The claim: If you thought dandruff was caused by a super-dry scalp, you’re in for a surprise—it’s actually your scalp’s natural oils that are behind the flaky condition, finds a new study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.
The research: Researchers examined the oil produced by the scalp’s skin, or sebum, of 23 dandruff sufferers and 23 adults without scalp issues, using a special probe that uses vibrations to detect the chemical makeup of the substances on and in the skin. Though they were really investigating whether using dandruff shampoo for six weeks would help (it did), they turned up a fascinating fact in the process: Among those with dandruff, the scalp’s sebum (and more of it) actually penetrates deeper into the surface of the skin, making it a better home for the type of lipid-loving fungus that causes dandruff.
What it means: The fungus responsible for dandruff, Malassezia, causes the persistent flaking by disrupting healthy cell turnover. Malassezia relies on fat supplies to grow, so having more lipid-rich sebum deep in your skin is essentially a fungus feast. And a happier fungus means you’ll keep seeing those pesky flakes along your part and hairline.
The bottom line: While this new research reveals more about the causes of dandruff, it also confirms that classic dandruff shampoos deliver results. Look for a formula with zinc pyrithione, a compound that not only tackles the fungus, but also effectively brings out-of-whack sebum levels back to normal.
Image courtesy of prevention.com