The best treatments for both oily and dry scalps come from substances that balance oil production rather than dry them out or slick them down. Choose essential oils known for their astringent, emollient properties. Essential oils can be worked into your hair care routine in several ways. Add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner, or blend a small amount into a weekly homemade hot oil treatment featuring olive or castor oil. These traditional treatments, while popular, may not produce the same results as commercial products.
Lemongrass essential oil works especially well for people with a dry scalp and oily hair, notes herbal beauty author Jeanne Rose. The unfortunate combination often occurs when people over-shampoo in an effort to eradicate oily hair. Unfortunately, this practice often results in a dry scalp which fights back by overproducing oil. Lemongrass oil is a good balancing treatment, which “degreases” the hair while soothing the scalp. Manufacturers steam distill the essential oil from the citrus-scented tropical grass.
Add lavender essential oil to hot oil treatments or shampoos, advises beauty author Dina Falconi. The essential oil, which carries a scent almost universally pleasing, moisturizes dry scalps while cleansing and toning pores. Like lemongrass, it is considered a “balancing” product for over- or underactive oil glands. Lavender oil producers steam distill the flowering tips of the herb.
For a less concentrated effect, infuse your own garden lavender in olive oil for several weeks. The strained liquid won’t be as potent as essential oil, but it is less expensive. Alternatively, use lavender-infused olive oil in a hot oil treatment to which you’ve added a drop or two of lavender essential oil.
Rosemary possesses virtually the same moisturizing qualities as lavender, but it may represent a better choice for dark-haired people or for brunettes with graying hair. Rosemary brings out dark highlights in some hair. Add a drop or two to your hairbrush and work the brush from the scalp to the tips of your hair. Rosemary essential oil comes from the Mediterranean herb, easily grown in most home gardens.
If you can’t afford the essential oil, infuse fresh rosemary sprigs in olive oil for several weeks. Use 1 to 2 tbsp. of the strained, gently-warmed oil in your hair to sooth dry scalps. After your homemade hot oil treatment, rinse, shampoo and rinse a second time.
An effective product on mature skin as well as dry scalps, sandalwood comes from an evergreen tree native to India. It is also used as a perfume fixative and pairs especially well with rose or rose geranium. To make a moisturizing, luxurious hair treatment that smells heavenly while soothing your scalp, pair rose and sandalwood in shampoo, hair massages or hot oil treatments. The fact that sandalwood essential oil is often recommended for both eczema and oily complexions underscores its ability to clean, sooth and moisturize.