There’s no way around it: Having greasy hair is downright embarrassing. No matter what you do, sometimes it feels like there's just no avoiding it. Unfortunately, it's also all too common.
Having glossy and shiny hair is one thing that everyone loves but having sticky, oily and thin hair is something no one digs these days. Excessive oil production often results in lank locks and hairline acne, both of which can have negative effects on self-esteem. Fortunately, it's possible to control and curb oily hair, as long as you understand the causes. It’s something very common and chances are that you’ve already asked yourself, “Why do I get greasy hair”?
What Causes Greasy Hair?
Hair gets greasy due to overactive sebaceous glands, sebaceous glands are microscopic exocrine glands in the skin that secrete an oily or waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof our skin and hair. There are more glands on your face and scalp, which is why those areas tend to get greasier than, say, your arms or feet. Once you have pinpointed the underlying cause of your oily hair, you can figure out a game plan for reducing the greasiness and restoring your hair's healthy structure and luster.
If you have oily skin, it’s quite likely you have greasy hair too. A hard to control oily scalp may be in your genes. If the problem runs in your family, you are likely to suffer from it as well. Certain diseases and medical conditions, like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOD), Liver Congestion, and Sjögren’s Syndrome (a long-term autoimmune disease), can cause an overproduction of oil. Greasy hair is the result of overactive sebaceous glands, when they are producing too much sebum. Although sebum is good for the hair, too much can make your hair look slick and greasy.
2. Seborrheic Dermatitis
Greasy dandruff or Seborrhoeic Dermatitis occurs when oily and yellow flakes or scales form on your scalp and stick to your head and hair. Excess amounts of oils can trap and attract dirt, dandruff, and product build up, which clogs pores and prevents new hair growth. In addition to this, overproduction of sebum can also shrink the hair follicle and cause severe hair loss.
3. Overwashing your hair or not washing enough
If you are somebody who washes your hair too often, there is a possibility that over-washing is causing your scalp to feel oily. Shampooing your hair too often can strip away essential oils and moisture from your scalp. This may cause your sebaceous glands to overproduce oil to make up for a dehydrated scalp.
Wash your hair at right intervals, but keep in mind that over-washing can lead to increased oil production as the body tries to compensate for dry scalp. On the other hand, under washing can cause the accumulation of oils and fungal growth. Wash every 3-4 days at least.
In order to keep your scalp and hair from becoming overly oily, use the right kind of shampoo and conditioner. You may have to go through a trial-and-error period to find what works for you, in terms of product and number of times you use it each week. Read more about Conditioning mistakes here.
Read more about how to find the right shampoo for your hair type and concerns here.
4. Dietary Factors
Your diet can also influence how much oil your scalp produces. A diet rich in sugars, dairy products, and red meats can make the scalp produce more oil." This means consuming high amounts of these foods can wreak havoc on your scalp. The hormones in dairy products are believed to break down into androgens (hormones) after consumption resulting in an overproduction of sebum.
Read more about how your diet choices can affect your hair here.
5. Weather & Pollution
Even after regular washes, your hair might end up feeling greasy as the scalp tends to get scaly due to weather changes, hormonal imbalances, products you use and certain medical conditions.
In winters, the scalp continuously secretes oil, and if you do not shampoo, the excess oil accumulates, and so does dirt, dust and particles giving the hair a much oiler and greaser look. Rising temperatures in summer wreaks havoc on oily-haired people, because the heat makes us sweat more, and our body produces more sebum, too. As a result, our hair gets oily faster.
Read more about how pollution affects your hair here.
6. Not Shampooing Correctly
Sometimes we may take washing our hair for granted. Just rubbing-in some shampoo isn’t enough. Shampoo removes unwanted dirt and debris from your hair. It also takes out excess oil from your scalp.
Read more about the right way to wash your hair and shampoo sins you must avoid committing here.
A) What is the Right Way to Shampoo?
More often than not, you would have the instructions given on the bottle of your shampoo.
