Best Shampoo For Oily, Greasy Hair

Oily hair is the type of hair that gets greasy very quickly. It feels “heavy” and has an apparent sheen on top, particularly close to the roots. People who suffer with oily hair may also have dandruff which comes from a dry, flaky scalp combined with oily hair.

Step 1: test to determine if you have oily hair

If you’re wondering if you have oily hair the best thing for you to do is conduct the “tissue” test. Wash your hair and wait 24 hours. Then take a tissue and press it lightly against the top of your head close to the root. If you lift it off and it has oily residue, you do have oily hair.

Oily hair test

Oily hair does need some tender loving care and there are many brands that manufacture shampoo, conditioners and other styling products specifically for your hair type. There’s a lot you can do, for example scalp massage, careful sun exposure and positive lifestyle changes.

Maybe you wonder if there things you’re doing that make your hair greasier than it should be and what the right products are for your hair type? All of this and more will be answered in our guide and it won’t be long before your hair looks shiny, healthy, voluminous and fresh.

Why does hair get oily?

Oily hair is a condition that is extremely common. It’s one of four different hair types: normal hair, greasy hair, dry hair and greasy/dry hair. There are lots of reasons why your hair is oily but actually, it’s mostly down to the build-up of secretion from your sebaceous glands on your scalp.

Usually, very oily hair is accompanied by greasy skin and pimples especially on the face, neck and back. Lots of teenagers suffer with this condition and it more than likely normalises itself once puberty is complete.

Understanding Sebum

Your hair root has sebaceous glands which secrete “sebum”, just the same way as your skin does. Those with very oily hair usually secrete too much sebum and this can be frustrating.

Actually this sebum is good for your hair because it behaves like a natural moisturiser so your hair is never dehydrated.

It’s rare to find a person with oily hair suffering hair damage because they don’t have dryness or brittleness. So now you know there is at least one positive because sebum secretion keeps your hair healthy so it’s nice and smooth.

Excessive sebum does come with its own set of problems. It clogs up the root and when there’s far too much of it, it can cause dandruff. In extreme cases, it can even result in patchy hair loss.

Here are the main reasons for oily hair…

1. Diet

If you eat a poor diet you could be adding to the problem. Think about it like this; if you eat a diet full of fatty food, refined sugar and “bad” carbs (chips, crisps, lots of fried food and excessive dairy) your skin displays the results; it looks lacklustre, pimply, oily and unhealthy. The same applies to your hair. It is only ever going to be as healthy as what you put into your body.

2. Hormone Changes and Genetics

If you were born with hair prone to greasiness, it’s likely a genetic problem. Maybe you find that your hair changes when you experience hormone surges, such as when you have your period or when you get pregnant. Hormone fluctuations happen all the time, especially during puberty, pregnancy, post-pregnancy and menopause. Hormone changes affect all hair types and usually they balance out eventually but sometimes the changes are permanent.

3. Personal Hygiene

Another reason is poor personal hygiene. If you don’t wash your hair then it will get greasy because sebum builds up in your hair follicles. You might not even have naturally greasy hair so bear in mind that hair does need washing regularly although if you do have oily hair you should wash it more regularly than other types of hair.

Greasy_Hair4. Environment

Sometimes the reason is down to environmental conditions. You might find in the winter your hair isn’t as greasy as it is in the summer. That’s because you tend to sweat more in the summer time especially in humid conditions which encourages sebaceous glands on your scalp to produce more oil.

5. Stress

Stress-related sebum production will subside once you remove the anxiety from your life but in the meantime, while you now understand why your hair is oily you need to know how to deal with it.

Why Does Oily Hair Smell?

Unfortunately, sometimes oily hair has a sour smell. This is down to the amount of sebum your scalp produces and poor personal hygiene. If you don’t dry your hair properly you might cause a fungus to grow or even mildew.

Always wash your hair properly, make sure to rinse it thoroughly and if you do suffer a “smell” never leave your hair wet. If the smell continues or worsens you should probably visit your GP who will prescribe an over the counter shampoo or discuss it with your pharmacist.

