Secreted by the sebaceous glands of the scalp, sebum helps keep hair healthy—but when your body produces too much, you’re left with a greasy, wet-looking coif. This can happen for a number of reasons, but the main one is overcleansing. If your scalp is normally on the dry side but you’re using a purifying shampoo, you might be stripping your scalp of its natural healthy sebum (which is meant to protect the hair). This can cause the skin on the scalp to produce too much sebum, leaving you with greasy hair only a few hours after washing it!
Other causes of oily hair are more obvious, like infrequent washing, ineffective shampoo, or buildup of conditioning or styling products. Sometimes diet or stress can cause an overproduction of sebum. Talk to your health-care provider if you think this might be the case.
How to camouflage oily hair
A few tricks can help you hide those oily roots and allow you to put off shampooing for another day: Wear an accessory like a headband, a scarf or a hat, tie up your hair rather than leaving it down, or change the spot where you part your hair. Dry shampoo can also give you a boost, but make sure to use it only occasionally and to wash your hair well as soon as possible afterward to prevent it from clogging the hair follicles on your scalp.
To do or not to do...
► You may have been told by your hairdresser to delay washing as much as possible to preserve natural oils
and avoid stimulating the sebaceous glands. But if you have a naturally very oil scalp, a multitude of mild shampoos are now available so you can wash your hair daily or every other day without stripping the hair. This will keep your scalp decongested without drying out your locks.
► Add a pre-shampoo treatment, a scalp scrub or a clarifying shampoo to your routine once or twice a week for a more in-depth cleansing. A treatment with exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid will also help regulate sebum production.
► A scalp massager is effective in helping your shampoo clean the scalp more deeply or allow a treatment to penetrate better and more evenly.
► Make sure you’ve taken the time to rinse out your shampoo and conditioner completely.
► If your scalp is super oily, stay away from shampoos and conditioners with rich or heavier ingredients like shea butter or avocado oil.
► Only apply conditioner to the lengths of your hair, and completely avoid the scalp.
“Shampooing your hair twice versus just once every wash day is a simple trick that those with an oily scalp can benefit from! The first shampoo helps to dislodge accumulations (of product residue, sweat and dead cells) and the second cleanses well.” —Shab Reslan, trichologist and hair expert.
Our product picks
THE INKEY LIST Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, $19, theinkeylist.com.
SHAERI Pure Scrub Hair & Body Scrub, $38, shaeri.com.
AVEENO Fresh Greens Blend Refresh & Thicken Shampoo, $10, well.ca.
SEPHORA COLLECTION Silicone Scalp Massager, $15, sephora.ca.