The facts and fiction of shampoo and greasy hair
You’re told to avoid overusing regular shampoo, so you swear by dry shampoo. Then you’re told dry shampoo can lead to more sebum (oil) production. Enter the slick-back pony. But apparently ponies cause breakage, so you’re back to stepping up your shampooing routine. Plot twist—the expert on today’s Dr. Oz says your shampoo can actually “stop working”. So you cancel your dinner plans and prepare to scour the web for a new shampoo. Except it took you years to find your current bottle, and you need a break. That’s precisely why you should read on as we debunk some of these oily scalp rumors and free you with the facts.
How often should I wash my hair?
You’re going to hate this answer, but there’s no definitive, one-size-fits-all frequency. It really depends on your head of hair. How oily is it? Do you have thin, straight strands or thick, curly locks? How many times a week do you sweat it out on that Peloton? What styling products do you use every day? See what we mean? But science does agree that regular cleaning with a well-formulated shampoo won’t damage your hair. In fact, it can actually help fragile hair by reducing the daily wear and tear of brushing and styling.
I need to avoid shampoo.
So a big, resounding false on this one. Sebum is constantly secreted out of the scalp and onto the hair. If you don’t shampoo, it’ll just build up until your hair feels oily. But worst case, this sebum can become a food source for bacteria, which can create an “off” odor, increase flakiness and worsen dandruff and, in some extreme cases, accelerate hair loss.
I need to shampoo more often.
This is mostly true. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people with really oily hair may need to shampoo up to once a day. Just don’t go ham—over-washing can deprive your scalp of its natural oils, causing a rebound effect that can produce more oil.
I need to wash, rinse, repeat.
This is pretty much false. Just don’t do it. It’s bad for your hair, and sad for your budget. See above about the whole not stripping those natural oils thing. Basically, if you wash your hair correctly the first time around, you shouldn’t have to do it again.
Am I shampooing correctly?
I need to rotate my shampoos.
Not necessarily! Your shampoo does not “stop working” all of a sudden. If you got a new chemical treatment, moved to another climate, or started producing more or less oil as the seasons change, then yes, you may need to switch it up to address your hair’s new needs. But if there’s no significant change, just keep rocking with the shampoo that’s working for you. It’s like with skincare—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I need to apply shampoo at the roots/scalp.
Correct! Focus on the roots and let your shampoo hit the ends only as you are rinsing out. Then apply conditioner from the middle of the hair shaft down. Also, try not to use your nails or create unnecessary friction on your strands. Aggressive scrubbing can irritate your scalp and cause it to produce, drumroll please… more oils.
Dry shampoo is bad for my scalp and hair growth.
It’s not a substitute for good old-fashioned shampoo. And yes, if you treat it as such, you will irritate your scalp with all the buildup. However, if you shampoo your hair the day after you use dry shampoo, there’s no harm, and it spaces out the washes (if that’s your goal).
What do I do for my oily hair?
My brush is making my hair oily.
It’s not unheard of! Keep in mind brushes tend to gather all of the oil and dirt in your hair when you detangle. If you really love your brush and it was a splurge, soak it in hot water, and thoroughly wash it with soap and water. Then, let it dry completely. And remember to clean out all of the loose hair after each brushing.
Blow drying and straightening my hair is making my hair oily faster.
True. We love a blowout just as much as the next gal, but unfortunately, hair dryers actually move oil throughout your hair. And hair straighteners and similar hot tools also apply heat close to your hair’s root, potentially triggering your sweat glands. So going au-natural is a great way to stretch your shampoo and avoid heat damage.
I need to use products specifically for scalps that produce oil faster.
Ding Ding Ding! Very true. Focus on products that target your hair woes. And opt for shampoo with more effective sulfate-free cleaning agents and a scalp treatment with tea tree oil—a pretty freaking powerful antiseptic that can help control bacterial and fungal buildups.
At the end of the day, every head of hair is different and requires some trial and error. But there are some truths you can always count on. Like you don’t have to live with daily shampooing if you don’t want to. It’s 2020. We can make self-driving cars and help you space out washes too. But as you’ve hopefully gathered by now, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet (oh, this is awkward). But seriously, try us for yourself and discover the best shampoo for oily hair, and whatever else you’re working with. We’re here for you.