What Is an Oily Scalp?
An oily scalp or oily skin, in general, can be genetic and occurs when the skin produces excess sebum or natural oils. When this happens, it can result in an itchy scalp, oily hair, and other skin conditions.
Excessive oil production can be a result of a number of factors, but the primary reason is due to an imbalance in the sebaceous glands. Other reasons can include environmental and weather issues, hormone changes, and poor hair hygiene.
Thankfully, there are multiple ways to treat and get rid of an oily scalp!
How Do You Get Rid of an Oily Scalp?
There are multiple ways to address and help restore your scalp back to a healthy state.
The following include some of the most common ways to restore a healthy scalp and remove oil.
Shampoo Your Hair Less Frequently
Less frequent shampooing is the most commonly recommended way to return your hair to a healthy state. By washing your hair less frequently, you will encourage the oil production to rebalance itself.
When you wash your hair, the hair follicles are stripped of their natural oils, so the scalp may start to overproduce in order to compensate for the loss. This commonly leads to an oily and itchy scalp.
Condition the Ends of Your Hair
Even though your hair is overproducing oils, your hair still needs a fair amount of moisturizing in order to stay healthy.
Conditioning only the ends of your hair will still give the areas of hair that need moisture while avoiding adding unnatural oils to your roots.
Avoid Heat Tools or Use Heat Protectant Spray
When the scalp becomes too dry, it will also produce more sebum from the oil glands in an attempt to protect your hair. Taking a step back from any heat tools, such as straightening irons and hair curlers, can allow your hair time to heal.
Decreasing the number of times that you use heated styling tools can greatly help, but also consider using a heat protectant spray if you don’t use one already.
Brush Your Hair Regularly
Since natural oil is produced on the scalp, healthy hair needs the oil to be evenly distributed for optimum shine and moisture.
So, in order to achieve this, you should brush your hair regularly to ensure that the oils are being distributed evenly, especially when you’re dealing with excess oil.
Try Some Messy Updos Before Washing
Throwing your hair into a messy bun will allow you to extend the amount of time between hair washings. Messy updos, including buns and ponytails, distract from the greasy roots and allow you to get your errands done another day!
Opt for Dry Shampoo or Powdering Your Roots
Powdering your roots with baby powder, or using dry shampoo, can help absorb the oils coating your hair and scalp. This may not help to reduce oil production, but it can help with appearances in the meantime.
Dry shampoo shouldn’t be used as a replacement for washing your hair, but it is helpful when you have to go out and don’t have time to wash your hair, or you’re caught in between washes.
Increase Intake of Healthy Fats
Your eating habits and overall diet can be part of the reason for your oily scalp, so take a moment to seriously assess what you’re eating on a regular basis.
Having the proper intake of healthy fats can do wonders for your scalp and its natural pH balance. When your pH levels are off balance, more oil is likely to appear, and your body is more prone to infection.
Healthy fats can help return your body to the slightly acidic pH level it should be at!
What Are the Causes of an Oily Scalp?
There can be multiple causes of an oily scalp, including several skin conditions and other factors. It’s important to determine what exactly causes your oily scalp before starting any treatments to prevent further or potential irritation or excess oil from appearing.
Various Skin Conditions
Multiple skin conditions can lead to an oily scalp, including eczema and psoriasis. There are actually seven different types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and neurodermatitis.
Psoriasis is a type of chronic auto-immune condition that triggers a buildup of skin cells. Both of these conditions impact various parts of the body, including the scalp and neck areas.
Your Family Genes
Our genetics can pass on hereditary traits, such as the type of hair we have, including its texture, color, and growth pattern.
However, your family genes can also impact how large your hair follicles and pores can be, as well as the size of your sebaceous glands and how much oil they produce.
Washing Hair Too Frequently or Too Little
Healthy hair looks different for everyone, but the majority of people are either washing their hair too frequently or not enough. In most cases, overwashing your hair is more likely to lead to an oily scalp because your sebaceous glands will produce more oil to combat dryness.
The condition of seborrheic dermatitis can either be a cause of an oily scalp or a result of it. Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that primarily impacts your scalp, which leaves scaly patches that are irritating and lead to inflammation.
Basically, seborrheic dermatitis is dandruff! It can create an itchy scalp that can also lead to greasy hair. This may correct itself without treatment, but in most cases, treatment does help to discourage flare-ups in the face, chest, and head.
