When it comes to your hair concerns, it’s easy to focus on just one thing, whether that’s frizz, damage, or excess oil. The truth is, however, that you’re likely dealing with more than one major hair concern at a time. An oily scalp and dry ends are one of the most popular hair concern combinations. While these issues may seem complete opposites, it’s actually very common to deal with both at once.
If you have battled oiliness and dryness simultaneously, we tapped Tamiko Andrews, Kérastase artist, to break down everything you need to know about caring for an oily scalp and dry ends. Keep scrolling for expert advice and professional products to help restore health and harmony to your mane.
Why is my scalp oily but my ends dry?
An oily scalp occurs when your sebaceous glands are overactive, often due to product build-up, over-shampooing, and other environmental factors. These glands produce the natural oils known as sebum throughout your hair, which help keep your tresses naturally nourished. When your scalp produces too much sebum, however, it creates excess oil on your scalp.
If these natural oils get stuck to the scalp area and have trouble moving their way down your strands, you might also deal with dry, brittle ends. This can happen most with certain hair types, particularly curly or thick hair. It’s also important to remember that your ends are the oldest part of your hair; therefore, they’ve likely accrued more styling and heat damage over time than the rest of the hair shaft. In some cases, the ends of the hair are already susceptible to dryness by default.
How do I treat my hair with oily roots and dry ends?
While a few spritzes of dry shampoo might seem like a quick fix for oily roots (and it can be), it still won’t stop the recurring issue— what about your ends? Leaving dry hair unattended for too long can also lead to breakage or frayed, brittle ends. While it may sound daunting, you can make a few easy swaps to your hair care routine to mitigate an oily scalp and dry lengths.
Still trying to figure out where to start? Read through our best oily scalp dry ends care tips below.
Brush your hair often.
There’s an old wives' tale that brushing your hair makes it more oily, but that’s a misconception. Regularly brushing your hair actually helps to distribute the oils on your scalp throughout the rest of your mane (which is key to achieving soft, supple ends). We recommend brushing your hair once a day.
Pro tip: If you’re dealing with an oily scalp, choose a boar bristle brush. These types of bristles help evenly distribute natural oils throughout your hair. Find out more about boar bristles and other hair brush fibers in our guide on how to brush hair the right way.
Try a purifying cleansing clay.
Like managing combination skin, caring for oily scalp dry ends requires using hair products that target both concerns. While combination skin requires both hydrating and oil-absorbing ingredients, combination hair (i.e., oily scalp and dry skin) will also need a mix of the two.
If you have an oily scalp, we have a secret to share: The best product to kickstart your routine sometimes isn’t just a shampoo. Give your oily scalp a weekly detox while keeping the rest of your strands nourished with a cleansing clay, like Kérastase Specifique Argile Equilibrante Cleansing Clay. According to Andrews, this product is a triple threat for managing an oily scalp and dry ends.
“Ceramide is going to help improve the hair fiber’s ability to resist breakage and lock in moisture,” Andrews explains. “Amino acids help gently cleanse and balance the hair fiber, while [the] clay is going to act like a sponge for excess sebum.”
If greasy roots weigh your hair down, this cleansing clay even helps boost volume! Need to familiarize yourself with applying cleansing clay to your hair? Starting with wet hair, apply the Kérastase Specifique Argile Equilibrante Cleansing Clay to your roots. Lather and pull through the lengths of hair before rinsing thoroughly.
Choose the right shampoo.
While cleansing clay is a game-changer for managing your hair concerns, you’ll still need a salon-quality shampoo to use throughout the rest of the week. If you’re searching for the best shampoo for oily scalp and dry ends, we recommend Kérastase Specifique Bain Divalent Shampoo. This shampoo targets both oily scalp and dry ends with a formula that deeply cleanses and purifies the scalp by removing excess oil, while ingredients like vitamin B6 and amino acids nourish the hair leaving you with softer, shinier strands.
Consider going sulfate-free.
