7 Tips to Prevent Oily Hair

“But I just washed my hair! How is it already greasy again?”

We all know (and dread) the feeling of waking up in the morning to an oily mop of a mess on our heads. Maybe we thought we could go another day without washing it, but it looks like we were definitely wrong.

Sure, you always have your fun hairstyle hacks, your beloved dry shampoo, and favorite hats to cover it all up in the meantime. But it can be frustrating being greeted in the mirror by an oily scalp that just doesn’t want to work with us. Plus, you can only use dry shampoo for so many days until your hair and scalp start to look and feel a bit chalky.

So, what if we were to tell you that you could prevent this from happening in the first place? And don’t worry, there are effective solutions besides simply washing your hair more. With a few simple yet effective steps, we can stop this cycle. It’s time for you to revolutionize your hair care by preventing oil from building up in the first place!

woman brushes her oily hair

Put the dry shampoo bottle down and walk away. Let’s find the solution for us greasy hair gals –– not just the cover-up.

First, we need to understand why our hair gets oily. Here is a bit of background information on why this happens and a few life-changing yet easy tips to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Why Does Hair Get Oily?

Your scalp produces something called sebum (otherwise known as oil) to help hydrate and protect both your scalp and hair. The amount of oil your scalp produces all depends on your lifestyle, how often you’re cleansing your hair, your hair density, and more. Both sebum and sweat can collect at the roots of your hair which gives it that greasy look.

oil glands

How to Prevent Oily Hair

While there are many causes of oily hair, most of them have to do with how often you’re cleansing, what products you’re using, and your cleansing technique! Read on for 7 proven ways to combat oily hair.

1. Wash properly

Washing oily hair can be a game of balance because if you don’t wash enough, the natural oils on your scalp will cause your hair to look greasy. On the other hand, if you wash too often, you could be stripping the natural oils from your scalp which in turn causes it to produce more oil to rehydrate.

If you have dry skin, try to slowly stretch out the time between wash days to see when your hair starts to get oily. That’s when you’ll be able to figure out how frequently you should be shampooing. If you don’t have dry skin, washing your hair every other day is usually a good place to start to rid the hair of unwanted oils.

And yes, there is a right way to shampoo your hair! To wash properly, make sure your hair and scalp are fully saturated with water (if you have thicker hair, this may mean standing under the shower head for 1-2 minutes before going in with your shampoo.) Then, gently scrub in your shampoo with the pads of your fingers and not your nails. Using your nails to cleanse your scalp can cause micro-tears in the skin. This results in the production of more oil. Focus the shampoo on your scalp instead of your ends. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out shampoo from your hair.

2. Use sulfate-free shampoo

While sulfates aren’t harmful to use, people with oily hair will want to avoid shampoos that contain sulfates. The purpose of sulfates is to rid the hair of impurities but they oftentimes strip the hair of its natural oils. Like we mentioned before, stripping the oils from your scalp and hair results in an overproduction of oil from your scalp to make up for that lost hydration. On top of this, sulfates can also strip the color from your locks.

shopping for a sulfate-free shampoo

Instead, try using a shampoo that is free of sulfates. Nowadays, there are a ton of alternatives for sulfates that will cleanse your scalp and hair strands properly without drying them out!

3. Use conditioner sparingly

After cleansing, you’ll want to condition your hair to reintroduce some hydration to your strands after washing them. Opt for a lightweight conditioner that won’t weigh your hair down and make sure to only apply it to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. You don’t need to apply conditioner to your scalp or roots because the natural oil on your scalp hydrates those areas and conditioner can just make your hair look greasier. Once you’re done conditioning, make sure to rinse your hair thoroughly.

conditioning oily hair

4. Don’t touch your hair throughout the day

We know it’s hard but keep your hands off your hair! Your hands and fingers produce sweat and other natural oils throughout the day. Touching the hair repeatedly can contribute to that greasy look. If you have to fix or adjust your hair, try washing your hands first to minimize the amount of oil on them.

girl touching the hair

5. Clean your brush and styling tool regularly

Did you know that you’re supposed to clean your hairbrush and other styling tools? Yep, you read that right! Your brush and styling tools can trap dirt, oil, old styling products, and more. This debris trapped in your tools can make your hair look dirty, even after you just washed it!

clean hair brushes

Make sure to remove the hair from your brush after each time you use it and do a deep clean of it every 1-2 weeks. To clean your hairbrush, add a few drops of shampoo and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to warm water. Submerge your brush for up to five minutes. Dip your brush in and out of the mixture and shake it off to remove any leftover skin cells, oils, and dirt.

6. Use masks made for oily hair

While many hair masks boast their hydration benefits, there are actually some that help balance out oily hair to reduce the greasy look and feel! Try using a hair mask that has clay or tea tree in it. Both of these ingredients can help remove product buildup, clarify, and even kill certain unwanted microbes that can contribute to oily hair.

7. Try dry shampoo paste

Dry shampoo paste reduces the appearance of greasy hair and provides hold at the same time. When applied to second-day hair it reduces unwanted shine that comes from excess sebum and adds a ton of volume.  Dry shampoo paste works best for very fine hair because of its ability to make hair look fuller. This product is not suitable for thick and dense hair because it makes combing difficult and can add more volume than you need.  Dry shampoo paste prevents hair from getting oily fast, so you can go a day or two longer between washings.

While dry shampoos have a greater potential for cleansing oily hair, dry shampoo pastes provide a better hold and give more volume. People with fine and thin hair will appreciate that.

hair styled with dry shampoo paste

Downside: Some people also don’t like the gritty texture and chalky feeling that dry shampoo paste leaves in their hair.


Although oily hair can be annoying, there are many methods and products on the market to help combat it! Test and experiment with different shampoos and techniques to find the right routine for your hair.

If you’re finding your hair gets way too greasy way too fast, ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I washing my hair properly?

2. Am I using sulfate-free shampoo?

3. Am I conditioning it properly?

4. Could I refrain from touching my hair all throughout the day?

5. Am I cleaning my brushes and hair tools regularly?

6. Am I buying the right products designed for oily hair?

If the answer is “no” to any of those questions, you’ve just found your solution.

Goodbye greasy hair! We won’t miss you.

beautiful woman with long hair
Medical Disclaimer

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