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If we had to rank hair woes, oily hair would be up there with frizz, split ends, and dandruff. The thing about oily hair is, it creeps up on you. You can leave your house in the morning with a flawless blowout, and your dark brown hair is greasy by 4 p.m. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do, there’s no way to cope with oily strands.
We knew there had to be a better way. We sat down with Carly Quist, Kerastase tech artist and brand ambassador, who revealed everything we’ve ever wanted to know about oily hair.
When we describe hair as oily, it can sound as though the strands themselves are guilty of producing oil. However, Quist says the term “oily hair” actually refers to the oil produced by your scalp.
When we talk about ‘oily hair,’ we are referring to the amount of natural oil that is noticeable on the scalp...Sebum is constantly being produced, which helps to keep our hair and scalp hydrated and moisturized. When our scalp produces an excessive amount of sebum, we get ‘oily hair.
Everyone’s scalp produces sebum, but not everyone has oily hair. What determines whether or not you have dry, normal, or oily hair? Quist says there are a few key factors that contribute to the overall look and feel of your locks.
“A few key factors that contribute to this issue include...shampoo overuse, product buildup, and environmental [factors],” she explains.
If you’ve never had oily hair before, it can be really easy to dismiss this information as something that doesn’t apply to you. However, it is completely possible for one person to experience having dry, normal, and oily hair throughout their lifetime because so many of these key factors are ever-changing.
The cardinal rule of caring for oily hair is the same rule for all hair types: A proper routine is key. Quist says the crux of a proper hair care routine for oily hair is a combination of the right products and techniques.
“When applying the shampoo, I like to make sure it is evenly distributed on the scalp, and every inch is properly cleansed. Generally, our nape and temple area do not get cleansed correctly, leaving the oils to remain there,” Quist says. “Next, I like to do a thorough rinse of both the shampoo and conditioner.”
Your hair care routine isn’t the only thing you should pay attention to when dealing with oily locks. Quist says how you handle your strands can sometimes contribute to further oiliness.
“In between washes, it is important to touch your hair as sparingly as possible,” she explains. “Our hands naturally produce oil which can easily transfer to our hair if we are playing with it throughout the day.”
Quist says people often make three key mistakes when it comes to caring for oily hair: over washing, over conditioning, and using dirty hair brushes.
While washing your hair can help minimize oil, the stylist says overwashing your locks can actually create more oil.
“By washing your hair too frequently, your hair is stripped of its natural oils, and the scalp goes into oil production overload in an attempt to replenish them.”
Conditioning too much is another habit Quist says people with oily hair should avoid.
“One of the largest mistakes we make is the amount of conditioner used and the application technique. I always suggest adding an almond size amount of conditioner to the mid-lengths down to the ends for the best results.”
If you deal with chronic oily hair, be sure to keep your hair brushes and combs squeaky clean.
“Just like our makeup brushes, hair brushes require cleaning on a regular basis. Build-up of product, hair, and dust will transfer onto the hair, making it feel dirty again.”
Lastly—this one should be a no-brainer—avoid applying moisturizing or oil-based products directly to your scalp. Instead, Quist suggests focusing on adding products at the mid-lengths all the way down to the ends.
There is no one-size-fits-all haircare routine for ladies with oily locks. While purchasing products for your hair type and texture is important, when dealing with oily locks Quist insists how you apply the products is key.
“Less is more! I would start by applying smaller doses of the product and see how your hair will react [sic]. If your hair seems to play nicely with it, you can then add more as you go.”
If you have greasy strands, chances are good the combination of your hair’s natural oils, hair products, and pollution can make your strands feel anything but clean. If your strands are feeling dirty, the Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Clean-Touch Shampoo is the perfect shampoo for you.
Formulated with a chelator, anti-oxidant, and a UV filter, the shampoo gently washes away pollution, daily grit, styling build-up, and excess sebum for a clean feeling with respect for the hair.
Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Clean-Touch Shampoo, $19.00 MSRP
Greasy strands have a tendency to lie limp, and flat against your head. If you’re looking to impart some major volume into your oily locks, we recommend starting your hair care routine with a volumizing shampoo formulated to purify your strands like L’Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Volumetry Shampoo. The cleansing shampoo is formulated with a combination of purifying salicylic acid and HydraLight for a volume effect. Hair looks volumized, feeling cleansed, and lightly moisturized.
L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Volumetry Shampoo, $30.00 MSRP
Clarifying shampoos can sometimes cause color-treated strands to fade prematurely. If you recently revamped your hair color, pick up Pureology’s Purify Shampoo. The concentrated ZeroSulfate formula helps to remove build-up, and clarify without stripping color.
Pureology Purify Shampoo, $28.50 MSRP
Not all clarifying shampoos are created equal, and sometimes they can be quite drying. If you have parched locks that are in desperate need of a deep clean, look no further than Mizani’s Moisture Fusion Gentle Clarifying Shampoo. The moisturizing shampoo is formulated with charcoal and a coconut-derived clarifier to remove buildup and impurities without stripping strands of moisture or shine.
Mizani Moisture Fusion Gentle Clarifying Shampoo, $24.00 MSRP
If you don’t have time to wash your hair, don’t fret—we have just the thing: dry shampoo. The Matrix StyleLink Mineral Play Back Dry Shampoo is formulated with minerals that work to absorb oils and impurities, extending and refreshing your undone look longer.
Pro tip: Apply your dry shampoo to your strands at night and allow it to absorb overnight. You’ll wake up with refreshed strands without any unsightly white residue.Matrix StyleLink Mineral Play Back Dry Shampoo, $18.00 MSRP
If you forgot to apply your dry shampoo before going to bed and you have dark brown hair, don’t panic—there’s finally a dry shampoo just for you. Redken’s Pillow Proof Blow Dry Two Day Extender is a dry shampoo that is true to your color hue. Refresh your style with color matched dry shampoo that absorbs oil and minimizes the dulling effect.
Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Two Day Extender, $20.00 MSRP
Pureology Style + Protect Refresh & Go Dry Shampoo, $28.00 MSRP
If you follow these simple tips and stock your bathroom with the right hair products, you’ll vanquish your greasy locks in no time!
Interested in personalized advice about how to best care for your greasy locks? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.
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