You know your hair and what to expect from it. You know if you're a two-day-wash girl or a three-day girl (or maybe even a lucky four-day girl). Which is why when you all of sudden can't make it more than one day without an oil slick showing up, it can be annoying. You may not realize it, but everything from your diet to your hormones may be affecting your sebum production (an oily or waxy matter produced to help lubricate the skin and hair). We’ve pinpointed the reasons why one minute your hair is looking like blowout magic, and the next, it’s a messy bun plus dry shampoo for days.
We talked to sylists from the Rob Peetoom Salon in NYC to get to the root of what causes your scalp to go into oil-overdrive. Scroll down to see what may be causing your greasy strands, and what they recommended to keep your hair looking its best.
Reduce Stress When You Can
Oily hair can be caused by a number of different reasons. According to Rob Peetoom Master Stylist Linda de Zeeuw, "Greasy hair is the result of overactive sebaceous glands, when they are producing too much sebum," she says. "Although sebum is good for the hair, too much can make your hair look slick and greasy. Common causes of oily hair are unhealthy eating habits, medications, improper haircare, stress, hormonal fluctuations, and change in weather."
Stressing about work deadlines? Woke up with oily hair? Stressed about work deadlines AND your oily hair?? We face stress and anxiety every day, but trying to balance a heavy load of stress can do more damage than that extra cup of coffee. When we are stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. When our cortisol levels rise, it causes the sebaceous glands in our scalp to be stressed as well, sending them into overdrive, producing and releasing more sebum and causing oil buildup.
It's important to brush your hair even if it is oily because it helps to distribute those oils throughout all your hair rather than letting them collect in one place.
Avoid Refined Sugars and Dairy
Your diet can also influence how much oil your scalp produces. Rob Peetoom Advanced Stylist Michael Bowman says "A diet rich in sugars, dairy products, and red meats can make the scalp produce more oil." This means consuming high amounts of these foods can wreak havoc on your scalp. The hormones in dairy products are believed to break down into androgens (hormones) after consumption resulting in an overproduction of sebum.
Extra oil can also mean your hair has a hard time holding a style. Try this flexible hairspray that doesn’t weigh down your locks.
Bowman also suggests using lightweight products that won't weigh down your hair even more. "Try to blow dry as often as you can (to bring your natural oils down the hair). Apply a shine spray or definition mist to a brush or hands and brush the hair. Don’t apply it straight on the hair," he says.
If your hair is still giving you trouble, opt for a style that will stay in place. "For those with long hair, it's easiest to make a ponytail, bun or braid to keep the hair in place," de Zeeuw says. "If you have short hair, you can use a hair powder on the roots to absorb excess oil while adding instant volume."
Use a Clarifying Shampoo
Hormone imbalance occurs when you are overly stressed or anxious, and before or during that time of the month. When the level of androgens (hormones) increases, which happens when you’re experiencing a hormone imbalance, this puts your body in a slightly stressed state, making the glands in your scalp produce more oil. To help combat this extra oil your hair is producing, try a clarifying shampoo.
de Zeeuw suggests switching up your old routine, too, and to avoid washing your hair every day. "Try to wash your hair twice a week with a clarifying shampoo or use the new Davines Solu scrub, which is crafted from all-natural ingredients, and provides a deep yet delicate cleanse removing all impurities and build-up, and use a dry shampoo in between washings to make your hair look fresh."
While dry shampoo is great in a pinch, Bowman also warns that people can sometimes use too much, which leads to even more build-up and clogged pores between washings. Be sure not to overload with the dry shampoo on oily days!
For a DIY build-up busting option, de Zeeuw also shared a recipe for an apple cider vinegar solution to help reset your scalp's pH. Create a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar and eight parts water. Put the solution in your hair, let it soak for a few minutes, and rinse it out with clean water.
Take Your Vitamins
A hard to control oily scalp may be in your genes. Certain diseases and medical conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome, liver congestion, Sjögren’s syndrome (a long-term autoimmune disease), and deficiencies in essential fatty acids and vitamin B6, can cause an overproduction of oil.
Bowman also suggests zinc-based supplements to help increase immune defenses and betacarotene helps skin repair more quickly. "Choosing foods with whole grains, fish, and rich in vitamin E will help with oil production," he says.
Taking supplements with vitamin B6 or essential fatty acids can help to control deficiencies and get your body’s balance back on track.
Remember Your Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are a key component of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Making sure you eat enough of these can help combat excess sebum on the scalp and taming those oily strands. EFAs are found in nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and unrefined whole grains, so stock up on those almonds, girl.