Oily Hair: Causes and Treatment

You start every morning with clean, shiny hair. But by bedtime — or even sooner — your hair looks greasy, lame and lank.

What Causes Oily Hair?

Oily hair can be a pain and is a common complaint among persons who have acne problems. Excessive sebum not only contributes to the formation of acne but also leaves the hair greasy and unattractive.

What can be done? First, it is important to remember that the hair produces no sebum, says Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. People who complain of oily hair are actually complaining of an oily scalp. The hair simply wicks the oil away from the scalp. Straight hair moves the oil quickly away from the scalp while tightly kinked hair moves the sebum very slowly away from the scalp. This explains why Asian persons with very straight hair note their hair is “oily” while African American persons more commonly note their hair is dry.

Treatment for Oily Hair

The key to controlling oily hair is to remove the sebum adequately from the scalp.

Many persons mistakenly think that hair shampoo is to wash the hair and not the scalp. Actually, shampoo is designed to clean the scalp and beautify the hair. Thus, the first recommendation is to shampoo the scalp. Women with long hair should apply the shampoo to the scalp without piling the hair on top, and use their fingers to vigorously massage the scalp.

Excessively oily hair may require two applications to the scalp prior to shampooing the hair. One way to tell if the oil has been removed from the scalp is to note the foam produced by the shampoo. If the shampoo is removing large amounts of sebum, it will not foam. One can discontinue shampoo applications when the shampoo freely suds on application to the scalp.

Best Shampoo for Oily Hair

Shampoo selection is another important consideration. Shampoos are designed for a variety of hair types. Use a shampoo designed for oily hair. Oily hair shampoos have stronger detergents and fewer conditioners.

Wash you hair daily for frequent sebum removal, but do not use a hair conditioner after shampooing. Sebum is a wonderful conditioner, and additional products are not needed. Any conditioner applied to the hair will only increase the speed with which the hair appears oily.

Combing and Brushing

Another habit that may increase the appearance of oily hair is frequent grooming. Combing and brushing aid in the movement of sebum from the scalp down the hair shaft. The hair should be handled as little as possible.

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