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Homemade Anti-Dandruff Shampoo with Coconut Milk


Anti-dandruff shampoo - Dr. Axe

No one wants to be embarrassed by those white flakes of dandruff that land on their beautiful black jacket, but it happens because it almost seems like an unsolvable mystery about how to get rid of dandruff. In large part, it’s because most of the so-called dandruff shampoos, while also full of chemicals and unhealthy ingredients, simply do not work.

Fortunately, finding an anti-dandruff shampoo solution that works for you may not be as difficult as you think, if you’re willing to do it yourself! But first, let’s explore why shampoos may or may not work so that you can make smart choices.

Dandruff, medically known as pityriasis capitis or seborrheic dermatitis confined to the scalp, is a disease that has been around for centuries despite the numerous treatments available. New anti-dandruff products frequent the market, almost daily, perhaps due to the widespread increase in the incidence. In fact, Head & Shoulders is one of the top-selling shampoos in the world. However, dermatologists have given little attention to this problem. Why is it so difficult to fight off this humiliating dandruff? (1)

Unfortunately, this nagging scalp disorder is rather common. Several studies across the world have shown a prevalence of dandruff of up to 50 percent in the general population. You would think that with such a large number, solutions would be available. (2) However, due to these chemicals that are found in most commercially bought shampoos, their effectiveness may be temporary.

The word itself has negative meaning having a combination of ‘tan’ meaning ‘tetter’ and ‘drof’ meaning ‘dirty.’ So, it makes sense that having the right shampoo should help. And while the real cause of dandruff is yet to be understood, there are some things you can do to ease the cringe-making effects they offer. (3)

Getting the anti-dandruff shampoo right is key. We know that most body and hair products out there have tons of toxic chemicals, and these cancer-causing chemicals can be incredibly ineffective too. It is confusing as to why these toxic chemicals in shampoos are even allowed to hit the shelves, knowing that they can negatively affect our hormones and cause lot of sickness. It’s probably no surprise that cosmetics has grown into a $50 billion dollar industry. (4

To avoid this seemingly uncontrollable situation, you can simply make your very own anti-dandruff shampoo right at home with just a few ingredients. Keep in mind that the dandruff comes from the scalp, not your hair. That means it is important to gently massage this DIY dandruff remedy into the scalp as well as thoroughly washing your hair.

Fortunately, this recipe not only includes several dandruff-fighting ingredients, it’s also gentle enough to use several times a week. 

Let’s start with your mixing bowl and a whisk. Combine the coconut milk, coconut oil and castile soap to start. Nutrition-rich coconut milk and coconut oil will help provide much needed nutrition for your hair and scalp. This nutrition will help build up the immune defenses as well as moisturize the hair and scalp.

Castile soap is a gentle vegetable-based soap derived from olive oil, water and lye that is biodegradable and non-toxic. While castile soap is gentle, it can help cleanse the scalp of excess sebum and product build-up.

Once the coconut milk, coconut oil and castile soap is well blended, add the water, apple cider vinegar and baking soda. It is a good idea to use purified water, such as an authentic spring water, to help avoid chemicals. The apple cider vinegar is great for eliminating the fungus and bacteria because it contains powerful enzymes. The baking soda can help slough off the dead skin due to its abrasive texture by acting as a mild exfoliate and fungicide.

Now, add the rosemary and tea tree oil. The rosemary oil will provide a nice scent and much more. Because dandruff is caused by fungi, it’s important to choose ingredients that can inhibit this fungi. That is why I chose rosemary and tea tree oil. Rosemary and tea tree oil essential oils contain antifungal properties and you may get the added benefit of hair thickening that these oils can provide!

And now for my favorite ingredient, fenugreek! Fenugreek is a plant most commonly used as a spice in Indian cuisine; however, fenugreek can do wonders for your hair and scalp. Fenugreek seeds have a composition that is rich in protein and amino acids. These nutrient-dense characteristics encouraging healthy hair, hair growth and can help ward off those disgusting flakes of dandruff. In particular, fenugreek has a high concentration of lecithin, which is a natural emollient. This emollient can help make hair stronger overall and provides many users of fenugreek with silky and soft locks.

