The Greasy Strands: Oily Hair Issues
A lot of people do not seem to consider oily hair as a problem that merits concern. Correction, most do not regard oily hair as a problem at all. They frequently mistake oily hair for gloss and shine, (more the male of the species) and have no qualms about flaunting it. They believe that this natural gloss is part of their attributes, and would even stride into their parties displaying their tresses with panache. It is only when the oiliness assumes troublesome proportions with the attendant itchiness and possible seborrheic dermatitis, that distress calls result. This is because an extremely greasy scalp provides a veritable fiesta for the hungry fungi and results in oily scalp hair loss.
This is of course not to suggest that you need to do away with the oil altogether. The oils provide a protective shield to your scalp and are very essential for healthy hair. Too much should not be replaced with too less, as a dry scalp will also lead to a number of complications as we already know.
Causes of Oily Hair
Healthy hair has a minimum amount of sebum which is necessary to keep it hydrated and also protects it. It gives the hair its lustre and shine. The oil in the scalp of every individual varies due to a number of factors such as diet, genetics and weather among other things. When dust and sweat accumulates in your scalp, it mixes with the oil and forms a layer; this is normal and is no cause for worry. The solution is the most obvious and easy, wash your hair with a normal shampoo on a regular basis. However there are many other reasons that contribute to oily hair. Let’s discuss:
- Overwashing: Contrary to popular belief where washing is generally considered a solution and overwashing a reason for dry hair, the reverse is also equally true. Yes, overwashing can lead to oilier hair as this provides a signal to the scalp to produce more sebum to make up for the removal, and this could lead to an excessively oily scalp, and force you to seek oily hair remedies.
- Hair products: Selecting the right shampoo for your hair type is very important. Sebum cannot simply be removed by rinsing your hair with water or any type of shampoo. The specific ingredients need to be present in your shampoo, to be able to break down the sebum and expel it from your scalp. Also, using only a conditioner to wash your hair, without bothering to shampoo your hair later, could lead to excess buildup of sebum. Lemon oil is a very effective oil for oily hair.
- Genetics: If someone in your family has had oily hair it necessarily follows that you too will have oily hair.
- Unhealthy diet: Oily food devoid of any nutrients are also responsible for an oily scalp, apart from contributing other hair-related problems.
- Hair type: This might not be known to many people but your hair type i.e., straight, curly or fine hair could be the factor responsible for the amount of oil in your hair. For e.g., if you have fine hair, that indicates that the output of oil in your scalp cannot be absorbed by your hair. Curly hair is oily at the roots, and straight hair is consistently oily from the root to the tip as the sebum travels without any encumbrances.
- Brushing your hair excessively or running your hands through it frequently: If you have naturally oily hair and keep brushing your hair or running your hand through it, the oil is evenly spread out across your hair making it oilier.
- Hormonal problems: Hormonal imbalances brought about by conditions such as stress, pregnancy or menopause, could bring about a escalation in the amount of sebum produced by your scalp.
- Use of heat on scalp: Whether it be using hot water to wash your scalp or using blow dryers to dry your scalp, the heat makes the sebum producing glands give out excess sebum.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D is responsible for regulating the sebum content in the body. A deficiency could lead to an imbalance in our scalp oil levels.
- Humid climate: The production of sebum touches an all time high in humid conditions.
Home Remedies for Oily Hair
The excess oil on your scalp can cause a lot of complications and that is not simply confined to the greasy look. You run the risk of creating a fertile ground for infections of various types and the condition could worsen if corrective measures are not taken early. A lot of home remedies are available and have proved to be very effective in neutralising the negative effects of oily hair. However one has to exercise caution while trying out these solutions, for they might not work for all. Their efficacy depends to a great extent on hair and skin type. So one has to try out a variety of applications, in the process of finding out which one suits them best. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular home remedies for oily hair:
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera has been known to be very helpful in restricting oil secretion and providing nourishment to the roots. A few drops of lemon juice mixed with a teaspoon of aloe vera gel needs to be applied to the hair and scalp, and washed off after 15 minutes for best results.
