Greasy, oily hair is natural. It is just something that happens after a couple of days of not shampooing. In modern Western society, the idea of not bathing or showering is frowned upon. This is likely due to the body odor which inevitably accompanies those couple of days without a shower. That being said, even if you are someone who maintains a daily bathing routine, greasy hair can be a problem. This is not ideal, especially if you are someone who is looking for a big full head of hair, as oils tend to weigh hair down and make it stick together…not to mention that if untended it may lead to unsightly flakes.
The oil, called sebum, that collects in our hair is excreted by the multitude of glands in our skin. These sebaceous glands and sebum don’t do a whole lot, other than keeping our skin moist. In most mammals, they help give hair a certain level of waterproofing, allowing them to be outside in the rain and not get too soaked. Other sebaceous glands produce tears and genital lubrication. Additionally, they are often the culprit of acne problems.
Overactive sebaceous glands are a genetic trait and could be related to hormonal changes. You’re not going to get rid of them completely, but there is quite a bit you can do to minimize the effects of having an overabundance of sebum—and that will help you get rid of greasy hair. Talking to a dermatologist may also help if you’ve still got problems.
Different People have Different Hair
The thing to remember about greasy hair is that it’s not the hair making the grease, but the glands of the hair follicles. The hair acts as a wick, drawing the grease out of the follicle and up onto the scalp and into the rest of your hair. People with straighter or finer hair are more likely to have problems with greasy hair because the grease moves more efficiently than someone with thicker or curlier locks.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Greasy Hair
Getting rid of greasy hair might require more or less frequent bathing.
If your hair is the type to get greasy after just a few hours (assuming you haven’t been sweating), daily washing just might be a part of what you need to do. It is also possible that you are shampooing too often, and scalp irritation is resulting in greasier hair. Experiment with different hair washing schedules to see if it changes the way your scalp produces sebum.
Sometimes the wrong shampoo can cause greasy hair.
It might cost you more, but choose your shampoo wisely. Look for shampoos geared towards reducing greasiness, and avoid harsher soaps that can irritate your scalp. Try not to be too rough when you’re washing, as well. If you start removing layers of skin or scratching, your scalp responds by creating more oil. Focus more on the hair itself, and rinse everything thoroughly.
Excessive use of hair products can cause greasiness.
Ironically, many of the hair care products out there are designed to replace the grease we remove from our hair when we shampoo. Conditioners and hair moisturizers give you more options, but they can also irritate the sebaceous glands, making your hair greasier. Remember: everything in moderation. When conditioning or applying product, work inward from the tips, avoiding the scalp, and try to use as little product as possible. Less is more. We’d recommend trying one out. Paul Mitchell has a solid Tea Tree hair moisturizer, you can find it at Amazon.
Avoiding hats can help you get rid of greasy hair.
Hats are appropriate and unavoidable in the colder seasons and useful for blocking sunlight in the warmer months. In the case of helmets, they may be the difference between life and death. But let’s face it: hats are often an accessory of choice. They are a fashion statement and maybe even a bit of a security blanket. Hats raise the temperature and humidity around your head, neither of which is healthy for your hair in the long run. In short, hats will make a greasy head even greasier.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Stress levels and diet can change your hair in many ways. Stress can affect sebum production, cause hair to fall out, and even change the color of your hair. It would be wise to schedule relaxation time and a healthy sleep schedule into your day. It’s totally worth it. Your diet affects all parts of your body. Skip a diet high in hydrogenated oils. Instead, try to increase your intake of fatty acids, proteins, and beta-carotene with foods like fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and flax seeds.
Natural Greasy Hair Treatments
There are a bunch of products designed to counteract an oily scalp with an absorbent powder. These are generally applied between washings, or over night as you sleep. They come in several colors to blend in with your hair, but if you don’t mind an antiqued look, talcum powder or baby powder will work just fine. You can try non-talc powder, such as Lulu Organics Hair Powder, sold on Amazon.
Quit pulling on your hair.
Having your hair stretched tight can irritate the sebaceous glands causing excess sebum production. Wear your hair in a looser style, and use a brush with flexible bristles staring from the tips and moving inward.
Rinsing your hair with water that has been made mildly acidic with the addition of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar can help cut down on excess oils in your hair. A ratio of one tablespoon per quart of distilled water is recommended.
When to See a Dermatologist
People with extremely overactive sebaceous glands might have a condition known as seborrhea. Sebum production is controlled by hormones in our body called androgens (testosterone, androsterone). An imbalance in the production of these hormones can cause oily skin and acne, which is why those two problems are so closely associated with pubescent children. Things like a woman’s menstrual cycle, birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause can cause oily skin and greasy hair, too.
Seborrhea can also be a sign of glandular cancer and is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, as well. If lifestyle changes like the ones mentioned in this article don’t seem to help, a visit to your doctor is in order.