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Why Does My Hair Get Greasy So Fast?

We’ve all been there: even the most healthy head of hair has had a greasy day or two. When the sebaceous glands in your scalp produce sebum — aka oil — it’s absorbed by your hair to nourish and add shine. But when too much sebum is produced, this excess of oil can leave you with a greasy-looking scalp and limp, lifeless and oily hair. While this can be a pretty common occurrence for many people, sometimes you might see that your hair is looking noticeably greasier than usual. So… where is this coming from?

What causes greasy hair?

This is a relatable issue for most people at some point in their lives. Here are some of the most frequent causes of greasy hair.

  • Scalp produces too much oil— Everyone is unique, and some bodies just produce more oil than others. Below we discuss a few potential causes of this, as well as ways to help curb excessive oil production.
  • Having thin or fine hair — While those with a thick or curly hair type can often go a week or more without washing their hair, having thin or fine hair means that greasiness shows far more quickly.
  • Washing too frequently— Contrary to what you might think, washing your hair too frequently can cause your body to overproduce sebum, to replenish the essential oils that the shampooing stripped.
  • Brushing too frequently — Brushing can stimulate the production of sebum on your scalp, making issues with greasiness even worse.
  • Diet— While we always encourage a well-rounded diet with a diverse range of foods, eating too much of certain foods can make your hair look greasy and lifeless. 
  • Using the wrong products —A healthy scalp is a happy scalp. It’s important to find the right hair care products to both treat excessive oiliness and help prevent it in the future.
  • Product build-up — When product and residue builds up on the scalp, it can block the sebaceous glands, which will then most likely overreact and produce more sebum. And additionally, this can cause further hair issues such as dandruff.
  • Touching your hair too much — Your fingers also produce natural oils, and playing with your hair is a quick way to distribute even more greasiness into your strands.

Davines solu shampoo clarifying

How to prevent greasy hair

See you later, limp and lifeless strands! Here are some simple ways to prevent and treat greasy hair.

Use the right products

To combat greasy strands, you need to start at the scalp. Avoid overly rich products or serums: these will just weigh your hair down and make it look extra lifeless. A clarifying shampoo will remove excessive oil and build-up, leaving you with clean and refreshed hair and scalp. If a noticeably greasy scalp has been a problem for a while, you might want to try a rebalancing shampoo which is specifically formulated to help scalps that have sebum hyper-production. When choosing your conditioner stay away from anything too heavy: look for one that will lightly moisturize to keep your strands from falling flat. But you can swap in a deep conditioner once a week with your regular conditioner to give your strands a little extra nourishment (be sure to check out our blog post to learn how often you should deep condition your hair). And as a general hair tip: finish your shower with a cool rinse to help the cuticle lie flat, giving you shinier looking hair before you blow dry or use other styling products.

 Adjust your diet

Certain foods can cause an oily hair and scalp: eating too many fried foods, dairy, fatty meat products and sugar can have a negative effect on the cleanliness of your hair. Aside from what to avoid, there are also specific things that you can add to your diet to help prevent greasiness in the first place. Foods rich in B vitamins (like beans, poultry and fish) as well as those rich in zinc (found in oysters and red meat) are excellent choices to help keep your sebaceous glands in check.

Try an at-home remedy

Not ready to run to the store for the latest anti-grease remedy for your oily hair? Some at-home remedies for greasy scalps can probably be found in your pantry right now.

  • Apple cider vinegar rinse — Dilute 1-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in an 8 ounce glass of water - the oiler your hair, the more apple cider vinegar you should use. The natural AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) in apple cider vinegar act as a scalp detox, gently exfoliating the hair to remove build-up and excessive oil.
  • Essential oil — Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your usual shampoo, and massage it in before rinsing. The antibacterial properties of tea tree oil will cleanse your hair and scalp, helping to remove any extra oil.
  • Aloe vera — Aloe is surprisingly effective at stripping excessive build-up and oil, so it makes a great at-home remedy to combat greasy scalps. To make an aloe vera treatment, just combine 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel with a few drops of lemon juice, and apply all over your scalp. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse out by washing with your regular shampoo and conditioner.

