Grease: A Very Hairy Situation



Surely I'm not alone in that I get oily hair relatively quickly and easily? When I was in high school, I had to shower every morning, because by the end of the day my scalp would begin to show signs of impending doom. I had never heard of dry shampoo at the time, and the brightest idea anyone had ever suggested to me was to use baby powder. The flaw in that idea though, is that it made me look like I sprouted white hair overnight. Sometimes, when I was running late and couldn't shower, I would use a little bit of hairspray and lightly backcomb my mop, which helped slightly. In the end, however, nothing ever truly helped in keeping oily hair at bay.

While studying to become a pastry chef, I set myself the goal to only wash my hair every second day, because on Wednesdays and Fridays I started my lessons as early as 6am, and having a shower at the crack of dawn, right in the middle of winter, just wasn't feasible. At this point I resorted to wearing a beanie for the days I didn't wash my hair, and a pastry cap during my practical classes. It was too easy to hide it, but it didn't help at all. In fact, it made the problem worse, because the warm and humid environment somehow seems to bring out even more sebum.

Now though, I've learned from the errors of my ways, and I have established several methods that, combined, helped and I'm well on the way to mastering the oil slick. It doesn't get rid of the oil for good, that's impossible, but it did help in tackling the greasy issue.

Cut Down on Washing Your Hair
The first lesson is to stop washing your hair every day, and try to wash it only twice a week, or every three days. If that's too much of a stretch for you, wash it every second day and gradually move it up to three days. I learned that hair produces oil in order to lubricate and protect your scalp. So, the more you wash it and strip your hair of its natural oils, the more sebum it will produce. So, if you space out your washes, it will slow down the grease production and also help your hair in the long run, such as; reducing dandruff and dry skin on the scalp, preventing breakage, and controlling the amount of frizz slightly. Don't even think about wetting your hair in between washes, just keep it dry. Water doesn't help at all, and just makes you look like a wet dog. In fact, the heat from the water will only spread the grease further down your locks. In short, use a shower cap.

Watch How You Use Conditioner
Secondly, don't apply conditioner to your scalp. I know a lot of people don't do this, but I also know a few that used to condition from root to tip. Conditioner basically strips your scalp of its natural oils even further, which makes the scalp work twice as hard to replenish it. Also, don't add any oil treatments to your scalp before showering, because shampoo can only do so much in getting rid of residue, which then adds to the second day greasiness. In fact, don't add any oils to your scalp at all. It doesn't help much in the hair department except to slightly accelerate hair growth and give the impression that you have luscious locks. I know when to pick my battles, and as much as I'd love to grow my hair faster, especially the baby ones, I'd rather not look like Danny Zuko, thank you very much.

No, Danny, it really isn't.

Lazy Girl's Guide to Washing Hair
Dry shampoo is every girl's best friend, but it can easily become your worst enemy. Sure, I'm all for spritzing some into my hair on the second day, but sometimes being a little heavy-handed with the spray can can result in locks looking even greasier than before. It is better to use very light, short bursts of dry shampoo, combing it through and adding a little bit more to areas that need it, rather than being trigger happy. And darling, don't try to use dry shampoo two days in a row, because it is just as bad as using too much. The better (and healthier) way to dry shampoo your hair is in fact to use cornflour (cornstarch). By sprinkling or brushing cornflour onto your hair, it absorbs the grease, rather than concealing it, and brings back some volume. Not only that, it is safer for your hair in the long run and you get exposed to fewer chemicals. It's almost virtually impossible to make your hair worse using this method, and it can even be used two days in a row, though it might start to feel a little bit thick and heavy on the third day.

A 1:1 combination of unsweetened cocoa powder and cornflour is good for medium to dark brunettes. You get to smell chocolatey and really, what's so bad about that? For my fair ladies with their golden tresses, you only need cornflour straight up. For the red-headed chickadees with the enviable fiery locks (no seriously, I've always wanted to be a ginger), combine cinnamon, and if you can get it, powdered saffron, with the cornflour instead of the cocoa powder. Tumeric is an option if you don't have access to powdered saffron. As for the rest with brightly coloured mops, perhaps crushing some hair chalk and mixing it through the cornflour will work, though I've never tried this method.

Change Your Hair Drying Method
This is probably one of the best methods I've come across that actually slow down the production of oil. Firstly, don't wear a towel around your head for longer than necessary. As soon as I stopped doing this, I noticed a small decrease in oiliness. Also, on top of that, drying your hair with a hair dryer on the hottest setting is not going to do you any favours, so keep it on moderate heat, and then cool your head down with a cold blast. The first time I did this, there was an improvement straight away, and I managed to have two full days of grease-free bliss, and ever since then, I've never gone back. Using this method has the added benefit of reducing frizziness, as well as giving your hair some volume. I highly recommend using this hair drying method instead of air-drying your hair, because somehow, the longer your hair is wet, the quicker it is for your mop to start showing signs of an oil leak.

Change Your Shampoo and Conditioner
A lot of specialists and hairdressers recommend changing your hair products every six months so that your hair doesn't have the opportunity to get used to the products and start working against it. I have no idea if this is a proven technique, but I do know one thing; switching to volumising shampoos and conditioners will, in most cases, help. Have you ever gone to the beach with second day hair, submerged it in seawater, and went home with sexy beach hair, only to find out that you don't need to wash it the next day? This is attributed to the amount of salt in your hair, though how it works, I don't know, but it helps a lot. However, volumising products in the long run isn't healthy for your tresses, and may end up weakening and drying them out, resulting in breakages. If you're keen on going down this path, try to use volumising shampoo and conditioner every second wash, and do a clarifying wash every month or so to remove build-up of product.

Alternatively, you can use a sea salt spray and apply it close to the roots. I prefer to make my own, because the commercially produced ones usually have some form of oil added to it to moisturise your hair, but that defeats the purpose of beating the grease. What I do is, I add epsom salts to my solution as a means of locking in the moisture, which helps to protect it somewhat.

And... Stop Touching Your Hair!
When I had chin-length hair that couldn't be tied back, I would always sweep the front bit to the side numerous times during the day, and same goes for side fringes and bangs. These would be affected first, and by the end of the day, with the grease that had formed, I could fry up an egg. I used to get annoying cowlicks whenever I had bangs and I'd take a mini hair straightener to them every day, which only made it worse overall because grease just love heat, and the transfer of oil from my hands doesn't help either. In order to slow down the oiliness, I only brush my hair once before showering to detangle it, and use a comb whenever I'm applying dry shampoo. The less contact you have with your hair, the better.

Try to keep styling to a minimum, or at the very least, keep it to the bottom half of your mane.


I hear a lot of people tell me that diet has a lot to do with oil production, but I call bollocks on that advice. I've changed my diet a few times since childhood, and nothing has improved the issue. I live on a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, good fats and as little processed food as possible, and rarely ever indulge in greasy snacks, so diet does squat in controlling the grease bomb.

Do you get oily hair easily? How do you control it?


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