- Fenugreek seeds: Fenugreek seeds are a natural conditioner and also help the scalp rid itself of the extra oils while retaining pH levels. Mix 3 tablespoons of fenugreek powder with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and apply it to your scalp and hair. Wash off after 15 minutes.
- Green tea extract: This has been proved to be very good at inhibiting sebum production as it has anti-oxidants and is an excellent method for oily hair treatment. One needs to apply it topically; alternatively it can be used to rinse the hair after a shampoo.
- Honey: Honey is believed to be a potent cure for seborrheic dermatitis as it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. When raw honey is mixed with water in a proportion 9:1 and applied to the scalp, it can keep the oil level under control.
- Eggs: Egg Yolk can act like a magic potion to cure an oily scalp as it reduces the oil without making it dry and frizzy. The sulphur and protein content contribute to robust hair while also helping to make it silky. A hair mask prepared with 1 teaspoon coconut oil mixed with an egg yolk and some lemon juice, could work wonders.
- Baking soda: Baking soda can remove dirt and grime from the scalp and has the required exfoliating qualities. These properties help it stop oil secretion and in the process enhance hair growth. Mix baking soda with water to make a paste and apply it to your hair and scalp; wash it off after 20 minutes.
- Yoghurt: The probiotic bacterium present in yoghurt has excellent antifungal and antibacterial qualities which reduce the oily nature of your hair. It is a good moistening agent and helps nourish the hair with its nutrients.
- Shikakai: This is a ancient remedy for healthy hair, and is used to remove the excess sebum from your scalp. It can be applied to your hair as it is an excellent cleanser and detangler, and is capable of cleaning the hair without removing its natural oils.
How to Treat Oily Hair
While home treatments are usually quite effective, it would be necessary to consider other forms of treatment with expert supervision, in case the remedies do not bear fruit. Prescription based shampoos might be required if the conditions worsens. There are some very basic rules that one could follow:
- People with very oily hair need to wash it at least once a day. This will help remove the dirt and damaging hair products in the hair, apart from the oil.
- If the problem of an oily hair persists even after washing it once a day further analysis will be necessary. If you overwash your hair you will remove the natural oils from the scalp, and this will in turn force your scalp to secrete more oil. Also, if you are faced with the issue of a dry scalp, but oily hair, you might need to space out the frequency of your hair wash to even out the produce of scalp oil.
- And yes, the way you shampoo your hair also makes a huge difference to the health of your hair, and is one main cause for oily hair. If you believe that you need to use your nails aggressively to scrape out the dirt from your roots, think again, you might in the process only inspire your scalp to produce excess oil. The right way to do it is to focus on the section of your scalp, from where you need to remove the excess oil. Let the shampoo find its way towards the ends of your hair as you wash it gently.
- Conditioner is bad news for oily hair but you can avoid that, if only you use it in a particular way. A conditioner facilitates the accumulation of more oil so you will be well advised to use it only on the ends of your hair and wash well after that.
- The importance of rinsing your hair can never be overemphasised. It is very essential to take the extra effort to remove the final traces of the shampoo and conditioner from your hair and scalp.
- Sweating facilitates the spreading of oil in your scalp. So a shampoo is recommended, if you are back from a strenuous jog or a session in the gym. Also, do the same if you have been wearing a cap or a helmet for too long, as it traps the heat and affects hair health.
- This is a detail many ignore but it might just make that crucial difference to maintaining hair health. Wash your comb/brush on a regular basis to remove all the dirt that gathers on your bristles. It makes as much sense to use a dirty brush for your hair after a shampoo, as it does to use an infected needle to administer a dose of a vaccine. Removing the hair from the bristles after every brush is the most convenient way to do it.
We would also like to reiterate that these solutions though effective for most, might not apply to all. A problem that persists for a longer time, might necessitate a visit to a specialist. At Traya we undertake a process of detailed analysis, before we suggest those solutions. Do reach out to us if long term solutions to your hair issues are required.
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Heena is our Hair Expert on board. She has a Masters in English Literature and is total nerd about medical journals and research.