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And I don't even like tea tree oil. It smells like health food stores
August 14, 2008 7:59 PM   Subscribe

What is the most "stripping", powerfully cleansing shampoo out there? Prell isn't enough. I need something that can remove a tablespoon of oil from a head of medium-length hair.

My scalp flakes constantly in the climate that I have moved to. I know it has to be the dry climate, because when I visit my humid hometown, the flaking and itching stops.* The only really effective treatment I have found is to soak my scalp in Hollywood Beauty blended tea tree oil overnight while I sleep. (I wish I could afford to use a purer blend in the quantities I need it!)

The problem with this is that I have light, fine hair to my shoulders. I can wash my hair three times over in the morning with Prell -- which is like the Lava soap of shampoos -- and I still look like like I overslept and forgot to wash my hair at all, because it's so greasy and lanky from the oil. I need to look professional in the mornings, and I'm embarrassed when I look unwashed. (This is also why I can't try the earthy-crunchy suggestion of not washing your hair at all.) I stopped the oil treatment and switched to other tea tree-derived things, but they just don't cut it.

So what is the fiercest thing I can wash my hair with, without giving myself a rash or other unwanted side effects? Dr. Bronner's? Bar soap?

----
* I don't think there's a water issue here.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dawn dishwashing soap works for me.
posted by bjgeiger at 8:07 PM on August 14, 2008


baking soda, with cider vinegar to rinse.
posted by dorian at 8:17 PM on August 14, 2008


Neutrogena Clarifying shampoo is scary fierce.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:18 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


You could try baby powder when your hair is dry to help absorb oil.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:18 PM on August 14, 2008


You might try Nioxin. It's a hardcore dandruff shampoo, but I know some women use it for hormonally related hair loss -- the oil in the hair causes it to fall out. You'll need to go to a salon or beauty supply store to get it.
posted by sugarfish at 8:25 PM on August 14, 2008


seconding the Neutrogena recommendation. my mom uses the anti-residue shampoo (clear) every day, I think sans conditioner. her hair is always shiny and oil-free.
posted by sucre at 8:26 PM on August 14, 2008


Kiss My Face Olive Honey bar soap, Vinegar rinse. Alternative, Mastey Frehair final rinse, use in place of shampoo, fastest way to restore moisture balance, harsh detergents only keep the over production of oils going, and destroy the cuticle layer of your hair.
posted by hortense at 8:31 PM on August 14, 2008


As a last ditch effort, you could use dish soap. My mom used it to get peanut butter out of our hair as kids (you know, after gum removal).
posted by peep at 8:32 PM on August 14, 2008


Can wash your hair less often? (I'm not sure if you meant you can't never wash it or you have to wash it every day or it will look unprofessional.)
posted by Airhen at 8:32 PM on August 14, 2008


Seconding Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:35 PM on August 14, 2008


Try baby shampoo. I used to use it, but my hair is less oily than it once was.

But it is also possible you are causing problems by applying oil and shampooing so much. A mild dandruff shampoo and a swamp cooler in your bedroom could be a better solution.
posted by nckd at 8:36 PM on August 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Dawn would definitely remove the oil, but I would rinse really really well or it will probably just contribute to the itching problem. Its very likely that it will dry out your hair (use conditioner after). Also, for some people it causes a rash.

If it doesn't cause a rash for you, its almost guaranteed to be effective. Dawn is awesome.
posted by miscbuff at 8:36 PM on August 14, 2008


Putting your hair up or pulling it back in a ponytail works wonders for that hangy, heavy feeling oily hair gets. Try it!

If you don't want to pull your hair back cos your ears stick out, cut a tendril of hair to hang in front of each ear and it will look a lot better. If your forehead looks too big, just don't pull it back so tight.

I used to use Palmolive dishwashing liquid. Now I use Suave daily clarifying shampoo, which is a little less harsh.

Baking soda really helps with oily itch. Put it in a little bowl and rub it into your scalp after you dry your hair. It's not as messy as other powders.

