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Caffeine and dandruff: is your morning espresso causing dandruff?

Across the world, people choose to have a cup of coffee to start their day. But is it also causing your dandruff? Caffeine is the key component in some of the most popular drinks in the world. Find out more about caffeine, your hair and your scalp.

It’s in soft drinks, food, energy drinks and your morning cup of coffee. Caffeine is consumed by billions of people around the globe every day. It’s claimed to be linked to everything from cancer (both as cause and cure) to better athletic performance.

The question we’re interested in is whether there’s any link to dandruff. To find out, we’ll discuss what causes dandruff, and how that lines up with the effects of caffeine that you drink.

A bottle of Head & Shoulders Classic Clean shampoo


If you believe internet speculators, there are a million different causes of dandruff – many of which are blatantly contradictory. Luckily, the truth is far simpler.

Dandruff is caused by something that most of us don’t even realize we have.

A yeast- a simple, single-cell fungus called Malassezia globosa lives on everybody’s scalp.

This mostly harmless fungus feeds on the oils on your scalp and produces oleic acid as a by-product.


If you love foods and drinks with caffeine, you’ll be happy to notice that we didn’t mention it just now as a cause of dandruff. 

However, that doesn’t mean it’s harmless for your scalp.

In moderation, your daily cup of coffee is not enough to cause any great problems for your scalp.

Excessive caffeine consumption, though, can cause dehydration. Dried out skin can mimic some symptoms of dandruff, like flaking and redness. It can also make mild dandruff appear worse.

The fact is, if you are suffering from dandruff, your soda or cup of coffee is not to blame and avoiding them won’t help much in beating dandruff.

Instead, make sure to stay hydrated, and use something formulated to fight the both the symptoms and cause of dandruff – like a good shampoo.


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.



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.