You might think that washing your hair every day would be the answer to preventing greasy roots, but over-washing actually has the reverse effect. The cleansing process strips oil from the scalp, which might sound great, but hair actually needs these natural oils to stay soft, shiny, and healthy. If the oils are stripped too often this triggers the scalp into over-producing oil, leading to hair that gets greasier even faster.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to wean yourself off over-washing. Start skipping wash days – e.g. if you wash your hair every day, try switching to every other day. You might have to go a little heavy on the dry shampoo to begin with, but it will be worth it in the long run. Each week, you’ll be able to leave a little longer between washes, and if you stick to this method, your hair should balance out within a few weeks.
I went through the process a few years ago, and within about three months, went from washing my hair every other day to washing it twice a week – unless I go heavy on the styling products then greasy hair days are no longer a thing!
That said, there are a few more tried and tested hair hacks that will set you on your way to optimal scalp health…
Step 1. Know Your Ingredients
Not all shampoos and conditioners are created equally – taking the time to read the small print will pay off. If you’re fighting to keep the grease at bay, opt for clarifying shampoos and oil-free conditioners. Clarifying shampoos are kind of like facial exfoliators, working that little bit harder to clean your scalp as well as your hair. And when it comes to conditioner, whilst oils and silicones can be great for achieving smooth, soft hair, they tend to build up really easily.
Using a clarifying shampoo every 3 washes will help to cut down on product build-up – I particularly love Briogeo’s Be Gentle Be Kind, which offers a deep cleanse without stripping colour from my balayage. Likewise, Living Proof have a great range of oil-free products so their Healthy Hair Conditioner is a regular in my shower. Top tip: Only apply conditioner to the lengths of your hair, let the natural oils take care of your roots.
Step 2. Pick The Right Products
You know how sometimes you try a new product and can just swear that your hair got greasier a day faster than it did with your old one? Well, there’s a science behind this, and it’s all to do with ingredients. When it comes to styling products, less is more. Opt for lightweight formulas that won’t cause build-up or weigh down your hair.
Granted, there’s a certain amount of trial and error required here so to get you started, meet two of my personal favourites – I’ve used these in my routine for years because they have absolutely zero impact upon greasiness. Alterna’s Caviar Thick & Full Volume Mousse, which I massage into my roots pre-blowdry, and Sebastian Potion 9, a light gel-like substance which smooths frizz and gives hair a soft buoyance. It’s the only thing I can to my hair twice a day, every day, with no negative consequences.
Step 3. Distribute Oil
Ever since I started brushing my hair before bed every night before bed, I noticed that it stays cleaner for longer. Turns out, there’s actually a method to my madness – oil builds on the scalp (giving the appearance of greasy roots), so if you brush through your hair, these oils are distributed throughout the lengths and ends instead. This prevents build-up (long- and short-term!), and also helps to nourish and condition hair, and give it a bonus shine.
You don’t need a fancy brush for this, a wide, flat paddle brush like The Wet Brush Paddle Brush will work just fine, and will do a good job of smoothing frizz and detangling knots to boot. 100 strokes before bed might be an old wives tale, but it’s one I’m buying into.
Step 4. Apply Dry Shampoo Early
Dry shampoo might be the cheat’s option for prolonging a good hair day, but it has to be said that it works. To make the most of dry shampoo, don’t wait until your hair is dirty until you use it. Instead, apply a little to your roots on a daily basis, to keep hair cleaner for longer.
My favourite is OUAI’s Dry Shampoo Foam, a lighter, fresher alternative to regular dry shampoos, which I always find to be a little too heavy and chalky for my hair. Unlike regular dry shampoos, which work by soaking up oil, this actually dissolves impurities using a specialised algae, meaning no unpleasant powdery build-up.
Step 5. Try A Scalp Treatment
You don’t need to be a dandruff sufferer to merit use of a scalp treatment. If you just can’t seem to get your oil regulation in check, they offer an even more hardcore approach to clarification – basically like pressing reset on your scalp condition. As well as sweat, oil, and product building up, flakes of dry skin, and general dirt combine to create a nasty layer that prevents natural oils from distributing down the hair shaft (vital to maintaining healthy hair). Scalp treatments are designed to be massaged in and left on hair pre-shampooing, giving the exfoliating ingredients within time to loosen build-up.
Like a deep pore cleansing face mask, Sachajuan’s Scalp Treatment is an astringent liquid which clears sweat, dandruff, and product residue to free the oil glands. The magic ingredient? Salicylic acid, which acts like an exfoliator to literally melt away build-up.