As a "hair observant" I've been watching people with different hair types to analyze how it looks, how shiny it is under the sun, how it moves with the wind, how fast it seems to grow, how much they touch it... I guess you could say over the years I've become a "hair nazi".
Through the years, I often felt jealous over my husband's hair, as it just does not seem to ever get greasy. What gives?! I have to wash my hair every 3-4 days or it looks terrible – it gets lank, flat on one side and bumpy on the other while it loses waves and pretty-ness, and my bangs get greasy. Why is it that our hair seems to get greasy, while men's hair doesn't seem to do that? Have you found the same thing?
Generally speaking, women obsess much more than men over their hair (yeah come on, you know this is true...) We colour it more often, style it almost daily, we are constantly touching it - hair is a 'thing' for us. Not all of us, of course, but MANY of us.
And yes, it gets greasy.
But you know what? Men's hair actually gets greasier more often than women's! Men's scalps produce almost 60% more sebum than women! (Sebum = natural scalp oil) So why is it that our hair seems to be greasier than men's?
The answers are in what we do to our hair. Let's examine, shall we?
It's in the hormones.
During some 'times of the month' your hair can get greasier. Not necessarily when you're on your period, but about a week before – or when your body is PMS-ing. This is also the time when some women can experience acne breakouts. The sebaceous glands go into overdrive, producing more sebum (that goopy oil we think of as 'grease') also experienced by by girls through puberty and pregnant ladies. These funky hormones also get us when we're stressed, worried, or anxious. It's actually one of the body's ways of protecting our skin, but it's not so pleasant, is it?
What can I do about it? Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about this one since you don't want to load up on crappy hormones (don't do it) but let things pass or sleep more, eat better, etc etc.
Ahh yes, stress...
Speaking of stress, did you know that stress and anxiety can also cause greasy hair? Just like it can cause acne breakouts. Those same hormones that are making you feel sensitive, sometimes more tired, hungrier or moody, are causing your body to increase oil production on the skin – including your scalp.
What can I do about it? Well, figure out why you're stressed, what's causing your stress and do something about it! Do you hate your job? Is your significant other driving you nuts? Need a vacation? Really, stress is the number ONE cause for people going to hospital (did you know that? It's SO TRUE): Stress will cause heart-attacks, anxiety, depression, even the culprit for car accidents, and reasons why your body cannot fight illness. Get rid of the fkn thing, seriously, I cannot stress this enough (haha! pun!), and now it's making your hair greasy to top it off!! What can you do? Take a meditation course, a mini vacation, allow yourself to sleep more and do less. There's lots you can do.
The power of touch!
The more you touch it, the greasier it will get! While touching your hair can actually be good for it, since you're at the same time pulling the sebum down to the ends of your hair, moisturizing it with its own deliciousness, it also stimulates more sebum – especially if you scratch or rub your scalp, where the sebaceous glands live. The more your feel, twirl, pull, brush, the faster your hair will get oily. It's not a bad thing necessarily, but the fact that our fingers are the dirtiest part of our body, isn't good for hair since we're putting everything we have touched directly on our hair. This collection of dust, germs, dirt, food, is all going on our hair weighing it down.
What can I do about it? Easy: Don't touch it so much! Unless it's a calming mechanism for you, like for some people; it's a soothing thing. Otherwise, pull your hair back more often and try to re-learn to touch the ends rather than the bangs or sides.
You're washing it TOO FREAKIN' OFTEN.
The scalp is not meant to be scrubbed by harsh detergents that often. Let's face it, most shampoos are not the greatest, unless you're now using our TRUU by Nature shampoos and cleansers ;) If you're washing your scalp and hair daily, you really gotta stop doing that! I don't care how greasy your hair is, you're just making it produce more oils since you're stripping them away! Your hair follicles need a certain pH level to stay healthy and 'make hair', it's like a whole living organism by itself, it doesn't like to be dry. So the more you wash it, the greasier it'll get. It's a simple as that.
