10 Reasons Your Hair Is So Greasy All the Time—And What to Do About It

Tip number one: Use blotting papers.

Have you ever washed your hair only to find it was still greasy after drying it? Or do you get perpetually sticky and itchy hair a day after washing it? If your hair feels greasy all the time, it can feel frustrating and like a lost cause—but it’s not.

If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of greasy hair for good, the first step is to identify what’s causing an oily scalp. There are plenty of explanations for why your hair never quite seems at its healthiest, so we spoke to three haircare experts to find out exactly why you have permanently greasy hair and the best tips for tackling the root problem.

1. Your hair has a natural tendency to get greasy.

Genetics play a major role in causing greasy hair. “Some people can have a natural overproduction of sebum,” explains Rachel Doughty, a hairstylist at Violet Says. And, if you have fine, straight hair, it’s more likely to get greasier faster than curly hair as sebum can travel down the hair without the curves of a curl, says Ondine Cowley, director at Nicky Clarke in London.

What to do:

There are plenty of ways to manage your naturally greasy hair. “You can combat this by using a lemon-based shampoo and using dry shampoo in between washes,” Doughty says. “If you find your hair gets oily during the day, you can carry cosmetic blotting papers with you to mattify the hairline as needed.”


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2. You’re not rinsing your shampoo properly.

One of the biggest mistakes Cowley sees people make is not fully rinsing their shampoo out, which can lead to heavy and sticky residue, plus dandruff. “A proper shampoo should take eight to 10 minutes to do,” she says.

What to do:

“You want to shampoo your hair like a foam party—it’s all about getting your fingertips and really scrubbing every inch of your head,” says Cowley. “You’ve got to rinse from the top of your roots down to the ends.”

3. You’re using the wrong shampoo and conditioner.

If you have a tendency toward greasy hair, using a heavily moisturizing shampoo is only going to make things worse. Like skincare, you need to use the right product for your scalp and hair, otherwise, it can cause your skin to act up and over-produce sebum.

What to do:

You’ve probably guessed that the solution here is to switch your shampoo. Instead of buying a random shampoo and conditioner, you can personalize your own using a customizable service, such as the one offered by Function of Beauty. Plus, switching your shampoo temporarily may also work to prevent excess greasiness. “If you find your hair is suddenly greasy, switch it to another range, and then back to the one you like maybe a week or two weeks later,” Cowley says.

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4. You wash your hair too often.

You may think that the solution to greasy hair is to wash it more, but what happens when you do that is your scalp’s sebum production gets deregulated and leads to more greasiness. “Not washing your hair often enough results in a buildup of sebum and sweat,” Doughty says. “However, our hair needs a little sebum to prevent drying out and breakage.”

What to do:

Don’t give in to the temptation to wash your hair every time it starts to look oily. “The only way out is to space out the shampoo,” Stephane Ferreira, operations manager at Live True London. “Try every other day at first, then increase gently. At first, the roots will look overly oily, but in time the scalp will start regulating itself and balance will be restored.” If the temptation is too big, use a dry shampoo instead.

5. You use too many hair products.

If you’re a little on the spray happy side, you could create a greasy buildup on your scalp. “If you overuse products, your hair will feel sticky and dull,” Ferreira says. “The buildup will clog the hair from roots to tips, making it harder to manage and style.”

What to do:

To remove product buildup, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo and conditioner. They’re formulated to remove buildup, whether it be from a styling product, chlorine from the pool, or sweat from a workout—they’re like a refresh button for your scalp.

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6. You exercise a lot.

Exercising has so many benefits, but one downside of doing lots of sweaty workouts is what it can do to your hair. “Leaving sweat on your scalp after exercise can block up pores, causing excess sebum production and scalp acne,” Doughty says.

What to do:

“Wash your hair directly or a few hours after a gym session,” Ferreira advises. Additionally, you can spritz on an oil-absorbing dry shampoo before your workout to prevent sweat from weighing down your hair in the first place.

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7. You don’t change your pillowcase often enough.

Yes, your pillowcase can be to blame for moving unwanted oils around your hair and skin. “Sleeping on the same pillowcase every night gathers dead skin cells, excess sebum, sweat, and hair and skincare products,” Doughty says. Additionally, what your pillowcase is made of can also factor in. “Cotton pillowcases are soft to sleep on,” Ferreira says. “However, the cotton texture absorbs a lot of oil.”

What to do:

Doughty recommends changing your bedding every week but says you can change your pillowcase more often if your hair is particularly greasy. Additionally, both Doughty and Cowley also swear by silk (or satin) pillowcases to avoid excess greasiness, lessen static, and keep your hairstyle in place for longer.

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8. You have oily skin.

Remember, the scalp is skin, too. “Oily skin can affect your hairline, and for people that touch their face and hair a lot, the sebum can be spread from the skin to the hair,” Ferreira says. If you have an oily skin type, you may be more prone to having greasy hair.

What to do:

Make sure to use clarifying shampoos and conditioners at least once a week to consistently remove oil buildup from your scalp.

9. You live somewhere hot or humid.

Our environment has a huge impact on us—and our hair. “Hot or humid climates can encourage the creation of sebum and sweat,” Doughty explains. “Plus, many anti-frizz products can create excess moisture, which makes the hair look greasy.”

What to do:

You can still use hair products to help you manage your hair; just make sure it’s the right one. “Using anti-humidity hair products, such as Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield, will prevent frizz without leaving it looking heavy and oily,” Doughty says. “If you’d rather not use products, you can always invest in a dehumidifier in your home.”

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10. You constantly touch your hair.

When you’re constantly playing with your hair, the oil from your fingers transfers to your hair, and the same goes for brushing. Like touching your hair with your fingers, “brushing too much overstimulates and produces too much sebum,” Doughty adds.

What to do:

Try to resist the urge to touch your hair. If it’s a nervous tick, you could try playing with a stress ball or distracting your fingers with a fidget spinner. Doughty adds that sleeping with your hair in a loose braid can avoid tangling and save you feeling the urge to brush too much—you should only be brushing once or twice a day.