Make sure you dry your scalp thoroughly, but not so thoroughly it starts to sweat.

Good luck, and if you get any really itchy bumps on your scalp, GO TO A DERMATOLOGIST IMMEDIATELY or you may have them forever, like me.
posted by serena15221 at 8:36 PM on August 14, 2008


From my cat showing days, may I suggest the magic Persian show grooming procedure -- Goop (the lanolin based mechanics hand soap, probably available at your local auto parts store); glop it on, work it in, rinse well. Step 2, Dawn dishwashing detergent; use liberally, rinse well. Last step (if you really, really want to) a vinegar and water rinse.

Seriously, I've not only seen this done, I've done it (on fully clawed kitties no less). As it was explained to me, the lanolin in Goop bonds with the oil and gets it out (which is why it works to get engine grease off your hands); Dawn gets any remaining Goop (and the oil it's grabbed) out, and the vinegar rinse gets any remaining soap film off (otherwise it will start to grab dust, etc.). If you have all of the materials handy, it shouldn't take longer in the morning than the usual lather-rinse-repeat.

This is (or at least was) the tried and true basis (other embellishments added after this step) of show grooming a Persian (and many other breeds too, but Persians are about 90% coat); it'll get a not terribly fastidious long haired white cat ready for two days of having every aspect of its hairdoo judged -- there's no doubt in my mind that it will take out any amount of oil that you can manage to apply to your scalp.

Just to be on the safe side, you might want to give it a run through when you don't need to be groomed for success immediately, just to be sure it doesn't have some sort of oddball color reaction with the tea tree oil (seems unlikely, but still...)

(All of the usual caveats apply -- I'm Not A Beautician, I'm Not Your Beautician, You're Not A Show Cat, etc...)
posted by nonliteral at 8:46 PM on August 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


I really think your problem is that you're washing your hair too much, which I know you don't want to hear but is important to note because it means washing your hair with something really strong won't help because your hair will just produce more oil to compensate. There has to be a compromise between "washing hair three times with super strong shampoo" and "crunchy hippie not washing hair at all."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:06 PM on August 14, 2008


Dawn dishwashing detergent, as suggested by a few people above, should get rid of the oil.

But you might try only washing your hair with conditioner when it gets flaky/dry like this. Adding oil and then using harsh detergents to get the oil out are just going to contribute to any itchy flakiness, or might even cause your scalp to step up oil production and look greasy. Try reserving your shampoo washes to only once or twice a week. In the meantime, continue washing your hair every day--but apply conditioner from the roots to the tips and scrub and rinse well. Be sure to get as much of it out as possible. Conditioner is much more nourishing for your hair. My roommate in college had gorgeous, waist-length dyed black hair that she only used conditioner in (and children's grape scented conditioner at that). It never, ever looked greasy and she had less split ends than anyone I know. YMMV of course, but it should be worth a try.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:26 PM on August 14, 2008


I've never used it, but I've been told that Jabón Zote (clothes soap) is great for greasy hair, and leaves it very nice and shiny.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:27 PM on August 14, 2008


nthing the notion that you're washing too much. Shampooing 3 times a day pretty much undoes everything you're tea tree oil treatment did, and then takes it a step further, like PhoBWanKenobi said, and causes your scalp to up its oil production.

Nioxin is GREAT for dandruff, if you want to go that route. I grew up in an insanely dry climate and could never master the shampoo less than once a day, but found that gentle shampoos with ultra rich conditioners helped. I always followed up with a deep treatment once a week. On Sundays, I used the Bumble and Bumble's clarifying formula (Sunday Shampoo, of course), to make sure that all the conditioning didn't gang up on me to create dandruff.
posted by messylissa at 9:43 PM on August 14, 2008


Plain Ivory bar soap flaked up is pretty good at removing grease and oil and is also pretty mild on skin. It's what I use when my hair is stiff from crawling under a car all day. I have to follow with a conditioner though when I usually don't when using shampoo.

