Greasy hair hacks because your scalp is no place for an oil spill
The good doctor’s advice on dealing with that grease fest
Find yourself going from Becky with good hair, perfect blow-out in place, to Severus Snape, with his limp mane, in just a few hours? If your hair volume disappears faster than your salary, you’re likely scouring the aisles for greasy hair hacks and only finding products designed for dry, damaged or frizzy hair. The causes of greasy, oily hair are innumerable and as Snape’s greasy mane shows through the eight films, can be as difficult to remedy.
Oily hair is in fact, as problematic and common as oily skin, and can lead to an itchy scalp, hair fall and trickle down to your skin. “The skin on your scalp has pores, just like the rest of your body, that are connected to glands that produce an oily secretion called sebum,” says dermatologist Dr Kiran Sethi. Sebum is essential to maintain moisture levels in the hair and skin, and lack of it will lead to a lifeless mane. But when the sebaceous glands move into overdrive, your hair will bear the brunt and turn into a greasy mess.
The bad news? It can be attributed to everything from genes (thanks, mom and dad), stress (the purported cause of everything, from acne to Mumbai’s traffic), wrong usage of products and weather. The good news is that Sethi gets right to the roots of the problem— and suggests greasy hair hacks to fix the oil spill.
Greasy hair hacks to commit to memory
What’s worse than stressing about that important meeting or test? Waking up for it with super oily hair. Modern lifestyles have led to an increase in anxiety and stress levels, making them one of the most common causes of oily hair. “Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol stresses out the oil glands to produce more sebum, naturally leading to oily hair,” explains Sethi. “Stress can also trigger scalp conditions like dandruff, psoriasis and sebopsoriasis that can cause excess sebum production.” Switch on that meditation app, use rickshaw time to chant OM—or start adding to your bandana collection.
You are what you eat
Like everyone in the world has been saying for centuries, what you eat has a direct impact on your hair and body. “Sugar and whey protein (one of the most trusted health supplements) increase production of cortisol in the body and speed up sebum production,” warns Sethi. As do the hormones in dairy products that break down into androgens (male hormones) after consumption. Cut down your intake to avoid resembling Samara from The Ring.
“It’s the humidity!!!”
Any location that is near the sea or has a tropical climate will have higher humidity levels, making it one of the most common causes of limp oily hair. Greasy hair hacks like following the correct hair care can help you prolong your next wash (Or braids à la Monica Geller in Barbados).
“Genetics is always an important factor to consider when it comes to your skin and hair, or any other health issue,” says Sethi. If either of your parents has oily hair, there’s a high chance they’ve passed on that gene to you.
Even your hormonal levels, that keep changing with medication, birth control pills, pregnancy, monthly cycles or puberty can spike up oiliness in your scalp. “Sebum production is distinctly tied to hormones, and the more the hormonal changes or imbalances, the more oil is secreted,” says Sethi. Women who suffer from issues like PCOD are therefore more prone to having oily hair, and the reversal to their original hair type only happens you fix the root cause of the imbalance. If your hair is stringy, goes limp with one swipe through it and no amount of dietary or product fixes help, it may be time to consult a doctor.
Break the habit
Photo: Shari Sirotnak/Unsplash
While the natural instinct with oily hair is to wash it more often, this could be counterproductive. Over-washing strips hair of natural oils and encourages the glands to produce more to overcompensate for the loss, making it one of the causes of oily hair. Add the wrong shampoo (one that’s argan-oil infused or meant to moisturise hair) and you have a recipe for disaster. Even simple habits like rinsing hair with hot water can encourage oil production. So can touching your hair too much or brushing it too often—the casual hair flip or running down your hands through your mane redistributes the oil (moisture) from your hands to your hair and distributes it across the roots and lengths. Another no-no? Styling products that cause serious build up on the scalp and mess with the functioning of the glands.
Greasy hair hacks: Sethi’s quick tips and product picks for combatting limp hair
- Make sure you brush your hair only two to three times a day, and start from the roots to draw out the oil.
- “Try applying diluted apple cider vinegar on your scalp daily, and rinse it out to reduce sebum production over time,” advises Sethi.
- Rinse your hair with cold water to close the hair cuticles and pores. This prevents excess sebum production.
- “Vitamins like zinc, selenium and magnesium are very helpful in moderating oil secretion, so make sure you consume them in the correct quantities through your food or supplements,” says Sethi.
- Use a clear clarifying shampoo without silicones and sulphates that’s lightweight on the hair, and prevents stripping of natural oils.
- Never ever apply conditioner on your roots if you have oily hair. Stick to the ends and mid-lengths since they’re the areas that lack moisture.
- Use a lightweight hairspray or serums before styling, and use tools at a lower, cooler temperature to avoid sending oil glands into overdrive.