Much like every brand of organic peanut butter, my hair inexplicably manages to be both oily and dry at the same time. Over the past year I’ve become one of those people I used to blithely laugh at – the sort who is reduced to washing their hair almost every day. Apparently even looking out the corner of my eye at my hair these days makes it greasy and God help me if I touch it. The root of the problem (pun unintended but rewarding nonetheless) is an oily substance called sebum produced by sebaceous glands in your skin. These glands are located next to hair follicles and use your hair to channel out onto your scalp; strands of hair are grease highways, nature is disgusting. The widely-accepted wisdom of haircare has always been to wash hair as little as humanly possible with a recommended two washes a week; much like the skin on your face, the more you remove the natural oils, the more your body will over produce to compensate.
So how do I break out of this irritating and, yes, expensive cycle of over-washing hair? Am I condemned to spend a few solid weeks looking like I was dragged out of a shower plug? There are a few ways to deal with the oil to slow down your washing cycle without resigning yourself to that hellish existence.
It sounds like a farfetched concept but people with straight hair absolutely have to wash their hair more. The texture of hair affects the speed of the sebum as it works its way down the length of the hairs and the coarser or curlier your hair, the less rapid the oil slick. If you’re straightening your hair every day, perhaps (and also for the sake of your hair’s health) put the GHD down once or twice a week and read a book instead.
Only Condition The Ends
Conditioner weighs hair down, causing it to lie flatter to the head and accumulate sebum more easily. Try to condition only from the midway point down and this will also focus the conditioning on your many, many split ends that definitely need tending to. Better yet, adjust your routine so that you’re not conditioning with every wash, it’s simply not necessary unless your hair is looking dry.
Dry shampoo is a godly creation that we do not deserve but we should use anyway. The alcohol or starch in these products soaks up the excess oil but it’s worth noting that excessive use will dry out your hair too much and make it brittle. It’s also important to shop around for the right brand of dry shampoo for your hair colour because it’s easy to end up looking like you’re playing an old person in a high school play.
Use Face Wipes
Admittedly I have not tried this yet and largely that is because it will make me feel like an animal who does not belong to civilized society but apparently it works. You can use face-wipes to pick up oil on your hair in precisely the same way you use them to pick up the oil on your face if it really comes to crunch time.
It’s also important to note that the production of sebum in your sebaceous glands is not only entirely individual but also affected by hormonal fluctuations. This is the reason you looked wet for about two years when you were entering puberty and it also appears to bite again during menopause with changes in estrogen production. If you’re battling constantly with greasy hair, it might be worth trying to tackle these hormonal fluctuations rather than messing around with the bottles in your shower.
Words, Elfy Scott. Photography, Dana Boulos.