How Does Your Dandruff Impact the Environment?

January 8, 2012 View all articles in General

It might seem difficult to believe but between 50 and 97 percent of all North Americans experience dandruff at some point in their lives, regardless of the season. Dandruff shampoos are a simple solution to this unsightly, embarrassing problem, but it turns out they're creating an even bigger problem for the environment and numerous potential health risks for humans. 

The active ingredients in these shampoos include coal tar, zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, and selenium disulfide. 


  • Coal mining has a history of contaminating groundwater long after the mine is in active use. 
  • Zinc pyrithione is toxic to aquatic wildlife, with long term environmental effects.  
  • Selenium disulfide is an environmental bioaccumulant. 


  • Coal tar is a carcinogen.
  • Zinc pyrithione is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a probable human carcinogen.
  • Ketoconazole is an endocrine disruptor in humans.
  • Selenium disulfide is also a known carcinogen.


  • You may not have dandruff at all; your shampoo might contain sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (SLS), a notorious skin and scalp irritant. So before you purchase a dandruff shampoo, check your regular shampoo's ingredients. 
  • If you live in a humid climate but still suffer from dandruff, it's possible your symptoms are the result of a yeast or fungus. In this case, try cutting back on sugar and refine foods.
  • You can also try taking antifungal oregano oil internally.
  • Try washing your hair with natural tea tree oil shampoos, which are available at health food stores. 
  • You can even try adding a few drops of tea tree oil or essential rosemary oil to a palmful of your regular shampoo.
  • Try washing your hair with a solution that's one part apple cider vinegar, three parts warm water. Let the solution soak into your scalp before washing with a milder shampoo. Your symptoms should clear up after a few days of using the pH-balancing vinegar solution. 
  • If you only ever see dandruff symptoms in the winter, you simply have dry skin and no fungal issues. Try taking extra omega fatty acids and vitamin B 6. 
  • Consider getting a humidifier.
  • Rubbing pure aloe vera into your scalp is another soothing remedy. 
  • You might be phobic about dandruff, but that doesn't mean you should use dandruff shampoos year round as prevention. Your health and the environment will thank you if you limit your use to just two or three times a week. 


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