This post is sponsored by Head & Shoulders

For years, I had a flaky scalp but didn’t know what caused it, or how to treat the problem. Was it dandruff or dry scalp? All I knew was that the problem was persistent, from my teen years on into adulthood. I tried so many things, from sugar scalp scrubs to vinegar treatments to topical rubs, but I had no idea what actually would work, if anything. Was there a special oil I had to hunt down? Could it be a household or pantry item that did the trick? I had SO many questions. Finally, I got the answers I needed.

Since writing Flaking is Forever and interviewing Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson — 14-year veteran Principal Scientist at P&G Beauty who has worked on some of the world’s most popular and well-known skin and hair care brands including Head and Shoulders – I finally know how to deal with my flakes. I understand they’re never totally going away, and I’ve come to realize that I’m far from alone in scalp issues. I have flakes, you have flakes, 50% of us have flakes on our scalps. No matter how we wear our hair, we all have malassezia globosa, the fungus on our scalps that causes dandruff. Relaxed or natural, braided or weaved up, we share this reality and have to figure out ways to deal with it. Clearly it isn’t going to go away on its own!

After my initial post, SO many of you had pressing questions about your personal scalp issues. I collected your comments from Flaking is Forever, as well as my posts on Facebook and Instagram, and sent all of them to the good doctor. Before you read this post, click here to check out my previous post about dealing with scalp issues. Dr. Wilkerson answered a ton of questions, including the difference between dry scalp and dandruff, and so much more. This post now offers answers to YOUR questions for Dr. Wilkerson! We got some GOOD ones, about best wash techniques and scalp care practices, specific recommendations for seborrheic dermatitis, and ALL of the oils that could be recommended for scalp. Which does Dr. Wilkerson actually recommend? Read on!

Reader question — Hey, I feel that sometimes no matter how often I wash my hair with shampoo it’s never clean!!!!! I was starting to think that I am not washing it properly. What are some recommended wash techniques?

 Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson A good washing technique is important for maintaining a clean scalp and healthy hair. Oftentimes people will use their fingernails to get at their scalp or not get to the scalp at all by just washing their hair. If you want to effectively cleanse your scalp and hair, use your fingertips, not fingernails, to gently massage and scrub the product on the scalp and hair. Lastly, make sure you bring the product through your hair and thoroughly rinse.

Reader questions — How would you suggest dealing with seborrehic dermatitis, outside of prescribed meds? (also, from another person “Please Bella, ask her how to deal with dermatitis seborrheic. Ketoconazole dries out my hair so bad… Urgh ? Thank you ?”)

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson If you have seborrheic dermatitis, or severe dandruff, including persistent flakes, tightness and irritation, I recommend Head & Shoulders Clinical Solutions Dandruff Shampoo. It’s a prescription strength shampoo that helps treat stubborn scalp issues and leaves your hair soft and clean without leaving the smell of a prescription strength product.

Reader question — How to deal in between washes? I already wash my hair with mediated shampoo but what I can do to maintain in between?

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson In between washes, use a scalp leave-on treatment that contains ZPT. The Head & Shoulders Clinical Solutions Leave-On Treatment contains an effective scalp care active and provides daily dandruff protection and dry, itchy skin relief. It keeps away stubborn scalp issues for 24 hours when used daily.

Reader question — How do you know if you have dandruff or something else?

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson When there is flaking on the scalp, itch, and dryness, it is most likely due to dandruff. If your wash frequency is prolonged there will be product build up on the scalp and hair, which can make the scalp condition worse. It’s important to wash with a product that will address the scalp needs and give you an effective cleanse.

Also, sebum, our natural oils produced on our scalp can sit on the scalp and oxidize when there is prolonged wash frequency. This oxidation of the scalp oils causes damage to the scalp and the hair. Whether it’s flaking/dandruff or you believe it is product buildup, a scalp care product with ZPT like H&S can address the scalp needs.

