A Style Guide for the Chronic Dandruff Sufferer

With the right clothes, those snowdrifts on your shoulders can become virtually invisible.

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Anyone who lives with dandruff understands the plight of having dried scalp flakes endlessly rain down onto your shoulders. Unless you tackle your dandruff at the source — which is easier for some than others — each and every day revolves around routinely looking to your left and right, then brushing the flakes off before anybody notices. 

What can make matters even worse is wearing an outfit that not only displays your unsightly mounds of dandruff, but brings attention to them. But fret not — I spoke with an assortment of both dandruff and style experts to help you make the right choices when it comes to picking an outfit that keeps your dandruff under wraps.

More than anything else, as dandruff victims all around the internet have made abundantly clear, black shirts, jackets and sweaters should be avoided at all costs, since white scalp flakes show up quite easily on dark colors. Hats, too, should most likely be renounced altogether (so make sure you get your hair styled all nice), as they promote a warm and sweaty environment on your head that encourages the spread of dandruff-causing yeast. You could try wearing a hat every now and again if you feel the need and are willing to risk a dandruff outbreak, but you should wash your hair immediately afterward to prevent any sweaty buildup.

While we’re on the subject of hair, one dandruff sufferer who’s been dealing with the ailment for years told me that, if you have particularly long hair, wearing it in a bun generally helps keep the dandruff off your shoulders. So give that a shot if it applies to you.

With some of the more obvious advice in place, I reached out to dermatologist Rajani Katta, who sees patients with dandruff on a regular basis. “As a dermatologist, our first concern is always to treat the dandruff in order to reduce the flaking,” she says (more on how to accomplish that here). “For patients who have ongoing issues, the first thing I always recommend is to try to stick to lighter colors. Solid black or navy clothing is especially problematic when you’re dealing with scalp flaking. For women, going to off-the-shoulder clothing is one option, since flakes aren’t as visible when they’re directly on the skin. Another option is to try to stick with patterned or textured clothing, where the flaking isn’t as noticeable.”

Speaking of patterned and textured clothing, stylist Rayne Parvis suggests, “If you have dandruff, you can wear jackets, sweaters and shirts that have salt-and-pepper-like patterns on them. The tweed textures and designs camouflages the flakes.” Putting together a cool outfit with these specific garments kind of depends on the look you’re going for, but Parvis has a few general tips to ensure you look your best. “You can wear the jackets and sweaters with a light T-shirt or button-down and dark pants,” she says. “Most of the flakes will stay up on your shoulders, so you can wear whatever color pants you like, but dark-colored jeans, slacks and chinos pair better than light ones with the patterned tweed jackets and sport coats.”

And voilà: It’s as if you never even had dandruff in the first place. So don that tweed, let those flakes fall and enjoy living a life where constantly checking your shoulders is the least of your worries.