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Across the world, people choose to have a cup of coffee to start their day. But is it also causing your dandruff? Let’s find out.

Coffee is one of the most traded commodities on the planet, and an integral part of the day for much of humankind. It’s so important in Ethiopia, where it was first discovered, that they have coffee drinking ceremonies akin to the Japanese tea ceremony.

So it would be difficult news to digest if coffee were the cause of your dandruff. Could it be true?


What causes dandruff?

First, let’s address what dandruff is, and what the science says.

A lot of conditions are confused for dandruff, but the real deal only has one cause: a microbe called Malassezia globosa.

This microbe is present on everybody’s scalp and is generally harmless. It survives by feeding off your scalp’s oils, leaving oleic acid in its wake.

If you’re sensitive to oleic acid – and around 50% of the population is – then you’re likely to experience the classic dandruff symptoms:

  • flakes

  • itchiness

  • irritation

  • red skin

An effective dandruff remedy can target both these symptoms as well as their cause : oleic acid made by Malassezia globosa.

So what role, you may wonder, does coffee have to play here?

How caffeine affects your scalp

Caffeine has a strange and controversial history in popular science. It’s been blamed as a killer and lauded as a wonder drug.

But it clearly can affect your skin.

Caffeine is a diuretic and that means it can cause the body to expel water, and can lead to dry skin.

This can cause flaking on the scalp similar to dandruff. It could also make very mild dandruff flaking appear even worse. But it’s not quite the same thing as causing dandruff.

Flake-free and awake

What does this mean for the caffeine-loving dandruff sufferer?

Basically, there’s no need for you to forgo your morning cup because of dandruff.

Just make sure you’re washing your hair properly with a proven anti-dandruff shampoo, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

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