What Causes an Oily Scalp| Solutions and Preventions?

An oily scalp refers to a condition where the skin on the top of the head produces excessive sebum, the natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands. Sebum is crucial in maintaining the hair’s health and scalp by providing moisture and protection. However, when the sebaceous glands become overactive, they can produce more sebum than necessary, leading to an oily scalp. On the scalp and face, in particular, sebaceous glands are more prevalent in humans than anywhere else except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

What are the Causes that make the scalp Oily?

An oily scalp can be attributed to various factors, including genetic predisposition, hormonal changes, lifestyle choices, and environmental conditions. Here are a few common causes why your scalp could be oily:

  1. Genetics: Your skin type and the activity of your sebaceous glands are significantly influenced by genetic factors. If your family members have a history of oily skin or scalp, you might also be more prone to having an oily scalp.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormones, particularly during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, can influence sebum production. Androgens, or male hormones, can cause the sebaceous glands to generate more oil in both men and women.
  3. Overactive Sebaceous Glands: Sebum, a natural oil produced by overactive sebaceous glands, hydrates the scalp and hair. Overactive sebaceous glands can produce excessive sebum, resulting in an oily scalp.
  4. Hygiene Habits: Over washing your hair or using harsh shampoos can strip away natural oils, prompting the scalp to produce more sebum to compensate. On the other hand, inadequate cleansing can accumulate dirt, sweat, and excess oil.
  5. Humidity and Weather Conditions: Hot and humid weather can trigger the sebaceous glands to generate more oil. The excess moisture in the air can exacerbate the oiliness of the scalp.
  6. Stress: High-stress levels can trigger hormonal changes that affect sebum production. Stress can also lead to habits like touching your hair and scalp more frequently, which can transfer oil and dirt.
  7. Diet: A diet high in greasy and fried foods and dairy products can produce excessive sebum. However, the relationship between diet and oily scalp must be fully understood and can vary among individuals.
  8. Incorrect Hair Care Products: Using hair care products that are too heavy or unsuitable for your hair type can weigh down the hair and make the scalp oilier. Conditioners applied directly to the scalp can also contribute to excess oil.
  9. Overbrushing: Brushing your hair too frequently can stimulate the scalp, leading to oil distribution from the scalp to the hair strands.
  10. Medications and Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, like PCOS and hormonal imbalances, can enhance oil production. Some medications, such as corticosteroids, can also influence sebum secretion.
  11. Overuse of Styling Products: More styling products, like gels, mousses, and sprays, can build up on the scalp and hair, trapping oil and making the scalp appear greasier.
oily scalp
Bruno Thethe/Pexels

What to Look for in Haircare Products to Prevent Excess Oil

Choosing the right hair care products can play a significant role in managing excess oil on the scalp. Consider the following important aspects while choosing products to avoid having an oily scalp:

  • Shampoo Type: Look for shampoos labeled as “clarifying,” “balancing,” or “oil-control.” These formulations help regulate sebum production and remove excess oil without over-drying the scalp. Avoid shampoos with heavy moisturizing or hydrating properties, as they can exacerbate oiliness.
  • Sulphate-Free Formulas: Go for sulphate-free shampoos. Sulfates are abrasive cleaning products that can remove natural oils, causing the scalp to produce more oil.
  • pH-Balanced Products: Choose products with a pH level close to the scalp’s natural pH (around 4.5 to 5.5). pH-balanced products can help maintain a healthy scalp environment.

1. Ingredients to Look For

  • Salicylic acid: This ingredient helps exfoliate the scalp, eliminating dead skin cells and additional oil.
  • Tea tree oil: It can assist in regulating oiliness and preserving the scalp’s health because of its antibacterial characteristics.
  • Witch hazel: It can act as an astringent, helping to balance oil production.
  • Niacinamide: This form of vitamin B3 can regulate sebum production and soothe the scalp.

2. Avoid Heavy Conditioners on the Scalp

Apply conditioner primarily to the lengths and ends of your hair, avoiding the scalp area. This prevents excess product buildup on the scalp.

3. Look for Non-Comedogenic Formulas

A non-comedogenic product is one that won’t clog pores, so choose those with that label. In particular, the health of the scalp may benefit from this.

4. Frequency of Use

Use hair care products as needed but avoid over-washing your hair. Washing too frequently can strip the scalp of natural oils, triggering more oil production.

