An oily scalp is one of the most common occurrences in the world, affecting almost every single person at some point in their life. It can happen in your teens, when you’re an adult, or even when you start seeing those grey hairs creep in.
However, nobody welcomes an oily scalp with open arms. You might even send out a quick prayer before a big day, hoping that the oily scalp stays away and doesn’t lead to something worse like dandruff. But what is it?
Sebum and oily scalps
Your skin is the largest organ in the body and is covered with sebaceous glands that secrete a waxy, oil like substance known as sebum. This sebum is supposed to cover your skin in a protective layer that moisturises and prevents any harm from befalling. It shields your body from external bacteria, pathogens, and germs.
These sebaceous glands are present in higher quantities on your face and scalp, as these areas are more sensitive than the rest and require higher amounts of sebum. This secretion is acidic in nature and forms an acid mantle that aims to protect you. It is supposed to flow down your hair and coat the entire strand as well, thereby preventing excessive moisture loss.
But when your scalp starts producing excessive sebum, or this sebum has nowhere to go, it can start to build up on the scalp. This is how you get an oily scalp. And this oily scalp causes a start to all your troubles.
What causes oily scalp?
You can have various reasons for oily scalp, depending on your body type and lifestyle. Understanding this is important if you want to find the right solution.
- Hormonal fluctuations – Your body contains androgens which are intricately linked to sebum production. Any fluctuations in this can directly impact the amount of sebum secreted on your scalp, thereby leading to an oily scalp. This is usually seen during puberty, pregnancy, pre-menstruation and even during menopause. Additionally, high stress levels can lead to hormone secretions that affect your oil production. This can invariably cause an oily scalp.
- Overwashing and underwashing – If you have a greasy scalp and greasy hair, it makes sense to wash your head often. But when you wash your head too frequently, it can strip away the natural oils. This sends a message to your body to produce more oil as compensation, creating a cycle of excess oil that can lead to an oily flaky scalp. And just like washing too often, washing too less is also harmful for your scalp. Greasy scalp and greasy hair causes a whole host of problems and you don’t want to leave your head unwashed. This can produce a build-up on your scalp, which attracts germs and microbes.
- Weather – Who would have thought that the weather could be the reason for an oily scalp. But humidity and higher temperatures can trigger your body into secreting more oil. The humidity further prevents evaporation and cooling down of the scalp ecosystem, potentially forcing even more oil secretion. This oily hair causes an increase in sweat and mineral build-up, which can activate scalp ailments. However, an oily scalp is not restricted to humidity. Sudden changes in temperature can also disrupt your oil production and lead to an oily scalp. (Ambien) This is often seen after a hot shower in cold weather.
- Using the wrong products – People don’t necessarily test their products and keep a track of the results. We hear about something and we try it out, not realising the effects until it’s much too late. Certain products can break the acid mantle and excessively dry out your scalp. This forces your body to compensate by producing more oil. Some products can even lead to allergic reactions which cause higher oil secretion.
- Genetics – This is something beyond your control, but you might be genetically predisposed to an oily scalp. Your greasiness might be something that you inherited from your parents and could run in the family. It’s a bit easier to check if your parents and family members also suffer from greasy scalps. You can’t do anything about your genes when it comes to an oily head, but you can learn to manage it with better hair care.
- Knotted or tangled hair – Your sebum or oil is meant to flow down to the tips of your hair strand. However, if your hair is knotted or tangled, this natural flow is disrupted and can cause a build-up of sebum on the scalp. This is characterised by dry hair and oily scalps, which is possibly one of the worst combinations you could hope for. And when you see dry hair, you might want to wash your hair less, which can lead to an even larger build-up on the scalp.
- Reactions to medications – This is not common but can be a cause for concern. Some medications, especially those which are linked to androgen receptors, can provoke excessive oil production on your scalp and skin. This might be temporary and can reduce when you stop the medication, but it can be one of the oily scalp causes. You might have even seen a breakout of acne on the face when using certain medications.
- Diet – Everyone talks about eating a healthy diet, but few actually follow it. A high intake of dairy products, meat, alcohol and high-glycemic foods can spike your sebum production and lead to an oily scalp. Introduce more vegetables, seeds, beans and fruits to your diet. This should be complemented with vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty acids.
A greasy scalp and greasy hair causes a lot of trouble when left unattended. Dandruff is often the outcome of a greasy scalp. It’s important to take care of your hair and scalp, maintaining a good hair care regimen of shampoo for greasy hair and conditioners to regulate the oil flow. You can also use products like the Head and Shoulders 2 in 1 Cool Menthol, which gives you the benefits of a shampoo and conditioner in one, while deep cleansing and protecting the scalp.
Also Read: The Top Hair Salons in Europe To Know About