Finally Get Rid of Oily Hair With These 10 Expert Tips

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Written by Georgia Gould

Updated: March 20, 2024

Oily Hair In Content
image via @chaoswithcara

Greasy hair is one of those beauty bugbears you can ‘just about’ put up with during your teenage years when your hormones are all over the place. But when an oily scalp and greasy strands continue way past high school, the frustration gets very real.

Here’s the thing, though: oily hair, like oily skin, is totally normal. What makes one person’s hair more oily than the next? It’s nothing to do with eating more chocolate, that’s for sure! Instead, oily hair is largely genetic and usually goes hand-in-hand with oily skin. Figures, right? Your scalp is just skin, after all.  

So, what can you do when sebum production on your scalp is seemingly way out of control? Unfortunately you can’t swap out your genes (sorry about that!) but what you can do is a) create the most balanced environment possible and b) avoid the triggers that may cause sebum production to go wild.

Keep scrolling for our top ten oily hair fixes.

#1. Harmonize Your Scalp’s pH

When looking to balance sebum, your scalp’s pH is arguably the most important place to start. Your hair’s pH is usually around the 4.5 mark, while your scalp sits around 5.5. Hated chemistry class and have no idea what those numbers mean? OK, well the pH scale starts at zero and goes up to 14. Anything above seven is alkaline, anything below is acidic and anything that’s a straight-up seven is seen as neutral.

Both your hair and your scalp prefer an acidic environment but many shampoos are naturally alkaline thanks to their cleansing agents. And this is no good for your sebaceous glands, stimulating them to produce more oil by landing them in an unnatural environment which they think needs rectifying. This can create a vicious circle, especially if you wash your hair every day.

The answer, however, is pretty simple. Stick with products that shout about their pH balance like K18 Peptide Prep Detox Shampoo. And if they don’t? Well you can always check out a brand’s website for more info or reach out to them directly to ask the question. 

#2. Stop Touching Your Hair

Touching Hair In Content
image via @redken

No matter how often or how scrupulous you are with washing your hands, they will always have a small amount of dirt, debris or surface oils on them. Not to mention hand cream – which can be pretty heavy-going depending on the formulation you use.

All this means that every time you touch your hair, you will automatically transfer all of that ‘stuff’ straight to the lengths of your hair. Asking. For. Trouble.

Hands off, peeps.

#3. Help Distribute Oils With Gentle Hairbrushing

While touching your hair is a no-go area, brushing can actually be a good thing. But only if you do it properly and gently with a boar bristle brush.

Unlike synthetic brushes which are better for detangling, boar bristle brushes are designed to help distribute sebum from your scalp through to the ends of your hair. This might not sound ideal if you have oily hair, but bear with us because it’s actually a good thing.

Think about it; allowing all the oiliness to be concentrated at the scalp area makes your hair look limp and flat. Distributing it all over, however, reduces sebum build-up at the scalp area (check); cleans and conditions the lengths and ends of your hair (check) and allows you to go longer between washes (check, check, check!).

If you have thin or fine hair, try to stick with a 100 percent boar bristle brush, whereas thick or curlier hair types can go for a mixed boar bristle brush to help detangle at the same time.

#4. Clarify Your Scalp Once A Week

Cecred In Content
image via @cecred

For everyday use, we recommend gentle, pH-balanced shampoos and conditioners. However, super oily hair types may also benefit from a once-weekly detox with a clarifying shampoo. 

Clarifying shampoos are designed to help remove buildup from dirt, styling product and excess sebum which, if left to their own devices, can result in itchiness and poor scalp health. They really are a great tool for giving your scalp a thorough deep cleanse. Just don’t get into the habit of using them too often or you could overstimulate the sebaceous glands. And you can guess what that means!

Great ingredients to look out for are tea tree oil which helps kill bacteria and balance oil, and salicylic acid which cuts through sebum and exfoliates the scalp. We love Cécred Clarifying Shampoo & Scalp Scrub (although, full disclosure, we love anything Beyoncé touches!). 

#5. Never Condition Your Roots

Getting your shampooing game on point is all well and good, but if you condition your hair poorly (aka, too much), you’re never going to win the battle against oily hair. Let alone the war.

Conditioning is essential, for sure, and your product choice will depend on the texture of your hair. However, if your hair is greasy you want to make sure you apply it to the mid-lengths and ends only. Go anywhere near those roots and your hair will fall flat on its face. 

(PS: Also, avoid hot water when shampooing and conditioning your hair as this will stimulate oil production.)

#6. Don’t Overdo The Styling Products

Styling oily hair can be a challenge but don’t get caught up thinking that more styling products will work in your favor. They won’t. If you have an oily scalp and an oily complexion you need to keep your hair light and almost free of weighty styling products – otherwise it will immediately look greasy. 

@lindsforthegirls

2+ hours of styling just for it to look OILY and PIECY 😭😭😭

♬ female rage – bel6va

This can be a real struggle, however, if you have a greasy scalp but dry ends that need a little help in the taming department. Our advice?

Use just the tiniest amount of styling oil, wax or crème and work it all over your hands first (almost like hand cream) before scrunching it into just the ends of your hair. Hairspray can also be a good choice for oily hair because it’s weightless and totally non-greasy. 

#7. Make Skin Blotting Papers Your BFFs

Anyone with oily hair will understand what a lifesaver dry shampoo can be. But there’s another quick-fix way to mop up excess oil at your scalp – and this one doesn’t leave behind annoying white residue, either. What is this miracle worker we’re talking about? Makeup blotting papers, of course.

Awesome for popping in your handbag, and even better at absorbing excess oil between hair washes, blotting papers are the absolute bomb for dabbing over your scalp area in times of need. 

The end.

#8. Keep Your Hairbrush & Bedding Clean

It’s prudent to keep your makeup brushes clean to avoid spreading dirt, oil and bacteria all over your skin. So, why should your hairbrushes and combs be any different?

Answer: They shouldn’t. In fact, they’re just as likely to transfer oils to your hair and scalp, so make sure you clear out stray hairs regularly and give them a shampoo once a week. Otherwise what’s even the point of washing your hair?

Your pillowcase can also get grubby pretty quickly so wash yours two or three times a week to avoid oils, styling product and other debris screwing up your gorgeous hair (and skin!).

#9. Reduce Your Stress Levels

High levels of stress can really mess with your hormones, increasing your levels of cortisol which, in turn, stimulates the sebaceous glands to go into overdrive. Cue: greasy skin and an oily scalp quicker than you can say ‘pass the dry shampoo!’. Cortisol also accelerates inflammation and messes up your skin’s healing process which can spell disaster if you have an oily and sensitive scalp. 

We understand that chilling out is not always that easy, but try to reduce your levels of stress by taking some time out for yourself every day. Meditation and breathing exercises are both incredible ways to calm your mind, but if the thought of doing something like that fills you with dread, that’s OK.

Instead, focus on things that do make you happy. Anything from reading a book or baking through to walking the dog or listening to a podcast for half an hour will improve your emotional wellness and consequently your hair and skin. Precious me-time is the important part here. 

#10. Always Be Super Gentle With Your Scalp

No matter how often you brush or wash your hair, bear in mind that overstimulating your scalp signals your sebaceous glands to increase their production of oil.

This will get you nowhere, so avoid vigorously scrubbing at your scalp when you shampoo and always comb and brush your hair with the greatest of care, preferably starting at your root area first, then working your way up.


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