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Women's hormonal system is complex and influential. It controls many things, like reproduction, mood swings, and even hair oil production. These hormone changes make women's hair different from men's, and that's why oiliness levels vary.

Why is a man's hair less oily than woman's?

Let's explore the fascinating world of women's hormones and their impact on hair sebum production:

Estrogen and Progesterone: The Leading Ladies

At the heart of women's hormonal dance are two key players: estrogen and progesterone.

Research shows that hormones take turns commanding the stage throughout the menstrual cycle. During the follicular phase (that part of your cycle when an egg matures into your ovaries, before ovulation), estrogen levels rise, leading to increased blood flow to the scalp and promoting hair growth (yay!). However, as studies show, when estrogen peaks, so does sebum production, which may explain why some women experience oilier hair around this time.

women hormones and hair loss
If in doubt, ask your doctor for bloodwork to check hormone levels.

On the other hand, during the luteal phase (after ovulation), progesterone levels increase. This hormone has been linked to a temporary decrease in sebum production, offering a respite from the oily hair predicament – so there is relief – this is why you will notice your hair becoming oilier at certain times of the month/cycle).

Androgens: The Uninvited Guests

Androgens, typically considered male hormones, are also present in women, although in lower quantities. One of the most notorious androgens is dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When testosterone interacts with 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, it transforms into DHT, a potent driver of sebum production, as shown in research conducted [HERE].

Although women have less testosterone and DHT than men, fluctuations in androgen levels during the menstrual cycle can still influence hair sebum production. During ovulation, androgen levels may increase temporarily, contributing to a slight rise in sebum production and oiliness.

Hormonal Milestones: Puberty and Menopause

Two major life events in a woman's hormonal journey are puberty and menopause. Studies show that during puberty, the surge of hormones triggers significant changes in hair and skin. The increase in androgens at this stage can lead to more pronounced sebum production, causing many teenagers to endure greasy hair woes (we've all been there... remember going to school with what seemed to have oily hair daily?).

Conversely, menopause brings its own set of hormonal upheavals. As estrogen levels decline, the ratio of androgens to estrogen increases, potentially leading to a change in hair sebum (oil) production. Some women may find their hair becomes less oily after menopause, while others may experience the opposite (if this is you, we'd love to hear your experiences –comment below!).

pregnant woman and oily hair

Pregnancy: The Hormonal Rollercoaster

Pregnancy is like a hormonal rollercoaster ride for women. Estrogen and progesterone levels soar, while androgens may also fluctuate. These hormonal shifts can impact hair growth and sebum production in different ways. Some women experience oilier hair during pregnancy, while others may find their hair becomes drier or more brittle.

Women's hormones are a force to be reckoned with, orchestrating a myriad of bodily processes, including hair sebum production. The delicate balance of estrogen, progesterone, and androgens throughout the menstrual cycle, puberty, menopause, and pregnancy contributes to the ever-changing landscape of women's hair health.

What can we do to balance this alternating oiliness production?

While it's essential to understand that hormonal changes are a natural part of life, there are several tips that can help us ladies balance hair oiliness during these times:

  • Use a gentle shampoo: Every single haircare routine starts with a cleanser. Before you venture into applying your conditioner and styling products, be sure to choose a mild shampoo that won't strip the hair of its natural oils excessively. Look for products specifically designed for oily hair or those that promote balance. This is why we created the Nourishing Greens Shampoo Bar: A mild cleanser that will effectively cleanse your hair off extra oils and sweat, without stripping away the good oils that your scalp needs to be happy and healthy.

  • Limit hair wash frequency: Washing hair too frequently can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leading to an overproduction of sebum. Aim to wash your hair every 3 days, rather than daily. You can work your way up to this slowly – don't obsess and don't get frustrated! Remember that your scalp has been working hard to produce these lovely protective oils daily, so it will take time for this oil production to calm down.

Best natural dry shampoo Canada

• Dry shampoo: On non-wash days, use dry shampoo to absorb excess oil and refresh your hair. It can help extend the time between washes and reduce the appearance of oiliness. We created our Greasy Bang Fix for exactly this purpose! It will dust on, giving your scalp that little extra absorbency while also invigorating it from the extracts, protecting it without the itch!

Give it a try [HERE].

  • Avoid over-brushing: Brushing your hair excessively can stimulate the scalp, leading to increased oil production. We are "anti-brushers" and much rather recommend using a wide-tooth comb, regardless of your hair type. Your scalp doesn't need the hard bristles rubbing up against it, as this will undoubtedly cause more oil production.

  • Condition selectively: If your hair is oily at the roots, focus conditioner primarily on the ends of your hair, avoiding the scalp area where the sebaceous glands are most active. In addition, conditioner is actually not made for the scalp and can be quite irritating due to its lower pH (more on that in this blog post [HERE]), so avoid it anywhere near your scalp. Using a surface conditioner like our Bi-Phase Shampoo Bar has, will help make it much easier to concentrate on putting conditioner directly on your hair, rather than on your scalp.

  • Avoid heavy hair products: Minimize the use of heavy styling products like gels, waxes, or pomades, which can weigh down the hair and contribute to oiliness. These products are really not necessary all the time, so if you must use them because your hair type requires them, use them sparingly – or at least only when your hair is going through its "less oily" times!

  • Keep hands off: Avoid touching your hair too frequently, as the natural oils from your hands can transfer to your hair and worsen the oiliness – think of all the surfaces you've touched today! Yech.... don't transfer all of that onto your hair and scalp!

  • Avoid hot water: When washing your hair, use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water can stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to more oil production. If you're cold and really need the hot water to warm you up, point the shower head down away from your body and wash your hair upside down instead, using colder temperature water – this is great for the scalp and for hair growth too! Plus it will save you $$ on hot water bills.

  • Balanced diet and hydration: Yes, it may sound old-fashioned and a little boring, but it's true: When your nutrition is unbalanced, so are your hormones. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. And drink your water ladies! Not tea, not coffee, WATER – to help distribute nutrients throughout the body more efficiently.

  • Stress management: Hormonal changes can be triggered or exacerbated by stress. Engage in stress-reducing activities, as stress is one of the biggest culprits of hormonal imbalance as well as hair thinning and hair loss. Just try and chill a bit more dude!

  • Consult a healthcare professional: If you find that the oiliness persists and becomes a significant concern, consult a dermatologist or a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical issues. Often, finding a good Naturopathic doctor can make all the difference in rebalancing your hormones, so why not try contacting one of them for a consultation? Ask your doctor for a full bloodwork that includes hormone testing. Being proactive about our health is the best way to prevent illnesses.

Understanding the interplay between hormones and hair oil production can empower us ladies to make informed decisions about our haircare routines – all is not lost!

Do you have any questions about your scalp or hair issues? Comment below, we'd love to suggest some tips for you!

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