Ask Rogelio – What Causes Dandruff in Men?

Rogelio answers a question on what causes dandruff. This annoying hair problem affects all men’s hair equal: straight, wavy, kinly or curly manes. Read ahead to know exactly what causes dandruff!


Hello Rogelio,

Thank you for having such a great website, I am learning a lot with your hair expert advice! I would like to email my question to your Ask Rogelio section and would be grateful if you could give me your advice. It is a simple question, what causes dandruff?

I have type IV curls and they are about 4 inches long now. I have noticed that as I grow my curly hair, I flake more. What is the reason for this? What causes dandruff?

Thanks Rogelio, keep rocking with your website!!

Gabriel, New York (USA)

Dear Gabriel,

Thanks to you for your kind words! I am glad you are taking good care of your Type IV curls with my advice and I can surely help you out with your problem. Let us introduce the enemy first: dandruff.

Dandruff is merely the result of shedding dead skin cells from your scalp. You see, your skin, including your scalp, is constantly remodelling and building new skin cells to replace old skin cells; this is called cell turnover and is part of having healthy skin. The dead skin cells in your scalp need to be removed so they lay there waiting to be removed either manually or fall off (hence the term snow flakes as dead cells fall on one’s jacket). Under normal circumstances, dead skin cells cannot be visually noticed but that is not the case for dandruff.

A mane of hair full of dandruff flakes

Well, hello Mr. Dandruff

Due to different causes, these dead cells may start accumulating excessively on your scalp and when, they break off, they have accumulated so much that they become big enough to be able to be seen by the naked eye. Likewise, the specific amount of dead skin cells that we shed is unique and some individuals just happen to shed more than others.

Since dandruff itself is the deposition of dead cells on the scalp, there are two primary causes for it:

1) Your genetic make up dictating what your cell turnover is. As I say, some people just do it too fast too soon!

2) Environmental factors such as a fungus, scalp inflammation, exposure to extreme temperatures or producing too much sebum (scalp oil) which traps the dead cells.

For the first cause, I am afraid you can’t organically fix it. Your body simply produces too many skin cells too fast. However, the second causes are different.

Dandruff can be caused by a fungus which lives on the scalp of humans. This ugly fungus is called Malassezia globosa and likes to do funky stuff. It disrupts the flow of sebum and traps the dead cells on the scalp. It also causes inflammation of the scalp which further increases cell turnover, yielding a vicious dandruff cycle.

A dandruff flake viewed closely after it fell from a mane of hair from a man

A delicious dandruff flake

Scalp inflammation is also another cause for dandruff. Seborrhoeic dermatitis (did I spell that right?) is, in layman’s  terms, inflammation of the scalp. Its organic cause is unknown although autoimmunity and environmental triggers are thought to be the cause. Our Malassezia fungus friend is also speculated to be behind Seborrhoeic dermatitis. Having said all of this, if you had Seborrhoeic dermatitis you would know by now as it causes extreme scalp itching and reddish patches appear all over the scalp. A good dermatologist can help you managing this skin condition which can be very annoying to those suffering from it (fwiw, I am not a dermatologist, I just play one in the bedroom).

A man with no hair on his scalp and seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a serious skin condition most notorious for the heavy scalp inflammation

Exposure to extreme temperatures can also cause dandruff as such environments increase skin cell production. If you are living in places like the Sahara desert or Antarctica, my advice is to get the f-word out of there (or if not, at least keep the skin and scalp moisturized at all times).

Last but not least, excessive sebum on the scalp will too cause dandruff. This is because sebum traps skin cells and doesn’t allow for them to be removed naturally. After all, sebum is just an oil which is produced by your scalp thus you can imagine the bad stuff it is doing to minute dead skin cells laying on your scalp. Sebum literally takes your dead skin cells as hostages and has them accumulating on your scalp. Once the accumulation gets big enough, it will break and there, you get those visible white granules all over!

Dandruff can be managed in different ways and your question has given me the idea to cover the specific approaches to managing dandruff in a next article, so stay tuned for more (and here is the article: best anti dandruff shampoos for men!). For now though, be aware of the specific causes for dandruff, a condition that affects all men equally whether they have straight, wavy, kinky or curly hair!

All the best.


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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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3 comments for “Ask Rogelio – What Causes Dandruff in Men?

  1. Daniel
    November 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    I dont know if im suffering from psoriasis or something else

  2. Mark
    April 16, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Your blog is really good man i always try to read your article when i have any free time and its worth reading.
    I mentioned back in your other article that i easily get dandruff all over my hair when i use many products especially gel, wax and hairspray even the mousse (i think everything that is sticky)… I also tried the no shampoo every other day (1 on/ 1 off)the last week and every at the end of “off shampoo ” day, my scalp gets itchy so bad and got these dandruff all over my hair and shoulders that its looks like its snowing even i live in. california…. I read many articles about it but most of them suggests to shampoo more to clean your scalp and avoid dandruff but the thing is, i have a thick dry coarse curly/wavy hair so i know i cant do that, it will only make my hair frizzy and will look like an afro… Right now what i do is, i shampoo every MWF and put a sebrum oil and moisturizer to avoid a frizzy dry hair… Can you suggest anything? I use finesse and switched to clear switched back to finesse, because clear shampoo makes my hair realllu dryyy…
    Thanks man! I’m still looking forward for your curly hair paper book in amazon…

    • Rogelio
      April 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Mark,

      I’m seeing 2 things:

      1) You are using way too much product. Wax (when overdone) is notoriously bad to remove if used frequently, and it can leave residue that can be mistaken for dandruff, especially if you don’t shampoo every day. My suggestion is to stick to hair gel or move on to pomade (instead of wax) for your hairstyling. Alternatively, you can increase your frequency of shampooing.

      2) You do certainly suffer from dandruff. Either grab a shampoo that contains zinc zinc pyrithione or use some form of medicated shampoo. Dandruff is a scalp condition and has nothing to do with your use of hairstyling products; the way to treat dandruff is via specific dandruff shampoos (use them as er the instructions).

      I cover dandruff shampoos extensively on my second book (The Men’s Hair Book), so perhaps that book instead of The Curly Hair Book will suit you better.

      Try Point 1 first (ditch wax and use pomade/hair gel), if that doesn’t work, increase shampooing a bit more (remember, the shampoo goes on the scalp NOT on the hair). If this fails, go for option 2. I’ve been meaning to write a second article to this article, but all my writing juice has been spent on the 2 books! In any case, I will be writing a second article.

      All the best.

      P.S Both books are going live today but will be available by the end of the week on Amazon.

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