Types Of Oily Hair

1. Oily Hair, Oily Scalp. This is usually because your scalp produces a lot of sebum, which is oily and it travels down your hair making it greasy quickly.
2. Dry Hair, Oily scalp. This is usually because your hair is normal or dry but you might have more sebum production than normal in your scalp therefore making the roots greasy while the rest of your hair stays dry. For this type of hair use a shampoo for dry hair on mid length and ends and use the tiniest amount of oily hair shampoo on your roots. Using talcum powder or dry shampoo on your roots will enable you to wash less frequently.
3. Oily Hair, Dry Scalp. This is rarer but it does happen. A dry scalp could be down to weather conditions, extreme dry heat or extreme cold weather can dry out the scalp. It also happens if you use the wrong shampoo for your hair.

How To Control and Get Rid Of Oily Hair

1. Better Lifestyle

Always choose quality food full of vitamins and minerals. Lean protein and fish is good for your hair as are fruit, berries and green vegetables.

Always drink plenty of good old H2O. Water hydrates your body, reaching your skin and your hair. It helps to flush out toxins and impurities and if you drink it regularly, sebum production normalises.

You could even add a good quality hair supplement to your diet or at least make sure you take a multi-vitamin.

Take exercise too. It’s a great stress buster and when you live on your nerves your hormones fluctuate.

Hormones may well affect your sebum production but exercise helps to balance them out again so try a little every day. Not only will your hair benefit, you’ll feel fitter and healthier.

2. Wash Hair Regularly and Really Rinse

how to wash oily hairPeople who suffer with oily hair tend to wash it every day but you can go longer in between washes. Many people with oily hair think it’s necessary but actually, it’s not. Your hair could probably go the extra mile and skip a day.

If it looks a little greasy slick it back into a smooth pony tail or a smart chignon, use a little gel and fix a pretty flower to the side.

This is the easiest way to disguise greasy hair and helps your scalp too because over-washing your hair disrupts your scalp’s natural PH balance so makes your scalp produce even more oil.

Instead of daily washing, wash every other day if you can. Once you get used to this new routine, it will become second nature and think of the time you’ll save!

When you do wash your hair you should really take time to rinse out the suds, massage the scalp to get rid of any styling product build-up, always use conditioner.

If you’re not sure if you’ve rinsed well enough, just re-rinse it! Leaving any residue will make it go greasy faster than usual.

3. Use Dry Shampoo Or Talcum Powder

There are plenty of good quality dry hair shampoos available to purchase. These draw out excess oil and make hair look fresher and they are scented so hair smells nice and fresh!

They are great if you suffer with hair odour (see above) and if you want to prolong time between hair-washing. Just one word of advice, if you do use talcum powder or dry shampoo make sure you brush it out thoroughly because it can leave a powdery residue. Don’t use dry shampoo or talcum powder if you have dandruff as well because you will make your hair look worse.

Great Oily Hair Control Tips

  • If you touch your hair regularly you will just spread the oil around it, so tie your hair up and wash your hands regularly this prevents dirt traveling to your hair.
  • If you’re into the habit of brushing your hair, reduce the amount of time you do this because brushing hair distributes oil from root to tip, a no-no for those of you with oily scalps!
  • You should also wash your hairbrush every week because oil and grease builds up in-between the bristles. Just wash it in gentle shampoo, rinse thoroughly and allow it to air-dry. For very oily hair do this once a week to keep your hairbrush pristine.
  • Change your pillowcase every other night. Laying on a pillow that is covered in hair-grease won’t help your hair at all.
  • Don’t use hair straighteners because they make hair appear greasy plus many of them promise extra shine, this shine combined with natural hair grease will only make the problem worse. Plus, as you administer hair straighteners from the root to the tip, you’ll distribute your natural oils as well – best to avoid them if you can.
  • Every time you try a new hair styling product, start with a very small amount. You can always build it up the next time you wash your hair. This way you soon learn what’s too little and what’s too much.
  • Always use clean towels when washing your hair.
  • Another good hair trick is to use a good scalp toner after shampooing your hair.
  • If you don’t colour your hair you might consider trying it. Always go to a reputable hairdresser and have a consultation first. Colour is known to be drying for all hair so having a tint or some highlights will draw away some of the moisture and you’ll no doubt notice that your hair doesn’t look dirty for a little bit longer.

