Why Is My Hair So Oily? Causes For Oily Hair Explained

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Nothing says a bad hair day like oily hair. You’re told that washing your hair every day is bad for your strands, so you try to space it out. Yet then you wake up one morning looking like a bottle of hair gel exploded in your sleep. You just can’t win!

Maybe you have had super oily hair from the get-go, or maybe you just haven’t found the right washing balance. Whatever your situation may be, you likely have a lot of frustration – and questions – surrounding your oily hair. What causes oily hair? What can you do about it? How does dandruff come into play? Keep on reading to find out!

What Causes Oily Hair?

When it comes to oily hair causes, each person’s experience is different. But overall, what causes oily hair is overactive sebaceous glands. Our body naturally creates sebum, which helps to moisturize our hair and our scalp. It makes our hair healthy and smooth, but the problem becomes when we have too much, and our hair looks slick. Greasy hair can be the result of genetics, eating habits, hormone fluctuations, medications, or your hair care routine.

What you put into your body influences what your body puts out. So, pay attention to what you’ve been eating. For example, eating fried or other oily foods can cause the oil to move from your body to your hair shaft and the skin, overstimulating your oil glands. Dairy products such as butter, cream and whole milk can cause oily hair too. This is because they digest as oils when they’re in your body, creating more sebum. The risk also exists when you eat fatty meats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.

Oily Hair And Dandruff Explained

Back of woman with short blonde hair.

Woman with short hair.

You might think that dandruff is the result of a dry scalp, but this is simply a myth. In fact, an oily scalp will leave you more prone to experiencing dandruff. Malassezia, the fungi which cause dandruff, are lipophilic. This means that they love oil, especially the oil which your skin creates. More oil will lead to seborrheic dermatitis, causing you that dreaded dandruff.

In general, dandruff flakes are small. Yet when they combine with excess oil on your head they start clumping together and sticking to your hair. Therefore, clarifying shampoos that target oily hair can help remove unnecessary oil and balance out your scalp. This, in turn, will minimize dandruff and related itching.

How To Make Hair Less Oily

If you are sick of having oily hair, there are plenty of tips to help you remedy the situation. The first trick for how to make your hair less oily is to adjust your conditioner routine. Make sure to apply the right amount of conditioner, not too much. And don’t apply it at the roots of your hair, as this will weigh them down and make them oily.

Also make sure to brush your hair regularly. I say regularly because you don’t want to brush your hair too much. But you do want to brush it enough that you distribute the oils from your scalp throughout your hair. And on that note, straightening your hair can make it get oilier more quickly. Wavy or curly hair is more voluminous at the roots, which limits the oil coming down the strands of your hair.

If you find that you tend to wake up in the morning with greasy hair, have you considered washing your pillowcase more often? Your pillowcase absorbs oil and dirt from your hair, hands and face while you sleep. So, having your hair rest on it all night means that your hair picks up these things, too. By changing your pillowcase more frequently, you’ll be saving your hair from oil and other contaminants.

It might be time to give dry shampoo a try. If you’re stuck in between washes but your hair is looking limp and greasy, dry shampoo can come to the rescue. It essentially soaks up oil from the roots of your hair, buying you some extra time and making you look extra fresh. It’s especially helpful if you need to freshen up a bit in the morning but you’re in a rush and have no time to shower.

When it comes to natural products, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil are the best for making your hair less greasy. The apple cider vinegar can help balance your scalp’s pH levels and manage oil production, while tea tree oil can help cleanse your scalp. You can use them in shampoos or as part of a rinse for the best effect.

How Often Should You Wash Oily Hair?

Woman in shower washing brunette hair.

Woman washing her hair.

Ahhh, the million-dollar question. How often should you wash your hair? Well, the typical advice is to do it every 2-3 days. But if you suffer from oily hair, you might find yourself wanting to wash it every day. As we’ve already discussed, if you have curly hair you likely won’t need to wash your hair as often. But thin, straight hair usually gets greasy more quickly and might need daily washing.

In the case of oily hair, the problem is generally not that your body is producing obscene amounts of oil, but rather that your hair is fine and therefore covers less surface area than thick hair. This makes it harder for your hair to absorb all the oil. If this situation describes you, you’re probably familiar with the look of an especially oily scalp, while the rest of your hair looks better. Don’t you wish it would all just balance out by itself?

The problem of greasy hair is a vicious cycle. When we see oily hair, we want to wash it more frequently. Yet over-washing can irritate your scalp and cause more oil production. When you eliminate oils from your head, you upset the balance. In turn, your body starts producing extra oil, so you wind up with way more than you bargained for. So, no matter what, do not wash your hair more than once a day. If you’re brave enough to wait in between washings, even if your hair is oily, you’ll be helping your scalp and your hair out. After all, we all know that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. But for many, this is easier said than done.

DIY Natural Hair Mask For Oily Hair Recipe & Guide 

While there are many potential causes of oily hair, there are also many natural ways to nourish this hair. And the best part is that you can make a natural hair mask right at home with ingredients that you already own!

Green Tea Hair Mask

A cup of green tea.

Green tea for hair mask.

For this DIY natural hair mask, all you’ll need is a cup of green tea, 2 cups of water, and 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Green tea is a great tool at our disposal since it’s a natural antioxidant. It helps to clean your hair and scalp by getting rid of dirt and bacteria which cause it to look oily. Plus, the amino acids, panthenol, and caffeine in green tea help make your hair stronger and encourage hair growth while minimizing hair loss.

In order to make the hair mask, start by using two green tea bags to make tea as you normally would. Then, in a saucepan combine the green tea and the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for 5 minutes, and then let it cool for a few minutes. While it’s cooling, you can add the lemon essential oil to the mix. Then simply apply the face mask to your hair and head, and leave it sitting for 40 minutes. Wash the hair mask out and enjoy the effects!

Apple Cider Vinegar And Honey Hair Mask

Honey in dish.

Pure honey for hair mask.

A perk of apple cider vinegar is that it has astringent properties, which helps it to remove oil from the skin. It also helps to prevent the build-up of hair products in your hair and balances your scalp’s pH levels. Honey helps preserve moisture in the hair to keep it soft and smooth. It also possesses antioxidant properties that protect the scalp from infections and irritations.

For this recipe, you will need 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey, and 4 tablespoons of water. Start by combining all the ingredients, and then simply apply the mixture to your scalp and hair. Leave the hair mask in for 10 minutes before washing it off with mild shampoo.


There are plenty of things that oil is good for – cooking, your car, aromatherapy – but when it comes to hair, no one likes having too much oil. With all sorts of potential causes for overly oily hair, it might seem like a daunting task to try to rectify the situation. Yet never fear, there are plenty of ways to naturally and easily address the problem head-on (no pun intended!).

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