Take a small amount of shampoo and massage it into your scalp.
Avoid scrubbing with your nails. It can eradicate your skin barrier, causing a loss of oils and moisture. Stick to applying your shampoo to your scalp only. The ends of your hair will receive it while you rinse it off.
7. Overusing or applying excessive conditioning masks or hair serums to your scalp
A basic thing many of us do wrong is use excessive moisturising conditioners and serums to our scalp. However, if your hair is oily, this is going to make it worse, because this weighs the hair down, clogs the scalp, and increases dirt and grime.
Conditioners and serums need to be applied where the hair is dry and damaged. If your hair is damaged at the roots, but your scalp is oily, then apply your conditioner on the mid-lengths ends, and pat on the residual remnants of the products on your fingers on the hair at most.
8. Poor Hygiene
Dirty, unkempt hair can be visually distasteful and may even develop an obnoxious odor. This is often due to a buildup of oil on the scalp from the sebaceous glands due to poor hygiene practices. Bacteria feed on this buildup, resulting in various hair issues. When this buildup of oil is not removed, it can weigh down the hair and make it greasy. It can also contribute to a flaky scalp that can be caused by either too much or too little oil.
How to Avoid the Grease?
1. Space out your washes
To avoid the overproduction of sebum, we suggest you consider not washing daily. If the idea of reducing your shampoo routine stresses your nerves, start slowly. Skip the shampoo one or two days a week, when you can don a bun or when you'll be home all day. After a few weeks, increase the number of days sans shampoo. The eventual goal is to be able to go two to three days between shampoos to get the oil production under control. Experiment with dry shampoos and hair powders, which are designed to help soak up that oil without stripping your scalp of its necessary sebum.
2. Use a Clarifying Shampoo + Rinse Properly
You can manage greasy hair by incorporating a clarifying shampoo into your hair care regimen. The use of clarifying shampoos because they thoroughly cleanse the hair and scalp, gently removing any excessive oils and build-up.
Our pick is the Faith and Nature Oily Scalp Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner Combo that has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that do wonders to reduce scalp buildup, reduce oiliness and cleanse without stripping the hair off its natural oils.
3. Use a Dry Shampoo between Washes
You know this was coming, right? Dry shampoo is the little miracle solution for greasy roots. We suggest applying this preemptively as a way to keep my air-dried hair from getting greasy.
The Bare Necessities Desert Dry Shampoo is all-natural and aerosol-free, it’s the perfect way to remove oil and dirt that camouflages well with brown Indian hair.
4. Cut down on your Styling Products
Too much product can also cause buildup on the scalp, leading to excess grease. While you don't need to stop using styling products altogether if your hair is naturally oily, you just need to know how to choose the right styling products.
If you have greasy or oily hair, make sure you cleanse tresses before using styling products to avoid a greasy look. Because greasy hair is already oily, adding styling products can make it appear worse by trapping dirt and oil.So you need to make sure to get rid of any residue and styling products left on your hair and scalp each day.
5. Use conditioner only on your tips
Conditioners can make your hair look greasy and cause oils to pile up faster. Condition just the ends of your hair, and be sure to thoroughly rinse. To know more about it click here.
6. Blow Dry just your Roots
This is a great solution if you deal with greasy patches near your roots when you air dry it. Blow drying your roots boosts volume and prevents that grease from appearing.
9. Remember your Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are a key component of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Making sure you eat enough of these may help combat excess sebum on the scalp and taming those oily strands. Fatty Acids are found in Nuts, Seeds, Fatty Fish, and Unrefined Whole Grains, so stock up on those almonds, right away!
10. Aloe Vera to the rescue
The vitamins and minerals present in Aloe Vera help detoxify the scalp, thereby getting rid of impurities and also helps keep a check on oil secretion, while nourishing and moisturising your hair roots.
Mix one teaspoon of freshly extracted Aloe Vera gel along with a few drops of Lemon Juice and apply generously all over your scalp. Leave on for at least 10 to 15 minutes before washing off with your regular shampoo.
