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Why do I have oily hair?

There are a number of reasons why you could have oily hair and scalp.

In this post, we’ll take you through some of the reasons why you may feel like you have oily or dirty hair and what you can do about it.

#1: You’re washing your hair too often

Have you been washing your hair every day for as long as you can remember?

I often hear from people they have “very oily” scalp or fine hair that looks limp by the end of the day. The typical reflex to this is to wash your hair more often to keep your hair looking and feeling clean.

This is exacerbated by using harsh commercial shampoos that often aren’t pH-balanced and use powerful cleansing agents like sodium lauryl sulfate. When you wash your hair every day you’re stripping your hair and scalp of its natural oils. Over time, your scalp responds to this by producing more sebum in an attempt to restore balance.

Almost no one should really be washing their hair every day. When you do, it’s best to you a mild, pH-balanced shampoo like our range of shampoo bars.

#2: You’re using products that cause product build-up and oily hair

If you regularly style your hair with mousse, hair spray, or gels, these products can build up in your hair and scalp over time. This is because many of these products use polymers, waxes, and silicones that require deep cleaning to remove. While most people are aware of the problems with silicones in cosmetics (more on this below), even natural styling products can build up in your hair if they contain a large percentage of waxes or fatty acids.

#3: Silicone in your shampoo or conditioner

Silicones in hair care are attracting a lot of bad press lately. Not all of it is deserved (e.g. most silicones aren’t “toxic” with the exception of a few) but some of it is.

One of the criticisms that silicones rightly attract is how they form a film on each hair strand that stays long after you rinse out your shampoo or conditioner. This film can attract dust, dirt, and grease, leaving your hair feeling weighed down and “dirty.” If you look on the back of your shampoo or conditioner bottle and see anything that ends with “-cone” or “-oxane,” these are the chemicals that are the culprits.

If you want to continue using these products (which we don’t recommend for environmental reasons, but that’s another topic!), you should use a clarifying shampoo that doesn’t contain silicones every once in a while to remove the buildup. As excessive buildup can prevent your hair strands from absorbing moisturizing ingredients, it’s best to follow with a silicone-free hydrating conditioner.

#4: You’re not using the right products for your hair and scalp type

Sometimes it can feel like you’re doing everything right but you still have a super oily scalp and hair. In this case, it’s possible you aren’t using the right hair products.

Do you have low, medium, or high porosity hair? An easy way to tell is by taking a hair and putting it in a glass of water and lightly tapping it so it breaks through the surface of the water.

  • Low porosity hair floats right on the surface of the water
  • Medium porosity hair floats somewhere in the middle
  • High porosity hair sinks right to the bottom

People with low porosity hair have a tightly sealed cuticle (which will make your hair look very shiny) that doesn’t allow as much absorption of nourishing oils. So if you use a shampoo or conditioner with a lot of oils, it can make your hair greasy very quickly. So for this hair type, it’s best to look for shampoos without a lot of extra oils.

People with medium and high porosity hair can tolerate (and actually need) a much higher quantity of nourishing oils to hydrate and moisturize their hair. So look for options like our Hemp, Chamomile, and Simple shampoo bars to hydrate your hair.

We’ve also created a handy chart to find the best shampoo for your hair and scalp type.

#5: You really do have oily hair and scalp

At the end of the day, some people really do have a condition that leads to a particularly oily scalp. Oily scalp (or hyperseborrhea) can be caused by a number of factors, like hormonal imbalances, your diet, and a humid climate.

So if you’ve tried everything else, it might be time to head to a dermatologist to see what is going on and what sort of treatment options are available for you.

Image credit: Bryan Dijkhuizen