We all have the desire to have shiny, lustrous hair that we can flaunt around but having an oily scalp makes you feel like some dreams aren’t meant to come true. Greasy hair doesn’t look or feel good, and you end up washing your hair every other day frequently exposing it to shampoos and conditioners.
Some people look for hairstyles to cover up the greasiness while others (like me) try refreshing techniques. Although I have managed to solve the problem to an extent, there are days when the hair still tends to become greasy.
Furthermore, an oily scalp can lead to other skin conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, hair loss, etc. So it is imperative to go to the root of the problem (literally) and find a permanent fix to it. But before we look for solutions to the oiliness, it is essential to understand the causes behind the problem.
OILY SCALP CAUSES?
Many of us may not precisely understand the science behind hair and what contributes to various scalp conditions. Our scalp has glands known as sebaceous glands that produce an oily liquid called sebum which is transported from the follicles to the hair shaft. The sebum acts as the natural conditioner of the hair and protects each hair strand keeping it soft and healthy. It also plays a primary role in maintaining the scalp’s pH balanced but, it may become a nuisance for some, let’s see how!
Sebum Overproduction by the Scalp:
Our scalp produces sebum but how would it know how much is required? Well, our body does know about our particular requirements and how much is needed to benefit the texture, appearance, and quality of hair but excessive sebum production is due to overactive glands. The overproduction results in clogged hair follicles, creating oily and an itchy scalp.
But why does the sebum gland become overactive? Let’s look at a few reasons behind the problem.
Various factors can cause hormonal fluctuations such as pregnancy, menopause, puberty, stress or medications (birth control pills or supplements.) The imbalance can lead to excessive sebum production making the hair appear oily. Hormonal issues are a common cause of an oily scalp among both men and women so if you suddenly notice excessive oil in your hair it might be due to these hormones.
Overproduction of sebum by the scalp can be hereditary so if someone in your family has oily hair chances are you have your genes to blame for the grease in yours.
Using High-Moisture Products:
People who use shampoos, conditioners, hair masks with high moisture content are prone to developing an oily scalp. The beauty routine you follow also has a significant impact on the quality of your hair. For instance, excessive scrubbing during shampooing can trigger the production of sebum.
Similarly no matter how desperately you feel like giving your hair a gentle wash, don’t do it too frequently. More than once a day is never advised as that can leave the scalp feeling dry causing the body to create more sebum which means greasy, oily hair.
Consuming an Unbalanced Diet:
A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is essential for a healthy body and shiny, lustrous hair. Certain vitamins and minerals play a critical role in regulating sebum production such as vitamin A and saturated fatty acids. Deficiency of vitamin A may trigger the excretion of waxy substances from the sebaceous glands. Fatty acids control the production of androgen so be sure to incorporate these in your diet in a balanced proportion.
Drink sufficient amount of water and avoid foods that have excessive oil, instead opt for healthier options such as whole grains, fruits, and veggies.
People with an oily scalp should avoid brushing their hair excessively as that will distribute the grease all over the strands making the hair appear greasy.
Your hair may appear oily and greasy due to their specific texture. For instance, sebum travels faster from the roots to the ends in straight hair, so they tend to appear oily whereas curly and wavy hair have bumps that slow the movement of sebum down the hair shaft resulting in an oily scalp and roots but dried-up ends.
Hair thickness plays a similar role; finer hair means a lesser surface area, so they appear greasier as compared to coarse hair for the same amount of sebum production.
Medical conditions such as psoriasis and Seborrheic dermatitis can be associated with sebum overproduction. Both seborrhea and psoriasis have similar symptoms such as itchy rashes with flaky scales.
As the temperature rises, we sweat more which may cause the sebum to spread throughout the hair strands resulting in an oily scalp and greasy looking hair.
TIPS FOR PREVENTING AN OILY SCALP:
Dealing with oily hair may seem like a challenging task, but it isn’t as hard as it appears to be. With some minor changes in your hair care routine and lifestyle, you will be able to notice a significant difference in your hair quality and texture. The right techniques will also help prevent build-ups and excessive production of sebum.
So for those who are tired of the grease, dandruff, and dull hair, here are some easy tips to follow:
Know How Frequently You Need to Wash Your Hai:
This may sound a bit tricky, but people with an oily scalp need to figure out how often their hair requires a wash. Some people overdo it by stripping the hair of its natural oils resulting in the sebaceous glands becoming overactive whereas other don’t remove the debris and build-ups on the scalp by not washing adequately.
So how do you work it out? Well as a general rule, people who have an oily scalp a few hours after shampooing and those who deal with itchiness and irritation on the scalp may want to wash a bit less.
Others may try washing a bit more frequently, of course not twice day- a daily wash would work.