You can also mix one teaspoon of the Thyme Organic 99% Organic Aloe Vera Gel in your regular shampoo and wash as you would normally do.
11. Invest in an Exfoliating hair mask
Oily hair can look so dull and lifeless, so a little pampering is a must! An exfoliating hair mask once every week can do wonders for your hair type.
Rid your scalp of all things dirty with the Flawsome Dense Intense Exfoliating and Deep-Cleansing Hair Mask This mask exfoliates, soothes, and balances through a blend of natural extracts. This magical formula is packed with a gentle plant-derived cleanser to remove buildup and conditioning agents for itch-free smoothness. to know more about hair masks click here.
12. Stop Touching your Hair too Often
Excessive hair touching is a repetitive and addictive habit that can be extremely hard to stop and can lead to Trichotillomania - a hair pulling disorder. Many women whose hands are always buried in their hair, typically suffer from very dry ends, oily roots, hair loss and poor overall hair condition.
13. Turn down the Temp in your Shower
A hot bath can do many good things, and is quite relaxing to be honest. But, we often crank up the heat too much while bathing which can be bad for both our skin and hair barriers. Hot water dries out the scalp a lot. For those with already oily scalps, the extreme dryness causes the scalp to overproduce oil, leading to clogged follicles. While we aren’t suggesting you give yourself hypothermia by showering in ice-cold water, it is important to resist the temptation of bathing with very hot water. So, mixing hot and cold water to reach a lukewarm temperature is very important if you want to maintain the integrity of your hair.
14. Use a Deep Moisturising Hair Mask once a Week
If you have an oily scalp and oily hair, it can be difficult to create a haircare routine that will balance the need to remove extra scalp oils and retain essential moisture so your scalp doesn't turn into a flaky, dry mess. Using a deep conditioning mask once a week can help add enough moisture to the hair without weighing it down like a ton of bricks. However, for Oily Hair we suggest avoiding the roots and sticking to the tips and ends only.
The True Frog Deep Conditioning Mask rebalances, intensely hydrates, and makes it up to your hair for all the love that it has been missing.
15. Clean your Hair Brush
Hair brushes can trap all sorts of residue in its bristles, both from your hair and the environment. Hair care products like leave-in conditioners, gels, or hairsprays can build up on your hair and stick to the bristles of your brush. Your brush also contains dead skin cells which can transfer back to your hair every time you use your brush making it a host to multiple hair problems like greasy scalp, dandruff, hair loss etc. You should clean your hair brush once every week especially if you use a lot of hair styling creams, gels or hairspray. To make cleaning easier, try to remove the hair that is accumulated in the bristles, every other day.
16. The Post Workout Care
This isn’t news that after a hardcore workout session, you sweat like a pig. Excess sweat can make the scalp itchy and prone to infections. One should wash their hair after every workout, depending on the hair type and how much a person sweats. An excess buildup of sweat on the scalp blocks the hair follicles, which does not allow the scalp to breathe, and creates conditions like scalp acne and split ends.
Read more about it here.
When to see your doctor?
While adjusting your hair care regimen goes a long way toward reducing hair greasiness, some people still find themselves struggling with oily strands without any clear explanation. Continued neglect of an oily scalp can slowly lead to it becoming a big concern because of infections which cause rough patches to form. These patches are often red, itchy, and painful. More severe cases can cause a certain degree of peeling and hair loss. A specialist can evaluate the cause of any flaking and prescribe medicated lotions and shampoos which will stop the inflammation. The longer it is left untreated, however, the more severe it gets.
The sebum production on the scalp can be increased by (often) brushing hair and/or touching the hair with your fingers, so try to do this as little as possible. In addition, it is important to use lukewarm water while showering, gently massage the shampoo or conditioner into the scalp and gently dry the hair with a towel. Always rinse the shampoo or conditioner thoroughly and do not use too much product. Hang in there, oil-free days are coming!
- Drishti Khurana