Reader question — Is tea tree oil good for the scalp? What about Jamaican Black Castor Oil? Argan oil? Neem oil? What would be the best, recommended oils for us to use? Which should we avoid at all costs?

 Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson Some oils can provide moisturizing benefits to the hair like argan or castor oil while others can have cooling effects and may help remove some product build up like tea tree oil. That said, oils won’t address scalp issues because they don’t get to the source of the problem, which is the fungus on the scalp. If you have scalp issues, you want to use a product with an ingredient like zinc pyrithione (ZPT), a scalp care active that is going to reduce the presence of the fungus, restore the scalp to a healthier state and clean the hair.

Reader question — Ever since I cut my hair, the shaved part flakes like CRAZY. Any tips for hiding the flakes for those of us with short cuts?

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson No need to try to hide the flakes. You can get rid of flaking with regular scalp care. Using a product formulated with zinc pyrithione (ZPT), a scalp care active that addresses scalp issues, will help to manage the flakes. I specifically recommend using Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care Shampoo and Conditioner on your wash day and then Head & Shoulders Clinical Solutions Leave-On Treatment in between washes.


Reader question — Can you leave us with some top tips for hair and scalp daily, weekly and monthly care? So many of us know we could be doing better by our scalps but don’t know exactly how or what we should be doing!

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson It’s important to have a regular scalp care routine. Regardless of your wash frequency or hairstyle, make sure you’re consistently using a product to care for your scalp. It could be a shampoo and conditioner that contains zinc pyrithione or a scalp care leave-on treatment for in between washes, all of which give you a healthier scalp and ultimately healthier hair. The leave-on-treatment is a gem for use on your non-wash days. It contains common skin care actives to help improve the condition of the scalp skin.

Reader question — What’s some advice for transitioning from relaxed to natural hair?

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson Keep your scalp clean and build-up free by using scalp care products with zinc pyrithione. Try to avoid heat styling, which can dry out the hair and scalp and make hair more brittle. Opt for styles that don’t pull on the scalp as this could cause breakage. Occasionally apply a deep conditioning treatment to replenish moisture.

Reader question — You previously mentioned that scratching the scalp to relieve itch is bad, is it bad to pat your head? What’s the best way to relieve itch?

Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson Patting your head to temporarily soothe the scalp is a better alternative than scratching. It is a compensating behavior. Some people with scalp concerns who scratch their scalp can cause damage to their scalp. The mechanical damage of scratching hair can actually remove the cuticle from the surface of the hair, which causes hair damage and ultimately hair breakage. That said, patting your head isn’t a long-term solution to soothe the scalp and relieve itchiness. Instead, try a leave-on treatment with ZPT to relief symptoms, especially in between wash days. The H&S Clinical Solutions provides instant relief from itch.

Now I feel like I’ve got a better understanding of my own hair and scalp care needs, and how to manage my expectations of flakes. Even better, I know exactly how to deal with them when they become an issue.

Thanks for the helpful advice and product recommendations, Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson!


This post is sponsored by Head & Shoulders, but the questions are all yours and the opinions are all mine!


Evelyn says:
June 25, 2018, 12:50 pm
I read in this article Dealing with dandruff, the natural way: 7 simple home remedies tips, how to get rid of dandruff by folk methods. Really baking soda can clear the scalp of dandruff? I want to use less shampoo and more natural products.
Theresa says:
July 29, 2018, 10:51 pm
Great Article. I try and get a routine going with my hair now that it is relaxed. For my edges, since the relaxer make them so thin, I use Edge Rx, by This ointment is kind of expensive but is grew my hair back in less than 30 days.
Reshmi Menon says:
June 11, 2019, 5:30 am
Thank you for the tips as I myself face Flaky scalp especially during winters.. And on top of that its hard to maintain curly hair. I have written a blog myself giving people with curly hair the essential tips to take care of their hair in summer season.
Dyane says:
May 17, 2020, 6:35 pm
Please tell me if the product u talked about on the Dr Oz show will help someone with alepica? And when I say alepica I mean alepica (bald)!!