Everyone has their oily hair days. It’s when oiliness becomes a constant hassle that the lack of a reliable treatment becomes apparent – thousands of self-proclaimed cures line the shelves, but which one to trust?
Understanding the cause of oily hair can be a help. Oily hair is caused by excessive sebum, the oily substance produced by sebaceous glands within every hair follicle, which lines the scalp and leeches into the hair (and also contributes to acne). The answer, then, is to ensure that the scalp is sufficiently treated whenever you wash your hair.
Finding a useful shampoo for oily hair is, however, extremely difficult, and not made easier by the claims on the bottle. If you don’t have any recommendations from friends to aid you, try examining the liquid in the bottle. Shampoos for oily hair are generally designed with a stronger detergent, to help remove the oil. Clear shampoos have fewer oily additives in them, leaving a stronger detergent that can remove the oil from your hair. If the shampoo looks too creamy, it’s best to avoid it. Also look at the list of ingredients – if the shampoo lists any special ingredients that have a high oil content, put it back on the shelf.
Once you’ve chosen an appropriate shampoo, make sure to shampoo at least once a day, or even twice in hot weather. One way to tell whether your scalp has been cleaned is to look at the foam when you massage shampoo into your scalp – just as with any other washing process, the soap won’t foam if there is still oil present to adhere to. When the shampoo suds up enthusiastically, you’re ready to move away from the scalp and wash your hair.
When you’re finished washing, don’t ruin the effect by immediately lathering your scalp with conditioner. If you have oily hair it may seem that the tips of your hair are always dry (a frustrating condition), but apply conditioner very carefully to the tips of your hair only. Conditioner will only add to the oiliness closer to the scalp; let the natural moisture work its way down. Also look for a conditioner that is low on oil or oil-free.
Excessive styling will exacerbate the problem with oily hair. This is because brushing and styling helps the oil move down from the scalp. Although it may be difficult to give up your hour-long ritual blowwave or straightening, remember that your sacrifice will let your hair look oil-free for longer.
You can help slow down the release of oil on your scalp by applying a homemade astringent. directly to your scalp. Philip Kingsley, New York hair stylist and author, suggests a mixture of equal parts witch hazel and mouthwash (obviously not the minty kind), applied with cotton pads directly onto the scalp. Witch hazel, which is an excellent toner for delicate skin, provides the astringent part and the mouthwash acts as an antiseptic properties. For something to use in the shower, use the juice of two lemons, or a teaspoon of vinegar, diluted in distilled or spring water.
Treatment of oily hair is possible, but also take into account what might be causing the oiliness. People with fine, straight hair often experience oiliness because of the number of hair follicles they have – the more follicles, the more sebaceous glands to release more oil. Unfortunately, this is unfixable. However, hormones and stress levels have also been known to affect the release of sebum. If oily hair is a recent thing, take a look at the stress levels in your life and see if you can turn them down a little – after all, you can only benefit.