On the subject of choosing the right shampoo, greasy hair with dry ends may greatly benefit from a sulfate-free formula. Sulfates are common detergents found in shampoos that help create a cleansing lather and are generally regarded as safe in hair care. The only downside is that they can make the scalp and certain hair types (think waves, curls, and coils) more susceptible to dryness and brittleness. Sulfate-free shampoos often feature creamier, more hydrating ingredients to help gently cleanse the hair and scalp sans stripping natural oils.
For medium-to-thick colored-treated hair, pick up Kérastase Bain Chroma Respect Sulfate-Free Shampoo. Have enviable ringlets? You can’t go wrong with Kérastase Curl Manifesto Bain Hydratation Douceur Shampoo For Curly Hair. It’s made with nourishing ingredients like manuka honey and ceramides to moisturize curls and enhance their shape long after you step out of the shower.
Wash your hair less often.
Sound counterintuitive? Maybe, but trust us—washing your hair less often (also known as hair training) can benefit oil-prone scalps. Shampooing too often can strip your scalp of its natural oils, causing your sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum to counteract the dryness—which can lead to greasy hair. Not to mention, it can also remove moisture from those parched ends, especially if you’re not using the right shampoo for your hair type.
For some, the results of hair training can take a few weeks, while others may be waiting patiently for months. It really varies depending on your hair type and texture, genetics, and weight of the hair. For example, finer hair may appear more oily than medium-to-thick hair and, therefore, may need more time to adjust. It’s all a learning curve, so feel free to experiment with how many days you can go between washes to see what works best for you.
Avoid touching your roots.
Those sebaceous glands we mentioned are all over your body, including your fingertips. While running your fingers through your hair can be super satisfying, the oil on your fingers may lead to built-up oil on your scalp.
Don’t skip your haircut appointment.
As far as caring for dry ends, getting your hair trimmed is crucial. Dry, brittle hair can lead to breakage, so you’ll want to head to the salon for a dusting every six weeks or so to keep your ends as healthy as possible. Trimming hair helps prevent split ends from traveling further up the hair shaft, wreaking havoc on your haircut, hair density, and overall length. Trimming snips away any frayed ends to keep your hair in tip-top shape, allowing it to grow stronger and longer (if that’s your goal, of course).
Hydrate your hair.
If you have dry ends, restore moisture with hydrating hair products. Start by adding a hair mask like Kérastase Specifique Masque Rehydratant to your routine and letting it sit for five minutes. This formula rebalances hair’s essential hydration levels, bringing back that softness, smoothness, and shininess that your hair might be missing.
“The gel-like texture is going to absorb into the hair quickly and help the scalp feel refreshed and revitalized,” Andrews says.
Interested in a lighter, more everyday conditioner for days when you’re not masking? Check out our round-up of our best conditioners for dry hair.
Finally, if you prefer to keep your hair care routine low-maintenance and let your hydrating hair products do all the work for you, look no further than Kérastase’s Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum Hydrating Treatment. All you have to do is apply this leave-in to damp hair before bed. While you sleep, the serum works to moisturize and nourish hair, so you wake up to soft, shiny hair that is protected against damage, split ends, and breakage.
If you’re in a rush, use dry shampoo to remove excess oil.
Like we said earlier, dry shampoo isn’t the ultimate solution for managing oily roots, but a few spritzes of this miracle product can be good in a pinch. Plus, we love their versatility—they can be used at the first signs of oily or as a preventative measure to keep grease at bay. Try a formula like Kérastase Fresh Affair Refreshing Dry Shampoo to instantly absorb excess oils at the root without build-up or texture. It also leaves your hair with a long-lasting, luxurious fragrance, and who doesn’t want that?
Pro tip: Apply dry shampoo to your roots before going to sleep. Letting it absorb overnight is the ultimate hack for refreshed hair and extra volume.
Interested in more expert hair tips and salon-loved products? Head to Hair.com to personalize your routine.
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