Make Your Scalp Healthy: Best Ways to Use Lemon for Dandruff

Dandruff is a condition that affects 50 percent of the adult population worldwide that cannot be totally cured but controlled with the right treatments. Many of these treatments can be performed at home without the need of a visit to your doctor and sometimes without even going to your local pharmacy.

Many natural ingredients that are commonly found in most households are used for combating dandruff including lemons and their juice. In addition to their many culinary uses, lemons are effective against some of the most stubborn skin and hair issues, including dandruff.

A comparative study found lemon juice was 70 to 75 percent effective in inhibiting the growth of dandruff-causing fungus over a short period of time. Lemon juice is an effective, safe and inexpensive way to keep dandruff at bay.

Lemon as a Natural Cleanser

In the past, the only time I’ve ever put lemon juice on my hair was in college days to try and add some sunshine streaks to my dull dark hair. Invariably, it didn’t work, or look particularly good, but recently I found lemon juice was much more effective in getting rid of dandruff. Not only do I always have lemons in the house (I can’t drink a G & T without a slice and simply love lemon chicken!!) but it also left my hair looking great, certainly much better than my DIY attempts at going blonde!

Lemon juice works as a natural cleanser and astringent for the scalp removing excess oils and killing germs or fungus that cause dandruff if left untreated. Lemons can also exfoliate the scalp and reduce the flakiness and dandruff while balancing the pH levels which helps prevent the return of dandruff. Vitamins and antioxidants found in lemon juice promote a healthy scalp and nourish the hair.

You can apply lemon juice to the hair in many different ways, from a massage or mask to combining the juice with other natural ingredients that boost its effectiveness against a dandruff problem. After looking at how lemon juice can benefit both your hair and scalp, we will share some of the most effective methods to use lemon for dandruff treatment which you can try at home. When life gives you lemons, go use them to get rid of that dandruff!

How Lemon Works as an Anti-Dandruff Ingredient

A member of the citrus fruit family, lemon contains not just citric acid but a whole bunch of other chemicals that can benefit your health, both externally and internally. Let’s look at some of the ways lemons, or lemon juice can be used in the fight against dandruff.

All About the Flavonoids!

Flavonoids found in lemons are used by many plants for their antioxidant properties that scavenge and destroy free radicals that cause oxidative stress and break down the cell structure or cause them to mutate. These same flavonoids use their antioxidants along with antibiotic and antifungal properties to reduce the dandruff-causing fungus, Malassezia, and keep it from growing or spreading to the scalp. Antioxidants are also great for healing the scalp from infections or germs which may cause further irritation or inflammation.

Lemon Juice and Citric Acid

Citric acid present in lemon juice is an effective cleansing agent which removes excess sebum and dandruff particles from the scalp and being watery dissolves many impurities. As well as fighting dandruff, lemon juice can combat an itchy, diseased scalp that may cause more dandruff-like symptoms in the future.

The citric acid also levels pH imbalances of the scalp that lead to dandruff or itchy scalp. By restoring the acid-alkaline balance, lemon juice promotes a healthy scalp environment that’s also dandruff free.

Vitamin C and Other Nutrients

Lemons are a naturally rich source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and zinc. Vitamin C is well known for its immune system boosting qualities and helps prevent conditions often triggered by a weakened immunity like dandruff. In addition, vitamin C also promotes a better circulation which supports skin and scalp health by getting the nutrients to where they need to be more efficiently.

Dandruff has been linked to a deficiency of zinc, with trace amounts of zinc found in lemons further adding to lemon juice’s effectiveness against dandruff and promoting scalp health. Zinc helps with controlling the production of oils on the scalp with excess oils encouraging the growth of dandruff causing fungus or too little oils resulting in a dry, flaky scalp.

Potential Side Effects of Using Lemon Juice for Dandruff

Although lemon juice is a natural ingredient with very few side effects, there are some precautions you should take before first using or prolonged use of lemon for dandruff. The main worry most people have is the effect lemon juice will have on the color of their hair. Effects are rarely seen on darker heads of hair, brown or black (as my earlier college experiment attests to) but golden or blonde hair can fade to even lighter shades or a washed-out bleach effect. If your hair color starts to show a considerable lightening with the application of lemon juice, you should always seek the advice of a professional before continuing to use lemon juice as a dandruff treatment.

