It seems like our hair only ever looks perfect at night, home alone, right before bed.
When there’s no one to appreciate it in all its full glory. Talk about #firstworldproblems.
Oily hair definitely counts as one of those bad hair day situations everyone dreads. Just imagining it makes one shudder, 10x worse if it slaps your face when it gets extra windy for those meme-worthy WTF moments.
And in S’pore, it feels like it happens more frequently than normal, just because weather conditions make us more vulnerable to oily hair conditions. Gross.
We get it, so to commiserate about the yuckiness of oily hair together, here’s 10 facts you have to know about oily hair:
The oil (sebum) comes from sebaceous glands
Time for a crash course on Biology. Basically, the sebum that makes your hair greasy is secreted from sebaceous glands (oil glands) located on your scalp, found in every pore of your skin.
Moderately produced, the sebum secretion is important in maintaining proper hydration levels so your hair demonstrates that luscious Pantene-commercial like sheen.
An overproduction of sebum by sebaceous glands however, gives hair that texture of greasiness that makes us all queasy. Whoever once said “everything in moderation” is one wise man.
Hair type contributes to the situation
Having fine/curly/thick hair could contribute to increased sebum production, resulting in hair that’s neither here nor there – greasy at the scalp and dry at the tips. This is super annoying because then, you can’t decide between shampooing your hair less/more or conditioning it less/more because you want to solve BOTH hair problems.
FYI, fine or curly hair contributes to oily hair because of the surface area and rate of distribution of sebum along the hair length, whilst thick hair = more hair follicles (read: pores) = more sebaceous glands = more sebum production = oily hair.
Yah, you can explain everything with maths, even oily hair.
Hormonal changes worsen oily hair
Increased hormones, such as during puberty or pregnancy, or due to the ingestion of certain medicines/pills (e.g. birth control pills), also lead to excess sebum production in the scalp. Literally adding fuel to the fire that is an existing oily hair situation.
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As if we don’t have enough reasons to get cranky when our hormones are on the rise.
Oily hair is hereditary
Unfortunately, this oil inheritance you get is not gonna be earning you big bucks like the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia. Same word but worlds apart.
Instead, this oil inheritance will be making you fork out the cash.
Because you’ll want to pay to see a hair doctor / specialist.
In worst case scenarios, severe oily hair conditions could lead to excessive hair loss and cases of dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis is one such common condition among those with oily hair, in which individuals experience yellow, oily patches on the scalp, whilst Psoriasis is another common condition where hair appears red and silvery. Candidly, the latter does sound vaguely intriguing, but is definitely less so once you actually google pictures online.
Men are more affected by oily scalps than women
Men’s scalps produce up to 50% more sebum than women’s.
Life is unfair. ‘Nuff said.
Lifestyle / personal hair care routines affect hair oiliness
Excessively forceful scrubbing could irritate the scalp, stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil and by association, oilier hair. Excessively brushing your tresses or using hair styling products that are cream or lotion based could also worsen the situation.
Recommended solutions include using a comb for your hair (why aren’t you doing that?!), lightweight styling products that don’t provide ‘shine’ nor ‘moisture’ (bcoz let’s face it, folks with oily hair can achieve shine and moisture perfectly fine on their own), and to detox the hair with clarifying products (eg. healing earth cure packages) every 2-4 times a month.
The way you wash your hair matters
Possibly the most popular hair myth of all time is you should wash your hair every day.
Well, according to Science, “no one should need to wash his or her hair every day”.
Finally, the scientific evidence we’ve all been waiting for.
Purportedly, washing your hair excessively (eg. more than once a day) could dry out your hair, leading to excessive oil production to compensate for the loss of natural oils. Instead, try washing your hair every other day, or even 2-3 times a week.
A bonus tip: avoid hot water when washing your hair, because that stimulates sebum production too!
But of course, if you sweat a lot like my fat boss, then you should probably wash it daily ‘coz smelly hair is much worse than oily hair.
Oily hair can cause acne
TLDR; oily hair introduces bad bacteria to your scalp biome, which in turn causes the acne microbe to grow and accumulate on your skin. The pores on your skin clog up with sebum and bacteria, and you before you know it, you get those pesky red, inflamed granules called acne.
Dry shampoo does not necessarily lead to less oily hair
Dry shampoos for oily hair are one of those nifty inventions for when you’re short on time or just plain lazy. Your hair feels pretty clean after, and the particles do lift and attract oil very well.
Dry shampoos don’t fully cleanse your hair of the dirt, bacteria, and sweat that accumulates in your hair throughout the day, and you risk damaging your hair over time due to particle build up.
Only the act of shampooing fully cleanses and exfoliates the scalp, cleansing it of the excess sebum, sweat and bacteria that make thou hair oily.
Use clear, lathering shampoos for oily hair
Most importantly, if you have oily hair, use clear, lathering shampoos without harsh sulfates to wash your scalp (and not just your hair), and follow that up with a lightweight conditioner from the mid-length to the ends.
And you’ll be well on your way to healthier hair that won’t shine like it’s on fire!
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