What can I do about it? Okay so now you're asking, "But I have to wash it since it's so greasy!" My answer to you is, you gotta curb that! The next time you have 2 or 3 days off work and are feeling like sitting around the house without going out to see anyone (I have loads of days like these ;) ), let your hair go greasy. Just think of it as a moment in time to retrain your scalp to calm down and stop making all that sebum! It takes time, possibly a month for this to happen, but you will be able to wash your hair every other day – or more! Your hair will grow faster because it will benefit from its own natural moisturizer, its own lubricant. It will be worth it in the long run! Trust me on that one... I went through a period of time where I was learning about my hair, about hair in general, and trying new natural cleansers, so I often had greasy hair. It's not that bad (wink wink).
You're washing it WRONG.
First tip: And I've shared this little tip many times before; it's a good one: You don't need to wash your hair, only your scalp. Say whaaat? Your scalp needs to be cleansed of extra sebum, dirt and sweat, but the excess shampoo or cleansers you use are going to run down from your scalp to your hair length anyway, so there's no need to rub, scrub, and get it all soapy in there.
Second tip: You gotta stop scrubbing!! I've seen way too many videos and have grown up with sisters and raised daughters, who have all been scrubbing the crap out of their scalp. Waaay too hard too. STOP IT. Your scalp is a gentle layer of skin, and right underneath it are your sebaceous glands. Not an inch below where your brain is, but right there! As soon as you start massaging them with the tips of your nails like you're probably doing now, they're going to wake up and start producing more sebum. The result? Greasy hair within a couple of hours. And it's not until about 6 hours after when you'll start seeing that greasy hair come right back again.
What can I do about it? If you can gently glide your shampoo in between your hair and scalp, you'll benefit from cleansed scalp and hair without so many knots, and without waking up those sebaceous glands that are so eager to make more grease. I don't want to say "trust me on this" again, but hey, trust me on this – remember I'm the hair queen on this one!
Too many hair products. (And probably crappy ones too)
Again, this is another thing you have to curb: The overuse of hair products. You wash and then put on conditioner, then you probably put a "hair protector" before drying, curling or straightening your hair, then moose or hairspray. And you wonder why your scalp can't breathe and why it's producing so much oil? Really folks... You need to calm down on the products use (plus, many of them are loaded with silicones that are clogging your pores and drying your hair). If you need to use that many things in your hair, then you're masking the issue: Your hair isn't healthy. Let's fix that!
The other big issue I have with this is that all that stuff is going down the drain and into our waterways. THIS IS NOT GOOD. And we really need to learn to use less products, wash less often, and re-learn that our bodies DON'T NEED A DAILY CLEANSE! Seriously: How much of a germaphobe have you become that you think you're that dirty??
Too many facial products.
We're told we need to wash our face twice per day (morning and night), then spray toner, moisturize, apply a facial serum, and then maybe a bit of wrinkle-guard around the eyes and key areas. Which is great if that's your thing, but that's another big reason why your hair is getting greasy, especially around your face area. So turn down the volume on facial products, especially too close to bedtime, or sleep with your hair off the face (I love a good pineapple bun at bedtime! That's like the photo you see to your left ;)
Some medications can also aggravate the skin and sebaceous glands. If you're taking medications and are experiencing changes in your hair and how it looks or feels, consult with your doctor or a pharmacist for advice. There are way too many prescription medications to name here, so best to ask your doctor.
KISS = Keep It Super Simple.
Through the years I've tried it all and what works the best is to keep it simple: Wash your scalp gently, nourish your hair with a light leave-in conditioner, use a hair oil serum if you have flyaways or frizz, and maybe once or twice per month do a deep cleanse and deep moisturize treatment. Easy peasy!
One final takeaway from this blog is, to try something new. If your routine hasn't been working, switch it up! Skip a day, skip two days, use less stuff in your hair, or maybe even practice some mindfulness techniques to de-stress. We're all different and our hair will respond differently. Try something new until you find what works for you.
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