I’ve got so much oil on my scalp, America wants to invade it.
Greasy hair is something that a lot of people have to live with, and experts still haven’t found a permanent cure for it. I personally believe that they have, but are purposely withholding it from the public so that us greasy folk have no other option but to keep buying shampoos in order to keep pumping profit into big corporations.
But then again, I’ve got a wild and fruitful imagination, so I could be wrong. Be that as it may, there are plenty of lotions and potions out there which keep our problem at bay for a day or two. But that’s our reality, I’m afraid. More often than not, in order for those with greasy hair to look presentable, we have to wash it almost everyday. It’s a horrendous curse, one which forbids us from retaining a hairdresser’s styling for more than 24 hours, and one which makes us feel like we’ve dumped a tub of lard onto our heads, despite our very respectable sense of hygiene. Not all of us can pull off the wet look (damn you, Megan Fox), so we’ve no choice but to wake up at an ungodly hour of the day just to wash our manes.
Also, lads, never cancel on a woman with oily roots just after she’s washed it. We’ll deep fry you in our own sebum; let that be a forewarning to you all.
Now, to business. While you cannot eliminate the condition itself, there are several methods and ingredients that can combat it. So, here are a few tips:
The root of the problem
First off, this mysterious substance called sebum is produced by sebaceous glands, and the largest of these can be found on the scalp and the face. The body naturally secretes sebum to moisten skin, which also acts as a layer of protection against infections. It actually solidifies at room temperature, but because it festers on the human body, particularly the scalp, it melts through our body’s heat. Sebum can only be released from the gland through a connection with hair follicles, hence the oily concentration on scalps. However, genetic predispositions or hormonal changes, especially during puberty, can lead to seborrhoea – an overproduction of sebum, which leads to greasy hair.
Aside from having a regular greasy scalp, there are those who suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, which is a combination of itchy dandruff patches that produce oil. Unless taken care of, the person may experience intense itchiness, and if scratched vigorously, the skin on the flaky patches may break and cause bleeding. It’s therefore very important to consult a trichologist to keep the disease under observation, especially if it’s causing you discomfort or severe side effects such as hair loss. Luckily, it can be very easily controlled if soothed with the right medication and if the scalp is kept clean.
Salicylic acid is another priceless gift from the bark of the willow tree, other than aspirin. It’s mainly used in shampoos and topical treatments designed for greasy scalps and seborrheic dermatitis, with its highest allowance of administration being at 3%. Look for shampoos and hair masks that contain this ingredient, as this is the official indicator that the shampoo will specifically cleanse you of that oily layer. However, be sure not to overuse it, as it may strip your hair of its natural oils. Counteract the wash with a nourishing but light conditioner on your ends.
Unfortunately, we can be our own worst enemies when dealing with greasy hair. Sometimes, without realising it, washing our manes everyday stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil, as they’d be working to counteract the sudden dryness. Therefore, some of you may want to try washing it every alternate day, or, if you can take it, once every few days. This way, the scalp will start to replenish itself on its own steam. In between washes, applying hairspray can alleviate excess oil, as the alcohol content in this absorbs it.
It will take a bit of experimentation until you find the right one, but dry shampoo works very well when combined with a hairspray on your ‘dirty’ days. You may either directly spray it into your sectioned hair, or you can apply it to your brush and gently comb through.
If you want to go easy on the soaps, there are several ingredients which can help break down sebum or be used as a scalp mask. Course sea salt quenches the scalp and gives a rejuvenated buoyancy, while lavender oil and jojoba oil are excellent soothers that heal funguses which are usually the main causes of seborrhoea. Mixing these two together (a few teaspoons) and massaging them into your crown will help soothe irritated scalps.
To the kitchen!
Here are some unlikely ingredients that can be found in your pantry. Washing your hair with diluted apple cider vinegar results in shiny hair and a breakdown of sebum without having to use sodium laurel sulphate. This is because the acetic acid in this product balances out the pH level on your scalp, thus cleansing impurities. Lemon and lime juices are also great detoxes. Create a mixture of either of the two with water and soak your scalp with it for a few minutes. Be sure not to go out into the sun straight after as it could lighten your hair colour! Rinse afterwards with or without shampoo.