Apply conditioner correctly

When applying your conditioner, try to avoid the roots as much as possible. Applying a nourishing product can weigh down your hair at the root, especially if you’re already dealing with an oily scalp.

Change your pillowcases

Even if you go to bed with a freshly-washed face every night, eight hours of rolling around means your pillowcases are still a hotbed of shedded dead skin cells. So if you’ve noticed a recent acne breakout or a noticeably greasier scalp, it might be your pillowcase that’s to blame. Start washing your pillowcase at least once a week to remove any unwanted residue and build-up that can contribute to a greasier scalp.

Wash and brush less often

We’ve discussed the issues that can come from washing and brushing your hair too frequently — try lessening the frequency of both and see if that helps make a difference in the amount of oil on your scalp. By not triggering your sebaceous glands to go overboard with sebum production by overwashing and brushing, you can help make your hair less greasy.

Wash your brushes often

Did you know that it’s generally recommended to wash your hair brushes every one to two weeks? Build-up on your brush could be contributing to a greasy scalp making your hair dirtier, as well as spreading trapped oil around. Once you start seeing residue on the bristles, it’s time for a brush bath. After using a comb to pick out any stray hairs that are tangled in your brush, swish it around in a bowl filled with warm water and a mild cleansing shampoo. Rinse, and set it aside to dry.

Davines Hair Refresher dry shampoo

Fast fixes

All of the previously mentioned tips will help you get less-greasy hair, but sometimes you just need to degrease your hair in a pinch. Here are some of the easiest ways to remove excess oil from your scalp when you’re pressed for time.

  • Dry shampoo — One of the easiest fixes for greasy hair is a quick spritz of dry shampoo, and our Hair Refresher is the perfect product to keep with you. Dry shampoo absorbs excess oil without needing to use shampoo or hop it the shower, and it’s great for targeting specifically greasy areas of your hair and scalp. Just remember to use it sparingly — after three consecutive days of using dry shampoo, it’s time for a regular shampoo cleansing. Too much product can build up on your hair and scalp, which can sometimes cause oil production to go into overdrive to combat clogged follicles. Be sure to check out our blog post on how to use dry shampoo to find the best application techniques for your hair.
  • Baby powder — Another classic anti-grease technique, sprinkling a little baby powder on your roots (and rubbing it in as best as you can) is a great way to absorb excess oil on your scalp. The only thing to note is that this might not be the best choice for those with darker hair, since the white powder is more difficult to blend in.
  • Oil sheets — While facial blotting papers are a mainstay of every bag I own, hair blotting papers are something I had never heard of before. But the idea is the same: made from absorbent materials such as rice paper or activated charcoal, simply dab at your hair and scalp with hair oil sheets to help get rid of any excessive greasiness.

Even though most people have probably had to deal with it at some point in their lives, greasy hair doesn’t have to be a lifelong struggle. Start by making easy adjustments to your beauty routine: use the right products, wash and brush less frequently, and be mindful of how you apply conditioner or other at-home remedies. If you’re noticing that the problem is continuing, it might be worth looking into adjusting your diet and increasing the frequency that you wash your hair brushes and pillowcases. And if all else fails: you can’t beat the customized advice that comes from a visit to a professional hairstylist or dermatologist. If you have any additional tricks that have helped curb your excessively greasy scalp, let us know in the comments!

Shampoo formulated to remove excessive build up or oil. The rich and airy foam leaves the hair extremely clean.

Shampoo formulated to fight excess sebum production, clarifying and cleaning the scalp.

Light and moisturizing conditioner designed to untangle and soften hair without weighing it down.

Ideal for daily use.

by Lauren Hannel, staff contributor

Photos by @goldandglowco

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