How Effective Is Tea Tree Oil for Dandruff?

Sonal Panse

Tea tree oil is known for its antifungal properties, and, as dandruff is often caused by fungal infestation, using tea tree oil for dandruff has long been one of the much-touted dandruff remedies. That said, the research conducted on the subject isn't exactly conclusive; in some cases, the tea tree oil had been found effective, and in others it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference. It may be a good idea to also try out other natural dandruff remedies like olive oil or coconut oil, and go with what works the best; these oils are also strongly anti fungal.

Tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil.

One of the main causes of dandruff is a yeast-like fungus called Pityrosporum ovale, also known as Malassezia globosa. The growth of this fungus is generally aided by poor hygiene, stress, hormonal imbalance and other health issues, and it feeds on the sebaceous secretions and causes scalp inflammation. This causes the scalp to itch and eventually flake.

Coconut oil is a great dandruff remedy.
Coconut oil is a great dandruff remedy.

There are many tea tree oil for dandruff shampoos that are specially formulated for both preventing dandruff and treating dandruff. It is a good idea to check the ingredients list when buying; the tea tree oil for dandruff shampoo should contain at least five percent tea tree oil to be effective. It is also possible to buy tea concentrated tree oil separately and mix it with the regular shampoo to wash the hair.

Tea tree oil may be effective in treating dandruff.
Tea tree oil may be effective in treating dandruff.

If using separately, massage the tea tree oil to the scalp and leave on for about 20 minutes before shampooing. With a tea tree oil for dandruff shampoo, lather it in and let sit for about five minutes before rinsing off. This tea tree oil for dandruff remedy should, preferably, be carried out at least three times a week for good results.

Dandruff can occur as a result of the scalp becoming too dry or too oily.
Dandruff can occur as a result of the scalp becoming too dry or too oily.

It is advisable, particularly for people with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies, to do a skin patch test before using tea tree oil; some people have had allergic reactions to the oil. The concentrated form of tea tree oil in particular can be quite strong and lead to skin irritations. Diluting it with olive oil or coconut oil is definitely recommended.

Visible white flakes of dry dead skin on the scalp are a sign of dandruff.
Visible white flakes of dry dead skin on the scalp are a sign of dandruff.

The tea tree oil should never be ingested as it is quite toxic. It can impair the immune system and the central nervous system, and it has also be known to cause hormonal imbalances. If there is any vomiting, diarrhea or drowsiness after using this product, please consult a doctor. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid using this oil or its products, and look instead for other, more safer natural dandruff remedies.

Olive oil is also used as a natural dandruff remedy.
Olive oil is also used as a natural dandruff remedy.

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Discussion Comments


@browncoat - Well, tea tree oil shampoo isn't really aimed at helping with the oil or helping with the dryness, although I suppose it might make an oily scalp worse.

I find it's good to use a bit of tea tree when you're following the "no-poo" regime, which involves using vinegar and baking soda to clean your hair rather than shampoo and conditioner products.


@indigomoth - It really makes a difference why you've got dandruff in the first place.

When I was a teenager and not all that interested in spending much on hair care, I was asked to come into a salon so a student could practice on my hair.

It was a much posher place than I would usually use and she was being supervised by the most senior and experienced of all their hairdressers.

He explained to her (as I paid close attention!) that my flaky scalp was caused by the fact that my skin overproduced oil and that gave the yeasts a place to live, leading to dandruff.

He then showed her what kinds of products would control that sort of thing.

It was a bit embarrassing although he was really nice about it, but it's something I've always appreciated because it felt like a real evaluation by a professional.

So, I've always tried to get shampoos that address an oily scalp, rather than those that aim to provide moisture for a dry scalp. Because, really, those will just make the oil worse and not help the problem at all.


Be aware that tea tree can actually burn a little bit if your skin is raw when you put it on.

Tea tree oil for hair can be your best friend or not worth much at all. I had a tea tree and mint shampoo that worked really well, and completely cleared up my dandruff. I only had to use it once a week, which was good because I didn't really like the smell. So I would use an ordinary shampoo most of the time and the tea tree shampoo just when I had to. This was also good because the tea tree stuff was really expensive. almost four times the cost of my ordinary shampoo which wasn't all that cheap either.

I found eventually my hair stayed clear for longer and longer periods of time, although I'm not sure if that's because of the shampoo or if it was something else that I was doing.

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