greasy hair
January 10, 2014 10:56 AM   Subscribe

I have become annoyed recently in that I persistently find my hair greasy. I shower and shampoo about once a day. I have tried the counter-intuitive "shower less" route but that doesn't solve the problem, but makes it worse. I often shower at night and the next morning I go to work and find my hair greasy a few hours later. It's a lot better when I shower in the morning and blow dry it, but I don't want to do that forever. For reference, my hair is highlighted blonde (and growing out the color) and I use Aveeno's shampoo and conditioner. I wash my sheets regularly. My hair is wavy and not super fine. I am white. Not sure if anything else would be relevant about my habits and/or routine...happy to answer questions or take recommendations.
posted by pando11 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Keep a thing of dry shampoo at work. Seriously. Just spritz your hair up at lunch or whatever.

This is clearly not a hygiene issue since you shower daily, just one of appearance/texture, so there's no need to feel like your hair is gross and using dry shampoo would just cover up 'the problem.' It's just like using a blotting paper on your nose or something.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:00 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I occasionally use Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo. That stuff is like a commercial degreaser! Have you tried it?

And yes, obvious suggestion, but don't touch your hair at all during the day. That could be making it greasy.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:02 AM on January 10, 2014

Do you put conditioner on your roots? If so, try conditioning only your ends.
posted by telegraph at 11:03 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

What do you mean, "showerless" route? Did you mean the "no 'poo" method? Did you wash it hard (meaning scrub) your hair with one of the recommended conditioners, or even just with water? Or did you just kind of rinse your hair in the shower?
posted by barnone at 11:03 AM on January 10, 2014

Shampoo less. You are stripping out your hair's natural oils, which causes your scalp to overproduce grease. Alternate days where you shampoo and condition with days that you only condition, until your hair gets used to the balance of oil and adjusts. After awhile, you should be able to only wet your hair every third day or so without looking like a grease bomb. You'll have a few days when your hair feels greasy to you but looks fine to other people.

Some people don't use shampoo at all, but I've never been able to get my hair to strike the right balance without shampoo. But you definitely don't need to be shampooing daily.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:04 AM on January 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

In the last six months I have transitioned from shampooing every day to washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar twice a week. The transition was pretty awful; it took about a month but my hair now is substantially less oily than it used to be. By the third or fourth day I'll use some dry shampoo.

Oh, and about dry shampoos? I tried a bunch of commercially prepared ones and they all sucked. I swear by the simplest DIY formula on earth. Use a powder brush to apply it.
posted by workerant at 11:04 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Have you had any luck with other shampoo/conditioner combos? You might benefit from some kind of "clarifying" or whatever else they call a once a week stronger shampoo. Also do you have dandruff? It can be hard to see with lighter hair and skin sometimes. For some reason when I am dandruffy it seems to present with oilier hair, which seems odd but who even knows anymore.

I guarantee that you will get at least a dozen responses telling you not to wash your hair so often, despite the fact that you have stated you already tried that. As someone who understands this pain completely and 100%, I still want to let you know that if you can stick it out for like 2 weeks you will know for sure if it works for you or not. Some people have great success with it, others, like me, do not. But it is satisfying to try it and see, if only to say afterwards "I tried that for two weeks and it was a gross disaster" the next time someone insists that you try.

obviously disregard if you have, in fact, stuck with it for like 2 weeks already and realized the horror of sticky greasyheaded sadness
posted by elizardbits at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

it might be the growing-out-blonde-highlights that is giving it that appearance, both in that the mixture of blonde and darker hair strands can look a bit grubby even when perfectly clean, and in that bleaching strips and thins out the hair a bit making it flatten out. - would you be willing to dye it back to it's natural colour rather than waiting for the blonde to grow out?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might want to try rinsing with club soda and then water.
posted by jgirl at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2014

I never wash my hair with shampoo except when I've just had it cut. Less greasy then previously.
posted by beerbajay at 11:12 AM on January 10, 2014

Do you have hard water? I have that problem with hard water.
posted by wondermouse at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2014

What's worked for me has been using shampoo every couple of days, but when I shower on non-shampooing days I have to make sure that my hair doesn't get wet. Wet, non-shampooed hair is guaranteed greaseball for me.
posted by brilliantine at 11:21 AM on January 10, 2014

Seconding the baking soda and vinegar suggestion, although I do it every day. For years, after I stopped bleaching my hair blonde, my hair was instantly so disgusting-looking that I simply could not wear it down - it was like it never really got clean. I bought 10,000 different kinds of shampoos and products and felt like I was losing my mind. Not washing my hair as often wasn't really an option, because after two days I was so greasy and unprofessional looking that I couldn't leave the house. Baking soda and vinegar is the only thing that has helped.