Use the Right Techniques:
I can’t stress enough on this one since using the correct methods and products can make all the difference to your hair and is the easiest way of preventing an oily scalp. Begin with your washing techniques and identify what you might be doing wrong.
For instance, some people tend to scrub while shampooing, which can irritate the scalp. Instead, take a small amount of shampoo and gently massage it into the roots, be sure not to scratch the scalp. Another common mistake that even I used to make was scrubbing conditioner on the scalp. Again this is a bad idea for those who already face trouble with oil; apply conditioner only to the ends of the hair and use it sparingly.
Don’t use too many products that add moisture to your hair. Wash your hair thoroughly to ensure that debris doesn’t build-up and weigh your hair down.
Invest in the Right Products:
Don’t use shampoos with strong detergents or one that has silicones since they may cause build-up and block the penetration of moisture into the hair shafts. Look for mild products that don’t weigh your hair down or add to the oil content.
Make Dietary Changes:
Alright, gather up because here comes the most important part- what to and not to eat. If you consume an unhealthy diet, your body will produce excessive oils & toxins and then excrete them via the scalp. It is crucial to avoid the intake of vegetable oils and replace them with a healthier fat alternative such as coconut, nuts, avocado, etc. Similarly cut down on processed and fried meats and instead opt for cold water fish.
Focus on removing toxins from your body; the best way is to do a vegetable detox. Make sure you eat a balanced diet that contains all essential nutrients.
Stop Touching Your Hair:
You might feel that your hair gets greasier if you keep playing with them; this is because you transfer the dirt and oil from your hands onto the hair and stimulate the glands. Avoid twirling the locks and scratching your head- I still struggle with these habits, but I keep reminding myself now and then that I am not supposed to run my fingers through the hair. Hopefully, I will be able to give up on this habit soon.
HOME REMEDIES FOR GREASY HAIR:
Most of us already spend a bit too much on hair and skin care essentials, purchasing a whole new line of products to combat the grease won’t be the most budget-friendly thing to do. Yes making a few changes is essential but you can always create some at-home treatments to fight the oil. Here is a compilation of my favorite remedies that I have gathered over the years. These are tips that I follow to maintain a healthy scalp:
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse:
The excess secretion causes a build-up on your scalp which affects hair growth and may cause hair fall. The best way to remove these product build-ups is to use a rinse made of apple cider vinegar. ACV helps balance the pH of the scalp and can also aid in killing bacteria that causes dandruff, itchy scalp and hair loss.
You can create an ACV rinse by mixing three tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar into 1 cup water. After shampooing your hair, apply the rinse and leave for 3 minutes before washing it out. Repeat it a few times a week to see the best results.
Aloe Vera Mask:
The Aloe vera can be used to make a hair mask that can aid in soothing the scalp, removing the excess oil, product build-ups and make your hair smooth and healthy. Aloe is also an antibacterial and antifungal agent and promotes the regrowth of skin tissues around the hair follicles.
You can create the beneficial aloe mask by combining a few drops of lemon juice and a tablespoon of aloe gel. Apply it to your hair, thoroughly massaging it onto the scalp. Let it rest for 10 minutes and shampoo as usual.
The scalp secretes oil and a lot of sweat during the summers. So a great absorbent is all that you need, and fuller’s earth is the best organic product for this job. Create a mask using two tablespoons of fullers earth and a sufficient amount of water to give it a semi-thick consistency. Apply it to the scalp and wash it off after 10 to 15 minutes.
The tea contains tannic acid which can aid in preventing build-up and excretion of excess oil by tightening the pores.
Take two black tea leaves and boil them in a cup of water. Strain the solution allowing it to cool down to the room temperature. Pour it onto your hair and scalp leaving for five minutes before rinsing off and then wash your hair using your regular shampoo. Like the ACV rinse, this remedy can also be repeated a few times a week to clear the excess oil on your scalp.
Did you know that you can fight grease using oil itself? Well, yes that is possible, and coconut oil is the perfect product. It contains medium chain fatty acids and has antimicrobial properties making it beneficial for those who suffer from hair conditions such as dandruff since it has a fungal component.
You can deep condition your hair using coconut oil; this will help remove sebum build-up from the follicles and provide hydration to your hair resulting in soft, shiny hair.
A natural astringent that is particularly helpful for skin problems. Witch hazel can help relieve itching, close the oil-producing pores, help with inflammation due to dandruff and pH imbalances.
Add four drops of the oil to 2 tablespoon water and apply the mixture to your scalp using cotton swabs or balls.
These remedies and tips along with giving up on a few bad habits can help you achieve the shiny, healthy hair you desire. Of course, the treatment does take time so be patient and keep going. Hopefully, you will feel the change in your hair soon. But make sure you treat them as gently as possible even after you get rid of the oily scalp.