Dandruff Fighting Conditioner with Calendula and Shea

Dandruff has always been my Achilles heel when it comes to natural hair care. Before I made the switch I used a shampoo whose active ingredient was coal tar. That stuff worked wonders, but given that coal tar has a rating of 10 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database (the worst rating possible) and is a known human carcinogen… Umm, let’s not put that stuff on my body, okay?

I’ve found a number of natural alternatives that work, but the hard part is finding something that works without having some other down side. Oil treatments, for instance, are amazing. But I have yet to find any sort of natural shampoo that can easily wash the excess oil out of my hair, and as a result I often end up wandering around with greasy hair for a few days. And while I’m sure my hair and scalp enjoy that, the rest of me is not a fan.

This conditioner has been my answer to that problem. I needed something intensely moisturizing for my scalp that could still be washed out of my hair without difficulty, and oh my but this stuff has delivered. And like my All in One Rosemary Mint Conditioner/Shampoo, it also has the power to clean your hair while it’s working it’s moisturizing magic. I call that a major win.

This conditioner comes out thick, creamy, and nourishing

About Calendula Oil

Calendula is a bright yellow flower related to the common marigold. It is used in all sorts of herbal skin soothing treatments. Rosemary Gladstar says of it:

“[Calendula] is a powerful vulnerary, healing the body by promoting cell repair, and acts as an antiseptic, keeping infection from occurring in injuries. Calendula is most often used externally for bruises, burns sores, and skin ulcers.”

(Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, p. 318)

Calendula oil, infusing on my window sill

Sounds pretty lovely to me! Now, in order to make those flowers into a conditioner, we’re going to need to infuse them in some oil first. I recommend making a largish batch, as it’s useful for many different things. Here are a couple of methods:

The Stove Top Method

  1. Fill a heat proof jar roughly halfway with dried calendula petals. The measurements do not need to be exact. Fill it up the rest of the way with olive oil or another light carrier oil.
  2. Place this jar in a small saucepan with a few inches of water to make a makeshift double boiler. Heat on low for at least an hour, ideally longer. Make sure to check periodically that the water hasn’t all evaporated.
  3. Once your oil is sufficiently infused, remove it from heat and strain into a container for storage and store in a dark place.

The Slow Infused Method

This method takes longer, but is often preferred as some theorize that too much heat can destroy some of the healing goodies that we’re trying to extract. I have used both methods without a problem, so if you’re in a hurry go ahead and use the one above, but while this one takes longer it is also delightfully low tech and requires significantly less baby sitting if you’re willing to wait.

  1. As above, fill a jar halfway with calendula petals, then fill the rest of the way with olive oil (or oil of choice).
  2. Seal up the jar and store in a warm-ish place for four to six weeks, shaking the jar periodically.
  3. Once the infusion is complete, strain out the flowers and store.

If you don’t want to bother with all this infusing business, yes, you may simply use olive oil in this recipe instead. But if you’re looking to ditch the dandruff, I do recommend giving this a try as an extra boost of healing. You can also purchase pre-infused calendula oil if you prefer.

Now for the recipe itself.


  • 4g calendula infused olive oil
  • 2g shea butter
  • 6g emulsifying wax
  • 80g just-boiled water
  • 10g vegetable glycerine
  • 10 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • broad spectrum preservative of choice (I used 2g of NataPres)


To make:

  1. Heat calendula oil, shea butter, and emulsifying wax in a heatproof bowl set over a small pot containing a few inches of water. (Or use a double boiler if you have one.)
  2. Once the oils are melted, remove from heat and whisk in the essential oils, followed by the water and glycerine. The mixture should emulsify immediately. If using NataPres as your preservative, add that now. (If you’re using a different preservative you may need to add it at a different stage in the recipe. Make sure to follow the instructions for your specific preservative.)
  3. To help the mixture cool a bit faster, I like to stick the bowl in the fridge for a bit while I do some clean up, giving it an occasional whisk. It should thicken fairly quickly this way.
  4. Once cool, bottle, label, and enjoy!

To Use

You can, of course use this like any other conditioner, massaging  a bit into wet hair in the shower and then rinsing it out. However, since I’m looking to intensively moisturize my scalp as much as anything, I like to massage it into my hair and scalp when it’s dry and leave it for several hours or overnight. This has proven very effective, and it rinses out quite easily. Take that, oil treatments!


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