Make sure all ingredients are thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into a BPA free shampoo-like container with a lid, or you may use a glass jar if you prefer.

To use, simply wet the hair as you normally would for shampooing. Place a small amount in the palm of your hand and begin to blend it into the hair. Shampoo well and rinse. You may leave the mixture on your hair a little longer to gain the benefits of this natural remedy.

Try using every other day for best results. Shake bottle before each use. If you experience any discomfort or allergic reaction, stop using immediately. Consider doing a test patch prior to a full wash.

Homemade Anti-Dandruff Shampoo with Coconut Milk

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 20–30 applications


  • 1–1/2 cups (1 can) coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup purified water
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 20 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 15 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground fenugreek seeds
  • BPA-free plastic dispenser bottle


  1. Get out a mixing bowl and a whisk.
  2. Combine the coconut milk, coconut oil and castile soap to start.
  3. Once the coconut milk, coconut oil and castile soap is well blended, add the water, apple cider vinegar and baking soda.
  4. Add the rosemary and tea tree oil.
  5. Lastly, add the fenugreek and make sure all ingredients are thoroughly blended.
  6. Pour the mixture into a BPA-free shampoo-like container with a lid.

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  1. Angela on

    I just made this shampoo today and it goes on well, and lathers just enough to be easy to use. Best of all, my scalp feels better. I don’t know how it will work long term but I need an answer to seborrheic dermatitis and folliculitis. Absolutely nothing has worked in the past seven years that I have been living with this nightmare. Thanks, Dr. Axe, and I hope this is an answer to prayer!

  2. anon on

    other ingredrients good for hair : argan oil, yogurt, avocado, and many herbs like thyme, and lavander. not sure why these ingredients recipe and not others.

    • Julie on

      I was thinking the same thing. Lemon oil is a cleanser. I’ve been adding lavender, peppermint tea tree and rosemary oils to my shampoo. Peppermint and lavender help relieve the itchiness while the rosemary is antimicrobial antifungal and encourages hair growth and tea tree is anti microbial. I only use a certain brand of oils due to purity.

  3. Ross on

    Is this an overall Ph neutral final product? I only have a very basic understanding of these things, but I’m just wondering because it seems counterproductive to mix acidic and alkaline products. Don’t you lose the beneficial properties of the ACV by neutralizing it with baking soda? Thanks.

    • Patricia Valiquette on

      The coconut oil turns solid, when the temperature is cold outside and when warm it returns to liquid, the nature of the fruit.

  4. Asmaa on

    Iv’e tried this recipe and I do like the ingredients. But I’ve read that apple cider vinegar and castile soap react with each other, wich makes the soap absolutely ineffective. I get the feeling that it doesn’t clean my hair enough as it feels oily and coated with build-up. So I think next time I’m gonna leave out castile soap and baking soda and use the ingredients as a mask. I’ve also been concerned about how much time it’s gonna stay usable before the coconut milk goes bad (I kept the shampoo in the refrigerator) , wich is why I’m gonna make a smaller batch next time. Thank you for stimulating ideas!

  5. Me on

    I would not trust the author of this recipe, basic chemistry teaches mixing vinegar and baking soda makes water so you should either put one or the other or not put either one.

  6. Joyce fortson on

    I have made and am using for about 2 weeks. I rinse with a vinegar water rinse. My hair is very fine, Long and tangles very easy. With this shampoo and vinegar rinse. It always looks wet and feels heavy. What am I doing wrong?

    • Adriane on

      If this is your first time using a homemade shampoo, your hair will need to detox for a while.

      I also found that I had to try A LOT of different diy shampoo recipes before I found one that worked for my specific hair, and what worked for me at one time could change as my body got healthier.

      I have not tried this recipe, but coconut milk usually doesn’t work well for my hair. I’m thinking if modifying it for my husband and son though.

