During a recent conversation with Anabel Kingsley, daughter of famed trichologist Phillip Kingsley (a trichologist is someone who specializes in scalp care), I learned something about white wine: It turns out that in addition to pairing well with seafood, it can exacerbate dandruff.
According to Kingsley, white wine and champagne are two of the worst things you can drink if you suffer from dandruff. “Dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of a certain yeast on the scalp,” she says. “And drinking white wine triggers the overgrowth of that yeast in people who are prone to dandruff. It can also exacerbate too-fast skin-cell turnover, which can cause dandruff.”
But I was a bit skeptical. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in New York City who’s also a scalp expert, told me she’s unfamiliar with the concept. However, given Fusco’s respect for the Philip Kingsley Institute, she said she does trust the theory.
Fusco points to the fact that there’s a correlation between malessezia (the yeast that causes dandruff) and candida (the yeast that causes yeast infections) as a possible reason for why white wine and champagne are the worst offenders. “If I had to hypothesize, perhaps white wine and champagne’s higher sugar contents exacerbate the dandruff,” says Fusco. “There’s most definitely a link between seborrheic dermatitis/dandruff and candida, so if high amounts of yeast and sugar are consumed, it creates an environment for dandruff.”
If you’re the kind of person who likes a drink (OK, or two) but also has dandruff (a.k.a. me), Kingsley suggests sipping red wine or vodka instead. Fusco advises avoiding other foods that promote inflammation, like starches, candy, and anything fried. (Sad face.)
Another way to cope? Use an antidandruff shampoo. There are plenty of formulas that are far less repulsive-smelling or medicinal than you think. Fusco likes Clear Scalp and Hair products. And I can testify that Phillip Kingsley Flaky/Itchy Scalp Shampoo and Flaky/Itchy Scalp Toner both work wonders.