There are good hair days and then there are bad hair days. For many of us, a bad hair day often involves an oily scalp, which can make your hair look flat and unwashed even if you just washed it the day before.
Hair greasiness usually has nothing to do with how clean your hair is, and there are several different reasons why your hair might be looking greasy, including your diet, styling products you use, showering habits, or your natural skin type. We all struggle with oily hair at one point or another, but luckily, not all is lost!
Whether you’ve just come back from a sweaty workout at the gym or are trying to salvage a bad hair day before work, here are some practical tips and tricks on how to get rid of the oily look before, after, and during your greasy hair day— depending on how much time you have.
How to Make Your Hair Look Less Greasy Fast
Use dry shampoo
Most of us know of this trick already, but if you suffer from greasy roots and don’t already own some dry shampoo, hurry up and get yourself one! There are numerous brands to choose from, so the option that will work best for you might depend on your hair type, color, and scent preferences.
Dark hair? Consider going for a dry shampoo with a brunette option, like this one from Batiste, which will prevent any flakes from the spray from leaving white residue on your hair.
Blonde? Batiste also has a specialized hair solution for you.
For best results when using dry shampoo, always hold the can at a distance from your head before you spray on the product.
Use baby powder
If you find yourself without any dry shampoo, try sprinkling a little baby powder on the roots of your hair and working it in with your fingers until it disappears completely. The talc found in baby powder is also the main ingredient that makes dry shampoo absorb the excess oil from your hair– without any of the additives!
Some other popular alternatives to baby powder are cornstarch, baking soda, and flour, although you should watch out for clumping and remaining residue if you use these kitchen items in your hair.
Use a dryer sheet
No dry shampoo or baby powder on hand? Use a dryer sheet to gently dab the roots of your hair and any other problem areas. The sheet will absorb the oil and make your roots look more voluminous, as well as leaving a pleasant scent on your hair.
Pro tip: always keep a dryer sheet with you in the winter, when they can also come in handy to remove static from your hair and tame flyaways!
Or grab a paper towel
If all else fails, you can find a tool for removing hair oils in any kitchen. Try carefully patting the greasy parts of your hair with a paper towel sheet to soak up the excess oil. Since paper towels are designed to absorb moisture, they will also do the trick with greasy hair.
Style your hair to hide the greasiness.
Did you know you can actually make that pesky greasiness work in your favor? Some hair styles work best with slick hair, which allows you to take advantage of all those oils to change up your hairdo routine.
Try changing the part of your hair, which is where the oils are usually the most visible. For example, if your hair is parted at the center, part your hair at the side of your head and sweep it over where your part would usually be. This should both hide the excess oil from your scalp and also add volume to the top of your hair, which will make the greasiness less noticable.
You can also pull your hair into a ponytail or a bun, effortless looks that are many womens’ go-tos on bad hair days. To spice it up, put a small clip inside your ponytail at the top to make your pony fuller, which will help disguise any flatness from the oils.
How to fix the grease if you have some time
Wash your hair in the sink
If you feel like you want to wash your hair but don’t have time for a full blown shower, try washing your hair in the sink. Many women with long hair swear by this hack, which saves precious time by letting you focus solely on your hair.
Use a sink big enough to fit your head under the faucet or one with a pull-out faucet, then simply flip your hair forward to get it wet before washing with your regular shampoo. After washing, comb your hair out to release any tangles formed by flipping your hair backwards, then proceed as usual with squeaky clean hair.
Try a specialized tool to wash only your greasy roots
If washing your full hair in the sink sounds unappealing to you, consider trying a product like PonyDry, a hair cap that covers only the length of your hair.
PonyDry, which acts like a shower cap for your ponytail, was specifically designed for those who want to wash only the roots of their hair, leaving the length of it covered and dry in the shower. Since excess oil is usually worse around your scalp, this might turn out to be the ideal solution for you.
Rinse your hair with Apple Cider Vinegar
Many hair DIYs are made with Apple Cider Vinegar, which some people swear by for anything from imparting shine to dealing with oiliness. Its acidity is supposed to balance the pH of your head and keep it from over-producing oils in the scalp, which gives it a greasy appearance. If your hair needs a pick me up, try a vinegar rinse to revitalize it.
To make the rinse, dilute 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar with some water. Wash your hair as you usually would, then pour the water-vinegar mixture into the top of your hair and let it sit for a few minutes so it can soak into your scalp. Rinse it off, and you’re done.
Trick your hair into thinking it has been washed
If you don’t want to actually wash your hair at all, get the greasy parts of your hair wet and then blow dry it. Re-drying your hair will mask the oiliness of it and give it some extra bounce where the oils might’ve made it go flat.
This is a last-ditch option, however, as excess blow drying may be one of the causes of your greasy hair as we’ll see next.
What to do if you want to get to the root of the problem
Avoid hot water and washing everyday.
If your hair tends to be greasy, you might find yourself wanting to wash it every day to prevent that from happening, but in the long run, your shower habits might be the cause for your oily hair in the first place!
Hot water and the chemicals found in shampoos strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils. Instead of being helpful, washing too often or with too much heat will trick your body into thinking it needs to produce more oils to combat the dryness, which results in even greasier roots. Yikes.
If you want to disrupt the cycle of overwashing and overheating that ultimately leads to grease, make sure your shower doesn’t get too hot when you’re washing your hair and give it a good rinse of cold water when you’re done.
The cold water will calm your scalp and even help reduce flyaways. If you do wash your hair every day, consider giving your head a rest day in between washes to prevent greasiness.
Let your hair air-dry
If you have thick or long hair, your blow dryer might be your best friend after a shower, but the truth is that it might also have a hand in why your hair is greasy the very next day. Just like hot water, the heat from blow dryers will dry out your scalp and stimulate oil production, which is why your hair might look greasy in a couple of days.
So whenever possible, skip the blow dryer. Dry your hair with a towel until it’s just damp, then let your locks dry on their own. Do make sure your hair has dried before going to bed, though, as sleeping on wet hair might also contribute to greasiness in the morning.
Or get an ionic blow dryer
Popular in Asia, ionic blow dryers emit negative charges that supposedly dry up the water molecules clinging to your strands faster than regular blow dryers. As a result, the time spent drying your hair is cut shorter, and you have to spend less time under the heat.
These blow dryers also claim to give hair other benefits, like added shine, and there are many options to choose from.
Avoid conditioning your hair roots.
Conditioner might be an essential step for many during hair washing for its smoothing properties, but any good hair stylist will tell you that you should not be putting any conditioner on the roots of your hair.
This is because conditioner is meant to soften your hair by weighing it down with product, which will immediately make your hair look greasy if you get it on your scalp, which is already naturally oily. Instead, apply only shampoo to the very top of your head, leaving conditioner and other hair products that add oil to be used exclusively for the length of your hair.
Always use a heat protectant
If you find yourself reaching for your blow dryer more often than not, use a heat protector cream or spray first like this one from TRESemmé, which will coat your hair with thermal shields that will protect it from the extreme heat.
To protect your hair from other heat damage, always use your blow dryer on the lowest heat setting possible and avoid other hot styling tools like straight irons or curlers. If using them, always coat your hair in a heat protectant product first.
Avoid brushing or touching your hair
It might be tempting to touch your hair to try to fix it if it isn’t looking the way you want it to, but touching it will actually transfer more oils from your hands onto your hair. More oil = more grease. Similarly, brushing or combing your hair when it’s greasy will also pull the oil from your scalp throughout the length of your hair, which may intensify the problem.
Try not to touch your hair throughout the day, and if you must handle your hair to style it, make sure to wash and dry your hands first to remove any excess moisture from them.