Why Does Hair Get Greasy?

Is greasy hair ruining your would-be good hair days? The first step in figuring out how to deal with it is to find out why it's happening. And that's where we can help! In this article, we'll tell you why hair gets greasy and what you can do about it. Let's get right into it!

The Answer Lies in Your Sebaceous Glands

The sebaceous glands are small, sac-like structures that secrete an oily substance called sebum. Sebum lubricates and coats the skin and hair. It also protects the scalp from infection by preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi. The sebaceous glands are found in all areas of the body except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

That greasy feeling you get when you touch your scalp or hair comes from excess sebum. Some people’s scalps produce more sebum than others, and we'll get into that in the following sections.

The Link Between Hormones and Greasy Hair

Hormones are believed to affect sebum production because they influence the activity of the sebaceous glands. Androgens, which are male sex hormones, are thought to stimulate the activity of the sebaceous glands and thus increase sebum production. That’s why greasy hair is often seen as a side effect of puberty in boys. But girls going through puberty can also experience greasy hair due to increased androgen levels.

How Your Diet Affects Your Scalp's Grease Production

It may come as a surprise, but what you eat can affect your scalp’s sebum (oil) production. There are several foods that can increase your scalp's sebum production, including:

  • Fried foods

  • Sugar

  • Excess salt

  • Dairy products

This is not to say that you should avoid these foods entirely. But if you've got overly greasy hair, curtailing your consumption of these foods is a good idea.

Your Wash Day Routine Can Give You Greasy Hair

You wash your hair to eliminate dirt, debris, and oil from your hair and scalp. But if you're not careful, your wash day routine can make your hair greasier. Here are a few tips to avoid greasy hair. 

  1. Don't over-wash your hair. Washing your hair every day dries out your scalp, prompting it to produce more oil as a protective measure. As a general rule, wash your hair up to 3 times a week as needed. If cutting back on washes makes your hair even more oily, don't worry. Your scalp's sebum production will stabilize over time.

  2. Be gentle as you scrub. Rubbing your scalp too vigorously not only damages your skin but it can quickly increase sebum production, leading to a greasy mess. Instead of scratching at your scalp with your nails, gently massage your scalp with the pads of your fingers.

  3. Avoid hot water. Hot water can strip away natural oils from both your scalp and strands, leading your scalp to produce more oil in response. Use tepid water instead.

We hope that this article has given you all the information you need to understand your scalp's greasy nature. We encourage you to use the tips and tricks in this article to take control of your scalp's oiliness for better hair days!


Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of NaturallyTextured.com, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.

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