Does coconut oil and lemon for dandruff actually work?

It's trending but does it actually work?

Woman posing sideways, sunset background.
(Image credit: Martin Novak/Getty Images)

There are plenty of ways that coconut oil can benefit your beauty regime - but what about coconut oil and lemon for dandruff? 

This cold-pressed natural oil can be used for myriad things. Coconut oil for the face acts as a topcoat to seal in your serum and moisturizer if skin is exceptionally dry.  It also works well as a hair mask, as the fatty acids nourish straw-like strands.

But it's important to make one very clear distinction: it's not actually going to 'cure' you of anything at the end of the day. And, unfortunately, that includes your dandruff.

More from woman&home:

The fact that coconut oil is a great moisturizer goes some way to treating a scaly scalp. It both staves off the dryness caused by dandruff and helps to soften flakes, making them easier to slough off. But will it actually get rid of dandruff?

The answer, sadly, is no. 

Put simply, dandruff is caused by the microbe Malassezia Globosa. Much is made of the fact that coconut oil contains lauric acid, which can have antimicrobial effects. But the experts at Head & Shoulders are keen to point out that while you do need an antimicrobial agent to treat the root cause of your dandruff, it needs to be one that treats this specific microbe. 

Lauric acid isn't it - nor does coconut oil contain any other actives effective against Malassezia Globosa. Hence Head & Shoulders shampoos contain zinc pyrithione, which has been proven in hundreds of clinical studies to get rid of dandruff, alongside coconut oil to hydrate pure and simple.

As for lemon juice, the idea is that it alters the pH level – the acidity – of the scalp and protects against the dandruff-causing microbe Malassezia Globosa. While lemon juice does have an effect on the microbe, this is pretty short-lived.

So if you want to rehydrate your scalp, skip the lemon juice and apply coconut oil lightly to your roots and massage it in with your fingertips using circular motions. Keep it on overnight and enjoy and itch-free sleep.

Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.