It’s always a bit jarring to spot your reflection after a high-intensity gym workout, whether that’s a sweaty ride on the spin bike or a super-powered strength session. The endorphin rush is real, you stroll back to the locker room with swagger, and then you realize that your hair looks like you just doused your scalp in cooking oil. Greasy hair? Gross.
Luckily, you and your workout partners are all in the same boat – and with a quick rinse and lather, you can revive your locks back to their healthy, subtle shine.
But what if your hair feels greasy all the time?
If sebaceous strands are your status quo, you don’t have to tear your hair out searching for a solution. Here, we’ve rounded up advice from hair-care experts around the world on how to get rid of greasy hair – and how to keep your follicles from oiling up in the first place.
Why Is My Hair So Greasy?
You may have heard that your oily hair is hereditary – and while that’s partially the case, the causes of greasy hair can be complicated.
“Your scalp is part of your skin, and like any other part of your skin, the excess oil production is due to a reason. That part of your skin is sending you a message,” says Laura Roncagli, a professional hairstylist based in Italy.
“One of the main reasons for an oily scalp is dehydration – the skin is trying to overcome dryness by producing more oil,” Roncagli explains. “There are other reasons, like hormonal imbalances, genetics, unhealthy diet, and, of course, bad hygiene. Figuring out which of these reasons is causing your oily scalp will help you tackle the issue better,” she says.
How To Get Rid Of Greasy Hair
Sometimes, in order to get to the root of a problem, you have to experiment with possible solutions. Here are 9 surefire tips on how to get rid of greasy hair, according to our panel of experts:
Wash Less Often
While it may seem counterintuitive, washing your hair less often – that is, not every day – can protect your locks from excess oil buildup.
“In general terms, the best thing you can do is train your hair to withstand two to three days without washing it,” Roncagli recommends. “Overwashing an oily scalp is a never-ending cycle, as you will be stripping your scalp of the oils it needs, making it produce even more oil,” she says.
Switch Up Your Shampoo
When you do wash your hair, choose a gentle shampoo that’s free of harsh cleansers like sulfates or parabens. “Harsh chemicals can strip your scalp of natural oils, which causes your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil to make up for the loss,” notes Lauren Udoh, hairstylist and hair creative director at WigReports.com.
As for ingredients to seek out in a product, look for shampoos with botanicals, recommends Ghanima Abdullah, a hair expert and cosmetologist living in the Caribbean.
“Tea tree, witch hazel, charcoal, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, and green tea, when found in sulfate-free shampoos, also help balance oil production, meaning they lessen it,” Abdullah explains. “A drugstore shampoo probably won’t have these in sufficient quantities to make a difference – so it might be time to upgrade,” she says.
Apply Conditioner Carefully
If you’re caressing your conditioner too close to your scalp, you’re not applying it properly, say the experts.
“Don’t skip the conditioner just because you tend to be oily,” urges Morgan Thomas, a hairstylist from Chicago. “Follow up [your shampoo] with a good conditioner from the mid-lengths and ends only, keeping it away from your scalp.” This technique slows down oil production and reduces product buildup.
Use A Dry Shampoo, But Sparingly
Adding a dry shampoo to your hair-care regimen can reduce the need to wash as frequently, thus slowing down the vicious cycle of oil production.
“My favorite tip is to use a dry shampoo right after you blow dry,” recommends Thomas. “Getting that dry shampoo in there right away helps prevent an oily day or two rather than trying to dry up oil that is already there,” she says.
But don’t overdo it with the dry stuff, warns Abdullah, or you’ll make the problem worse.
“Dry shampoo is sprayed on the roots and can quickly lead to a dry scalp. This is okay for the short term – but long term, it is a big problem,” Abdullah explains. “When the scalp becomes overly dry, it automatically thinks it needs more oil. You’ll find if you use dry shampoo more than once a week, you’ll need it more and more,” she says.
Hold Back The Heat
While it’s tempting to style your hair with heat tools, Abdullah recommends against this technique if you grapple with greasy locks.
“When used near the scalp, heat encourages the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Washing your hair with hot water has the same effect,” she warns. “And when you use a straight hairstyle, it makes grease more apparent. So try not to use heat near your scalp, and go for wavy and curly hairstyles that don’t put the oil on display,” she says.
Rinse With Apple Cider Vinegar
We’ve all heard the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, but it turns out this popular home remedy can also work wonders on your hair.
“If you’re washing frequently with [sulfate-based shampoos], you can expect more oil. Instead, alternate your wash days with apple cider vinegar,” Abdullah advises. “When used in a solution of one part vinegar to seven parts water, and left in the hair for a few minutes, vinegar rinses can help balance the scalp, in addition to cleansing your hair of oil.”
Hydrate With Aloe Vera
Aloe vera, too, can have an amazing effect on your hair, especially when applied directly to an oily scalp. “A hair mask made with pure aloe vera is super hydrating to your hair and scalp,” Abdullah says. “This helps balance oil production because your scalp will immediately think there’s no need for more oil to moisturize your hair,” she explains.
Improve Your Diet
If topical solutions aren’t getting rid of your grease, you may want to focus on another common culprit: your diet.
“If you struggle with a greasy scalp, hair, and/or skin, you’ll want to remove as much oil from your daily food intake as possible, then replace these oils with fruits and vegetables,” advises Marie Burke, hair and skin expert at O’Flynn Medical. “[You should consume] mainly foods that are rich in vitamin B, as this can proactively regulate the amount of sebum naturally produced by the body, which will reduce greasiness.
“Vitamin B can be found in leafy green vegetables as well as lean meats, beans, fish, and poultry,” Burke explains. You can also increase your intake of vitamin B by taking a daily supplement for women.
Practice Healthy Hygiene
Tried out all the trusty tips but still frustrated with your oily frizz? You may be overlooking something as simple as basic hygiene.
“Taking proper care of your hairbrush is key – washing and disinfecting it once a week will make a huge difference,” recommends Roncagli. “Changing your pillowcase every three days also helps you maintain better hair hygiene,” she says.
For even more best practices for cleaning your personal care items, check out our expert guide (Spoiler alert: it’s probably time to toss your toothbrush, too).
Have you been wondering how to get rid of greasy hair? What tips and tricks work for you? Share your advice in the comments below!
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