Best Shampoo for oily hair – complete guide

Can Using The Wrong Shampoo Cause Oily Hair?

The answer to this is YES, using the wrong shampoo can cause oily hair. Never be tempted to use a shampoo for dry hair or for normal hair because it will be too “heavy” for oily hair, leaving a residue in your hair follicles. Wash hair regularly but always use the right shampoo – it’s better to invest in good quality shampoo that works than waste money on something that doesn’t! When washing your hair, take a couple of minutes to massage your head because this helps to open up the follicles and reduce blockage plus it’s a very pleasurable experience.

Never load up on conditioner; too much product can add to greasiness, if your hair is very greasy you might not even need conditioner but using conditioner, even lightly can decrease the likelihood of you developing greasy hair. Choose one suited to your hair type. Always rinse thoroughly as we’ve advised already. Post-washing, choose your styling products carefully and avoid serum, it’s oily hair’s biggest enemy because it adds oil to your hair so you definitely don’t want it.

What Type Of Shampoos Should I Use For Oily Hair?

Good question and especially as there are so many different brands available. The most important thing for you to do is try a few out. While you might have oily hair and your best friend might have oily hair too – your hair is still different so what works for her might not work for you. You could ask your hairdresser for advice too, they should know your hair well enough.

Remember, you should always invest in your hair, whatever type you have and that’s because your hair needs looking after. It’s your crowning glory; you treat your skin to moisturisers, serums, cleansers, toners and even face masks. Your hair needs the same type of tender loving care.

Best Homemade Shampoo For Oily Hair

Sometimes everything you need is in your kitchen so you can make it at home. Go check out your larder and fridge, you might find exactly what you need. We’ve tried a few recipes for oily hair and love this one the most, it’s guaranteed to work!

Mix a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of liquid castile soap, 5 drops of tea tree oil, 5 drops of Aloe Vera and 2 teaspoons of brewed green tea.

Mix into a paste and distribute on wet hair, paying attention to the scalp area. Rinse thoroughly and condition as usual. Your hair should feel really clean and fresh with no residue and the tea tree with Aloe Vera should control the oil production for longer, so you won’t need to wash for a couple of days.

Best Oily Hair & Oily Scalp Shampoo

Degrease Shampoo for Oily Hair and Oily Scalp


Degrease - oily hair and oily scalp shampooIf your find that your hair and scalp is oily you need good sebum control. We’ve tried quite a few shampoos and can report that our very best find is DEGREASE by Maple Holistics. This shampoo promises to get rid of oil build-up and styling product build-up in the hair follicles. It also balances out sebum production gently.

Additionally, DEGREASE is a clarifying shampoo so really goes the extra mile when you wash your hair. Your hair feels thoroughly clean and fresh, with a delightful fragrance.

The ingredients in this shampoo include jojoba and rosemary so if you suffer with dandruff it acts as an excellent treatment, no more flakiness! We thoroughly recommend it.

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Best Oily Hair & Dry, Itchy Scalp Shampoo

Degrease Oily Hair Itchy Scalp Botanical Hair Loss

Degrease - oily hair + dry, itchy scalp shampooAgain, we can’t recommend DEGREASE by Maple Holistics enough, this time with the itchy scalp clarifying treatment that eliminates itchy skin. Its herbal ingredients include peach kernel for balancing the natural skin oils, so it’s good for the scalp and for the hair.

Some reviewers report it is extremely effective for teenager greasy hair and skin problems, leaving hair naturally clean and soft. It is also reported that, since being chemical free, it is also suitable for daily use.

Mentioned above it is designed to alleviate the symptoms of itchy scalp and get rid of unsightly flakiness while keeping hair looking just gorgeous!

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Best Oily Scalp & Dry Roots Shampoo

Klorane - dry shampoo for oily hairKlorane Dry Shampoo With Nettle

If you want to stretch out your hair in between shampoos or perhaps you just don’t have enough time to wash your hair then the best shampoo to buy is Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle.

This shampoo really reduces oiliness so your hair looks great for longer, meaning you don’t have to keep washing it. Additionally, it controls and regulates excess sebum production.

Oh, I should mention that it’s paraben, sulphate and colourant free too so it’s kind to your hair. You’ll find that your hair is silky smooth with plenty of enviable body and bounce!

