Like our skin, hair can also fall into either the dry, oily or combination category, though the second one is probably the most complained about… and for good reason. Sure, oil is not only natural to the body but necessary to keeping moisture levels balanced, but there are a couple of internal and external factors that frequently tip the scales, leaving our strands heavier and greasier than we would like. As with most other hair woes, there are ways to lighten the load, but first, let’s go over what causes it in the first place.
Touching our hair. According to celebrity hairstylist Jessica Hoffman Shakir, touching our hair too much can cause the oils of our fingers to transfer to our hair. Sure, it’s a small, somewhat unnoticeable habit, but it can take your hair from glossy to greasy in just a few hours.
Hormones. This is especially true during your period. “Think about it: Your scalp is still your skin,” says Shakie. “If you’re prone to breakouts during that time of the month, you can expect your scalp to also be producing extra sebum… often resulting in oily-looking hair.”
Overbrushing. Brushing stimulates oil production, which is great if you want shiny hair, but it can also be too much of a good thing. “When you brush your hair too much,” says Shakir, “it disperses the oil from your roots to your ends, making your strands look oily. Use a comb instead!”
Using the wrong shampoo. Yes, it’s an incredibly ordinary part of most hair-care routines, but we should still be intentional about it.
“My sister Maria Blaich, a master hairstylist (and owner of Salt Hair Lounge), has always told me, ‘Jess, think of your hair as if it were fabric! Sometimes the roots may feel like silk while the ends may look more like cotton. Sometimes you need a clarifying shampoo at the roots and a hydrating shampoo on the ends!'”
This method may read as high maintenance, but greasy hair will require even more care, if you let it get to that point.
Over-conditioning. This is something we’re all guilty of, especially those of us with textured strands. However, this can also create more oily buildup. So instead, Shakir recommends you start by applying a small amount of conditioner to the ends of the hair and use a wide tooth comb to detangle while you’re still in the shower.
Prevention and Care
So, given all of the causes, are there just as many solutions? The short answer: no, but enough to leave little room for excuses. First, consider the way you’re using styling products. For instance, Shakir says that shine serums often add to the problem of oily or oily-looking hair. So be sure to only apply this type of product to the ends of your hair to smooth and camouflage split ends. Remember that less is more.
She also counts talc-free dry shampoo as a must-have for combating excess oil. “My go-to is NuMe’s Dirty to Flirty Dry Shampoo. This formula includes rosemary leaf and pomegranate seed to get rid of excess oil and to help revitalize your strands,” she says.
And tea tree oil isn’t just a remedy for oily skin and breakouts; it provides the same healing powers for hair, too. One way to quickly address this common issue is by adding 10 drops of tea tree oil to an eight-ounce shampoo bottle of your choice. “The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil) will help thoroughly cleanse your hair without stripping it of its natural oils and create overall scalp health.”
For those with textured hair, Courtney Adeleye, founder and CEO of The Mane Choice, says that anything oil- or butter-based promotes oiler strands. So, keep products that balance the scalp in heavy rotation. These typically include tea tree oil, as well as other popular detoxifiers, such as charcoal and mint.
“Try to limit shampooing to every three to five days for looser textures and every seven to 10 days for tighter textures,” she says. “Consume a diet that’s rich in quality protein nutrients and vitamins. Also, stay up on your fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Dehydrated skin and scalp excrete more oil.”
Ahead are 11 oil-busters, all made with these expert-approved solutions.