By Jennifer Summers
Greasy hair can look oily and dull, and have a lank and
lifeless appearance. It can look flat and heavy, and it
never seems to stay clean and fresh. It takes on a stringy
appearance within a few hours of shampooing and refuses to
stay full and fluffy. Does this describe your hair? Do you
ask the question, why is my hair greasy? Greasy hair can
cause social embarrassment as others may judge that the
sufferer has poor hygiene and does not wash their hair
frequently enough, even if they actually wash it every day.
The grease found in hair is called sebum and is oil that is
produced natural by the body. Each of the hairs on your head
has a gland called the sebaceous gland immediately under the
skin, this gland produces sebum. Oil in greasy hair protects
each strand from split ends and dryness, and is in fact a
sign of healthy hair. Sebum is made as lubrication for the
skin and hair, providing a protective barrier and preventing
drying. Sebum is the body's own natural moisturizer.
Greasy hair is excess of sebum in the hair and comes as a
result of an over production of sebum (oil) from over active
sebaceous glands, stimulated by hormones called androgens.
Androgens are male hormones that are present in both men and
women, but are higher in men. Androgens do two things:
First, they enlarge the sebaceous glands in the skin.
Second, they cause these glands to increase oil production.
Fluctuating hormones can cause greasiness as hormones play a
part in sebum production. Greasy hair is most common in
women because of either pregnancy or monthly cycle, older
women going through the menopause, and teenagers
experiencing puberty. Stress can be a contributory factor in
greasy hair as it is known to affect hormone levels. People
with fine hair on their head may experience excessive greasy
hair as they have more hair follicles and more sebaceous
glands producing more sebum.
There are several external causes of greasy hair. Washing
your hair too frequently can cause more sebum to be produced
as frequent washing can strip the hair of oils. To combat
this sebaceous glands excrete sebum. Sebaceous glands can be
stimulated through vigorous scrubbing of the hair and scalp
while washing. Touching your hair can also stimulate
sebaceous glands, along with vigorous hair brushing which
carries oil throughout the hair. The over-use of styling
products can cause hair to look greasy as the products can
build-up at the roots. Everyday environmental pollutants can
also cause hair to look greasy.
There are also many internal causes of greasiness too. I have
already mentioned fluctuating hormone levels, but one of the
main culprits when it comes to internal causes of greasy
hair is diet. Western diets that tend to be greasy, high in
fat and sugar, processed and containing additives can
be a major cause of greasy hair as the high fat content
increases oil levels in and on the skin. Hormones can be
found in meat in the western diet, adding to the unbalanced
hormone levels. A diet lacking in vitamin B can also
contribute towards greasy hair.
The best way of avoiding, preventing, treating and getting
rid of greasy hair is to treat it from the outside and the
inside. On the outside: steer clear of brushing your hair
too frequently, and too vigorously. Avoid using a
moisturizing shampoo as this can leave some oil in the hair.
An extra cleansing or clarifying shampoo that has a mild-ph
is the best shampoo to use for greasy hair. When shampooing,
massage you hair and scalp lightly and do not scrub your
hair and scalp.
For the best results, the longer you leave the shampoo in,
the better. If necessary, rinse your hair and shampoo again.
The question of how often to wash your hair is as unique as
the individual. The ideal frequency is 1-2 times per week,
but to find your own balance start with washing everyday,
then reduce that to find a good balance of washing and oil
production. If you use a hairdryer when styling your hair
don't let it get too hot as heat will stimulate more oil
production. When it comes to conditioning your hair, again
use a conditioner designed for greasy hair. Apply
conditioner to the mid and ends of your hair, but not the
With the inside: do all that you can to reduce and eliminate
any and all stress. In your diet, consider using a vitamin B
supplement. Make sure you eat plenty of whole grains, seeds,
nuts, leafy green vegetables, salads and fresh fish. Reduce
the amount of fatty foods that you eat, avoiding greasy,
fried and fatty foods as much as possible. Reduce the number
of white flour based foods in your diet, foods like
pastries, pasta and bread. Lastly, avoid sugar and sugary
foods like biscuits, cakes and soft drinks.