What makes a difference is really scrubbing my hair - I use a plastic brush to comb the baking soda mixture through the strands, from top to bottom, and then rub my hair between my palms, comb through it with my fingers, and massage my scalp. On days when it seems particularly bad, I pour the baking soda and water mixture onto dry hair, so I can be sure it's coating every strand. My hair still gets dirty relatively fast, but it is healthier and shinier than it's ever been.

Also, this worked right away for me - I could tell my hair was different after the first time I blow-dried it. So there was no need to suffer through weeks of misery first.

Good luck!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 11:22 AM on January 10, 2014

My hair is like this and I've just decided to make my peace with it. Sorry.

I find that brushing is a quick fix, if you have after work plans and find your hair looking a bit lank at the end of the day.

Blow drying makes everything better, or at least gives me an extra few hours.

Dry shampoo, corn starch, or baby powder are also quick fixes, though I personally don't find that they work for everyday use. When I tried a regime of daily dry shampoo I quickly got gross sort of doughy dandruffy buildup after the oil in my scalp combined with the powdery shampoo. It will also make your hair look very dull, which is sort of an even trade for having your hair look sort of oily.

Baking soda and vinegar not only did not work for me, I found that it was actively bad to do because baking soda and vinegar don't spread easily through hair and thus I would actually miss spots when I "washed" my hair this way. I'd rather have hair that is 100% clean but starts to look oily after 12-18 hours than hair that is only 32% clean as a rule and mostly just looks oily all the time.
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

After years of suffering from greasy scalp and lamenting that the "no shampoo" method did not seem to work for me, here is what I have discovered:

-I must get my hair wet every day and scrub the oil/product/crap out of it in order for it to look and feel clean
-I must use high quality products - shampoos that do not over-dry my scalp and cause it to overproduce oil, and conditioners that don't leave a heavy sticky greasy mess

I have finally landed on something that works for me: instead of shampoo, I "wash" my hair with conditioner. So I get in the shower, wet my hair, scrub the scalp area a bit with my hands to loosen things up, then I apply a small glob of conditioner to the roots only. Flip my head upside down and scrub scrub scrub for a solid minute all over the scalp and roots until my hair feels clean. Then I rinse and apply the same conditioner all over my hair and let it sit for a minute as actual conditioner.

The conditioner I've found that works best for me is the Pureology stuff in the red bottle. It's just oil and fragrance and some emollients to give it the creamy texture. No sulfates or silicones or anything else that will gunk up or dry out my hair. Just enough hydration to smooth out my length without making the roots oily. This exact product may not work for you, but find something like it. Something high quality and absent of unnecessary ingredients.

Every few weeks I will use a salon-quality sulfate free shampoo (the shampoo from the same Pureology line) to do a deep clean. But if I do it more than that, my scalp goes back to overproducing oil and my hair gets greasy by midday.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

I see you only mention one type of shampoo. Have you tried others, or do you switch sometimes? I'm also a white girl with wavy, not-superfine, grease-prone hair (also frizz prone), and I find that the difference between Shampoo A and Shampoo B is HUGE. If I'm using a shampoo that works well for me, my hair will still look good the second day after washing. But if the shampoo is not right for me, it'll be greasy by the end of the first day. So if you haven't yet, I'd suggest shopping around for a different shampoo. (Not necessarily a higher quality one, just one that works better for your hair.)

I also notice that over time, the shampoo that used to work becomes the shampoo that doesn't work anymore. I don't think it's buildup, because switching shampoos for a while and going back to the first one doesn't always fix the problem. My best guess is that small changes in shampoo formula lead to it not working for me any more... so if Aveeno used to be good for you, maybe you should still try switching to something else for a while, and see if that helps.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:38 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aveeno shampoo & conditioner is the one and only brand that has ever made my hair feel greasy and disgusting. I am a thrifty sort of person and it broke my heart a little to waste the money but I threw it away after only about five days. Definitely switch to something else. Even Suave Professionals is better for my hair than that Aveeno crap.
posted by something something at 11:38 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I get greasy very easy, but 4 things really help me:
- I only shampoo my hair 1-2 a week.
- I *love* dry shampoo, and tend to use it a bit before I know my hair is getting greasy. It extends the greasy free stage a bit longer. Finding a dry shampoo that worked for me was bit tough. Batiste is a good, reasonably priced option.
- I use less shampoo (only a small amount, like a nickel sized amount), and prefer alternatives to SLSs. If it doesn't sud up, I still try to work it through, and then try to use a tiny bit more. If I use harsher stuff, my hair feels drier while still getting greasy.
- Braiding my hair, and finding updos that deal well with greasier hair have also help. My hair isn't meant to be worn down all the time.
posted by troytroy at 11:45 AM on January 10, 2014

