How to get rid of greasy hair – plus the best shampoo to beat the slick
Greasy hair is both incredibly common and incredibly annoying. Here are the main causes of an oily scalp and how to get rid of greasy hair fast
H aving greasy hair or an oily scalp is a really common issue. You might find your hair gets greasier at different times of the year, or it may be that you’re putting up with greasy hair every day.
Despite it sometimes looking and feeling grim, be assured that greasy hair is not a result of poor hygiene – well, in a large number of cases. In fact, being too clean and washing your hair too much may well add to the amount of grease in your hair.
On top of that, it’s really hard to style greasy hair, and sometimes impossible to hide. To help you get rid of greasy hair fast, and understand why it’s greasy in the first place, here are a number of tips and techniques that can help, as well as products for you to try – and which to avoid.
Greasy hair men: The science of greasy hair
Your scalp naturally produces a substance called sebum, which is an oily, waxy natural oil that’s produced by your body’s sebaceous glands.
The sebum helps to keep your skin moisturised and works as a waterproofing mechanism, stopping moisture/water from leaving your body.
WHAT CAUSES GREASY HAIR?
- The weather
- Hats and headwear
- Oily hair products
- Wrong shampoo
- Washing your hair daily
- Touching your hair
- Dirty brushes/combs
Sebum helps and supports the health of your hair by protecting it from harmful matter, such as bacterial and fungal infections. It does this by mixing with fat molecules, called lipids, that form a protective coating on the skin’s surface.
The highest concentration of sebaceous glands is found on your scalp, face and chest. As a side note, this is why your skin can get so oily, and your chest and back can experience acne. You can read more in our guide to back acne, and our recommendations for the best skincare to get rid of acne for good.
Your sebaceous glands produce sebum through holocrine secretion (a process of programmed cell death). These specialised cells (sebocytes) then dissolve and release the sebum into the sebaceous glands.
Your sebaceous glands are almost always alongside a hair follicle and the growing hair pulls the sebum up and onto the surface of your skin. Of course, with so much hair on your head, you can see how sebum can build up in this area. If it does build up your hair will feel heavy, greasy and sticky.
Why does my hair get greasy so fast?
– The weather: Any drop or increase in temperature, brought on by the time of year or weather can cause your body to produce more sebum.
– Hats and headwear: Whether it’s a cap, a beanie or a headband, wearing headwear traps trapping the natural oils your scalp produces while pushing hair toward the scalp.
– Using the wrong shampoo: If you’re looking to get rid of greasy hair, the best place to start is by looking at your shampoo of choice. Greasy hair needs a cleansing or clarifying shampoo.
– Washing your hair every day: If you’re washing your hair daily, or even twice a day, you’ll find that you’re regularly stripping your hair of its natural oils. As a result, your hair thinks it needs to make more to counteract this and this causes greasy hair.
– Touching your hair: Touching your hair or rubbing your scalp not only passes any grease or dirt on your hands to your scalp and vice versa, but it can also encourage your scalp to increase its sebum production. If you’re guilty of doing this, check out our guide to the best men’s hairstyles for all hair types.
– Dirty brushes and combs: If you have greasy hair, make sure you’re cleaning your brushes and combs regularly. The same goes for your pillowcase.
How to get rid of greasy hair fast
With greasy hair being such a common problem, the good news is there are plenty of ways to stop or get rid of greasy hair fast. We’ve recommended what we consider to be the best shampoo for greasy hair below, but there are some ingredients you should look for, and others you should avoid when shopping for greasy hair products.
Best products and ingredients for greasy hair:
- Lightweight formulas
- Sulphate-free shampoo (to clean and rebalance the pH level of your scalp and hair)
- Tea tree, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint, basil, and ylang-ylang (essential oils help control glandular production of oil)
- Silicone-free conditioner
- Apple cider
Best products and ingredients to avoid for greasy hair:
- Anything that promises you “shine” or “moisture”
- Sulphate-based shampoos (they can effectively remove oil, but are harsh and can strip the scalp of its natural oils)
Dry shampoo is great for getting rid of greasy hair fast. The dry shampoo will help absorb the excess oil from your scalp, as well as any sweat and dirt that may be adding to the greasy look. By using dry shampoo for greasy hair it will also mean you have to wash your hair less, which as we said before, less hair washing, means less sebum is produced (to a point of course).
We really like the dry shampoo from Living Proof (£16) because it’s really easy to apply and it doesn’t leave that powdery residue you can get with some dry shampoos. This one is fine to be used on dyed, or chemically treated hair and leaves greasy hair smelling fresh.
Best shampoo for greasy hair
Bear in mind if you’re using dry shampoo, or going a couple of days without washing your greasy hair, you might get build-up. This is when the hair follicles become blocked full of dirt, sebum and dead skin cells. To keep your hair looking fresh, and to stop greasy hair completely, we recommend giving your hair a bit of detox by using a clarifying shampoo 2-4 times a month.
This clarifying shampoo from Ouai (£24) will deal with any product build-up, as well as refresh your scalp and roots. Sometimes shampoos struggle to remove stubborn dry shampoo, but you won’t have that problem with this one.
We’re also big fans of Hairstory’s New Wash. It’s a shampoo that feels like a conditioner and works to cleanse and condition your hair at the same time. It’s pricey, but worth it and you can read more in our sister site’s Hairstory New Wash review.
Alternatively, if £24 is too much to spend, the OGX Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo (£7.99) is a cheap, yet effective alternative.
Apple cider is a great ingredient to help with greasy hair because it has astringent properties that help remove excess oil from your skin. It also balances the pH level of your scalp and hair, meaning your sebaceous glands may produce a more accurate amount of sebum. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t leave your hair smelling like a fish shop.
It also helps to remove your unwanted oil and reset your pH balance. There’s also a conditioner available if you have long hair.
FURTHER READING: How to cut men’s hair with clippers at home: Step-by-step guide on how to fade your own hair
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