    • Patricia Valiquette on

      using a preservative goes agains’t the natural idea of the recipe, we are trying to use ingredients that do not have these unnatural stuff in them , you would be killing the whole idea,

  7. Celine on

    Thank you for the great tips… i just have a question.. i bought tea tree essential oil and God it smells really strong and not a nice smell… is it only the one i bought or they all smell strong like that?
    Thank you

  8. Hkanders on

    This shampoo was not right for my hair or scalp. It left my hair very, very oily and my hair felt coated to the touch. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I plan to try other Dr. Axe recipes.

  9. Laiza on

    Dear Dr. Axe, I want to thank you for your wonderful DIY Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. I made it for my son who suffered with dandruff for over two years and guess what… It worked! After about a week of using the shampoo daily he was dandruff free! Now he will not use any other shampoo. This was after trying all kinds of commercial shampoos and even other DIY recipes that I made for him and none worked. Thank you, Thank you!!!

  10. Patty on

    Please comment Dr. Axe. I would like to try your Homemade Anti-Dandruff Shampoo with Coconut Milk, but then read this on-line which makes me hesitant:
    “Please never use baking soda on your hair. It is associated with breakage and damage.
    You can use apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp/1 cup of water) occasionally, meaning twice/month or less. I do not recommend using it before going out in the sun or for those with dyed dark hair — the acidity can bring out brassiness.”

  11. Bria McKinnon on

    Is there a substitute for the rosemary EO and fenugreek seeds, or are they absolutely necessary? My dad came home with chemical-laden CVS dandruff shampoo and I want to make him something ASAP as a replacement. I cannot get these two ingredients for a couple weeks at least. Thank you!!!

  12. Kathy riva on

    Where is the recipe for the diy homemade anti dandruff shampoo? I cannot find any measurements for each ingredient you have listed here!!

    • Steve on

      I would massage your scalp with two drops of peppermint oil then use your own conditioner. Peppermint oil is very strong so try a test are first it wakens up the hair follicles and will help alleviate the oil that causes the greasy hair. If this does not work try tea tree oil and lemon grass oil on a 2:2 drops basis.

  13. Mary Ware on

    Natural treatments and remedies always works, but the best I have ever used is the GKhair anti-dandruff shampoo. Sulfate free and very good at removing the dandruff from my hair. I am quite satisfied with the results I got. Love it. :) <3

  14. Sandy on

    I’m curious for anyone who has tried this – do the ground fenugreek seeds feel scratchy, or leave a gritty residue on the scalp?

  15. Reba swann on

    How will this work for hair that is colored . It is very expensive to color hair with aveda products because they are mostly plant derived! but I have issues with dry scalp.

  16. Nan-P on

    I look forward to trying this recipe. Personally, I’ll leave out the apple cider vinegar and use it mixed with water as a final rinse. I have had very good results with that in the past.

  17. Kendria Wilson on

    Hi Dr. Axe! I am African American that has been diagnosed with Seborrheic Dermatitis. I not only have it on my scalp but my chin as well. Could I use this as a facial wash as well, do you recommend a conditioner to use and if I could use this as a facial wash would I need a moisturizer?
    Thank you for helping me start my new lifestyle change. I’m just starting cant wait for the full effect of the results.

  18. Sadi on

    I used this recipe and my scalp feels wonderful, however my hair is very, very oily. Shpuld I add more bakong soda?

  19. Colleen on

    Would this shampoo alleviate dandruff caused by scalp psoriasis? I’ve been using a medicated shampoo 3 times pw for past two years to stop hair fall & Im afraid I’ll end up ‘immune’ to it and I would rather use a natural remedy

  20. Heathet W. on

    I just need a little clarification… In the directions above the recipe, when you state, “Place a small amount in the palm of your hand and begin to blend it into the hair. Shampoo well and rinse” do you mean to shampoo with this mixture, or use your normal shampoo after having blended this mixture into your hair first? Thank you.


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