nonliteral writes "Seriously, I've not only seen this done, I've done it (on fully clawed kitties no less). As it was explained to me, the lanolin in Goop bonds with the oil and gets it out (which is why it works to get engine grease off your hands); Dawn gets any remaining Goop (and the oil it's grabbed) out, and the vinegar rinse gets any remaining soap film off (otherwise it will start to grab dust, etc.). If you have all of the materials handy, it shouldn't take longer in the morning than the usual lather-rinse-repeat. "

I find hand cleaners with lanolin really hard on the skin of my hands and with just a couple applications over the course of a week it's hangnail city. So you might want to experiment a bit with this first.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 PM on August 14, 2008


Coal Tar Soap. You can use it to strip furniture. Wright's is, I believe, the traditional brand.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:59 PM on August 14, 2008


Come on, people. Her hair isn't oily because she's washing too much. Her hair is oily because she's putting oil in it to treat dry scalp. Read the damn question.

As far as I can tell, the best way to not have oily hair would be by, well, not applying oil. Have you talked to a doctor or dermatologist about other ways you can treat your scalp? You say it's the only way you've found, but you don't really talk about what other sorts of things you've tried.

Offhand, I suspect that stuff that's harsh enough to pull a tablespoon of tea tree oil out in one or two washings might be bad for your hair and scalp, so you may end up in worse shape than you are now. Surely there must be some kind of oil-free lotion you can use? Or possibly just brushing your hair more? My scalp always produces more oil when I'm brushing it regularly.

I think you may have narrowed your solution space too much, too soon. Rather than trying to make this solution work, you might want to explore for other solutions more.
posted by Malor at 11:55 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dr. Bronners and bar soap will leave this residue like you used some thick hair gel.

Try Suave, the clarifying kind, to really strip your hair. If that's actually what you want to do.
posted by salvia at 1:25 AM on August 15, 2008


I know it's been said a few times already, but DAWN. It deserves some emphasis. It's the only thing I could use when I had dreads, that would get any gunk/oil out and rinse easily. It's also about half the price of a cheap bottle of shampoo. Can't beat it.
posted by sunshinesky at 2:38 AM on August 15, 2008


Yeah, don't use Dr. Bronner's or bar soap...I also have fine hair and whenever I have tried these two, I get major gunk buildup.

Definitely try baking soda -- nothing has ever gotten my oily hair as clean. I usually mix it with baby shampoo to make a paste so it is easier to apply.
posted by puffin at 4:31 AM on August 15, 2008


The summer before college I worked at McDonalds. The only product I could find that would remove both grease *and* smell was Fels Naptha laundry soap. I'm positive that if your scalp can tolerate it, it will do the job.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:44 AM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


What about t-gel shampoo? You might be able to eliminate the tea tree oil if you switch to it, since it's often used to treat dry scalp.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:27 AM on August 15, 2008


Here is a solution that solved my dandruff problems just fine- wash with Neutrogena bar glycerin soap. Stop using the oil. Use a fairly strong conditioner to keep your hair healthy. Bam. Solved.

Dr. Bronners also works for me if I rinse it very well and use a conditioner. Sometimes I have to wash twice with it to first clean the hair, and then to wash the gunk out. But it works great if your hair can tolerate it.
posted by gjc at 6:52 AM on August 15, 2008


Come on, people. Her hair isn't oily because she's washing too much. Her hair is oily because she's putting oil in it to treat dry scalp. Read the damn question.

