7 Proven Ways to Prevent Oily Hair

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

Sure, you always have your favorite hats and headbands and your beloved dry shampoo to hide it. But if you overuse dry shampoo your hair and scalp can look and feel a bit chalky.

What about changing the approach and trying to prevent excessive oil in your hair from happening? With a few simple steps, you can slow down this cycle. Let’s try to revolutionize your hair care by preventing oil from building up! Not just the cover-up.

a woman touching her long oily hair

Why Does Hair Get Oily?

Here is a bit of background information on why this happens and several tips to prevent it from going beyond control.

Your scalp produces something called sebum (otherwise known as natural hair oil) to help hydrate and protect both your scalp and hair. The amount of oil your scalp produces depends on your lifestyle, frequency of hair washing, hair density and thickness, and more. Both sebum and sweat collect at the roots of your hair giving it that greasy look.

hair follicle and oil glands illustration

How to Control the Appearance of 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 compensate for the loss.

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 showerhead 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. At the end of the washing action, make sure to thoroughly rinse out shampoo from your hair. Any hair product, including hair shampoo and conditioner, can build up in the hair over time contributing to heavy-looking hair.

2. Use Sulfate-Free Shampoos

Although sulfates effectively eliminate excess oil, 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 also strip the hair of its natural oils. As we mentioned before, stripping the oils from your scalp and hair results in an overproduction of oil to make up for that lost hydration. On top of this, sulfates can also strip the color from your locks.

girl shopping for a sulfate-free shampoo

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

3. Use Conditioner Sparingly

After cleansing, you’ll want to condition your hair to reintroduce some hydration to your strands and add some slip for easy combing. Opt for a lightweight conditioner that won’t weigh your hair down and make sure to only apply it only to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. You don’t need to apply conditioner to your scalp or roots because it can make your hair look flatter. Once you’re done conditioning, make sure to rinse your hair thoroughly.

applying conditioner to the ends of 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. Try to change this habit and avoid touching your hair frequently. If you have to fix or adjust your hair, wash your hands first to minimize the amount of oil on them.

5. Clean Your Brush and Styling Tools Regularly

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!

Make sure to remove the hair from your brush after each time you use it and do a deep clean 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 masks that help balance out oily hair and reduce the greasy look and feel! Try a hair mask that has clay or tea tree in it. Both of these ingredients can help remove product buildup and even soothe some scalp conditions 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 can add more volume than you need and make combing difficult. 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.

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

Final Words

Although oily hair can be annoying, there are some methods and many products on the market to help control the problem! 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.

gorgeous blonde woman with long hair

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. You shouldn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Last Updated on June 14, 2022 by Gaga

About the author

gaga@softerhair.com | Website | + posts

Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing. Her pets are her coworkers, and she replaced the town crowd with a quiet neighborhood outside the city.


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