How to Manage Excessively Oily Hair
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on November 18, 2018 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Hair Care
Most of us love the feeling of squeaky-clean, hydrated hair fresh out of the shower. But for people with oily hair, this feeling doesn’t last very long. Everyone’s hair gets oily and greasy-feeling after some time, but some people have naturally oily hair that gets slick even just a few hours after a wash.
It can be frustrating to deal with hair that gets oily fast. Not only does it feel gross, but greasy hair can make you look unkempt or unhygienic and is also extremely difficult to style.
Causes of oily hair
The most common cause of oily hair is an imbalance of hormones that control sebum production, or the natural oils from your scalp that coat and protect your locks. Hormones may become imbalanced because of a health problem, such as a thyroid condition, or because of naturally occurring bodily changes during puberty and pregnancy. Your diet, stress levels and other lifestyles may also affect sebum production.
In other cases, your body might just naturally produce an excessive amount of sebum. Or, your hair might be naturally fine and thin, meaning it absorbs a normal amount of sebum too quickly and looks greasy faster.
If you have oily hair and you try to fight it by washing your hair very often or using clarifying shampoos that are known for stripping the oils from your scalp, you might actually be making the problem worse rather than better. While washing your hair more may get rid of the oily look and feel for a short time, your body will recognize that you’re missing moisture on your scalp and work overtime to produce more, leading to even more oil.
Excessively oily hair is a problem that goes beyond looks. While some cases of oily hair may only lead to flat, lifeless hair that looks and feels gross, other problems may occur. That extra oil can actually cause dandruff, because yeast present on the scalp can multiply in the presence of excess sebum. It might also cause hair loss due to clogged pores and inflammation.
Fortunately, there are lots of products and hair care routines that can help you manage oily hair to prevent a slicked-down, greasy look.
- Skip washes: It might seem counter-intuitive, but you can actually train your scalp to produce less oil by washing your hair less frequently. This process may take time—even a few months—to perfect, but eventually, you should start seeing a lot less oil than before. Start by skipping one wash per week and work up to washing your hair every two to three days. If you shower between washes, tie your hair up in a topknot or slip on a shower cap.
- Use moisturizing products: The reason your scalp might be producing so much sebum is because you’re stripping your hair of its natural oils every time you scrub it. Check your shampoo and conditioner bottles and look for the word “clarifying.” While clarifying shampoos can be good every once in a while to get your hair squeaky-clean, you will probably want to switch to products that offer more moisturizing qualities.
- Quit touching your hair: Another one of the leading causes of greasy-looking hair is oil produced not by the scalp, but by the hands. If you’re someone who fidgets with their hair out of boredom or nervousness, the oils from your hands will start to transfer to your hair, leaving them weighed down and oily.
- Bolster hair health: Sebum production can increase if your body detects that your hair isn’t healthy or properly moisturized. While this may be because of the products you’re using, you can help your hair stay strong and lock in moisture by adding hair care supplements to your daily routine.
- Only condition the ends: You need moisturizing products to keep sebum production at bay, but you don’t want to use a heavy-duty conditioner when washing your hair. Conditioning is very important, even if your hair is on the oilier side. Just focus on conditioning your ends to prevent split ends and breakage.
- Use dry shampoo or hair powder: Products like dry shampoo and hair powder can help soak up the excess oil present on your scalp. You can even make your own hair powder at home by using baby powder or cornstarch, or cocoa powder if you have dark hair. Apply these products near the hairline and massage them into your roots to help your hair look fresh, even if it’s been days since you’ve washed it.
With a little extra TLC, you can help transform your hair from greasy and flat to full and healthy. Remember that natural oil is a good thing, but that you need to help your hair maintain a proper balance for the best look and feel.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan