Oily Scalp: Causes and Treatments

We have a look at the most common causes for excess grease, and the best oily scalp treatment that will help purify hair without drying it out.

anti oiliness model with mask in hand

Greasy hair and oily scalp? What might be the causes behind your oily hair, and how can you treat the problem? We have a look at the most common reasons for excess grease, and the best oily scalp treatment that will help purify hair without drying it out.

What causes an oily scalp?

The scalp, like other areas on the body, naturally produces oil (or sebum); a mixture of triglycerides, wax esters, squalene and metabolites of fat-producing cells. This sebum is designed to help lubricate the skin and hair, keeping it moisturised and water-resistant.

Too much sebum can not only block our pores (a potential cause of spots), but also travels down the hair shaft and leaves our hair feeling greasy, limp and dull. Here are the six main reasons you could be suffering from oily hair, as well as the most suitable oily scalp treatments.

1/ Hormones

 It is common to experience greasy hair during times of your life when hormones are unbalanced, in particular adolescence, pregnancy and the menopause. Remind yourself that your oily scalp is temporary, and use haircare designed to soak up excess oil while your hormones are sorting themselves out.

2/ Skin conditions

 Oily hair can often be a symptom of a skin condition on the scalp. The most common of these is seborrhoeic dermatitis, sometimes called seborrhoea or seborrhoeic eczema, and is not just limited to the scalp. Symptoms include red patches with yellowish or oily scaly skin and flaking. See a dermatologist if you think your oily scalp might be due to an underlying skin condition, as medication might be your best oily scalp treatment.

3/ Skin type

 Some of us are just born with skin (including the scalp) that naturally produces higher levels of oil. It's common for those who suffer from acne, for example, to also experience oily hair. Your body just doesn't know how much sebum to produce. The solution to a naturally oily scalp is in the haircare you use. A purifying and balancing shampoo like Scalp Advanced Anti-Oiliness Dermo-Purifier Shampoo, followed by the Anti-Discomfort Intense Soother Treatment will help keep the scalp clean.

4/ Haircare

 The way you treat your hair directly can affect how greasy it looks/how quickly it gets greasy. Overwashing is one of the most common mistakes, which can strip away precious oils, which has been reported to cause the skin to go into sebum overdrive to compensate. The result: an oily scalp that quickly spreads down the lengths of the hair. Don't slip into the habit of over-washing. If your hair often looks oily by midday, bring a bottle of dry hair shampoo in your handbag. Spray over the roots, leave for a few seconds, then use (clean) fingertips to disperse the spray and soak up excess grease. You'll also find it gives you added volume!

5/ Habits

 Hands off! It's hard to realise when you're doing it, but constantly playing with your hair can spread oil, dirt and bacteria, turning your hair greasy within hours. Once you've styled your hair in the morning, try to leave it alone for as long as possible. Styling your hair into a pretty updo or braid can be a good way of keeping it out of your hands.

6/ Environment

 Our everyday environments have a more important role on our hair health than you might realise. Not to mention the wind and rain that can disrupt your carefully constructed style, often forcing us to over-style our hair and cause build-up that then weighs the hair down.  While quitting your job might not be an option, you can help purify and support your hair's health with a gentle cleanser like the Scalp Advanced Anti-Oiliness Dermo-Purifier Shampoo or 2-in-1 Deep Purifier Clay. Enriched with 3% AHA and 6% Clay so after 1 use, scalp sebum is decreased by up to 78%*.

Find your best oily scalp treatment by understanding the different causes behind it and, if ever in doubt, see an expert!


*instrumental test on shampoo + clay mask