Since as long as I can remember, I’ve had to deal with an oily scalp. This sebum, a natural oil which is produced by the scalp, is not a bad thing in itself: it protects the hair from outside influences and keeps it supple and shiny. Different causes however lead to overproduction and can make ones hair look greasy in a short amount of time. My hair looks fine on the day it has been washed, but already on the second day it appears oily and without any volume. I’ve tried different ‘remedies’ in the past, such as a different diet (this only worked during crash-diets, where even fatty acids were not permitted) and not washing my hair for longer periods of time. The diet was not a healthy one and not washing my hair only made things worse…I never noticed any positive effects, despite several profound attempts. I guess my hair is just meant to be more oily than average and there is little that I can do about its cause. Instead, I’ve learned how to battle the symptoms! So what do I do? ‘Can’t you simply wash it on a daily basis?’, I can hear you say. Well, this would be a good option if I had shorter hair. But with hip-length hair like mine, washing it every day takes a lot of time and effort. Especially when I want to have it air-dried (which is much healthier than using heat), it can be a hassle. I usually wash my hair every other day, sometimes a day later. In the meantime, I keep it looking fresh by:
- Washing only my bangs and the hair on my temples. This is actually the best advice I can give you, because it doesn’t take much effort (though a little bit of practise) and it takes care of the first areas that become greasy. Not by covering anything up, but by removing the most urgent excess sebum. Simply apply a tiny bit of shampoo to the mentioned areas and wash it out carefully when in the shower. When you don’t have bangs, wash the hair that directly surrounds your face. Then, take a towel and dry the wet hair thoroughly. After 15 minutes or so, your hair should be entirely dry. It makes a huge difference and the oily parts that haven’t been washed are hardly noticeable because they are at the back of your head.
- Using dry shampoo. This I only keep around for ‘emergencies’, when there is no water at hand or simply not enough time. Especially on vacation, it’s a very useful product. The downside is that it gives my hair an odd color (fairer than usual) and that it looks and feels a bit dusty. It just doesn’t provide that fresh, just-been-washed feeling that one is longing for. But it’s always wise to keep a can around, just in case!
- Wearing it in updos. This draws less attention to the hair and more to the face, so there’s a distraction from the oily scalp.
- Wearing headbands that cover up the oily parts. The wider they are, the better. A nice example are the knit headbands made by Emi, available on Etsy.
- Now and then, use shampoos that contain SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). It’s a harsh chemical cleanser, but there’s a big chance that your oily hair won’t get damaged as quickly because your scalp restores the balance almost immediately. I have tried washing my hair without SLS at all times, but I didn’t notice any positive difference at all…it just made my scalp even oilier than usual. Try to find shampoos without other harmful substances like parabens, but containing SLS nonetheless. There are many such shampoos, like for example ‘Andrélon Natuurlijk Puur’. If you do notice more damage by using SLS or are concerned about its side-effects on your general health, simply skip this option and use the shampoo that works best for you! After all, your hair type and structure is personal. Also, SLS has a bad reputation. Therefore I like to alternate between all-natural shampoos (mostly soap bars) and shampoos that do contain SLS.
It’s best not to touch your hair too often, since greasy fingers can make things worse. If you have side-swept bangs like mine, be sure they are regularly cut so you don’t have to swipe them out of your eyes all the time.
With these simple tips, you won't have to worry about greasy hair all the time and you will have some quick solutions that are applicable in a only few minutes.
Do you have good advice on dealing with oily long hair? Please don't hesitate to share!