Oily hair is a complaint of so many of people, and truthfully, most times it’s what we do to our hair that has made it this way. It is always important to identify and understand how our habits are influencing our bodies, and how we can resolve our issues. Luckily for us, we can turn this around. With a little patience, the oiliness can be improved dramatically.

The most common advice given to people with oily hair is “to only condition the ends”.  Chances are if you have oily hair, you’ve been following this advice, and quite possibly for years. Not only is this ineffective, but sadly, it worsens the issue.

Shampoos are a cleaning agent, used to strip the dirt and oil from your hair. What is not as commonly known is that shampoo also strips the moisture from your hair and your scalp. You will probably recognize this as a “squeaky-clean” feeling. This is not healthy; this is your hair and scalp screaming for hydration.

Now your body is smart and will do everything it can to “repair” anything that is not healthy. Just like if you get a harsh product near/in your eyes, the tears will start streaming as your body is trying to flush the foreign substance from your eyes. Or if you get food poisoning, your body will do it’s best to remove this food in the quickest way possible. Your body knows that you need to replace the moisture for your body to function at its best, but unfortunately, it cannot produce water. (This is why we are told to drink so many glasses of water daily to replenish what we’ve lost). Therefore, in an attempt to heal your dehydrated scalp, your body produces more oils. The more you strip the moisture from your head, the more your body works at producing more oil. Severe dehydration of the scalp also leads to flaky skin, which is why excessively oily hair also typically has an issue with dandruff.

The misconception with conditioner is that people have been told it will add more grease to your already oily hair. In fact, conditioner is used to lock in water, not to add more oil. So when you condition the ends of your hair without conditioning the roots, you are leaving your hair and scalp severely dehydrated. This also leaves your scalp open to all the factors in the environment that cause even more dehydration; such as air-conditioning, heating, and the sun. Therefore your body is forced to work harder and harder to continually produce oil in an attempt to alleviate the dehydration. A conditioner will lock in any of the moisture left in your skin and will provide a barrier to lessen any additional loss of water. This is why it is important to condition the roots as well as the rest of your hair.

The trick is to use a lightweight conditioner, and in small amounts (think the size of a 20c piece. Use a little more for long hair and a little less for short hair).  You don’t want a heavy conditioner that is meant for dry hair. Remember you’re looking to solve a dehydration issue, which is the lack of water. Dry hair means lack of oil, so conditioners targeting dry hair are not going to be effective for you.  Avoid any styling products that create shine. This will only add to the look of oiliness.

There are other actions you can take to keep the oil production under control.

  1. Lessen how many times you shampoo your hair. You should not be shampooing your hair every day. Every 2-3 days is best. Washing your hair too often will strip too much moisture from your head. This is where you really need to be patience. But it is well worth those first few days of really oily hair to get to the other side. You can wear a hat or a scarf those first few days that your hair is really oily until you start to see the improvement.

  2. Look out for shampoos that do not contain harsh detergents, as these will strip the most moisture from your hair. If you want to learn more about detergent-free shampoos and find out what products we recommend to can check out our article Is Your Shampoo Doing You More Harm Than Good?

  3. Avoid running your fingers through your hair. The oil from your fingertips will transfer to your hair. This will also carry the oil from your roots throughout the rest of your hair.
    Don’t straighten your hair. This flattens your hair and it will sit closer to your scalp. This will keep it in contact with the oil.
    During the transition period, before you start to really notice the results, use a dry shampoo and spray lightly to lessen the shine between washes. You’ll notice you’ll need to do this less and less as you start seeing the positive results.