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The Slick Truth of Oily Hair

The Slick Truth of Oily Hair
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 8 min read

No matter what the underlying reason may be, greasy hair can be an embarrassing problem to have. In spite of your best efforts, there may be times when you can’t get past hair that looks slick and oily. Having greasy hair can have you avoiding a date or hiding in your cubicle at work, but you shouldn’t feel alone in your struggles.

The Blame Game

Both males and females can struggle with oily hair, and for the most part, you can blame the condition on overactive sebaceous glands. These are the microscopic glands under the skin that secrete sebum, a waxy oily lubricant that helps keep your skin and hair waterproof. There are more of these glands located in the glands on your scalp and face when compared to areas like your arms and feet. This is why you may notice the T-zone on your face gets more oily than other areas. This zone is made up of the chin, nose, forehead, and area surrounding the mouth. It has the highest amount of oil glands. Your scalp also has a large number of sebaceous glands.

However, there is more to an overactive gland than meets the eye. Things like high stress, genetic pe-disposition, an unhealthy diet, your shampoo, and your hair type can all impact the sebum production. Regardless of what may be causing it, too much grease and oil in your hair lead to poor hair health. The oil that is gathering on your scalp and strands of hair attracts dirt more easily. It can produce dandruff and cause your hairs to stick together. In extreme cases, overactive sebum glands can clog your hair roots and create excessive hair loss. Rather than face this crisis, consider the following grooming technique that can help manage greasy hair.

Try Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo on your hair is a way to absorb the grease that is coming from your glands. Much like you would take a paper towel to mop up grease from around the stove, you can use a dry shampoo on oily hair. Some shampoos are part cleanser and part styling aid, which can keep you from having to put more products on your hair and making it worse.

Wipe Away the Oil

Even if you spent time making sure your hair looked amazing before you left the house, you may notice a shine by the time you reach the office or look in the rearview mirror as you leave the store. Fortunately, the same sheet oil-absorbing sheets that you may use on your face for those untimely moments of shine can be used on your hair. It’s not the best way to fix the condition, but it is a lifesaver if you are headed into a meeting or need an oil-free appearance.

Alter Your Shower Routine

Many people rely on a vigorous scrub in the shower to help remove the grease from their hair. However, shampoo is only a short-term solution for your hair, and the more you try to use shampoo to cure the problem, you might actually be making the problem worse. The more you scrub your hair, you strip it of the nutrients and natural oils that keep it healthy. This sends a message to your glands that might encourage them to overcompensate in production. You can also shower with cold water, as it slows the production of sebum.

Stay Away from Additives

If you have a grease problem, you don’t want to use products that will make it work. With the beauty industry making an effort at embracing hair and skin diversity, you can find products that are specifically formulated for oily hair. Rather than looking at boosting your natural shine, search for products that will have finishes that fall on the matte end of the spectrum.

Stop Touching

Playing with your hair might be a mindless habit, just as tugging or pulling can be your natural stress response. Whenever you touch your hair, you are constantly adding extra oil and grime. You transfer grease and dirt from your fingers and hands to your hair, which undermines all the other proactive steps you are taking.

Avoid Hot Air

Though a nice blow dry can help you style your hair more easily, hot air can actually increase the production of oil. Just like your body sweats when it is exposed to high heat in the summer, your hair does the same thing. Take a day off from blow-drying every few days to give your glands a rest.


Changing up your grooming techniques can be an easy way to start tangling with the problem of greasy hair. Start now, so you don’t deal with the problem of loss later.


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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.