Oily Scalp *and* Dry Ends? You Might Have Combination Hair

Oily scalp? Dry ends? Both? You prob have combination hair, according to experts. Here's how to adjust your routine to get silky, healthy results.

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Close Up of Woman's Greasy Hair In a Top Bun
Photo: Softulka/Getty

Whether it's an oily scalp and dry ends, a damaged top layer and greasy hair underneath, or flat strands in some areas and frizz in others — the majority of people have more than one thing happening on their heads. And people who are especially active can be even more susceptible to combination hair because they sweat, wash, and heat-dry so frequently, which can affect how the hair looks and feels — and also mess with your scalp's condition. (Sound familiar? These products can help with your exercise-induced greasy, dry hair.)

"Your scalp is skin, just like your face, and its health has huge implications on how the hair grows," says Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley. The good news: No matter what your combo, you can easily create a new routine to cover all your needs. "The secret is to address separate issues at the same time," says Kingsley. Find the best way to make a multitasking plan, here.

Oily Scalp + Dry Ends

When you work out a lot, you sweat a lot, and the scalp releases natural oils. While that sweat and oil mix doesn't affect the health of your hair, overwashing does. "It dries out the scalp, which kicks your sebaceous glands into overdrive, making them produce more oil and forcing you to cleanse again. All that cleansing means that those natural oils never travel down the length of your hair shaft to moisturize it, and blow-drying zaps moisture even more," says Mika Rummo, a stylist at Salon AKS in New York City. Underwashing brings its own problems: Your ends may be less dry, but your roots stay greasy.

Your custom plan: Wash every other day with an oil-controlling shampoo. In this case, one of the best shampoos for oily scalp and dry ends is Phyto Phytocedrat Shampoo (Buy It, $26, dermstore.com). Then, once a week, multimask: Before you shower, smooth a silicone-free clay mask, such as L'Oréal Paris Hair Expert Extraordinary Clay Pre-Shampoo Mask (Buy It, $7, walmart.com) on your roots to absorb grease, and a nourishing mask, such as System Professional Hydrate Mask (Buy It, from $40, allbeauty.com), on your ends. Rinse them both out after five minutes and you bid your greasy and dry hair adieu.

Damaged, Dry Top Layer + Oily Underneath

Sweating heavily during HIIT or hot yoga causes an oil buildup on the underlayers of your hair, especially where moisture gathers at the nape of the neck. Add in lots of outdoor fun plus any color treatments, and you'll find that "your top layer is damaged because of its direct exposure to UV rays, heat styling, and bleaching," says Jet Rhys, a hairstylist in San Diego.

Your custom plan: To combat greasy underlayers, aim dry shampoo into the underside of the hair before your workouts to soak up oil. The best dry shampoo for oily scalp and dry ends is one that contains an anti-inflammatory, such as the bisabolol in Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo (Buy It, $31, dermstore.com). To prevent damage: "Ask your colorist to add a strengthener to the color formulation she uses," says Rummo. And before you head outside or reach for hot tools, be sure to apply a frizz balm with UV filters to tamp down flyaways and absorb the impact of any harsh elements. (And if you're still dealing with greasy, dry hair it might be time to finally break that shampoo cycle.)

Flaky Scalp + Dry Ends

Everyone has a yeast-like fungus that lives on their scalp (sounds gross, but it's totally normal). But when you don't wash your hair often enough or you happen to have a scalp that's either too oily or too dry, you exacerbate that fungus, causing dandruff. "The fungi feed on all the oil and dead skin cells," explains Kingsley. And since the pores on the scalp are blocked from oil and dead cells, sebum is unable to make its way from your sebaceous glands down to your ends, so they get dry, says Rummo. So, instead of an oily scalp and dry ends, you have a flaky scalp and dry ends — ugh.

Your custom plan: You'll want to shampoo daily until your dandruff is under control (avoiding these hair washing mistakes). Try Dove DermaCare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo (Buy It, $6, target.com), which has dandruff-fighter pyrithione zinc plus coconut oil for your dry ends. "Really massage it into your scalp using small, circular motions. This increases circulation and speeds healing," says Rummo.

Straight & Flat In Some Spots + Wavy or Wiry In Others

Sometimes hair seems to have a mind of its own — certain sections lie perfectly straight and flat, while others coil and frizz uncontrollably. This sound like you? This is the solution.

Your custom plan: If you want to go all wavy, apply a curl cream such as René Furterer Sublime Curl Curl Nutri-Activating Cream (Buy It, $28, dermstore.com) to damp strands, scrunch, then air-dry. "Wrap any remaining straight pieces around a small 1/2- to 3/4-inch curling iron to give them body," says Rummo. For smooth hair all over, blow-dry using two brushes: A round brush adds volume to flat areas and a paddle brush controls the frizzy areas, says Rhys.

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