Can you recommend a shampoo for my special-snowflake hair and scalp?
October 28, 2013 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a shampoo for a scalp with excess sebum BUT also dry, frizzy, curly hair?

I have hair that varies between wavy and curly, and like many people with curly hair, mine tends to be very frizzy and dry. However, my scalp seems to have extra sebum. It never *looks* oily at the roots, but I have lots of scalp buildup and my scalp does feel mildly itchy. It doesn't have white flakes that look like skin or dandruff, but a yellowish, waxy buildup if I itch my scalp.

I've tried the no-poo curly girl method, but I ended up with lots of dandruff--same with the apple cider vinegar/baking soda method. I used diva curl products before and Miss Jessie's styling products, and I liked them but Miss Jessie's curl creme definitely left a buildup, and diva curl didn't feel like it was quite moisturizing enough for me.

Lately I've been using Too Shea! conditioner as a rinse-out and leave-in conditioner, and a leave-in moisterizing and styling treatment with avacado from Whole Foods. I also use Aveda's scalp balancing shampoo about once every 3 days--my hair seems to get too dry if I shampoo more than that. When I condition my hair, I really scrub my scalp to get it clean, but use conditioner instead of shampoo 2/3 days.

Do you have hair like mine, with this finicky scalp combo? Any recommendations for products or methods that have worked for you?

Other relevant factors: I'm 29 and healthy, take a multi-vitamin and fish oil, healthy diet but I eat a good bit of sugar, have some acne that is under treatment of a dermatologist, hair is shoulder-length, I wear my hair up a lot, I work out 4-5 times a week and sometimes wait 1-2 hours before showering, but can stop that if it is causing the issue.

Thanks for your help!
posted by shortyJBot to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen your dermatologist for a look at your scalp? You may have psoriasis or some other issue with your scalp. (what you're describing does not sound like oily hair.)

Use whatever your doc recommends for a medicated shampoo, and address your curls with products that don't touch your scalp.

I'm rather partial to the Garnier hair stuff. I use their curly cream when I feel like going curly, and I do Sleek and Shine when I'm blowing it out straight. They have a nice leave in conditioner too. Their argon oil smells good. I buy it when they have a deal at CVS in conjunction with coupons, so it's nice and cheap.

I shampoo alternate days, but until was 40, I shampooed daily. So I know all about oily hair.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:35 PM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: Sounds like seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. Both my 64-year-old mom and my 6-year-old son have it. There are Rx meds out there for it, but they've each had luck controlling their symptoms with over-the-counter Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo (recommended by my mom's dermatologist).
posted by hush at 1:44 PM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have hair and scalp similar to yours and use L'Oreal's Eversleek line, which has no slilicones or sulfates. It makes my hair soft and moisturized but cleans my scalp well. It did take a while to get used to a less intense clean but my scalp seems to have quit making so much buildup as a result. I shampoo & condition only 2-3 times a week, and don't get my hair wet on the other days.
posted by Requiax at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: Try something with piroctone olamine such as the Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care shampoo.
posted by acidic at 1:49 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

My oiliness isn't quite as bad as yours, but I do have the combo of oily scalp and dry curly frizz. I use Phytocedrat shampoo, which is Phyto's "sebum regulating" shampoo, and it works wonderfully. It's expensive -- you have to buy it at a salon. But you don't need much, and it actually does what it says on the tin.
posted by chowflap at 2:05 PM on October 28, 2013

Methods-wise, I try to very carefully get shampoo on my scalp and hair closest to the scalp only. The scalp gets a good scrubbing and rinse. Then, conditioner goes on the middle and ends of the hair only, none on or near the scalp.
posted by quince at 2:50 PM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: You could see a dermatologist if OTC methods don't take care of it, but it sounds like you have Seborrheic dermatitis, which I have had for pretty much forever.

There are a zillion different "dandruff shampoos" out there, but they all basically have one of a few different ingredients: pyrithione zinc (Head and Shoulders), salacylic acid (T-sal), coal tar (T-Gel), selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue), ketoconazole (Nizorol). Your best bet is to pick a few of those and rotate through them. You can experiment to see which ones work best for you. I personally like T-Sal the best, and I sometimes use Selsun or Nizorol.

Here's the thing nobody tells you: they're not really "shampoos." Yes, that's how they're marketed, but think of them as "wash-out topical treatments." They don't do anything for your hair. Your best bet is to still use a regular shampoo on your hair first, rinse it out, then use the dandruff shampoo just on your scalp. Of course it will get on your hair some but concentrate it on your scalp. Leave it on as long as it says, maybe even longer, then rinse out. Use conditioner after, but try to focus on your ends more than your scalp.

If that doesn't help after a few weeks, go see a dermatologist who can prescribe prescription shampoos and/or topical stuff.

Oh and although there is a lot of hype around the "no poo" method, it's not for everyone, especially those of us with oily scalps! I have to shampoo every day, that's just the way it is.
posted by radioamy at 3:59 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was diagnosed with seborrhea and controlled it for years with medicated shampoo, both OTC and prescribed. At some point, I tried a natural-foods-store-type shampoo and the problem took a weird hiatus. I stopped using conventional shampoo and the problem went away. I think I may be sensitive to something in conventional formulas (sulfates?). I do not have a problem with conventional conditioners. I wash (and condition) my hair everyday, fwiw. Good luck to you but try this easy fix.
posted by Morrigan at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: Contrary to all this no-poo stuff, I find that the less I wash my hair, the drier it feels. You know what makes my hair feel moisturized? WATER. Anyway:

I use a Neutrogena scalp buildup shampoo on days when I feel particularly itchy and/or when I get a lot of gunk under my fingernails. Otherwise I use a rotation of Giovanni shampoos because they don't contain sulfates which are bad for your scalp, especially if it's itchy.

And then I condition the shit out of my hair. I load up 2 or 3 different conditioners at a time, plus a leave-in:
• This Aubrey Organics conditioner makes my hair feel sooooooo soft and slinky. I put this in my hair and then comb through it. Mmmm.
• Sometimes I like to use a "mask," which basically means it's super thick and goopy and comes in a jar. The Body Shop makes an okay one. I use one made by Phytospecific (for black people). You just have to experiment.
• I use this Phyto leave-in conditioner like it's my last day on earth. I can feel it soak into my hair. Sometimes I imagine eating it.

Try to avoid silicones. They seal moisture out of your hair, which is great for an emergency when you don't want frizz but not so great for long-term hair moisture.

Too much protein can also make your hair feel brittle and straw-like.

You can wash your hair, and if your scalp is like mine, you really have to. But as long as you moisturize it, too, it will be fine.
posted by thebazilist at 6:00 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My scalp is very oily, but my color-treated hair is super fine, quite dry, and frizzy. I really like Kevin Murphy Angel Wash and Rinse, which are made to moisutring for fine hair. They're silicone-free (a must for my scalp) and sulfate-free (meaning I usually have to lather twice to get my scalp as clean as I'd like). It's the best combo of actually getting my hair clean without making it drier I've come across yet. Wish it wasn't so exorbitantly expensive, but I've tried dozens and dozens of shampoos, and never liked one this much.
posted by mostlymartha at 8:33 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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