What Causes Oily Hair?

Dry hair and scalp products take prominence in beauty advertising, but this doesn't mean oily hair is less of a problem. Excess oil in the hair can stem from issues in the scalp or from beauty habits. Minor issues may be corrected at home with changes in your hair care routine.

Proper care can alleviate oily hair. (Image: paultarasenko/iStock/Getty Images)

Sebaceous Glands Control Shine

Daily shampoos are the best way to control excess grease. (Image: Karin Lau/iStock/Getty Images)

Every pore on your skin has a sebaceous gland, including your scalp. Better known as oil glands, these are responsible for maintaining proper hydration levels by producing sebum (oil). When it comes to your hair, sebum is responsible for giving your strands a healthy shine. However, some sebaceous glands produce excess oil, making your hair greasy. If you have oily skin, then you're more likely to have oily hair. Daily shampoos are the best way to control excess grease from the overproduction of oil.

How Hair Type Dictates Oiliness

Curly hair can appear dry on the end but be greasy on the scalp. (Image: Patricia Malina/iStock/Getty Images)

Your hair type is another factor in controlling excess grease and oil from the sebaceous glands of the scalp. Thick, curly hair may appear dry on the ends but greasy at the scalp. When the oil glands produce too much sebum, your curls may prevent even distribution. For this reason, you may shampoo less but end up with a greasy scalp and dull ends. Spray dry shampoo to your roots in between washes to control excess oil at the scalp without stripping it away from the rest of your hair.

Hormones Increase Oil Production

Pregnancy can cause oily hair in adults. (Image: luamduan/iStock/Getty Images)

Increased hormones during puberty are often to blame for excess oil in the hair. Considering this fact, dealing with oily hair during adulthood may be confusing. However, other types of hormone fluctuations can cause oily hair as an adult. Birth control pills are a leading cause in women, as well as pregnancy. Hormonal issues in both men and women can lead to excess sebum production in the scalp.

Oily Hair Routines

Scrubbing too hard can increase oil production. (Image: Valua Vitaly/Hemera/Getty Images)

Certain factors can cause oily hair, but your personal care routine may also be to blame. Excess scrubbing during shampooing can irritate the scalp, causing more oil, as well as too many washes. Your hair should never be washed more than once a day. If you have an oily scalp, don't brush your hair too much, as this will distribute the grease throughout your strands. You may also consider making over your hair care cabinet with styling products that don't contain lotions and creams.

When Beauty Routines Fail

Consult your physician if you have severe dandruff despite shampooing. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

If regular shampooing doesn't control oily hair, it may be time to consider other causes. This is especially the case if excess oil is accompanied by dandruff flakes. Seborrheic dermatitis can cause oily hair because of high sebum production. This condition is characterized by yellow, oily patches on the scalp. The oil quickly makes its way from the scalp to your strands. Psoriasis, caused by excess skin cell turnover, may also cause oily hair if your sebaceous glands overproduce sebum. Unlike seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis is red and silvery in appearance. Both conditions may appear as annoying dandruff at first, but is persistent despite shampooing. See your doctor if oily hair is accompanied by any of these signs.

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