25 Ways to Fix Oily Hair

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, APRN on November 9, 2017Written by Mandy Ferreira

oily hair remedy

The panic of waking up late to hair that looks like you slept in a deep fryer certainly does not make for a great morning. Sure, glossy, messy hair is in these days. But you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

An overly greasy scalp can lead to uncomfortable itching and seborrheic dermatitis. It can even provide a feast for the fungus that causes dandruff.

That said, you don’t want to strip off all your oil. Your natural oils protect hair and are vital for a healthy scalp and lustrous hair. Here’s how to cut the grease without damaging your hair or irritating your scalp.

1. Wash more often

People with really oily hair may need to shampoo up to once a day according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Shampoo helps to remove excess oil as well as debris and leftover hair products from the scalp.

How often should you wash your hair?

2. Wash less often

This may seem counterintuitive. But if you are already washing your hair once a day and you are still greasy by day’s end, it might be worth playing with how frequently you wash your hair.

Over-washing can strip your scalp of its natural oils. This may cause it to produce more oil to rehydrate. If you tend to have dry skin or a dry, itchy scalp in addition to oily hair, slowly stretching how frequently you wash may help balance out your scalp’s oil production.

3. Shampoo properly

It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but yes, you can wash your hair incorrectly and end up with an oily scalp and damaged hair.

To properly wash your hair, gently work a small amount of shampoo into your roots and scalp. Avoid using your nails or creating unnecessary friction on the strands. Aggressive scrubbing can irritate your scalp and cause it to produce more oils.

Focus on your scalp, where the oil is, rather than on the length of your hair. Don’t apply shampoo directly to the ends of your hair or scrub them. Instead, simply let the shampoo flow through the ends as you rinse. And good news for your wallet, researchers recommend skipping the “repeat” cleanse.

4. Condition carefully

Conditioner can make your hair look greasy and cause oils to pile up faster. Condition just the ends of your hair and be sure to thoroughly rinse.

5. Go natural

Straightening irons and blow dryers can give you a smooth, sleek finish. They can also make your hair look greasy faster. Let your hair air dry and embrace its natural texture. You’ll stretch out your washes and avoid heat damage.

6. Use products formulated for oily hair

A lot of thought and research has gone into making haircare products live up to their hype. If your shampoo isn’t cutting it, try a clarifying shampoo that has stronger detergents. This can help lift oil and leave your hair grease-free.

However, if you love sweaty workouts or find you need to wash daily, a mild baby shampoo can be less irritating and better suited for frequent use.

7. Clean your brush

A dirty brush has no place with freshly washed hair. Your brush can be full of styling products, oils, and general gunk that can make your locks dirty immediately after washing. Clean up your styling tools with a bit of shampoo or gentle soap to strip off the buildup. Likewise, clean out all of the loose hair after each brushing to keep your brush free of oil and dirt.

8. Deep clean with aloe

This home remedy doesn’t just come in handy in the summer months. Aloe makes for a great hair and scalp mask since it removes extra oil, fights product buildup, soothes the scalp, and protects strands. You’ll be left with soft, healthy hair.

9. Avoid products with silicone

Many products, including shampoos, conditioners, creams, and styling products, are made with silicone to help smooth hair and add shine.

In addition to adding extra gloss that can look an awful lot like grease, silicones — like cyclomethicone, amodimethicone, and the most common, dimethicone — can build up on the hair and make it look dirty, oily, and weighed down.

Silcones can also prevent beneficial moisture from getting into the hair shafts. Do your roots a favor and skip any products with ingredients ending in “cone.”

10. Be gentle

Whether you’re washing, brushing, styling, or scratching your head, it’s important to be extra gentle. Irritating your scalp can actually over-stimulate your scalp and cause your oil glands to produce even more oil.

11. Rinse properly

Spend an extra minute or two making sure you have all of the shampoo and conditioner out of your hair. This can make a big difference in how your hair looks and feels.

Products that are left behind can coat your hair, making it look and feel dirty and itchy.

12. Stop playing with it

Lock twirling, head scratching, running fingers through your hair — the more you play with your hair, the worse it will look. Brushing and touching your hair frequently can stimulate oil glands. You can draw scalp oils down into the strands and add extra oils from your hands.

13. Try dry shampoo

Dry shampoo can be a savior in a pinch. It can’t substitute for a sudsy wet wash, but it can help dry out oils and give your hair a cleaner appearance. Many dry shampoos also add a touch of scent to help freshen up.

The downside is that dry shampoos add residue that can make your hair and scalp feel gritty and dirty. It also dries out your hair, so it’s best to only use it every now and then and wash it off completely the next day to avoid irritation and damage.

14. Skip the added moisture

People with oily hair typically don’t need moisturizing products. Your body already has that under control. Added oils like a moisturizing leave-in conditioner or cream can weigh down your hair and add to the dreaded helmet head.

15. Use DIY dry shampoo

Don’t have dry shampoo and need some in a pinch? Head to the kitchen. Cornstarch (or baby powder) is a classic do-it-yourself (DIY) substitute. Adding cocoa powder can make it disappear into darker hair.

16. Deep condition with coconut oil

Don’t skip your scalp the next time you do a coconut oil treatment. This treatment can help lift oil off the scalp and roots while adding some much-appreciated deep hydration.

17. Rinse with apple cider vinegar

Enlist the benefits of apple cider vinegar. When properly diluted, an apple cider vinegar rinse can help remove product buildup, balance scalp pH, and reduce frizz.

18. Shampoo with tea tree oil

A study found that antibacterial tea tree oil improves dandruff, reduces itchiness, and improves greasiness. Look for a shampoo that includes tea tree oil as one of its active ingredients to get the full effect.

19. Plan your washes around your workouts

This probably goes without saying, but sweating spreads oils and can leave your hair looking less than fresh. Try to schedule your shampooing around your sweatiest workouts to get the most out of each wash.

20. Wash after wearing a hat or helmet

Hats, helmets, scarves, and headbands can spread oils and trap heat. Undo the hat hair and its side effects with a quick wash. Or use head accessories to stretch out the timing of your next wash.

21. Apply witch hazel

This potion is surprisingly handy for grimy hair. Witch hazel can relieve itching, close oil-producing pores, and reduce inflammation caused by dandruff, pH imbalance, or other scalp disorders. It’s also gentle enough to use on a sensitive scalp.

22. Wear it down now and again

Constantly pulling back your hair can cause your scalp’s oils to spread faster and make your hair look greasier. Let your mane roam untamed now and then to stretch the time between washes. This works especially well if you leave your hair down the first day post-wash and wear it up the day before you wash.

23. Go for green tea

This powerhouse beverage is also good for your hair. Green tea extract has been shown to reduce sebum production and nourish skin when applied topically. Make it easy on yourself and pick up a shampoo that includes it.

24. Embrace the topknot

Sometimes it’s easier to just not fight it. Use the oils in your hair to your advantage with a sleek topknot. Plus, the natural oils will help hydrate your hair and give you an even better hair day tomorrow.

25. Sweeten with honey

If you’ve let the oil get really out of hand, a honey mask can help soothe your scalp and prevent or treat dandruff thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. One study found that a simple mixture of 90% raw honey and 10% water helped reduce symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis like itching, redness, flakiness, and excessive oil production.

The takeaway

Oily hair can be the makings of a bad day. The good news is that there are plenty of remedies to help you get it under control.

It’s also important to note that the amount of oil you produce changes over time and generally goes down as you get older. The excessively greasy locks of your youth will not haunt you forever, promise. 

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