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Best Organic Oily Hair Shampoo

Dessert Essence Organics Shampoo for Oily hair

Dessert Essence - Organic oily hair shampooIf you prefer to use an organic product then we like Dessert Essence Shampoo with Lemon Tea Tree.

Lemon and tea tree ingredients are excellent for hair because they work together to dissolve excess oil in the scalp so hair is left feeling incredibly clean and soft.

Plus there’s no danger of stripping hair of its natural moisture because it’s so gentle.

Your scalp feels gorgeously cleansed too and this shampoo has the added bonus of being a hair protecting product so it’s great to use before styling with heat.

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Best Shampoo For Oily Hair With Dandruff, Seborrheic Dermatitis Or Psoriasis

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo against Dandruff, Seboreic Dermatitis or Psoriasis

Neutrogena - shampoo for oily hair with dandruff, seboreic dermatitis or psoriasisUnfortunately, sometimes regular oily hair shampoos just don’t work especially when you have a medical hair problem.

When you suffer with seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis you need a specialist shampoo so to help you, we thoroughly recommend the number 1 best-selling Neutrogena T Gel Therapeutic Shampoo used by so many people.

You can always rely on Neutrogena for good quality products. This particular shampoo is especially formulated to reduce scalp itchiness and flakiness while being extra-gentle on the scalp and hair.

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Best Natural Paraben Free Oily Hair Shampoo

HoneyDew Natural Bio Oily Hair Shampoo with Organic Essential Oil formula

Natural, parabens free oily hair shampooIt’s best to avoid parabens if you can, they’re bad for you and they get lots of bad press!

So if you want to try something that’s guaranteed paraben free, you’ll love Natural Oily Hair Shampoo with Organic Essential Oil Formula by Honeydew. It’s formulated to gently relieve an oily scalp while nourishing dry, damaged hair.

Scalp feels extra comfortable and deep-cleansed. The natural rosemary content is excellent for thinning hair and cell renewal and the Evening Primrose oil helps to slow down any hair loss.

It’s also formulated with yarrow which regulates sebaceous glands so oiliness is kept under control. Hair is silky-smooth and very manageable too.

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Best Clarifying Shampoo For Oily, Greasy Hair

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

You can always rely on a big brand name like Neutrogena and their Anti-Residue Shampoo is designed to remove any residue from hair follicles.

It really cleans deep down into the scalp to remove any styling product build-up and excess sebum.

Scalp feels very fresh and any irritation is instantly soothed.

Additionally this shampoo is extremely kind to hair and helps to boost volume although do bear in mind that it is a once a week treatment to work with your regular shampoo.

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Best Oily Hair Shampoo For Men

American Crew Normal To Oily Daily Shampoo for Men

Even men worry about oily hair! We’ve done some research especially for them and recommend the American Shampoo Normal to Oily formulated especially for men. It gently cleanses hair and scalp while reducing excess sebum and any styling product build-up. Using ingredients Rosemary and Thyme this shampoo refreshes scalp and hair for a truly revitalising experience.

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Best Shampoo For Coloured Oily Hair

Moroccan Oil Natural Clarifying Shampoo

This is the number one rated shampoo for coloured oily hair. You used to only be able to purchase it at a reputable salon but now it is available online. This shampoo promises to reduce greasiness, oiliness and soothe an itchy scalp. Additionally, it’s great for banishing dandruff and deep-cleans hair so there’s no leftover build-up. It’s extremely gentle and excellent for weak hair that might have been damaged from colour and excessive heat styling.

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Best Dry Shampoo For Oily Hair

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle

If you want a dry shampoo to take you between washes, we highly recommend the Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle as we’ve previously mentioned. This dry shampoo works very well in-between shampoos and doesn’t clog up the scalp with residue. In fact, you hardly notice you’ve used it. When you use this shampoo your hair feels instantly clean and refreshed, with no heaviness and it helps hair to last at least two days post-washing. Just remember to brush it out thoroughly so there’s no powdery remainder.

