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Oily Hair

Oily hair is a highly common but irksome hair condition that might leave your hair feeling anything but clean. Even though some individuals are prone to have more oil than others, there are several ways to reduce this common condition. Assessing whether your hair has excess oil and understanding treatment options are essential to give you healthier, cleaner hair.


Oily hair starts at the scalp. The body’s sebaceous glands, some of which are on the scalp, produce sebum, the oil on the surface of the skin. In moderate quantities, this sebum gives your hair its shine. However, some individuals produce more sebum than others, which means more oil in your hair. Oil production can vary throughout an individual’s life. For example, hormones, trigged by stress, puberty, use of birth control pills, or pregnancy, can increase sebum production. If you notice a sudden onset of oily hair, your hormone production might be fluctuating. As your hormones regulate, the excess oil might disappear on its own.

Oily hair is easy to identify. Simply running your fingers through your hair should tell you if your hair is oily. If your hair feels greasy and in desperate need of a wash, your scalp is likely producing excess oil. You will likely notice that the problem starts at your hair’s roots since the scalp is producing the oil. Your hair might appear darker than usual. It will likely be dull and limp. In extreme cases, your hair might even stick together.


Excess oil can cause a number of problems. Your hair might be difficult to manage and style. Oil also makes your hair greasy and limp, so your styling efforts will likely be ineffective. Dandruff is often linked to this condition as well. An excessively oily scalp can result in red skin covered by white or yellow flaky scales. These flakes of dandruff can appear in your hair due to high oil production. Finally, you might see a connection between oily hair and oily skin, as sebaceous glands exist all over your body, and oil production can increase beyond the scalp. This oily skin can result in acne breakouts.


Although the cause of oily hair has biological roots, you can reduce the oil in your hair in several ways. First, making small changes to your hair-care routine can help you combat excess oil. Avoid brushing your hair too often or too vigorously. The oil gathers at your roots, and regular brushing helps move the oil through your hair, thus contributing to the problem. Limited and gentle brushing can prevent spreading the oil throughout your hair.

Daily shampooing is essential if your hair is oily. Shampoo is the best way to combat the oil, so the more often you shampoo, the less oil will build up in your hair. Leave the shampoo in your hair for about five minutes before rinsing. Consider changing your shampoo as well. Many shampoos are formulated specifically for oily hair—look for clarifying shampoos—and incorporating an oil-fighting shampoo into your hair-care routine can help treat the condition. No matter the shampoo you use, rinse it thoroughly, as any buildup can contribute to excess oil.

Conditioner leaves your hair looking its best, but it can also increase oil in your hair. Choose a product that is specifically formulated for oily hair. This way you’ll benefit from the hydrating properties but will be less likely to experience weigh down. Concentrate the conditioner on the ends of the hair—avoid applying too much to the roots, where oil gathers. After you condition, apply a hair astringent, available in various types of hair care products.

Using a dry shampoo can help absorb excess oils and leave your hair looking fresher for hours. These products are available in spray and dry powder forms. While intended to be used in place of shampooing, you can also apply these to clean hair in order to avoid oily breakthrough during the day.

Adjusting your diet can help with oily hair as well. Look for foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or walnuts, as these foods can promote scalp health. You can also apply natural ingredients directly to your hair to reduce excess oil. Watercress, which is rich in iron, phosphorous, and Vitamins A, C, and E, can help eliminate buildup. Blend a couple of handfuls of watercress with a cup of water in a blender or food processor. Heat the mixture, let it cool, and apply it to clean hair for 20 minutes. Acidic lemon juice dries your scalp, thereby reducing oil production. Apply lemon juice to your hair for a few minutes before rinsing with water.


Genetics and biological factors contribute to oily hair, which can make it difficult to eliminate. However, regular washing, along with using treatments that target this condition, can leave you with shiny hair without the grease. Don’t let greasy hair damage your appearance—treat it with a combination of over-the-counter products and home remedies.