Help! Why Is My Hair So Greasy?


As we age, a lot of us have noticed that our hair has gotten drier. This is common for aging hair and skin, which includes our scalp. But what if you’ve noticed the opposite? If your hair has become oilier with age, you’re not alone! Many women deal with oily hair after 40. Let’s dig into why our hair can get too oily and some hair-care options for greasy hair.


First Things First: Why Does Hair Get Greasy?

Time for a (very) quick science lesson. Oily hair and scalp can be caused by many factors, both biological and environmental. The reason we have oil in our hair naturally is that our scalp is covered in sebaceous glands that produce an oil known as sebum. But when the sebaceous glands work a little too hard, we can end up with excess sebum on the scalp. Instead of just moisturizing the hair at our roots, all of this extra hair sebum causes our hair to become flat and greasy.


Curly hair and thicker, longer hair tend to be oily at the roots and progressively drier toward the ends. This is simply due to physics: It takes much more work for scalp oils to travel down a corkscrew-shaped hair shaft or down long hair shafts. On the other hand, hair types that disperse oil more easily, such as thin hair or short hair, tend to appear greasy more easily. When we feel our hair getting oily, regardless of texture or type, this signals that it’s time for a wash!


Keep in mind also that your hair is affected by season and location. In warmer, wetter weather, our hair and skin tend to be oiler. (We also tend to be outside and sweating more for activities and exercise during warmer weather—so all this sweat spreads oils down the hair shaft more easily!) During cold weather and in drier climates, our hair tends to become drier, especially because we spend much of our time inside with dry, warmer air. But while the cold air and dry indoor heat zap our tresses of moisture, our scalp will often secrete more oil to compensate. Add wooly winter hats that cause our scalp to sweat into the mix and this only makes our oily matters worse.

If you live somewhere that experiences all four seasons, you might find that your hair alternates between oily and dry, and that’s normal! The important thing is to recognize your hair’s changing needs and adjust your hair-care routine to match!

There are also medical reasons for greasy hair, including psoriasis, seborrheic eczema and hormonal imbalance, all of which can result in excess sebum in the scalp. Oily hair and scalp can also be caused by poor diet (especially sugary, processed foods) and stress. Working to reduce both of these in your daily life can help you fight oily hair. And if you think a medical condition might be the cause of your oily hair, please be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns.


But I Wash My Hair Daily and It’s Still Greasy!

It definitely makes sense that when we notice our hair becoming greasy, we want to wash it. (We do this for all other parts of our body, after all!) But even though frequent washing can temporarily help hair that gets greasy fast, frequently washing your hair can actually make the problem worse!


How? Because when we shampoo our hair, we are removing the oils our sebaceous glands have made for our hair. Stripping away these oils tells the sebaceous glands to create more hair sebum. It becomes a vicious cycle of washing your hair because it’s greasy, which causes your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil because your body sees sebum being washed away as a cue to produce more.


A word of caution: If you’re dealing with excess oil don’t be afraid of using hydrating products! Many of us have an oily scalp but dry hair. To fight this problem, be sure that your hair is getting enough hydration beyond the root (your sebaceous glands can handle those!) Deep conditioning treatments like butter masques applied to the mid-shaft and ends can hydrate parched hair while not adding oil to the scalp. We especially love our Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque for weightless moisturizing!


Okay, But How Can I Go Longer Between Washes If I’m Dealing with Oily Hair Now?

Don’t worry—we’ve got you! There are many options for hair care for greasy hair. A great option is to incorporate a quality dry shampoo because it helps extend time between washes by soaking up extra oil at the hair root. It’s important to add your dry shampoo before your hair becomes too greasy to fix. If you’re a daily morning washer, try adding the dry shampoo in the evening, instead of the following day at your regular washing time. For excellent oil absorption and a volume boost, we love our Fresh Start Scalp Renewing Dry Shampoo! Best of all, it’s noncomedogenic so it won’t clog pores.


An excellent style option to help camouflage oily scalp and hair is a half-up backcombed style. After applying your dry shampoo for texture and oil absorption, pull the top third of your hair back to your crown. With a thin toothed comb, backcomb this section of hair, about two inches out from your crown. Smooth or tousle your tresses to your liking and secure the style with bobby pins or a hair tie. This technique gives the pulled-back section lots of volume, which helps hide any signs of oily scalp!


Got it! What Are Some Other Tips for Oily Hair Prevention?

We’re so glad you asked! There are lots of things we can do to reduce hair oiliness. Dermatologists say that keeping our hands out of our hair is vital to reducing grease. Think about how often you run your hands through your hair or twirl it between your fingers while lost in thought. These are hard habits to break! A great way to keep your hair out of (easy) reach is to try tying your tresses into a loose, low braid. This style has the added bonus of not pulling on your hair, while also creating heatless waves when you undo the braids!


Another terrific tip for oily hair prevention is to make sure all objects that routinely touch your hair are as clean as possible. This includes pillowcases, hats and hairbrushes. The oils our hair leaves on these items might not be obvious, but they’re definitely there! Be sure to regularly wash your pillowcases and hats. Your hairbrushes should also be cleaned often, usually once per week to a few times per month.


Lastly, try adding volume to hide oily hair. Because oily hair tends to fall flat, having dimension and volume in your locks makes it appear bouncy and healthy! To maximize volume, we love our Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo and for our curly girls, License to Curl: Curl Revival Boost Spray refreshes and reshapes curls between washes. Both help boost volume and will help prevent the flat, oily appearance we all want to avoid.


Let Better Not Younger Help You Fight Greasy Scalp and Oily Hair!

There are many culprits that cause oily hair: overproduction of sebum, washing too frequently, hormonal imbalance, poor diet, stress, skin conditions of the scalp and hair-care routines that don’t cater to hair type or texture.

Whether you’re dealing with medical reasons for greasy hair, an oily scalp but dry hair, or your hair just gets greasy fast, Better Not Younger is here to help you reduce hair oiliness and get your locks looking their best this winter!


Tell Us: What are your favorite tips and tricks for dealing with oily hair and greasy scalp? Share them in the comments below!


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