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When you’re dealing with oily strands, hair washing is a daily activity. Mayyyybe, if you’re super lucky and load up on tons (and we mean tons) of dry shampoo, you can get away with skipping a day. Maybe. While there’s some debate as to whether or not daily sudsing is a good move, or if you should try to stretch out washes in order to ‘retrain’ your scalp, one thing is for certain: Whenever you do wash, it’s in your best interest to use a shampoo specially formulated for oily hair.
Typically lighter and containing a lower concentration of rich, hydrating ingredients, these instead focus on removing excess grease—and product residue, from all that dry shampoo—to leave your mane looking and feeling so fresh and so clean.
Keep reading to see the best shampoos for oily hair we can’t get enough of.
You’ve likely seen clay in face masks geared toward oily skin, but the ingredient can have similar benefits in haircare. More specifically, this shampoo relies on three different types of clay to absorb oil and purify roots. We know, that kind of sounds like a recipe for ending up with dry, stripped strands, but on the contrary—it’s specially formulated to keep the lengths of your hair nice and hydrated.
This pick earns our vote for working in two different ways. Not only does it remove unwanted oil pretty much right away (credit jojoba leaf extract and white ginger), but it also helps to minimize future oil production to tamp down greasiness over time. It’s color-safe, too, and leaves hair super shiny and voluminous.
Is there anything apple cider vinegar (ACV) can’t do? When it comes to your scalp and strands, it’s choice for deeply detoxifying and balancing pH levels to help keep both healthy. It’s also a great astringent, helping to minimize excess oil. This formula uses a raw and natural apple cider vinegar to do all of the above and is also free of parabens and sulfates.
This is a favorite of Karli Bendlin, Byrdie’s Email Editor. Extra foamy, those who love lather will appreciate the airy feel, and it’s that foaming action that also effectively clarifies your scalp and hair, removing every last bit of oil and product residue. So much so, that it’s even recommended to be used to prep hair before a perm.
This newbie has a clarifying formula, and relies on grapefruit extract for an ever-so-mild exfoliating action (always a good thing if you have a greasy scalp). But don’t worry, it’s still nice and gentle, free of parabens and two of the most common sulfates found in shampoos. We’d be remiss not to mention the citrusy, grapefruit scent too, a refreshing pick-me-up on sleepy mornings.
The truth of the matter is that many clarifying shampoos for oily hair rely on a good amount of sulfates; they’re the detergent-esque soaps that work to effectively de-grease. That being said, they can be very harsh and stripping (not to mention are a no-no for those with colored hair for said reason).
If you’re searching for a sulfate-free option, try this guy, a go-to for Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue. Rather than using sulfates, it relies on coconut-based surfactants to do the hard-hitting cleansing, removing dirt, products, and oil, while imparting plenty of softness and shine. Plus, unlike many other sulfate-free shampoos, this still lathers beautifully.
Xue says this sudser is a good pick for those with oily hair, not to mention that it also boasts a squeaky clean ingredient list. Even the fragrance is completely natural, derived from essential oils. It’s cleansing yet hydrating, gentle enough for daily use, and works well on all hair textures. In short, it’s a universally foolproof pick.
Don’t be put off by the word ‘oil’ in the name of this shampoo; according to Byrdie Senior Editor Hallie Gould, it is in fact a top pick for those dealing with oily hair. The featherweight formula boasts volcanic-derived ingredients, known for their purifying properties. Despite the fact that it starts out as an oil, it quickly transforms into a luscious foam that’s choice for any and all hair textures, from stick straight to crazy curly.
Fine hair and oily hair go hand-in-hand, and, adding insult to injury, fine hair is also more likely to get weighed down by the heavy moisturizing ingredients in many shampoos. If you’re dealing with greasy, limp locks, seeking out formulas that are lighter and clearer (versus thicker and milkier looking) is a good move.
This one in particular fits the bill. It’s insanely lightweight, relying on purifying micelles—small molecules that act like magnets and attach to dirt, oil, and anything else you want to go—to leave your strands clean and with plenty of volume.
Dandruff is a complicated condition with a variety of factors that come into play. But to put it simply, oil is one of the major factors, and those dealing with dandruff often tend to have an oilier scalp and hair as well. Enter this shampoo, which uses pyrithione zinc (one of the best flake-fighting ingredients there is) and is specially formulated to also minimize excess oil. Plus, it smells fruity and citrusy, rather than medicinal like so many other dandruff shampoos out there.
Best for a Combination Scalp: SheaMoisture African Black Soap Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Just like you can have combination skin, you can also have a combination scalp. (Telltale signs included both oily and dry patches, or having either one at different times of the year.) When that’s the case, you want a shampoo that’s going to effectively remove the excess oil, but not make any dryness worse—this one does exactly that. Along with detoxifying charcoal, it also contains willow bark extract, a natural precursor to oil-dissolving salicylic acid. And for the dry parts, there’s balancing and skin-soothing tea tree oil.
If you’re trying to stretch out the time in between shampoos, but dry shampoo just isn’t cutting it, try this rinse instead. You use it like you would a shampoo, though rather than being detergent-based, it instead relies on purifying ACV to remove oil and product build-up. It balances the pH of both your hair and scalp, contains rice water with strengthening proteins, and works as an effective detangler, too.