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Best Drugstore Oily Hair Shampoo

Selsun Blue Medicated Dandruff and Oily Hair Shampoo

Lightly medicated, this shampoo controls dandruff and has a conditioner so it works as a 2-in-1 product. Even though it’s a medicated shampoo it still looks after hair. Once you’ve used it, you’ll find that it softens, cleanses and clears blocked hair follicles, discouraging sebum production. The results are hair that is gorgeously shiny and beautifully soft with no oil. It also delivers plenty of volume and bounce. No one would ever guess it was a medicated shampoo!

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Best Oily Hair Shampoo For Thin, Limp Hair

Biota Botanicals Advanced Herbal Care Shampoo (Oily Hair Formula)

Do you constantly worry about your thin, limp hair? Unfortunately oily hair can look lifeless and fine but help is at hand! We’ve found the answer with the Biota Botanicals Advanced Herbal Care Shampoo (oily care formula) which is especially designed for thin, damaged hair. It promises to remove excess sebum, styling product build up and any flakiness so hair feels light, clean and easy to manage. Importantly, it brings plenty of volume so your hair will look thicker than ever before. Finally, it’s also drug free so kind to hair and it acts as a protectant too, strengthening hair so it’s ready for styling with heat.

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Best Oily Hair Shampoo For Damaged Hair

Keratin Protein Hair Care Shampoo

Sometimes even oily hair gets damaged from heated styling, colouring and environment such as swimming and the sun. It’s still important to protect oily hair from damage because otherwise it could break. The trouble is, there aren’t many shampoos that care for oily damaged hair.

We’ve found and fallen in love with the Keratin Protein Hair Care Shampoo by HY Vitamins which really cares for damaged, greasy hair replenishing moisture without adding any oil.

Even better, it’s suitable for daily use. This shampoo promises to clean deep into the hair’s cuticles using powerful vitamins so hair looks bouncy, shiny and glowing with good health. If you worry about excess oil production, this shampoo also restores natural PH balance so sebum is kept well under control. This is an excellent shampoo that gets the thumbs up from us.

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How To Wash Oily Hair: Always Invest In The Best!

Buy a very good shampoo for oily hair. Don’t be tempted to go cheap because your hair won’t thank you for it. Speak to your hairdresser, do some research and try something different. You will only find out what’s right for you by trying out a few brands. When you find your holy grail of shampoo you will instantly see how well your hair responds to it. Try and wash it every other day, it’s better for your hair and actually discourages sebum production.

How to wash your hair properly:

  • Wet your hair all the way through.
  • Take a small amount of your new shampoo (about a 50 pence piece) and work it into your scalp gently massaging for a minute. Let the shampoo soap run down the rest of your hair and spread evenly around your hair. Don’t pile your hair up on top of your head because this will only tangle it up. Focus on your scalp because this is generally where the oil is.
  • Rinse very thoroughly. If you think you’ve rinsed well, do it again to be sure that it is completely clean and to get rid of any build-up of styling products which can contribute to greasiness.
  • Use a toner because this hinders the oil production in your scalp.
  • Rinse again.
  • Towel dry.
  • Apply a light conditioner that’s right for your hair avoiding the scalp and focusing on the ends. Don’t use much, your hair is naturally oily so well-moisturised but always use it because it will add natural shine and smooth down the cuticle.
  • Rinse thoroughly.

Good to remember

  • Serum is not suitable for greasy hair, it will make hair look worse.
  • Avoid products containing silicone because they build-up and encourage even more oil production.
  • Plant based products are usually better for oily hair because they are natural and feed the scalp with antioxidants.
  • Clarifying shampoo are excellent for oily hair (see above).
  • Heavy masks and creams will not do your hair any favours because they weigh your hair down and clog up your scalp so be careful when using treatments.
  • Hairspray is fine to use and actually can be quite drying so it’s suitable for oily hair – just don’t use too firm a hold because you could get build-up on your scalp.


Don’t be despondent; do take heart because you’re not alone with your oily hair. Even well-known A-list celebrities suffer with oily hair. Martha Stewart, Katie Holmes and Alexa Chung all have greasy hair problems but they know how to deal with it and so will you.

Of course, sometimes the “wet” look is in and slicking back hair can be a great look that works for some people!

Once you’ve followed all our guidance your hair should enjoy a new lease of life and before long, oily hair will no longer be a problem just a thing of the past. You’ll know exactly how to cope with a little grease and hopefully, you will even grow to love your hair.


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