Greasy hair is much more common than you might think. Here’s why your scalp is so oily with expert tips on how to get rid of greasy hair fast
Having greasy hair or an oily scalp is a really common issue. You might find your hair gets greasier at different times of the year, or it may be that you’re putting up with greasy hair every day.
Despite it sometimes looking and feeling grim, be assured that greasy hair is not a result of poor hygiene – well, in a large number of cases. In fact, being too clean and washing your hair too much may well add to the amount of grease in your hair.
On top of that, it’s really hard to style greasy hair, and sometimes impossible to hide. To help you get rid of greasy hair fast, and understand why it’s greasy in the first place, here are a number of tips and techniques that can help, as well as products for you to try – and which to avoid.
FURTHER READING: What type of hair do I have? Find out with our hair types guide
Your scalp naturally produces a substance called sebum, which is an oily, waxy natural oil that’s produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. The sebum helps to keep your skin moisturised and works as a waterproofing mechanism, stopping moisture/water from leaving your body.
Sebum helps and supports the health of your hair by protecting it from harmful matter, such as bacterial and fungal infections. It does this by mixing with fat molecules, called lipids, that form a protective coating on the skin’s surface.
The highest concentration of sebaceous glands is found on your scalp, face and chest.
Your sebaceous glands produce sebum through holocrine secretion (a process of programmed cell death). These specialised cells (sebocytes) then dissolve and release the sebum into the sebaceous glands.
Your sebaceous glands are almost always alongside a hair follicle and the growing hair pulls the sebum up and onto the surface of your skin. Of course, with so much hair on your head, you can see how sebum can build up in this area. If it does build up your hair will feel heavy, greasy and sticky.
There are a few things that can accelerate the production of sebum and make your hair greasier quicker. Here is a handful.
Changes in hormones, the kind of which you go through during pregnancy, post-birth, menstruation and menopause, can cause your body to produce more sebum, making your hair greasier. Unfortunately, if you have finer hair, the grease will build up quicker, which isn’t the best news for us Mums whose hair has got thinner after a pregnancy.
Another cause for accelerated sebum production is a sudden change in temperature. So, if you’re going on holiday somewhere hot, you may find your hair gets greasier quicker. It can have the same effect in winter when you go from being outside, into a heated building.
Whether it’s a cap, a beanie, or a headband, wearing headwear traps trapping the natural oils your scalp produces while pushing hair toward the scalp.
If you’re looking to get rid of greasy hair, the best place to start is by looking at your shampoo of choice. Greasy hair needs cleansing or clarifying shampoo to leave it looking its best.
Maybe it’s the way you use conditioner that’s causing your greasy hair. If you’re finding your hair to be greasy really quickly, next time you wash avoid adding conditioner to the roots and instead keep it to the mid part and ends of your hair.
This is particularly important because although you may have greasy roots, you’ve probably also got dry ends, so it’s important that they still get conditioned.
Therefore you need a conditioner that will cut through the grease but won’t dry your ends out. Clay is one ingredient you want to look for and it’s in the L’Oreal Elvive Clay Oily Roots Conditioner, which has been specifically designed to deal with greasy roots.
The way you clean and treat your hair can have a big impact on how greasy your hair looks and feels. If you’re wondering why your hair is so greasy and you wash it every day, that could well be the problem.
By washing your hair too regularly you are stripping your hair of its natural oils, which then tells your body to produce more sebum to top it up. If you can get washing your hair down to 2-3 times a week at most, you may solve your greasy hair problem. You could always do a rinse wash on the other days, rather than using shampoo.
Touching your hair or rubbing your scalp not only passes any grease or dirt on your hands to your scalp and vice versa, but it can also encourage your scalp to increase its sebum production.
If you have greasy hair, make sure you’re cleaning your brushes and combs regularly. The same goes for your pillowcase.
With greasy hair being such a common problem, the good news is there are plenty of ways to stop or get rid of greasy hair fast. We’ve recommended what we consider to be the best shampoo for greasy hair below, but there are some ingredients you should look for, and others you should avoid when shopping for greasy hair products.
Dry shampoo is great for getting rid of greasy hair fast. The dry shampoo will help absorb the excess oil from your scalp, as well as any sweat and dirt that may be adding to the greasy look. By using dry shampoo for greasy hair it will also mean you have to wash your hair less, which as we said before, less hair washing, means less sebum is produced (to a point of course).
We really like the dry shampoo from Living Proof (£16) because it’s really easy to apply and it doesn’t leave that powdery residue you can get with some dry shampoos. This one is fine to be used on dyed, or chemically treated hair and leaves greasy hair smelling fresh.
FURTHER READING: Best dry shampoo UK: How to use dry shampoo like the pros
Bear in mind if you’re using dry shampoo, or going a couple of days without washing your greasy hair, you might get build-up.
This is when the hair follicles become blocked full of dirt, sebum and dead skin cells. To keep your hair looking fresh, and to stop greasy hair completely, we recommend giving your hair a bit of detox by using a clarifying shampoo 2-4 times a month.
This clarifying shampoo from Ouai (£24) will deal with any product build-up, as well as refresh your scalp and roots.
Sometimes shampoos struggle to remove stubborn dry shampoo, but you won’t have that problem with this one.
We’re also big fans of Hairstory’s New Wash.
It’s a shampoo that feels like a conditioner and works to cleanse and condition your hair at the same time. It’s pricey, but worth it and you can read more in our Hairstory New Wash review.
Alternatively, if £24 is too much to spend, the OGX Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo (£7.99) is a cheap, yet effective alternative.
Apple cider is a great ingredient to help with greasy hair because it has astringent properties that help remove excess oil from your skin. It also balances the pH level of your scalp and hair, meaning your sebaceous glands may produce a more accurate amount of sebum.
Don’t worry though, it doesn’t leave your hair smelling like a fish shop.
It also helps to remove your unwanted oil and reset your pH balance. There’s also a conditioner available, too.
Kat is a freelance journalist, photographer, and the founder of Simply Gender Free – a company dedicated to smashing gender stereotypes in kids’ products. As a mum of two, Kat is passionate about making the world a better place for the next generation