5. Dermatologist-Recommended Products

If you’re struggling with excessive oiliness, consider consulting a dermatologist. They can recommend products tailored to your specific scalp condition. Before utilizing a new product, do a patch test to guarantee you don’t have any adverse effects. You should test the product on a tiny patch of your scalp and wait 24 hours to see if it causes any irritation.

Everyone’s scalp is unique, so finding the right products that work for you might take trial and error.

Home Treatments for Scalp Oiliness

You can use several effective home treatments and remedies to manage Scalp oiliness. Here are some home treatments for scalp oiliness:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse

  • Dilute ACV with water (1 part ACV to 2 parts water).
  • After shampooing, put the mixture on your scalp, gently massage it, and thoroughly rinse.
  • ACV helps balance the scalp’s pH and remove excess oil.

2. Tea Tree Oil Scalp Treatment

  • Add some drops of this oil to your shampoo or a carrier oil (e.g., coconut oil).
  • Massage the mixture into your scalp, leave it on for a few minutes, and then rinse.
  • Tea tree oil’s antibacterial qualities can support the maintenance of a healthy scalp.

3. Clay Mask

  • Mix bentonite or kaolin clay with water to form a paste.
  • Apply the clay mask to your scalp, leave it on until it dries, and then rinse.
  • Clay can remove pollutants and extra oil from the scalp.

4. Rice Water Rinse

  • Rinse rice in water until it becomes cloudy.
  • Use rice water to rinse your scalp and hair after shampooing.
  • Rice water can help balance the scalp’s pH and control oiliness.

5. Jojoba Oil Massage

  • Apply a small amount of jojoba oil to your scalp and massage gently.
  • Leave it on for 15-30 minutes, then wash your hair.
  • Jojoba oil closely resembles natural sebum and can help regulate oil production.

6. Herbal Rinses

  • Herbal infusions of rosemary, sage, and peppermint can be used as scalp rinses to control oiliness and promote scalp health.
  • Always do a patch test for any new remedy or treatment on a small area of your skin before applying it to your entire scalp to ensure you don’t have any adverse reactions.

Tips to Prevent Oily Scalp

Preventing an oily scalp involves a combination of proper hair care practices, lifestyle adjustments, and maintaining overall scalp health. Here are some practical tips to help prevent and manage an oily scalp:

  • Use lukewarm water for washing.
  • Gently massage the scalp while washing.
  • Apply conditioner mainly to hair ends.
  • Opt for lightweight, water-based styling products.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  • Manage stress through meditation or exercise.
  • Avoid frequent touching of hair and scalp.
  • Use dry shampoo between washes sparingly.
  • Wear breathable headwear to prevent heat buildup.

Foods to Add to Diet to Control Scalp Oil

Adding certain foods into your diet routine can help promote scalp health and regulate oil production. Here are some foods you might consider adding to your diet to help control scalp oil:

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These fatty acids are present in salmon, fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds and offer anti-inflammatory characteristics that may help promote a healthy scalp.
  2. Vitamin A-Rich Foods: Foods rich in vitamin A, like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale, can support healthy sebum production and prevent excessive oiliness.
  3. Zinc-Rich Foods: Zinc helps regulate oil production and supports overall skin health. You can get zinc from pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and whole grains.
  4. Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables: Berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, and broccoli are rich in antioxidants that help fight inflammation and support scalp health.
  5. Lean Proteins: Incorporate lean proteins like poultry, tofu, and legumes. Protein is essential for maintaining hair growth and can be helpful to retain a balanced scalp environment.
  6. Whole Grains: Add oats, quinoa, and brown rice to your diet. They provide complex carbohydrates to help regulate blood sugar levels and potentially influence oil production.
  7. Probiotic-Rich Foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi contain beneficial probiotics that support gut health. A healthy gut can contribute to overall skin and scalp health.
  8. Water: Staying hydrated is essential to keep your scalp and skin healthy. Water consumption can control oil production and aid in the removal of pollutants.

Final Thoughts

An oily scalp is a condition where the sebaceous glands on the scalp produce an excess amount of sebum, the natural oil that helps moisturize and protect the scalp and hair. While sebum is essential for maintaining healthy hair, excessive production can lead to issues like greasiness, flat hair, and discomfort. Several factors contribute to an oily scalp, including genetics, hormonal changes, diet, hygiene practices, and environmental factors.

Leave a Comment