How to get rid of greasy hair fast and stop it coming back

How to get rid of greasy hair and stop it from coming back

23rd March 2024 | Author: Katherine O'Shea

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?You’ve heard of combination skin but do you have combination hair?

What causes greasy hair? 

What causes greasy hair and why does my hair get so greasy so fast?Getty Images/iStockphoto

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.

FURTHER READING: Best skincare for acne: Here are our top tried-and-tested products for acne-prone skin

Why does my hair get so greasy so fast?

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.

The weather

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.

Olaplex no4C Clarifying ShampooOlaplex

Using the wrong shampoo

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.

Using the wrong conditioner

Best conditioner for greasy hairL'Oreal

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. This is known as combination hair and is extremely common.

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.

Washing your hair every day

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

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.

Dirty brushes and combs

If you have greasy hair, make sure you’re cleaning your brushes and combs regularly. The same goes for your pillowcase. You can read more in our How to clean a hairbrush guide but we’ve summarised below.

  • Remove the excess hair from the brush using the pointy end of a comb or similar. A pen or even a bobby pin can help.
  • Fill up a sink or bowl with warm water and a small amount of shampoo
  • Soak the hairbrush for about five minutes. This will help break down any product and dirt build-up.
  • Gently remove the dirt from the brush and bristles using a clean toothbrush until it’s nice and soapy.
  • Once you’ve finished cleaning, rinse it under running water. You want to ensure that the brush has no excess shampoo, so keep rinsing until the water runs clear.

Give the hairbrush a good shake and leave to dry, putting it face down on a towel or cloth overnight.

Note: Be gentle because certain bristles can break easily. Don’t fully submerge a wooden brush in water, as this can cause damage to the material and finish. Instead, place just the bristles face down in the water.

It’s also not advisable to soak a paddle brush. Instead, swirl it in warm water and shampoo, making sure to not submerge the hairbrush completely.

FURTHER READING: How to clean a hairbrush  | Best clarifying shampoo UKWhat does shampoo and conditioner actually do to your hair?

How to get rid of greasy hair fast

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.

Best products and ingredients for greasy hair:

  • Lightweight formulas
  • Sulphate-free shampoo (to clean and rebalance the pH level of your scalp and hair)
  • Tea tree, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint, basil, and ylang-ylang (essential oils help control glandular production of oil)
  • Silicone-free conditioner
  • Apple cider – we’re huge fans of the New Wash shampoo which contains apple cider vinegar.

Best products and ingredients to avoid for greasy hair:

  • Anything that promises you “shine” or “moisture”
  • Sulphate-based shampoos (they can effectively remove oil, but are harsh and can strip the scalp of its natural oils)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Parabens

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

Best shampoo for greasy hair 

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.

Best shampoo for greasy hair UK

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.

FURTHER READING: K18 vs Olaplex: Is Olaplex No. 3 or the K18 hair mask better for repairing your hair?


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