment to dry hair, BEFORE shampooing.

1- Brush your hair ensuring there’s no tangles.

2 – In a small bowl mix 1 tablespoons of Jojoba Oil with 6-8 drops of Tea Tree Oil.

3- With your fingers, apply the oil to your scalp, evenly coating your entire scalp.

4- Comb your hair which will distribute the oil through your scalp and along your hair.

5- If you like, you can tie your hair back or put it in a loose bun.

6- Leave on your hair for at least one hour. If you decide to leave on overnight, beware some residue oil can transfer on your pillowcase. You might want to put a protective cloth or fabric over your pillow, or use an old pillowcase you don’t mind getting a little oil on.

7- When you are ready to wash your hair (and have left the scalp oil on for at least one hour), using a fine tooth comb, comb your hair thoroughly. This will help to lift and remove the loosened dead skin and flakes from your scalp. Take your time to thoroughly comb your scalp. Make sure to be gentle, using a light hand to comb along your scalp, the flakes come off effortlessly.

8- After combing your hair, take a shower, wash and condition your hair. If you are using a mild shampoo, you may need to double wash your hair with shampoo to remove all the oil.

9- After rinsing out conditioner, wring out excess water from your hair, and pour the diluted vinegar rinse over your scalp, allowing it to run through your scalp and hair evenly from front to back.

10- Using a wide tooth comb, comb the vinegar rinse through your hair.

11- Don’t rinse it out. As your hair dries, the scent from the vinegar will evaporate and disappear. If you really can’t stand the scent, you can rinse it out, but first leave it in your hair for 3-5 minutes and then lightly rinse out with cold water.

(Watch today’s video at the top of the page for a full demo how to apply the scalp treatment).

Innersense Detox Hair Mask, Harmonic Healing Oil, Living Libations Scalp Tonic and Crowning Glory Hair Oil at Inspire Beauty
Scalp and hair treatments at Inspire Beauty

Frequently asked questions

Can I use another carrier oil instead of Jojoba Oil?

Yes. Just make sure you use an oil that is easy to apply. I know a lot of people like using castor oil for hair, but for this type of treatment, pure castor oil is too thick and sticky. Better to dilute it with jojoba oil to thin it out.

Other oils good for hair are coconut oil, argan oil, avocado oil, almond oil, etc.

Can I use a commercial scalp oil?

Yes, as long as the scalp oil is a pure oil blend, made only with oils and essential oils and it says it can be left on hair for an extended amount of time (like overnight).

Any commercial scalp oil that needs to be rinsed out immediately shouldn’t be used for this treatment.

For this type of scalp treatment, avoid using oils blends or scalp oils containing added waxes, butters, lanolin, fragrance, perfumes, alcohol, surfactants, silicones, or additives. We’re treating a sensitive flaking scalp, and leaving the scalp oil for an hour or more, we don’t want to apply a product that usually needs to be rinsed immediately or could potentially irritate your skin.

If you want to use a scalp oil, I highly recommend Living Libations Scalp Tonic or Crowning Glory Hair Oil (great for all hair types), or Innersense Harmonic Healing Oil (especially good for dry scalp and hair). These can be left on the hair and scalp, or can be used as an overnight treatment. If you are prone to scalp sensitivity, I highly recommend Loa Skin Botanical Beauty Elixir. This oil blend is formulated to soothe and moisturize sensitive skin prone to redness and inflammation, and it can also be used on the hair and scalp. It’s an excellent multi-tasking oil blend.

Is it normal for my scalp to feel sensitive or irritated from the Tea Tree Oil treatment or vinegar rinse?

No, you shouldn’t have any sensitivity from the treatment. If you do, discontinue using. You probably have an allergy or sensitivity to one of the ingredients.

I really like the effects of the treatments. Can I do this forever?

You can, but I wouldn’t do this treatment more than once a week. Once you scalp is healthy, clean, no more buildup and isn’t itchy, you can decrease frequency to once or twice a month. You’ll see that you don’t have to do the treatment as often but still maintain the results.

It’s important to be cautious not to over cleanse your hair and scalp, and not to throw the ph off balance. If ever your hair looks dull or feels brittle, you might be overdoing the treatment (especially overdoing the vinegar rinse, and better to decrease frequency).

