“I get oily hair and scalp oily even if I just shampooed this morning! I’ve tried using different shampoos and conditioners, and I even tried using dry shampoo and baby powder on my roots. Nothing works!”
Does this happen to you too? “Most people think that changing hair products can fix greasy or oily hair. But very often, the problem isn’t in what you use but how you clean and style your hair,” says hair expert Tony Holland.
So what habits are making your hair oily and greasy, and what can you finally do to avoid it?
Change the way you shampoo
New York dermatologist Sejal Shah recommends washing your hair every two to three days. He explains that the scalp is a lot like the skin on your face. “Overshampooing your hair – just like overcleansing – strips away oils and makes it overproduce oil. But if you go for several days without washing, dead cells build up in the scalp and weigh down your hair.”
If you really need to shampoo every day (because your hair got really sweaty because of heat or exercise) pick a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates (particularly sodium laurel sulfate or SLS) create that fun, bubbly lather, but they’re very drying. Look for formulas for oily scalp and hair. since some natural shampoos contain plant oils that will worsen your problem.
Use a clarifying shampoo once a month
Heavy product build-up is a common cause of oily hair and scalp. You need to deep clean, especially if you use dry shampoo, leave-in conditioners or hair masks, and styling products.
That’s where clarifying shampoos come in. Don’t use them too often, because they can dry out your hair. Do it just once or twice a month, but don’t rush through it. Pick a day when you can spend at least half an hour on your hair. Work it into the scalp, rinse it out very well, then follow up with a hair mask that can help restore moisture and shine.
Don’t use dry shampoo for more than two days in a row
Dry shampoo can help your hair stay fresh, but it does leave residue that can build up and cause oily scalp and hair. “Unfortunately, women with oily scalp will often use dry shampoo more often, but it’s a short-term fix that won’t solve the problem and may make it worse,” says hair expert Shamia Laurence. “You need to rebalance your hair and scalp, which is something only a good shampoo or hair treatment can do.”
Don’t go for more than two days without giving your hair a really thorough wash with your favourite regular shampoo. (Also: read our tips on the best way to use dry shampoo.)
Apply conditioner to just your hair tips
Unless you have dry hair, only apply conditioner from mid-shift to the tips. Your scalp’s doing a good job of producing its own oil! You don’t want to completely skip conditioning the tips, especially if you have curly or coloured hair or use styling tools. You can still have dry, damaged hair even if you have oily scalp! (Yes, life isn’t fair.)
Lower your shower temperature
Hot showers can be very relaxing, but they can worsen oily hair and scalp. Set your shower to lukewarm, and always use cold water for your final rinse to seal the hair cuticles. If you really need a long, hot bath, wear a shower cap.
Switch styling products
If your hair’s feeling greasy, check the ingredients or formula of your styling products. Waxes, creams and oils contain emollients. That doesn’t mean they’re bad (in fact, you may have loved or used them for years). You just need to switch to lighter products while your hair feels oily.
Avoid products that “add shine”
For now, stay away from any shampoos or styling products that are designed to add shine or promise to give you soft, shiny hair. They can make your oily hair look even greasier
Take a break from your flat iron
Straightening your hair will make it lie flat and close to your scalp. Since overstyling can irritate your scalp (and trigger oil production) this is a sign you need to go easy with your flat iron. Straighten just the ends, or only use heat tools twice or thrice a week. On your rest days, try these hacks on how to style your hair while you sleep!
Stop touching your hair
Do you have a habit of running your fingers through your hair? Do you brush it too often, or use a paddle brush that simultaneously massages the scalp? Avoid overstimulating the scalp or transfering oils from your face and hand to your hair.
Clean your hair brushes and tools
Your brush and styling tools may have residue from gels, leave-in conditioners and other hair products – and transferring it to your hair and scalp! Clean them often, not just to prevent grease but kill bacteria that can cause scalp irritation.