The annoying white flakes can happen at any time of year-but dry winter weather can make an irritated scalp even worse. Never fear-help is just a few steps away.
1. Dandruff is actually a form of eczema-a harmless yeast on the scalp grows excessively and causes the skin to shed the affected cells. So the best treatment is to alternate shampoos: one that slows the growth of or kills the yeast (look at ingredients labels for ketaconzaole, selenium sulfide, or pyrithione zinc, found in Head & Shoulders), and one that exfoliates with salicylic acid (such as Neutrogena Maximum Strength T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo).
2. Leave the shampoo on your head for at least a minute so it has time to work.
3. If you have dry, rough hair, apply the medicated shampoo only to your scalp, rinse it out, then use a moisturizing shampoo on the rest of your hair. (We like John Frieda Root Awakening Nourishing Moisture Shampoo.)
4. If dandruff is still a problem a month later, see a dermatologist, who can give you a prescription to a stronger shampoo, such as Selseb, which should help in about two weeks. If even that doesn't work, or if dandruff migrates down to your eyebrows, the problem might be psoriasis, in which case you might need a steroid cream.
5. In the meantime, mask the problem with the right style. Avoid severe parts as well as flatirons, which only highlight flakiness. Instead, add volume at the crown with mousse and a round-brush blow-dry, try several Velcro rollers at the roots, or spritz a texturizing or salt spray on damp hair and tousle as you air-dry. (We like Blow Beach Blow Texturizing Mist.)
More from Allure: