"Help: I have a super common but embarrassing hair problem!"

Do you also get sad about your scalp flakes? (Source: Supplied.)

Nothing kills a good hair day like dandruff. The telltale itchy scalp and the pesky white flakes can really squish a girl’s confidence. How do I know this? It’s because I have it!

I once cried because my dandruff was getting so bad. When you’ve got black hair, there’s little you can do to disguise the flaky, scalp-snow! So I turned to Rebecca Coffey from LHD Organic Hair for her expert advice on how to treat this often misunderstood hair issue.

What causes dandruff?

The top layer of our skin is in a constant state of renewal, which means that we shed skin cells. We don’t usually notice this happening, as the skin cells are shed one at a time, and they’re teeny-tiny.

However, if the scalp is inflamed and scaly, then the skin cells clump together, forming noticeable, larger flakes. And voila! We have dandruff flakes.

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Why do I always seem to get dandruff in winter?

Consider this: you may not actually have dandruff, but bad hair habits instead. Oops… guilty as charged.

“Dandruff is commonly misdiagnosed,” explains Rebecca. “During the colder months, you have hotter showers and burn your scalp. If it’s only during winter, it’s not dandruff.”

Avoid hot showers if you want to avoid flaky scalp.

“What we find at LHD is most commonly, it’s a build-up of silicone. Silicone is an ingredient in most cheap hair products to smooth, weigh down frizz and add shine,” suggests Rebecca. (Post continues after gallery.)

How can I treat my dandruff?

Hold up: make sure it really is dandruff, and not just dry scalp, before you do anything. The best person to consult is your doctor, but a hairstylist can help initially.

Snow? Dandruff? Dry scalp? Or all of the above? (Source: iStock.)

“Ask your stylist if you have dandruff before you spend your life on drying, stripping shampoos which cause your scalp to produce more shedding,” warns Rebecca.

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If you really do have dandruff, there’s a few things you can do to keep the flakes at bay.

“Generally, a scalp exfoliating treatment with your cut will be enough,” explains Rebecca.

For severe dandruff, moisturising shampoos are key.

“Hydrating shampoos, rather than a stripping shampoo, is a long term benefit, wash to wash,” she explains.

But what about anti-dandruff shampoos? Won’t they fix my problem?

A cheap, supermarket anti-dandruff shampoo seems like the easy solution to the flakes populating my scalp. But in all honesty, it feels as though these shampoos fix the flakes in the short term, but later on, the itchy scalp and flakes come back stronger than ever, and for longer periods of time. I wasn’t wrong.

“Going on an anti-dandruff shampoo when you don't have dandruff will cause it,” says Rebecca. “It’s a quick fix.”

"What?! I'm never using that cheap anti-dandruff shampoo again. It's made my scalp so flaky!"

Instead, Rebecca suggests using a scalp-specific shampoo range, such as the NEUMA reNeu shampoo ($44.50), conditioner ($44.50) and exfoliating scalp treatment ($43.95).

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“A scalp-specific shampoo is far more healing and balancing in the long term, rather than stripping the scalp. After using an anti-dandruff shampoo, your body will naturally replace the skin cells you strip so it will need to be stripped again. And that begins a constant cycle,” explains Rebecca.

So, steer clear of hot showers and silicone (often called “dimethicone” in the ingredients list), and consider a moisturising shampoo. Goodbye, flakes! We won’t be missing you at all.

What are your best tips for dealing with dandruff or dry scalp?

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