A lot of people are going to tell you to shampoo your hair less often. As a fellow person with greasy hair, I can tell you that some of us just do NOT see an improvement with this method. I can get by with washing my hair every other day, but definitely not less often that that... and believe me, I've tried. When I'm running on a daily basis, then I need to wash my hair on a daily basis to avoid the greasiness.

One thing that helps me is using Neutrogena's anti-residue shampoo once a week. Also, I choose a daily shampoo that tends to be more clarifying than moisturizing. I find that my hair works best with tea tree oil shampoo in the summertime. And, as others have said above, only apply conditioner to the roots.
posted by barnoley at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

My hair is like that, too. Prell shampoo is what you want.
posted by Houstonian at 12:23 PM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Keep your house and office air conditioned and move to a cool dry climate.
posted by serena15221 at 12:47 PM on January 10, 2014

Do not shampoo with anything that is moisturizing or volumizing.

Try Garnier Fructis. That stuff is so potent, I could use it to degrease my car.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:53 PM on January 10, 2014

When I'm running on a daily basis, then I need to wash my hair on a daily basis to avoid the greasiness.

In my experience, any time you sweat heavily you need to at least wet and rinse your hair after, if not wash it. But if OP isn't sweating heavily (and if she sleeps hot, that might be part of the reason her hair is greasy when washing the night before), you should definitely be able to stretch longer between shampooing. Again, this isn't necessarily just a matter of not showering--the rest of you, including your face, might be getting sweaty in the interim, which will exacerbate any greasy feelings--but often a matter of rinsing with water or conditioner, to help distribute the grease to the ends of your hair. Barring nothing else, on days when you don't shampoo you should at least brush it, in order to redistribute the oils from the scalp to your ends.

And again, keep in mind that there will be an adjustment period. The first day you skip, you'll definitely feel like a grease bomb--because your body produces sufficient oil to replace whatever is washed away by shampoo, and will continue to do so for awhile after. It gets better over time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:57 PM on January 10, 2014

This happened to me last year. I've always had greasy-ish hair, but last fall things got out of control. I tried a number of the approaches listed above. Someone at some point mentioned that my scalp was the problem, not my hair. My scalp was so dry it was trying to keep up by producing oils, but everything I used made the problem worse because it was drying out my scalp even more. Thus the cycle continued.

I switched to the Body Shop's Ginger Shampoo for scalp and it changed everything within a few weeks. I can now go more than a day without washing my hair -- that's a godsend.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:10 PM on January 10, 2014

BIG shampoo by Lush has been amazing for me. It's different in that it looks more like a sea salt scrub in a tub than shampoo, but that shit WORKS. It has chunks of sea salt in it, and I find that this super exfoliates my scalp without leaving it feeling dry or tight. Do be sure to condition your ends as this shampoo will leave you a bit too tangly otherwise. It has the bonus effect of giving me lots of volume (I am also a fine/wavy haired gal) and I also get a lot of shine and bounce. I can easily go 2-3 days now without shampooing, and my hair still looks good enough to wear down till the end.

I also recently switched to satin/silk pillow cases and that has helped keep me cooler during the night. Since they are much more slippery than cotton, I also wake with less tangles/bed head/pillow wrinkle face.

I would also recommed having your hair dyed close to your natural color. I agree with the other commenter that a stark line of roots/bleach blonde can make hair appear greasier than it actually is. Perhaps an ombre look would be a good compromise if youre not yet ready to give up the blonde.

Finally, a salon quality dry shampoo (I use Tigi's Rockaholic Dirty Secret dry shampoo) is a godsend for mid-day touch ups. Just remember to shake the can A LOT, spray from at least 6" away while lifting sections of hair up off of your scalp, and finger comb after to evenly distribute the powder. Even better than that, if you spray the dry shampoo (or any other aerosol hair product for that matter) into the stream of hot air as you blow dry, this will help to distribute it even more evenly. This is my favorite styling trick and I fear im not explaining it well but couldnt find a video example. I have a photo of this technique somewhere. If I can find it I'll pop back in with a link.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 3:41 PM on January 10, 2014

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