Oily scalp? dry hair? That is one tricky combination to deal with. Most of us with dry hair have a specific regimen which comes down to washing less and conditioning more. But what happens when your scalp is making your hair look disgustingly greasy at the roots? Should you wash more often? This is what I call the oily scalp dry hair dilemma. Luckily there are a few things that you can do.
Tips on dealing with the oily scalp dry hair problem
1. Choosing the right cleansing product
Simply put you need a product that cleans well but doesn’t leave your hair so squeaky-clean that it feels stripped. For people with dry hair, using a co-wash product might work well, but most likely, co-washing alone (which stands for conditioner washing) is not enough to properly clean the scalp of the excess sebum (oily secretions from skin). If anything, Co-washing tends to deposit more conditioning ingredients.
Ideally, you might opt for a sulfate free shampoo to alternate with. Some shampoos are especially formulated for oily scalp because they contain astringent oils (contract the pores of the skin to release less sebum). One example is the Degrease shampoo for oily, itchy hair by maple holistics. This shampoo is labeled organic, and is rich in oils such as french cypress, rosemary etc. and has been well rated for its performance. [Read here for essential oils that help]
2. Pre-conditioning hair before cleansing scalp
In one of my previous articles, we talked about the concept of reverse shampooing. This process can be applied to the oily scalp dry hair situation as well. If you suffer from extremely dry hair, frequent shampooing, even with a rich sulfate free shampoo, can damage the hair. Reverse shampooing consists of conditioning the hair before shampooing, but you could also use oils such as coconut oils on the hair itself to protect it from the ‘stripping’ effects of shampoo.
This is particularly useful, if you need to use medicated products such as Nizoral antidandruff shampoo, which has sulfates in it, but is yet very effective against flaking etc. Note that often times, oily scalp will result in itchiness and dandruff among other things.
3. Conditioning only where needed
After cleaning the scalp and hair, conditioning is the next step. Apply conditioners or oils several inches away from the scalp. In the case of the oily scalp dry hair situation, too much products can only amplify the greasiness around the scalp, increasing the urge to shampoo/cleanse more frequently. In any case, the area near the roots does not need as much conditioning. The same argument applies to any styling product. Try to keep it to a minimum near the roots.
4. Use clean combs and brushes
If you’ve taken so many precautions to avoid products near your roots, don’t forget to clean your combs and brushes after you style. You do not want to transfer oils or products unnecessarily to your roots/scalp.
5. Use a dry shampoo in between
Dry shampoo can prolong the days that you do not need to wash your hair, and it can suck the oil from the scalp/ roots for a day (at most 2). Truth be told, beyond a certain level of oiliness, dry shampoo will stick to sebum making the hair look even more dirty. But if you use it at the first sign of oily hair (at the scalp), it should help prolong your shampoo interval.
6. Don’t over stimulate the roots
Touching the hair constantly or combing it constantly can stimulate the scalp to product more sebum. Additionally oils from our hands also transfers to the hair. With more sebum, you will feel the need to cleanse more often and thus cause more hair dryness.
7. Don’t flat iron stick-straight
Flat ironing is a must for many of us. It’s simply part of a routine. However, wearing the hair curly can diminish the appearance of greasy hair because the oils do not spread down the hair that easily though the curls and tangles. In fact, when the hair is straight, the oils can easily progress down the fibers causing the hair fibers to stick to each other in the process. Additionally flat irons tend to melt the wax and lipids present on hair, making hair even glossier and smoother, and adding to the greasiness near the roots. Straightening the hair with a blow drier could help keep some volume thereby masking the greasy look.