Can I do this treatment in conjunction with a scalp scrub shampoo?

I wouldn’t use a scalp scrub shampoo at the same time as this treatment.

The leave-in oil treatment really softens your scalp. Applying a scrub shampoo right after treating your scalp with an oil might be too abrasive and irritating. Better to use a scalp scrub separately at a different time.

If you like, you can alternate them. One week you do the leave-in oil treatment and vinegar rinse, the following week you use the scalp scrub shampoo.

Is this treatment safe for inflammatory scalp conditions, raw irritated scalp?

No. If you have an inflammatory skin condition (like eczema or psoriasis on your scalp), open wound on your scalp, or red, raw or irritated scalp – don’t use this treatment. Consult your doctor or practitioner.

Is this safe for colour treated hair?

Yes. But if you just had your hair colored, I recommend waiting 1-2 weeks (a few washes) before using the treatment.

Can I use hair styling products after the treatment?

Yes, but you might notice you need less! The treatment softens hair, adds shine, and rinses off buildup. You might notice your hair becomes a lot more manageable and doesn’t need as much conditioner or styling products as before.

What shampoos and conditioners do you recommend for flaky scalp?

I recommend avoiding shampoos made with sodium lauryl sulfate which can be too strong of a detergent for sensitive scalps, sometimes drying out the scalp and making flakes worse. I would also recommend avoid or minimizing the use of conditioner and styling products made with silicone which tend to build up on the scalp.

My favorite hair care line is Innersense Organic Beauty. Their shampoos and conditioners are outstanding, and they have many to choose from for different hair types. I always struggled finding natural hair care products for thick, dry, coarse, color treated hair – until I found Innersense. I have a very sensitive scalp and most natural hair care products make my scalp itchy and irritated, but not these. They have a way of nourishing and balancing hair and mild enough that they can be used regularly. My favorite shampoos are the Innersense Color Awakening Hairbath used with Innersense Color Radiance Daily Conditioner (GREAT for color treated hair – really helps preserve color and works magic removing unwanted brassiness from blond hair). When my hair needs extra nourishment, I switch over to Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath and Innersense Hydrating Cream Conditioner which is rich and moisturizing without weighing hair down or leaving buildup on the scalp.

Living Libations shampoos are also very soothing and clarifying for flaky scalp. I find their shampoos and conditioners best suited for fine to medium texture hair,  and also if you are prone to having an oily scalp. Living Libations Seabuckthorn Shampoo is very soothing and balancing, and True Blue Spirulina Shampoo adds strength and volume. These shampoos are very cleansing, removing all buildup without stripping or irritating the scalp.

Any other treatment products I recommend for dry flaky scalp?

Recently Innersense released the Detox Hair Mask which is one of the best clarifying scalp treatments I’ve tried.

It’s a pre-shampoo hair mask you apply to your wet scalp and it dissolve buildup of flakes, dead skin cells, mineral buildup from hard water, and hair care product residues. What makes this product so great is it’s moisturizing as it’s clarifying. It’s made with clays and vinegar to cleanse and also shea butter to condition. So many scalp treatment products are either too rough and abrasive or overly cleansing, resulting in a dry scalp. But not this one. Infact, it’s the reverse, it replenishes the scalp as it washes away build and residues.

Since my hair tends to be dry along the lengths of my hair, I use the Detox Hair Mask to treat my scalp, and Innersense Hydrating Hair Mask along the lengths of my hair (I apply both treatments at the same time). If you have dry, coarse or color treated hair that needs softening and extra nourishment, this is a great combo to try.

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About the Author

Natasha St. Michael is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Natural Health Educator accredited by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. She is a member of the American Association For Drugless Practitioners. For over a decade, Natasha has been coaching her clients how to improve their diet, lifestyle and skin care routine to reach their health goals and have clear youthful skin.

DISCLAIMER

This blog is for information purposes only. The content is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Should you have a medical or dermatological problem, please consult with your physician. None of the information or recommendations on this website should be interpreted as medical advice.

All product reviews, recommendations, and references are based on the author’s personal experience and impressions using the products. All views and opinions are the author’s own. 

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