Our scalp and strands aren’t that different from our skin, as all three can experience excess oil, dryness, or both. While this is a common occurrence, it’s also highly frustrating—especially since many external factors work against our efforts to keep hair balanced and healthy-looking.
If you think you might have combination hair, you’ve come to the right spot. Up ahead, we share the 411 on combination hair, including what causes it, how to care for it, and our best products to use on it (including our best shampoo for combination hair). Let’s dive in.
What Is Combination Hair?
Similar to combination skin, combination hair is a mix of two hair types: Oily hair and dry hair. If you have combination hair, that typically means that the natural oils on your scalp stay put, rather than distribute down your strand. As a result, your scalp might be extra oily, while your hair feels dry, brittle, and even damaged. That being said, combination hair can also be the reverse: A dry scalp with oily strands. And, hair can change based on the season (hair in the winter tends to err on the dry side of the spectrum) or climate outside.
What Causes Combination Hair?
Genetics, hair habits, products, environment, and even lifestyle can all contribute to combination hair. If you aren’t careful, using tons of products—especially the wrong products—and overexposing hair to chemical treatments might lead to symptoms of combination hair, as these can provoke dry or oily reactions. While this isn’t a reason to completely forgo products and salon appointments, you should take precautions and ensure you’re using the right products, thoroughly washing said products out with a shampoo for combination hair, and conditioning the strands as needed, too.
The weather outside can also have an impact on our hair and can even contribute to combination hair. As we mentioned previously, the winter can have a drying effect on the hair, while summer weather might promote more oily hair (especially at the scalp as you sweat more during the summer). But, seasons aren’t the only environmental contribution. No matter the time of year, different climates might also impact the hair and everyday aggressors such as pollution can also lead to combination hair.
Your lifestyle choices might also play a factor, especially when it comes to stress. When we experience stress, we might see a spike in cortisol (that pesky stress hormone), which can create an imbalance of sebum—a.k.a. oil—production on the skin and scalp.
How To Care For Combination Hair
Once you know what causes combination hair, learning how to care for combination hair is totally attainable.
Wash Your Hair Less
It might sound counterintuitive but washing your hair less (think one to two times a week) can actually help combat symptoms of combination hair. Over-washing the hair can cause irritation on the scalp and, depending on how hard your water is, can also strip the scalp of natural oils, leading to a potential overproduction of sebum, a.k.a. even more grease at the roots.
Pro Tip: If you must get your hair wet for styling purposes, try rinsing your hair—using filtered water or a shower filter to protect against hard water—without shampoo and using a lightweight conditioner on your ends to keep things hydrated and easy to manage.
Brush Your Hair
One of the biggest reasons why some experience combination hair is because the natural and nourishing oils on the scalp don’t make their way down to the rest of the strands. But, you can support these efforts by remembering to brush your hair regularly, starting at the roots and gliding down to the ends. Also, if you brush your hair (especially the scalp) before a rinse and repeat, you can help lift dirt, debris, and product buildup, making it even easier to get an effective shampoo.
Choose the Right Products
Much like the skin, it’s important to choose the right products for your hair—because, if you don’t, you might make the problem worse. Be sure to select products based on your hair type (or concern) and follow the directions to ensure you’re not using too much or too little of a product.
Our Best Products For Combination Hair
One of the best ways to care for combination hair is to ensure you’re using the best products for combination hair. From the best shampoo for combination hair to the best hair mask for dry hair, we share our top picks for our best products to try, ahead.
For Oily Roots:
If your roots tend to be greasy and you’re looking for the best shampoo for combination hair, this clarifying shampoo from Kérastase is a must-try. Made for providing a deeper cleanse to the roots and scalp, this shampoo gets the job done without stripping. What’s more? The formula is enhanced with vitamin B6 so, while it purifies, it also nourishes.
For Dry Roots:
If your combination hair makeup is a dry scalp with oily ends, you’ll want to reach for a shampoo that replenishes the roots with deep nourishment—like this one from Redken. The conditioning shampoo includes skincare favorite argan oil, which softens and adds some supple-looking shine.
For Dry Ends:
The best conditioner for dry hair is a conditioner that boasts deep nourishment. This conditioner from Redken checks all of our dry hair boxes as it’s specifically formulated with castor oil and biotin to fortify the hair, helping to reverse dryness and even reduce breakage.
For Oily Ends:
A conditioner for oily hair needs to be lightweight, since your strands already have some weight from the excess oil. This volumizing conditioner from Redken provides a soft condition without adding excess oil to hair. It also provides a nice root lift, making it a great choice for blowout hair styles.
For Dry Ends:
Those with dry ends might also benefit from incorporating a hair mask into their regimen. This restorative mask from She Uemura Art Of Hair targets dry, damaged hair, helping to repair from root to strands and providing a lightweight yet effective deep condition.
For Oily Roots:
Dry shampoo for oily hair is a must. This heavy-duty formula targets roots that like a little excess grease as it absorbs those oils and leaves the hair looking refreshed. This is a great choice for anyone who struggles with washing their hair once a week, as it can help keep strands fresh for up to four days.
Looking to add a few more products to your combination hair care routine? Shop all of our favorites at Hair.com.