How to Manage Oily Hair, According to the Experts
Start with an effective hair care routine, then test out styles that mask the grease.
Have you ever taken a shower at night and let your hair air dry, only to wake up to greasy roots come morning? Or gone through the trouble of giving yourself a blowout, only for it to look matted and limp a few hours later? Unfortunately, these are common experiences if you have oily hair—and while all types and textures can experience oiliness, those with ultra-fine hair often deal with it the most. The reason? As your scalp produces sebum, or oil, it drenches the roots. And if your strands are fine, they succumb faster to the oil's weight. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to manage this issue. Ahead, our hair experts share their best tips.
Hair Washing Cadence
If your hair is prone to oil, there's a good chance that you either have fine hair that reveals even the slightest sebum buildup or you have inadvertently stripped your scalp of moisture, forcing it to produce more oil in an effort to stay hydrated (this is more likely). Unfortunately, when most people notice that their hair is greasy, their first thought is to hop in the shower and give it a wash. But, according to celebrity hairstylist and NatureLab. Tokyo ambassador Laura Polko, over-washing isn't the answer: It can actually strip hair of that much-needed oil. On the converse, she says that under-washing and relying too heavily on style-extenders, like dry shampoo, can clog your cuticles and force your scalp to produce even more oil. It's tricky, but establishing the correct washing cadence—not too often, but not too far apart, either—is critical. "As a safe rule, every other day is best," Polko says, noting to give yourself at least two weekends to adjust to your new wash cycle, as you're bound to deal with some oiliness as you adapt.
When it comes to managing oily hair, at a certain point, your only option is to get in the shower for a restorative shampoo. However, if you know which products to use between lather-and-rinse sessions, you can banish oil for longer. Enter dry shampoo. "I love dry shampoo, but it's all about how you apply it," Polko notes. "Stay six to 10 inches from your head and work it in evenly with your fingertips." This is key, since spraying too closely is the culprit that leads to obvious white residue and dullness. Aside from dry shampoo, texture sprays—which also slightly matte your roots—and re-stylers are your best bet. The latter, for example, allows you to reshape your hair without having to fully shower, thanks to a water-like formula.
If you have oil-prone hair it's important to keep your hands away from your scalp at all costs (touching your roots only intensifies the problem) and, more importantly, understand how to best style it. If you prefer to wear your hair down, Polko says that you're less likely to see oily roots if you opt for a proper blowout. "This allows you to skip styling on day two, so you can avoid adding oil-absorbing products, which, over time, can make hair look incredibly dull and dry," she says. She recommends using a product to encourage bounce. "Avoid applying it at the roots—focus on the shafts to ends," she adds, noting that doing so will keep your roots from getting oily as quickly.
If you prefer styles that conceal oily hair—especially if you're in the process of adjusting to a new wash cycle—professional hairstylist and VaultBeauty member Elizabeth Hickman suggests braids. "Braids are a great way to hide oily roots," she says. "Adding a poof at the front of your hair by spraying a little dry shampoo will hide the grease, as well." And, if you want to disguise the crown of your head, instead? Weaving a scarf into your braid or using it as a headband can work wonders, Hickman adds.