Can You Get Rid of Oily Hair...for Good?
If you're constantly dealing with greasy hair and daily shampooing is the bane of your existence, try these new ways to nix oil and ease tress stress
As any oily-haired girl will tell you, there are few things more annoying than having to wash your hair everyday. Forget stretching out a great blowout or being able to skip shampooing after spin class...daily sudsing is a non-negotiable part of life. But does it have to be this way? As a beauty writer with seriously slick strands, I'm constantly on the hunt for some kind of permanent fix for my greasy hair. So when I heard that you could "retrain" your scalp to produce less oil, I was intrigued. The premise: Daily hair washing dries out your scalp, which, in turn, stimulates oil production. By forcing yourself to forgo daily shampooing, your scalp will eventually become more normal. It sounded promising and fairly logical, so I asked a scalp specialist to weigh in. (Don't want to wash? Try these Stylist-Approved Tips to Help You Break the Shampoo Cycle.)
Spoiler alert: This theory is too good to be true. "You can't change whether your scalp is greasy, normal, or dry," explains trichologist Anabel Kingsley. In other words, skipping a few days of hair washing isn't going to have any kind of long-term effect. The state of your scalp, just like your skin type or eye color, is just part of the cards you're dealt, and is largely related to the natural texture of your hair, Kinglsey explains. (Go on, Embrace Your Natural Locks.) "Every hair follicle on your head is attached to an oil gland. When you have finer hair, there's more room on your head for more follicles." More follicles equal more sebum glands equal, you got it, more oil. (This is why you'll rarely see someone with coarse, thick hair complaining of greasiness.)
The good news: There are things you can do that-while they won't permanently alter your scalp type-can help tamp down excess greasiness and, just maybe, let you go at least one extra day in between shampoos. I put the three tips below to the test.
Fight Oil with Oil
"Peppermint oil has been shown to help break down the sebum your scalp produces," says stylist and scalp expert Philip B. It may seem counterintuitive, but since oil dissolves oil, using this lighter, plant-based oil is an effective way to remove heavier skin sebum and keep your scalp moisturized and healthy, he explains.
The Verdict: It works! The shampooing experience was quite enjoyable; the peppermint oil smells amazing and feels fresh and cooling. My head and hair looked and felt completely clean afterwards, but I noticed a real benefit the following morning. Typically, my hair gets greasy overnight, but post-peppermint oil shampoo, it still felt clean the next day. Sold.
Brush, Brush, Brush
"Scalp brushing is a great technique when you want to forgo shampooing," says B. Using a boar-bristle brush, brush your scalp for two to three minutes, closely enough so that you can really feel it against your head. "Because the natural bristles are porous, they pick up the oil at the root and then disperse it down the hairshaft as you brush," he explains. Do it correctly, and you can actually move 3/4 of the oil on your scalp away from the root and towards the ends (which are innately drier and can benefit from the oil), he adds. This technique can also make a huge difference in the efficacy of dry shampoo. "When you don't move the oil away from the root, the dry shampoo gets thick and gloppy," he says.
The Verdict: I tried this two-step technique the day after a blowout (I really wanted to be able to stretch out my good hair for at least another day.) The scalp brushing felt lovely, but, even better, I did notice a difference after I spritzed on dry shampoo. I typically don't like how dry shampoos feel heavy or residue-y, but using one post-brushing left my roots feeling lighter and cleaner. Not as a good as freshly-washed hair, but a definite improvement. (Find out How to Use Dry Shampoo for Beautiful Hair In Any Sitch.)
You've likely used toner to help balance the skin on your face, so why not try the same for the skin on your head? "Just like a toner for your complexion, a scalp toner with an astringent ingredient, like witch hazel, will help dry out excess oils and leave your scalp feeling cleaner and fresher," says Kinglsey.
The Verdict: Never a big fan of toners, I was admittedly slightly hesitant, but ended up pleasantly surprised. You rub the toner into your scalp after washing and towel-drying your hair, then style as usual. It felt refreshing, but more importantly, I noticed that by the end of the day (when my hair would normally already be a total oil slick), the roots were slightly less greasy. Sure, it's an extra step in your morning routine, but if it means you can skip shampooing the next day, I'm all for it.
Try: Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner ($34; philipkingsley.com).