For those of us with oily hair, the struggle is real. Finding the balance between healthy-looking hair, root volume, and shiny locks can feel so hard when you are dealing with an oily scalp and hair.
We have put together the ultimate guide to help you manage your oily hair.
How do you know if you have oily hair?
Does your hair feel greasy and limp the day after washing it? Chances are that you have oily hair.
What causes oily hair?
Oily hair is the result of over-productive sebaceous glands. When too much sebum is produced it can leave the scalp and hair looking and feeling greasy. While sebum isn’t bad for your hair, an excessive amount of it can cause scalp irritations and just make you feel rubbish when it becomes difficult to manage.
If you have an oily skin type, chances are that you are genetically predisposed to having oily hair too.
While causes of oily hair may include genetics and the texture of your hair, there are other factors such as hormones that contribute as well.
My hair is sometimes oily and sometimes dry, is this normal?
Absolutely! Your hair can change throughout your life and go from being dry to oily and back again. This is due to hormonal changes that affect the amount of sebum that your oil glands produce. Medication, puberty, pregnancy, changes in climate, and lifestyle changes are all contributing factors to oily hair too.
Is it okay to wash oily hair every day?
You can definitely wash your hair every day!. The key to getting the balance right is using the right haircare products. If the products you are using are formulated to provide too deep of a cleanse, they could excessively strip your natural oils, leaving hair looking dull. On the other hand, products which are not clarifying enough may not sufficiently remove oils, resulting in hair that still looks and feels oily.
Is it true that double shampooing in the shower can reduce oiliness for longer?
The science isn’t overly clear here yet – sebaceous glands produce oil, but the gland doesn’t ‘sense’ how much oil there is and stop accordingly, so washing your hair thoroughly doesn’t create a huge spurt in oil production. But, in the long term, it does seem to affect it. So, avoid over washing in the meantime.
Though ultimately, we recommend going with what feels best for you on hair wash day to get that squeaky clean feeling.
Should you wash your hair in the morning or night to reduce oiliness for longer?
Great news for those who wake up with that oily hair feeling every day: washing your hair in the morning is recommended as the best option to keep the oiliness at bay for longer.
Why? At night, the sebaceous glands are at their most active, plus there is a fair bit of tossing and turning while you sleep... the perfect storm for creating a greasy hair look first thing in the morning.
Air dry or heat dry? Which one is best for oily hair?
Heat stimulates sebaceous glands, so low and slow! A low-heat hair dry without excessive scalp stimulation from your towel or hands to speed up the process is ideal. Better yet, put down the hot tools and let hair air-dry if possible!
What haircare ingredients should you avoid when you have oily hair?
Haircare products or shampoos and conditioners with heavy oils like shea butter in them could weigh hair down and could reduce the efficacy of your shampoo. Silicones (dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane etc.) can coat hair strands to make them appear smooth and shiny, but they also add weight to hair strands and accumulate as build-up over time.
What are the best haircare products for oily hair?
We recommend the St Clements solid shampoo bar. It’s our most clarifying shampoo bar and is also silicone-free with gentle surfactants that clean hair, without stripping it of all moisture. St Clements also contains humectants which draw moisture to the surface of hair without any heavy oils.
If you’re after a shampoo bar that is able to provide a deep cleanse but is a touch more nourishing than St Clements AND can also help to add volume to your hair, Sweet & Spicy is the perfect shampoo bar.
When it comes to the conditioners for oily hair, it really depends on how your ends look.
You might find that you don’t even need a conditioner at all. If that’s you, feel free to skip to the very bottom of this blog.
If you need a conditioner, keep on reading.
Finding the right conditioner makes all the difference to oily hair — your ends still need some love! The Wonderbar solid conditioner is super lightweight so perfect if you just need a little bit of nourishment. It’s also completely safe for colour treated hair so won’t strip your hair colour (but it also won’t prolong it either).
It can also be used as a shaving bar and in-shower moisturiser!
Looking to #giveupthebottle but not sure which Ethique products are best for you? Our Discovery Pack for oily hair contains these three minis and are a great way to test out and find your perfect match before committing to the full-size shampoo and conditioner bars.
What if you have oily roots but dry ends? Oily roots and dry ends are quite common hair concern, you are not alone!
Apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair only. Start at your ear lobes and work your way down to the ends of your hair and don’t apply any to your scalp.
What are the best products if you have oily hair, dandruff, and a dry scalp at the same time?
Yep, it’s totally possible to have all these three going on at the same time!
Firstly, neither dandruff nor dry scalps are an indication of poor personal hygiene, so don’t panic.
Dandruff is often caused by a reaction that about 50% of the population have to oleic acid, the excretions of a fungus (Malassezia) that lives naturally on everyone’s head and feasts on the sebum we produce.
If you have dandruff, you can do a couple of things to help. Wash your hair and scalp regularly with shampoo and use conditioner only from your ear lobes down (unless you have very dry hair at the root). Scalp massage can be very useful, but be gentle as the skin of the scalp is delicate. Don’t use too many hair products or oils, as they trap more oil and dirt and help the fungus thrive. And of course, if all else fails, you may need to reach for the medicated shampoo. That’s okay, dandruff is not a big deal, so don’t stress about it.
Just to be clear, dandruff looks like actual flakes on your scalp. If you don’t have flakes, you might just have a dry scalp and oily hair and need to opt for a more soothing shampoo option to help with the dryness. Try the unscented discovery pack for sensitive skin, our Discovery Pack which contains Heali Kiwi solid shampoo for touchy scalps, unscented Bar Minimum solid shampoo, and unscented In the Buff solid conditioner to help keep your scalp and hair in tip-top condition.
These options are great as they help to curb your dry scalp first and foremost. To help with your oily hair, simply opt for washing your hair every day (morning is best!) and choosing a lightweight conditioner like Wonderbar, or skip the conditioner altogether in your routine.
New to Ethique and shampoo bars?
Welcome 😊 You can learn the ropes with our beginners guide to Ethique or by taking our hair quiz.
If you’re not ready to commit to a full-size shampoo bar, check out our minis and Discovery Packs. You get over 10 washes per mini (plus they’re super cute, great for traveling and make great gifts).