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Why Is My Hair So Greasy? 6 Possible Explanations

You know your hair and can probably predict how it will behave. You might be able to go three or four days without washing it. But if you're someone who's ever dealt with greasy hair, you might to tempted to reach for the shampoo daily.

VEGAMOUR spoke to a hairstylist and a dermatologist to uncover what triggers oily hair and what solutions will help — plus, find out about the natural, plant-based dry shampoo that can help keep greasy hair at bay.

What Causes Greasy Hair?

Having oily hair can be hugely frustrating. You spend hours styling your strands only to have them look limp and feel slick within hours. But why does this happen, and how can you fix oily hair for good?

Santa Barbara, California-based hair stylist Krysta Biancone explained, "Oily hair is caused by an overproduction of oils from the scalp. This can be due to several reasons, including genetics, hormonal changes or even stress. It's important to identify the cause of your oily hair before beginning any treatment plan."

Our scalps are loaded with sebaceous glands (aka oil glands) that produce sebum. Sebum helps the skin and scalp stay healthy and lubricated, but when the scalp produces excess sebum, oil buildup can occur, and greasy strands can take over.

Sebum production can be accelerated by different factors. Certified dermatologist Dr. Alpana Mohta said, "One reason is genetics — some people are simply predisposed to having oily hair and scalp due to their genetic makeup."

If your hair seems extra greasy, here are some other factors that might be contributing.

1. Your Hair Type and Texture

People with straight hair, fine hair or strands with a slight wave can struggle with an oily buildup. But it's not due to increase in oil production. Instead, when the hair shaft doesn't have much texture, the natural oils from the scalp can slip down hair strands easily and encourage oily strands.

However, if you have an oily scalp and curly hair, the twists and kinks in the strands make it harder for the oil to move down them. Short hair can also get oilier faster because the oils need less time to work down toward the ends.

Hair Wellness Tip: If you have straight hair that gets oily quickly, make sure you shampoo properly when you wash your hair by following these steps:

  • Work a small amount between your palms and focus on your scalp and oily roots. Don't scrub your ends. Instead, let the shampoo flow through the strands as you rinse.
  • Avoid any aggressive scrubbing that might irritate your scalp.
  • Use a gentle shampoo formulated without sulfates. Clarifying shampoos might also help reduce oil.


      Mohta suggests, "Avoid using hot water when washing your hair. Hot water can strip the hair of its natural oils."

      2. Overwashing

      If you're constantly dealing with hair that feels oily, how frequently you wash your hair could be the culprit.

      Hair Wellness Tip: Switching up your hair washing schedule so you shampoo less frequently might be hard at first, but according to anecdotal evidence, in only one month, your hair could appear less greasy.

      It's really up to you how often you should be washing your hair, but if you're used to shampooing every day, try waiting two to three days in between washes. Dry shampoo will absorb oil and help you go without wet washing for longer, but make sure you use dry shampoos made without harsh, drying ingredients.

      VEGAMOUR's GRO Dry Shampoo fuzes the texturizing perks of traditional dry shampoo with powerful, plant-based ingredients that support a healthy hair ecosystem. Hair stays fresh for longer with the lightweight formula that will absorb excess oil and give strands a clean 'lift.' Best of all, it's formulated without talc or benzene.

      GRO Dry Shampoo

      3. Hormonal Fluctuations

      As well as causing cramps and triggering sugar cravings, you've guessed it; your period can contribute to greasy hair. At the beginning of your flow, your hormones spike, and, for some people, oil glands can go into overdrive, making hair greasy.

      Hair Wellness Tip: You can handle a greasy scalp in several practical ways besides washing your hair thoroughly. Avoiding processed foods might help, and Mohta points out, "A diet high in fat and oil can also contribute to oily hair." If your oily scalp (and skin) are causing you extreme distress every month, you might ask your doctor about the possible benefits of birth control pills, which can help suppress the effects of hormonal shifts.

      4. Scalp Health

      If you have oily hair, you have an oily scalp, which could probably benefit from a little TLC. And, quite bizarrely, you can also have oily hair and a dry scalp. Perpetually oily hair and a dry scalp can also result from seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition characterized by grease and dandruff caused by an overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia. If your scalp is clogged with persistent product buildup, impurities, dandruff and lingering oil, it could impact how well your hair grows.

      Hair Wellness Tip: To keep your hair and scalp healthy, GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum is formulated with vegan silk protein, which gently removes persistent buildup, actively soothes scalp damage and provides a semi-permeable barrier. It includes Zinc PCA, which absorbs excess oils and reduces scalp irritation while supporting your skin's natural moisturizing factor. It also contains willowherb extract, which reduces the appearance of adherent and non-adherent flakes while supporting a healthy scalp microbiome.

      GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum - Before & After

      If you suspect seborrheic dermatitis, it's important check in with a dermatologist to devise a suitable treatment plan.

      5. Lifestyle Choices

      If you're constantly throwing your post-gym hair up in a messy bun, brushing with a dirty brush and using harsh products that aggravate your scalp, you might be working with more oily strands than you need to. Healthy lifestyle choices will contribute to gorgeous, glossy hair, so limiting certain habits will help.

      Hair Wellness Tip: Mohta suggests you "avoid using hair styling products, such as pomades or waxes, which can contribute to oily hair." Also, pay attention to your tools. If you're brushing your hair with a brush that's never been washed, you're probably making your oily hair worse. Clean your hairbrush every couple of weeks and try to only go for a short time without washing after a sweaty gym session. Your diet also matters: Foods with a high glycemic load, such as sugary treats, white rice, white bread and potatoes, might stimulate the production of sebum.

      Expert Take: 4 Nutrition Choices That Are Showing Up In Your Hair

      6. Styling Habits

      Fine hair is notorious for becoming greasy, and if you're using heavy styling products that weigh the hair down, the greasiness will only worsen. Touching your hair can also make the strands feel greasy because your hands hold dirt and grease. Once you've styled your hair, avoid touching your tresses as much as possible to keep hair looking and feeling fresh.

      Hair Wellness Tip: Use lightweight serums, oils and mists that won't weigh the hair down, and if you know your fiddle with your hair, wash your hands more often.

      GRO Hair Serum

      A Slippery Subject

      The natural oils from your scalp can make your hair feel greasy. And although how much oil your scalp produces is often due to factors out of your control, such as hormones, your haircare routine and lifestyle habits can also make an impact.

      To help control oily strands, wash your hair and detox your scalp with gentle, plant-based products. Also use dry shampoo in between washes, avoid heavy styling products and avoid a diet full of high-glycemic foods. However, if the oil persists and seems excessive, see a dermatologist for advice.

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      Photo credit: Athena/Pexels

        Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.