My Battle with Oily Hair

For as long as I can remember I have had very oily hair. I feel like I have tried every product or at home treatment I have heard of to try and reduce my scalps oil production but nothing seems to make a drastic difference. I used to wash my hair daily but my hair dresser advised me to cut back to washing every other day, she said by doing this I could train my hair to go longer between washes. It has been about five years since I switched to washing every other day and I have not noticed that much of a difference. What has made a (small) difference are the products I use and how I use them.

When it comes to how I wash my hair I find that “lather rinse repeat” really does make a difference in how clean my hair gets and how long I can go before washing again. I also only apply conditioner to the ends of my hair and I do not let it sit for too long. In my quest to find the best shampoo for my hair I have found that it is kind of rare to find products, namely shampoo, for oily hair, but I read that using a volumizing shampoo can help reduce oil because it tends to dry out the hair follicle. So that is the category I try to stick to when browsing hair care products.

Pureology – Since I have started using Pureology Clean Volume shampoo I have been able to go a second day without washing. Because this line is sulfate-free it doesn’t soap up like some other shampoos do, so I definitely have to double wash to get my hair really clean. As far as volume goes, I don’t really notice a difference but that is okay because that is not my biggest hair concern.

Moroccan Oil – I used the Repair line for years because I think it really helped keep my split ends at bay and it smells phenomenal, but unfortunately it was not exactly the best at stopping my scalps oil production. However, I did just find out that they have a Clarifying shampoo that helps remove oil so I will definitely have to try that. If you have course or dry hair this would probably be a great line for you.

Ouai – I bought a bottle of the Clean shampoo, but I did not end up sticking with this product. It did a great job at cleansing but over time I think my hair started to produce more oil. Second day hair was pretty much impossible unless I planned on wearing a hat to cover up my oily roots. I did notice that my hair air dried quicker and was less frizzy so if you don’t mind washing your hair every day and you’re going for a sleek/straight look then you might like the Ouai Clean shampoo. *Ouai has recently changed some of their products and this one is no longer available.

I think the way I style my hair makes the biggest impact on how long I can go between washes. When I can, I like to let my hair air-dry so I can give it break from applying heat to it. Unfortunately when I do this I always end up wearing a hat the next day to cover my shiny roots. For me, the best way to style my hair to achieve second day hair is to air-dry for about 30 minutes then finish drying with a hair dryer and curling it. I think when I curl my hair I tend to not touch it as much because I am afraid if I do it will go flat. Not touching your hair seems to be the one thing everyone recommends to help keep your hair from getting oily.

Dry shampoo is another popular hair product a lot of people use to pull off second day hair. However, if you are a brunette (like me) it can be a bit challenging to find one that does not make your roots look ashy. Batiste makes a pretty good dry shampoo for brunettes. It really does work and blend in to my dark roots nicely. I have recently started using IGK Charcoal Detox dry shampoo and it has become my new favorite. It has worked the best for absorbing oil but it does come out a little white so if it is not massaged in enough it can have an ashy look.

I have also found that if I apply dry shampoo right after I dry and style my hair or right before I go to bed my hair still looks fresh the next day. Even my sister, who always points out how oily my hair looks, was shocked when she complimented my hair and I told her I had not washed it that day.

I asked my fellow Tulhoma writers if they have any advice for anyone dealing with oily hair and here is what they had to say:

Alexys: I also have a very oily scalp and, like Bethany, I’ve tried countless products and methods to decrease the oiliness. 

I usually wash my hair about once a week. I have tried washing more often but I end up with an irritated scalp, so once or twice a week seems to work best for me. I like to brush my hair before I get in the shower because I’ve read that it’s not good to brush through wet hair unless you have a wet brush. I also focus the shampoo on my scalp and only rub it into the ends if I have product in my hair. I don’t actually use any conditioner right now. I’ve had such a hard time finding a conditioner that works for my hair, I kind of gave up on it. I really like the brand of shampoo I am using now, so I plan on buying a conditioner from them next time I make an order. I notice that my hair gets more oily when I air dry only, so I let my hair air dry for a bit and then blow dry. I have always had really straight hair and curls don’t hold very long, so I don’t tend to style it as much as I would like to.

Right now I am using the Virtue Full Shampoo and it’s working well for me so far. I feel like my hair has gotten less oily since using it, although I don’t think it’s been a dramatic difference. I also noticed a little more volume in my hair than before, and it doesn’t feel weighed down at all, even when it does get oily. Before the virtue shampoo I was using Oribe Gold Lust, which did make my hair really shiny and soft, but I don’t think it was the best for my oily scalp. When I was using Oribe, my hair felt weighed down after the second day. Here are some other things I’ve tried: 

  • Apple cider vinegar rinse: I tried this a few times and it didn’t work for me. I feel like my scalp was more oily after doing this and my hair fell flat much quicker than normal. I really wanted this to work because it seemed like such a fun, easy thing to do, but it wasn’t for me. 
  • Shampoo bar: I originally got into this to try to be more sustainable, but it didn’t work for me at all. At first I did think my hair was improving, but I realized that I was actually leaving a lot of buildup on my scalp and my hair was getting oily quicker. I tried a couple different bars, but they were all from the same brand, so I wonder if I would have had better luck with another brand.
  • Dry shampoo: I’ve tried a lot of dry shampoos and only a few have worked for me. The one I had the best results from was Briogeo. I also have really dark hair so it’s hard for me to find a dry shampoo that works well and doesn’t leave a white/ashy residue. Overall I don’t use dry shampoo that often because I don’t like how it feels in my hair and doesn’t help with oiliness or volume. 
  • Not touching my hair: This has actually helped more than I thought it would. I get an extra day or so of non oily hair, plus it doesn’t fall flat as quickly when I’m not touching it every 5 seconds. 

Taryn: I’ve always had really greasy hair and have for the most part just accepted it. If I showered and washed my hair in the morning, I would need a little dry shampoo in the evening if I was going out. In the past, I would wash my hair every other day, maybe every third day if it was colder outside and I didn’t work out much. I don’t like the feeling of layers of dry shampoo in my hair, so 2-3 days without washing is all I could handle. But since we’ve been in quarantine, I haven’t been using dry shampoo and I’ve noticed a huge difference. My hair got greasy like normal for the first few weeks and I just dealt with it, but now that we are months into quarantine, my hair looks clean even on the second day. Just allowing my scalp to do its own thing made a huge difference. Now I’m washing my hair every fourth day. I really hope I can keep this up, but I wonder once I reintroduce dry shampoo, even if it’s on the third day, it will make my scalp go back to being more oily. Here are a couple other things I do to help manage my greasy hair, both now and before:

  • Using a clippy, I loosely pull up the top half of my hair before I get in the shower to wash my hair. I get my full head wet, including the part that’s pulled up, but I put shampoo on the bottom half first, so I can really get into the areas that may be harder to reach with all my hair down. Without rinsing the bottom half, I unclip the top part and shampoo that as well. It just gives me a little more assurance that my whole head will be clean. Usually if I miss a greasy spot, I feel like my whole head gets oily faster.
  • Pull your hair back when your face is oily and vice versa. 
  • Brush the oils throughout your hair. Kind of sounds gross, but usually I can pull off a sleek ponytail that looks like I put product in it, but it’s actually just my all-natural grease. Plus your own oils will help moisturize your locks.

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