I think what people were getting at is that oiling, then overwashing, isn't going to help the general itchiness/dryness problem. Washing three times in one day with harsh detergents is going to mess hardcore with your scalp's PH balance and oil production.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:18 AM on August 15, 2008


Folks have already made the short term recommendation of using dishwashing soap to get the oil out of your hair today. But long term, to improve the health of your scalp so you don't get dry, itchy, & dandruffy you will need to change your hairwashing habits. About 5 years ago, I stopped using any shampoos that contain sodium laurel or laureth sulfite (these are just foaming agents but are very drying and bad for the skin). I was able to cut down to washing my hair to 2 or, maximum 3 times per week. And the hair looks fantastic, never greasy, always full for the whole time. (I could probably go a whole week without washing but I get frizzy around the 3rd or 4th day.) My hair is quite long and wavy/curly. I had awful itching & dandruff years ago and this change completely fixed it. So that's my recommendation. Ditch the harsh drug-store chemical filled shampoos and go with a more natural laurel/laureth free product. I like the Avalon Organics and Nature's Gate products: I find them in the natural foods area of the grocery store and the local health food store. I've had good luck with almost all of the natural shampoos - the most important thing is to make sure they're sodium laurel/laureth sulfite-free (read the ingredients). Good luck!
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 8:01 AM on August 15, 2008


Goop or Gojo might work. Available at hardware stores and auto parts stores, it's what mechanics use to get engine grease off of their hands. Just don't get any in your eyes.
posted by Citrus at 8:41 AM on August 15, 2008


Start with the Neutrogena.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:06 AM on August 15, 2008


How about using a shampoo that contains tea tree oil? Avalon Organics makes one called Tea Tree Mint Treatment. I use it for my own scalp issues. It's a little pricey but I've found it to be pretty soothing and therefore worth it. (I used to use coal tar shampoos but I didn't feel like smelling like a freshly tarred road anymore.)
posted by medeine at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2008


I can wash my hair three times over in the morning with Prell -- which is like the Lava soap of shampoos -- and I still look like like I overslept and forgot to wash my hair at all, because it's so greasy and lanky from the oil. I need to look professional in the mornings, and I'm embarrassed when I look unwashed.

Maybe a perm could give your hair more shape? (Yes, the perm is back.) Or a shorter haircut?

Anyway, you should talk to your hair stylist and/or a dermatologist regarding the flaking. Tea tree oil may not be the best option for you.
posted by iviken at 2:31 PM on August 15, 2008


This might be too healthy, crunchy for you but I recommend using a certain kind of clay that comes from Morocco, called rhassoul. This is saponified clay which works really well to remove built up residue on your hair and is also really good for your scalp. I don't use it every day but maybe once a week to deep clean my hair. Even though it deep cleans it leaves your hair feeling really soft.

For full disclosure, I sell the stuff on my website so obviously I am a big fan and would benefit from you buying from me, but I think it might be something to check out for your hair situation. Feel free to email me if you have more questions. I have more info about rhassoul here. You will see from the information on this site that rhassoul can be used on the skin as a face mask.
posted by kenzi23 at 11:19 PM on August 15, 2008


I find that a wash of two tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in warm water does get oil out pretty well.

I wash with baking soda two or three times a week, and condition with raw apple cider vinegar. No chemicals, and my hair is extremely healthy and clean.

Whatever you do, do cut down on how much you wash your hair, as it really IS causing your scalp to overproduce oil, which combined with the oil you put in it is causing the rapid greasiness. Perhaps a conditioner only wash - easily found on Google - would be beneficial, your hair would be clean and your scalp moisturized. Get the oil out of your hair, spend a weekend not washing it, and then use a very light clarifying conditioner with no silicones in it to wash your hair. Might help.
posted by angeline at 12:16 AM on August 16, 2008


Real (as in 100%) Tea Tree oil isn't like that at all!! The one I linked is what I use and the only reason I wash it with anything other than water is just to help get the stink out :) For an 'oil' it's really weird. Kind of like what metholated spirits would be like if it was an oil, I guess?
(Oh and if you try that particular one don't use a tablespoon of it! Try like 1ml or maybe 2mls at most...)

But definitely change oils, anything powerful enough to strip it all out is just going to put you back to square one. Give vinegar a try? I use white vinegar because I have it on hand but apparently apple cider vinegar works even better. Sometimes my scalp gets dry and itchy so I just paint it liberally onto my scalp and wash it off the next morning (because of the stink) and it's good as new just like that! It works even better than Tea Tree for me.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 5:34 AM on August 16, 2008


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