Forehead acne is more of a result of oily hair rather than a cause, but it develops when a mix of oil and various skin cell substances gets trapped in your pores. Not only can this signal too much oil from your scalp, but this can also be a sign that you aren’t washing your hair and face enough.
What You Should Look for in an Oil-Control Shampoo
Shampoos often contain a long list of ingredients, but there are a few ingredients you should keep an eye out for.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Known as SLS, this ingredient is common in cleansing products, such as shampoo. It’s included in shampoos because it helps to lower the tension of other ingredients, which helps to make the shampoo less irritating to the scalp.
This ingredient is more commonly used in acne treatments, but is helpful for removing bacteria, oil, and dead skin.
Selenium sulfide is a common ingredient in shampoos that focus on treating dandruff. This ingredient can help with any itchiness or redness you might be experiencing.
This is another ingredient that is commonly used for acne but can also help with the resulting symptoms of oily skin and oil on the scalp.
Ketoconazole is an antifungal ingredient, which can help to keep potential infections away from your scalp if you struggle with open and exposed skin.
You don’t have to go to the doctor immediately to seek treatment. Instead, you can try any of these at-home treatments to combat oily scalps!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an acidic remedy that may help with over-abundant oil production as it helps to remove product buildup.
Alongside that, apple cider vinegar helps to restore a balance to your scalp’s pH level. If you have a sensitive scalp, be aware that apple cider vinegar can also further irritate the skin.
You also need to properly dilute apple cider vinegar as well, typically with warm water, to avoid irritating skin too much. Do not use it right after you’ve washed your hair, as the vinegar will irritate your open follicles and pores.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, in recent studies, has been shown to help reduce itchiness and improves dandruff and an oily scalp because it contains antibacterial properties.
Before using, remember to dilute tea tree oil, as essential oils are highly concentrated and can lead to additional inflammation or irritation. You can dilute essential oils by using carrier oil, including coconut oil, olive oil, and others.
Also, only use a few drops per a larger amount of carrier oil.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent that helps to clean out pores, removing dirt and dead skin cells that get trapped within them. It can also help to relieve any itching and reduce inflammation on your scalp as well.
A green tea extract is capable of reducing the sebum production in your scalp and can double as a nourishing treatment for your skin.
Green tea is great for your health because it’s loaded with antioxidants, but it works when used topically too! If you are also struggling with hair loss due to dandruff and other skin conditions, this method may help to prevent further damage and stimulate regrowth.
Baking soda is a great method to use because it doubles as an exfoliant for your scalp, which can be helpful in ridding your scalp of dandruff or dead skin.
To use the baking soda method, you will need to create a paste made with baking soda and some water. Add just enough water to create a semi-thick paste that can be spread onto the scalp. Think hair mask consistency!
Let the paste sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse it out with lukewarm or cool water.
Before jumping into how lemon juice can be helpful, be aware that lemon juice can lighten hair as well. If this potential side effect doesn’t sound appealing, you might want to try the other methods first.
Lemon juice, due to its acidic nature, helps to keep the oil at bay and can help to eliminate dandruff too!
Taking two tablespoons of lemon juice, you will also need to dilute it in a cup of water to create a hair rinse. Take the mixture and massage it into the scalp, allowing it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse.
If you are experiencing more irritating symptoms, you may consider using honey, as it helps to soothe the scalp.
Honey also contains antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can help to reduce dandruff and other symptoms, such as flakiness and itching.
When using honey, remember to use raw honey, as it contains the most nutrients to help your scalp. With the raw honey, you will want to use a bit of water and create more of a hair mask consistency.
When used in the form of a hair mask, egg yolks are packed with essential protein and other ingredients, including sulfur, that can transform your hair back to a nonoily state.
Egg yolks work for oily hair because it helps to restore the natural pH balance without drying out your hair. You can try using egg yolks mixed with coconut oil and a few drops of lemon juice.
Make sure to spread the mixture evenly throughout your scalp and let sit for 20 minutes. Also, remember to rinse it out with cool water, as to avoid accidentally cooking the yolk with hot water.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If, even after trying to treat your oily scalp, you notice very little or no improvement, contacting your doctor would be the next step.
If you notice that at-home treatments create new or worsen current symptoms, you should also stop treatment immediately and see your doctor. In these cases, your doctor may be able to prescribe an oily scalp treatment instead.
You can find shampoos and hair products that contain the ingredients of the at-home treatments. However, if you notice that these only agitate your symptoms, you should contact your doctor or dermatologist!