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Slick to sleek: How to take care of greasy hair

Ursula Dewey
by Ursula Dewey Published on June 21, 2013

Slicked back, greased-up hair may have a place on the catwalk, but in real life there's nothing we hate more than lank, lacklustre locks.

Slick to sleek: How to take care of greasy hair

If you've got a naturally oily hair type and are struggling to know how to handle the grease then read on. We've spoken to trichologist Ricardo Villa Nova to find out his expert advice on caring for oily/greasy hair so it looks sleek and shiny at all times.

From reducing the amount of times you wash your hair, to the styling tricks that can hide unwashed hair for a day or so, these are the ultimate tips and tricks to transforming greasy hair into gorgeous tresses.

What are the characteristics of oily hair?

Typically oily hair types can be identified by the presence of a greasy layer on the scalp and near the roots of the hair. Often a greasy or oily hair type is caused by a common imbalance of the sebaceous glands which secrete too much sebum.

Sebum is a natural oily substance which lubricates the scalp and protects against hair and skin against pollution. When there’s too much of it, it becomes a problem.

Ricardo says: "Greasy scalp can have an impact on the hair texture as well, which very often leaves the hair feeling and looking flat, limp and lifeless."

Not a good look.

What are the causes of oily hair?
While there are plenty of rumours about what causes greasy hair (over-styling, over-touching, using the wrong products) it's actually down to either nature or nurture.

Ricardo says that in some cases, overactive glands on the scalp can cause oil and grease to build up just six hours after a wash - but it will vary from person to person.

There are other reasons why you might find yourself with oily hair - for starters, take a look at the hair products you're using.

Ricardo says: "There are some oil based hair products that can make the hair look greasy even though the scalp is naturally balanced. Some cosmetic hair care products contain a high concentration of oils and silicones so try and avoid these."

If you keep using products which cause the hair to become oily then there's a chance the scalp could become overstimulated and congested.

How often should normal hair be washed?
If you have a normal hair type then the amount of times you wash it each week is often a matter of personal choice - depending on how quickly your hair starts to look less than clean.

Ricardo says: "Normal hair can be washed daily but if the scalp lacks natural hydrolipidic film, washing the hair daily can promote sensitivity."

To be on the safe side, if you are an every day kind of girl, try reducing the amount of times you wash your hair to every other day to begin with so your scalp has a chance to regulate its natural oils.

How often should you wash oily hair?

If you really struggle with oily hair then it will need to be washed daily. Ricardo suggests using a shampoo made specifically for greasy hair as they are kinder on the scalp.

If you have longer hair then a combination shampoo can be a good option.

Ricardo says: "The build up of grease on the scalp can affect hair growth and long term can cause the hair to thin."

Can touching your hair make it get grea
This little rumour can finally be put to rest.

Ricardo says: "It's true that the scalp produces grease straight after washing it, but running your fingers though your hair or touching it, will not increase the amount of grease produced, however it will help to spread the grease through the hair more quickly."

Hands off!

Is there anything that you could be doing that might be stimulating your scalp to produce more oil?
You might not realize but washing your hair with extremely hot water can stimulate the grease glands, so it's advisable to wash the hair with water that's nearer to body temperature or even slightly cooler.

Also massaging the scalp can stimulate it to produce more oils too - so before you go for that Indian Head Massage, think about your hair.

Is there anything you absolutely shouldn't do if you have naturally oily hair?
If you're using conditioner on your roots, then stop!

Using conditioner on the roots should be avoided at all costs as the concentration of oils is a lot higher up there!

Similarly, Ricardo says using serums or hair oils on or near the roots is a recipe for greasy hair.

Stick to the middle and lengths.

If you don't have time to wash your hair what is the best way to style oily hair?
If you have naturally oily hair you're no doubt already a firm fan of dry shampoo products like Batiste. These are spray-in powders which absorb the greasy layer on the hair and help revive your barnet for a decent day's wear.

However, Ricardo says: "Dry shampoo, even though it's a great help, should not be used too regularly as it can block the follicles creating a barrier that does not allow the sweat glands to do their job."

If you're going to use it, then apply it all over the hair, close to the roots.

Ricardo says: "Avoid spraying it directly on the roots - ideally hold the can about 20cm away from the roots then brush through thoroughly before styling."

The alternative way to style oily hair is to go with it, and style up your hair with gel or wet-look products to transform your oily locks into a style statement.

Got any tricks for styling up oily hair or any tips on keeping it at bay? Tweet us @wewomenCA!