Are you constantly plagued by the never-ending battle with oily hair? Do you feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book, but annoyingly, your scalp and strands are still prone to grease less than 24 hours after you washed your hair? Fret not! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the causes of oily hair, the science behind scalp oils, and the best ingredients and tips for balancing your hair and scalp.
The Hair’s Natural Oils
Oil is necessary for scalp and hair health, and your body naturally produces oil known as sebum through a gland located at the hair follicle (where the hair sprouts out of your scalp). This helps keep hair soft, and protected, and generally stops it from drying out. It can also naturally help control frizz and flyaways.
So what exactly is this made up of? Sebum, the natural oil produced by our scalp, consists of triglycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters, and squalene. These elements work together to maintain the scalp’s moisture, protect against external irritants, and keep hair healthy and shiny.
Some people will naturally have more oil glands than others, due to the density of their hair and hair follicles. Those with fine hair will also tend to notice the oil more, as it’s less well-absorbed by fine hair than it is by dry, coarse hair—often leaving fine hair to appear limp or weighed down, and even giving it a ‘dirty’ appearance.
Why Does My Hair Get Oily So Quickly?
The propensity for oily hair can vary from person to person, and several factors contribute to excessive oil production on the scalp:
Overactive Sebaceous Glands: The primary culprit behind oily hair is the sebaceous glands, responsible for producing sebum, our scalp’s natural oil. Sometimes, these glands can go into overdrive, leading to an oily scalp and hair.
Hormonal Factors: Hormones play a significant role in regulating sebum production. During puberty, the surge of hormones can lead to oilier hair, which is why many teenagers struggle with greasy tresses. Hormonal fluctuations during menstrual cycles or hormonal imbalances can also impact oil production.
Genetics: Just as we inherit certain physical traits from our parents, our hair type and oil production tendencies are also influenced by genetics. If your parents have oily hair, you may be more likely to experience the same.
Scalp Sensitivity: The sensitivity of your scalp can influence how it responds to environmental factors and hair care products. Some individuals have more reactive sebaceous glands that produce excess oil in response to certain stimuli. Again, this is typically genetic.
Not Washing Thoroughly: Along with your hair’s natural oil and sebum, things such as dirt and pollution, dead skin cells, sweat, product build-up, and even mineral deposits from your water supply tend to accumulate in your hair and on your scalp. If you’re not washing your hair thoroughly (two times before conditioning is a good place to start) and with the right ingredients, these can linger and continue to weigh hair down and give it that ‘dirty’ appearance.
Overwashing: Paradoxically, washing your hair too frequently can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leading to a rebound effect of increased oil production.
Diet: While the link between diet and oily hair is not fully understood, some people believe that a diet high in unhealthy fats and processed foods might contribute to excess oil production.
Humidity and Weather Conditions: High humidity levels can exacerbate oiliness, as moisture in the air can mix with scalp oils, making hair appear greasier.
Your Skincare Routine: Anyone who’s ever had a fringe will know all too well the struggle of keeping it clean and fresh, away from sunscreen, moisturizers, and makeup. These products will often cling to the hair around your face, transferring the oils in their formulas onto your hair. Constantly running your fingers through your hair or playing with it can also transfer oils from your hands to your hair, exacerbating oiliness.
Using the Wrong Hair Products: Using hair care products that are too heavy or contain ingredients that don’t suit your hair type can weigh down your locks and make them appear greasier.
The Best Ingredients For Oily Hair
When it comes to choosing hair care products for oily hair, it’s crucial to pick those with specific ingredients that help regulate sebum production without stripping the scalp of its essential oils:
Grapefruit Extract: Citrus fruits such as grapefruit have natural degreasing properties that help control oil production.
Ginger Extract: Ginger is an antioxidant with antifungal effects that can be beneficial for your scalp health. Studies have shown it to promote blood flow in the scalp, which can also lead to less inflammation.
Aloe Vera or Aloe Extract: Soothing and hydrating, aloe vera can balance the scalp’s oiliness without causing dryness.
Oily Hair Care Routine Tips
Now that we’ve got the science and ingredients covered, let’s dive into an effective oily hair care routine that’ll leave your hair feeling fresh, light, and balanced:
Use a Clarifying or Volumizing Shampoo: Opt for a clarifying or detoxifying shampoo designed specifically for oily hair. Avoid anything that’s designed for dry, damaged or curly hair as these will typically incorporate more intense conditioning ingredients that will be too heavy for your hair.
Shampoo Thoroughly: Give your hair two thorough washes, focusing your shampoo on and around your scalp. Ensure you rinse your hair thoroughly after shampooing and conditioning to avoid product buildup that can weigh hair down.
Condition Only the Ends: Apply conditioner only to the lengths and ends of your hair, avoiding the scalp area where sebum is naturally concentrated.
Use a Scalp Scrub: Using a specialised scalp scrub or ultra-detoxifying shampoo once a week can help budge any stubborn oil, dirt and build-up that’s lingering around your scalp and roots. Don’t overdo it though, as this can dry your hair out if done too often.
Cold Water Rinse: End your shower with a cool water rinse, as it can help close the hair cuticles and reduce oiliness.
Use Dry Shampoo Strategically: Dry shampoo can be your best friend on no-wash days, absorbing excess oil and adding volume to your hair. Just use it sparingly to avoid buildup.
Hands Off: Avoid touching your hair too frequently throughout the day, as the oils from your hands can transfer to your strands, making them greasier.