Lemon juice sometimes causes hair to dry up, especially in people who may have naturally dry hair. The acidic nature of lemon juice can cause some brittleness of the hair too. Using an oil on your hair before or after a lemon juice treatment or even combining the lemon juice with a carrier oil like olive or almond oil can help to counteract the acid’s drying effect.

In rare cases, some people can be allergic to lemon juice or some of the other nutrients in lemon. Try a small patch test on the skin to check for any allergies it may cause before you begin a lemon juice regime. If you notice any further rash or reaction to the lemon juice, it may be time to look for an alternative method of getting rid of dandruff.

How to Use Lemon for Dandruff Treatment

Massaging with Lemon Juice

By far the easiest and quickest way to use a lemon to treat your dandruff is to massage lemon juice into your scalp. Using either your fingertips or a cotton wool ball, apply fresh lemon juice to the scalp and leave for 30 minutes before thoroughly rinsing your hair. Alternatively you could simply rub thin slices of lemon on your scalp.

By repeating daily for a month or until you notice changes, lemon juice by itself can be a highly effective yet simple solution to a dandruff problem.

Lemon Juice and Tea Tree or Coconut Oil

Like many essential oils, both tea tree and coconut oil have been promoted as anti-dandruff remedies due to their antifungal nature and skills in moisturizing the scalp and maintaining the optimal oil/water balance of the scalp. Used with lemon juice they can be highly effective against dandruff and counteract some of the citric acid’s drying effects on the scalp and hair. Mixing the watery lemon juice with an oil can sometimes be tricky at first due to the age old water and oil compatibility issues but follow the method below and you should get it right.

  1. Heat lemon juice in a small bowl and when it’s warm add the coconut or tea tree oil to the juice. Stir well and continue heating the mixture until combined.
  2. Apply the mixture to the scalp while it’s still warm and massage for three to five minutes.
  3. Leave the mixture on the scalp for about 20 minutes before using a mild shampoo and rinsing off.

Repeat daily until dandruff has been eradicated.

Egg and Lemon Juice Scalp Mask

Eggs are an excellent conditioner for both the scalp and hair. Egg yolks are rich in proteins and fats which are naturally moisturizing with egg whites containing enzymes that attack bacteria and remove excess oils from the scalp. Eggs also act as a disinfectant and when combined with lemon juice you have a powerful anti-dandruff treatment which conditions the hair too. Be careful when using this treatment to only rinse your hair with cold water, a head full of scrambled egg is not the effect we’re after!

  1. Add one fresh egg to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
  2. Apply to the scalp and allow it to dry for 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse with a mild shampoo using cool water to avoid cooking the egg.

Use the mask once a week with your regular hair care routine until you see significant benefits.


These are just a few of the ways you can use lemon juice to defeat dandruff with many more combinations available. Basically if it has dandruff-fighting properties and you can mix it with the lemon juice, you’ll boost the effectiveness of both active ingredients. You could even add lemon juice to your regular shampoo and conditioner or simply rinse with lemon juice before washing your hair to add an anti-dandruff boost. Even Dr Oz recommends using lemon as both a dandruff treatment and a deodorant. Watch this short clip from Youtube to see Dr Oz in action:

As we warned earlier, lemon juice can sometimes cause a lightening of certain hair colors or a dryness and brittleness of hair if used for a prolonged period. Lemon juice is one of the most effective and immediate treatments for dandruff in the short term, but once you’ve got the dandruff under control or it’s totally gone, it’s advisable to stop using lemon juice on a regular basis to protect the condition of your hair. In some cases, lemon juice has caused hair to turn grey as it strips color from the strands. Getting rid of dandruff just to replace it with grey hair seems like a cruel trick, almost as bad as whoever told me I could go blonde by just putting lemon juice in my hair!

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