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What Causes Oily Hair and What Can I Do About It?

If you are well past your hormonal teens and wondering why your hair is still oily or why it suddenly turned greasy, you are not alone.

Having freshly washed and flowing hair one day and then stringy strands the next day is the bane of greasy-haired women and men everywhere.

But instead of hiding under hats or hoarding dry shampoos, it’s essential to understand what causes oily hair so you can find the most effective solutions.

What’s wrong with having oily hair?

There’s nothing “wrong” with having greasy hair. But dealing with it can be exhausting.

It begs for frequent washing, is hard to style, and leads self-conscious suffers to worry their hygiene is under scrutiny by strangers.

Many so-called cures for oily hair hurt more than they help: Overwashed hair becomes stripped and weak. Harsh shampoos irritate scalps. Dry shampoos that absorb oils leave a residue that can lead to blocked follicles and an itchy head when not properly washed out.

What causes oily hair?

The root cause of oily hair is sebaceous glands that overproduce sebum, an oily or waxy substance. You have sebaceous glands all over your body, with the highest concentration on your face and scalp. Their main job is protecting your skin from moisture loss and keeping out harmful microbes.   

But sometimes sebaceous glands go into overdrive. The reason can be anything from diet to hormones to genetics. Common causes of oily hair include:

Improper cleaning

Infrequent washing and over-washing both can lead to excessive oil. Harsh scrubbing can strip and irritate the scalp, pushing sebaceous glands into protective mode, which means more sebum production.

Hormones

Pimply teens are proof that hormones can throw sebum production into overdrive. But it doesn’t stop there. Adult women, especially those going through monthly menstruation or menopause, also experience hormonal surges, acne outbreaks, and greasy hair days. Ever wonder, “Why is my hair so oily all of a sudden?” Consider the time of the month or the time of your life.

Nutrition

You are what you eat. Fried foods, fatty meats, dairy, refined carbohydrates, and salty foods can cause bodies to produce excess oil. Ensuring that your diet includes an average intake of fats, minerals, and vitamins could help reduce the amount of oil on your scalp and hair.

Products

No one’s hair and scalp are exactly the same. You need the right balance of ingredients just for you. The wrong shampoo, conditioner, or styling product can clean ineffectively, over-clean, irritate, build up, or weigh hair down. Go for fewer added fragrances and chemicals. The more organic plant-based extracts, the better. (Scroll down for our list of the best oily hair products.)

3 myths about how to treat oily hair

Now that you understand the common causes, let’s get to the solutions. Because there is so much misinformation out there, we’ll start by telling you what not to do.

The top three oily haircare myths are:  

1. You must wash daily. FALSE

Leonor Greyl Huile Germe de Ble shampoo

Excessive washing can have unintended consequences. It strips your scalp of its natural oil and causes your sebum production to ramp up (make more oil!) while drying out your length and ends. Try skipping shampooing a few days each week. But if you still want to wash daily, choose gentle formulas like Leonor Greyl’s volumizing Bain TS balancing shampoo and Huile de Germe de Blé, our deep cleansing scalp treatment made with wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, and avocado extracts.

2. Never use conditioner. FALSE

Leonor Greyl Masque Fleurs de Jasmin conditioner

Most oily-haired people suffer from an imbalance and require the healthy hydration and protection that conditioners provide. The trick is selecting the best conditioner for your hair type (nothing too heavy) and applying it just to your length and ends. Try a light and nurturing formula like Leonor Greyl’s Masque Fleurs de Jasmin, specially formulated for fine hair.

3. Steer clear of oil treatments. FALSE

Leonor Greyl Regenerescence Naturelle

You don’t have to avoid all oils, especially those containing beneficial botanical extracts with antibacterial and soothing properties. Try a balancing scalp oil like Leonor Greyl’s Régénerescence Naturelle, blended with borage, rosehip, and apricot kernel oils rich in omegas, antioxidants, and vitamins E and C. It’s formulated to purify and invigorate the scalp, reduce dandruff and help strengthen the hair follicle base.

What are the best products for oily hair?

Leonor Greyl is renowned for innovating condition-specific, botanically-based hair and scalp treatments. Here are our best products for oily hair that purify and cleanse while improving shine, vitality, and volume:

Huile de Germe de Blé
Deep cleansing scalp treatment made with wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, and avocado extracts.

Bain TS
Balancing shampoo enriched with sage, yeast, and lime, which have proven effects on sebum production. 95% natural ingredients.

Tonique Végétal
Lightweight leave-in spray enriched with sage for its purifying properties and amino acids to strengthen and fortify the scalp. It’s formulated to absorb oil at the roots, giving your hair body, shine, and a fresh feel. 95% natural ingredients.

Oily Scalp Treatment Collection – Starter Kit
This collection has the perfect combination of the three products mentioned above: Huile de Germe de Blé, Bain TS, and Tonique Végétal.

Masque Fleurs de Jasmin
Hydrating mask for fine hair. The award-winning, jasmine oil-infused formula leaves locks richly hydrated without weighing them down. 98% natural ingredients.

Sérum de Soie Sublimateur
Award-winning lightweight styling serum for fine hair,  infused with softening silk proteins to smooth and protect without weighing down strands. 98% natural ingredients.

Laque Souple
Flexible and light-hold hair spray is formulated with natural resins and jojoba oil for supple softness, hold, and shine. 70% natural ingredients.

Massaging Scalp Brush
Created to clean and massage, this brush helps the shampoo to lather up and purify the scalp. Its relaxing action leaves the scalp more supple and improves scalp oxygenation. The ultimate tool for healthy and shiny hair.

Still not sure which products are right for your oily scalp and hair condition? Consult with our Leonor Greyl Hair Concierge.

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2 comments

  1. Aliah Manzano Manzano

    This is very interesting, thank you for sharing! Wash more often. People with really oily hair may need to shampoo up to once a day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. moisture shampoo

  2. Hey, Thank you for sharing this guide about oily scalp. I am currently facing oily scalp problems. But the tips and remedies that you mentioned it are quite helpful to me. Thanks for sharing keep updating.

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