Home Lifestyle How Can You Deal With Greasy Hair As You Age?

How Can You Deal With Greasy Hair As You Age?

by InvisiblyMe
A close-up photo of a woman's dyed blonde hair as she holds up a few strands, showing some greasy roots underneath. Below the photo is the post title: How Can You Deal With Greasy Hair As You Age?

Greasy hair can be unsightly but also frustrating to deal with, and many people find it increasingly becomes an issue with age. This fantastic sponsored collaborative guest post takes a look at what causes greasy hair and how you can manage it and treat it, reducing the natural oil production to leave your hair as healthy and fresh as possible, whatever your age.

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Greasy Hair Can Become More Pronounced With Age

No one likes seeing greasy roots in the mirror. As you age, you may have noticed your hair getting greasier. Your sebaceous glands secrete an oily lubricant called sebum, which gives your hair its natural shine. Sebum lubricates the scalp and forms a protective barrier on it in order to moisturize and protect the hair shafts. Sebum also keeps the pH levels of the scalp balanced, while helping in averting a number of scalp issues like dryness, itchiness, and dandruff. However, overactive sebaceous glands will result in greasy hair.

In many cases, your hair becomes thinner in your middle age, so there is less hair to absorb the amount of sebum the scalp produces. Many with chronic illness may find they experience loss or thinning at a younger age, too. There are plenty of obvious causes that can make your hair greasier, like working out or hot weather, however, there are also less obvious causes that can result in your hair producing excess oil. Continue reading to learn why your hair is greasy and how to efficiently balance your natural oil production.

An older woman, probably in her 70s, looking to the side as she puts a comb through her short hair.

Most Common Causes for Greasy Hair

It may be helpful to understand the root cause behind your greasy hair. Here are the most common causes for an overproduction of sebum.

Hormone Fluctuations

Women going through menopause experience an increase in their hormone levels. The hormone, androgen, is responsible for increasing the production of sebum in the scalp.

Seborrheic Dermatitis or Skin Conditions

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that irritates and inflames the skin. Pink, scaly areas of skin develop in places with a lot of oil glands, including the scalp. It’s also known as dandruff. Other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can lead to itchy red patches on your scalp.

Stress

When you are stressed, cortisol enters your bloodstream. Cortisol can activate sebocytes, the cells that produce sebum, leading to an overproduction of sebum in your scalp.

Genetics

Yes, it’s true, your mom or dad might have passed along their greasy hair! Genes can contribute to the amount of sebum your glands produce.

Imbalanced Diet

Fatty oily foods, sugar and dairy can play a role in an overproduction of sebum.

Over Washing

Washing your hair may feel like a quick fix for oily hair. However, when you over wash your hair, your oil glands over-compensate for the loss of oils stripped by your shampoo. Instead, you have to train the oil glands to not over-produce oil by washing your hair less.

A close-up photo of a woman's dyed blonde hair as she holds up a few strands, showing some greasy hair at the roots underneath.

Oily Hair Concerns

An increased amount of oil attracts dirt more easily, produces dandruff, and makes your hair stick together. In the worst cases, the sebum glands clog the hair roots and may cause hair loss and dandruff.

Dandruff

Built-up oil on the scalp can lead to dandruff. Many dandruff sufferers produce an excess amount of skin oil that combines with Malassezia (a yeast commonly found on the scalp), which can irritate the skin.

Lifeless Hair

An excessive amount of oil in your scalp will weigh your hair down, leaving it flat. Those with straight hair are more susceptible because sebum can more easily travel down straight strands.

Hair Loss

An oily scalp can eventually lead to hair loss. The excess oil production is a sign of inflammation. When hair follicles are inflamed, hair growth is slowed and the hair is weaker in structure. Eventually, the hair follicles will be blocked, inhibiting the natural growth process.

How To Balance Natural Oil Production

It’s time to take control over your greasy hair! Every little helps, and it is possible to see some positive changes in your hair with a few tweaks to your lifestyle, diet and haircare routine. Here are 11 ways to help balance your natural oil production as you age.

1. Well-Balanced Diet

The foods you choose to eat can impact your hair health, and a nutritional imbalance can lead to increased oil production in your scalp. Your hair cells need a balance in protein, biotin, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and B vitamins. Nutritional needs will vary based on the individual, so it is best to check with a doctor before making any extensive diet changes.

To help balance your natural oil production, there are some foods that it’s typically recommended to eat less of, and others to eat more of.

Consider Lessening Your Intake Of The Following :

  • Sugar : Sugar affects the inflammatory processes in the body and increases blood sugar levels, which encourages glands to produce more oil. Additionally, sugar can create an imbalance of hormones in your body.
  • Fried Food : Deep fried food introduces more oil into your body, which overstimulates your oil glands. The oil that the glands produce covers our skin and scalp.
  • Dairy Products : While they can have many health benefits, the likes of milk, butter and cheese are digested by our bodies as oils and fats, which can leave our hair and skin sticky and oily when eating in larger amounts. Additionally, dairy products contain components potentially related to an excess amount of testosterone, which can increase sebum production.
  • Salty Food : An excess consumption of salt, especially paired with inadequate water intake, can lead to body dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which signals your body to produce more oil to fight the lack of water. Overhydration is also possible, so speak to your doctor if you’re not sure how much salt and fluid you need.
  • Refined Carbs : Refined carbs are often get negative publicity. While no food is either wholly ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s possible that refined carbs, like white bread or pasta, can result in the oil glands overproducing oil when eaten in excess.

Restore Your Scalp’s Biome By Increasing These Nutrients :

  • Vitamin B : Vitamin B is helpful in controlling the secretion of excess oil from the scalp and the skin naturally from within. Foods rich in Vitamin B include, fresh fruits, meat, eggs, fish, and leafy vegetables.
  • Zinc : Zinc has antioxidant properties that reduce the inflammatory response to dead cells, dirt, oil, and bacteria. Zinc stops bacteria that invades pores and helps to cleanse away dead cells that blocked the pores in the first place. Additionally, zinc’s antioxidant properties help regulate keratinocyte activation. Keratinocytes are skin cells that generate keratin, a fibrous protein that binds skin cells and hair filaments. Foods like shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, and wholegrains are high in zinc.
  • Sulfur : Sulfur is a building block of hair. Sulfur gives healthy hair its strength and elasticity and is linked to decreasing the occurrences of psoriasis, dandruff, eczema, and folliculitis. Foods high in sulfur include fish, brussels sprouts, garlic, kale, eggs, onion, and broccoli.

2. Train your Hair for Less Washing

As stated above, when you wash your scalp, you remove sebum, which can actually stimulate the scalp to produce more sebum in response. The goal should probably be to wash your hair two or three times a week if possible. This may seem like an unreachable goal, but if you undergo a period of retraining your hair it is attainable. If your hair is struggling on day #3, it’s a perfect time to wear that hat usually left in your closet! It takes some patience, but after a month or two you will notice a balance in your oil production.

3. Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfates are detergents used to remove all sorts of oil and grime. Sulfates in commercial shampoos dry up the hair follicles and cause them to overproduce sebum. Instead, opt for a gentle and mild shampoo, like an all-vegan and paraben-free one from Better Not Younger. When you are washing your hair, work a small amount of shampoo into your roots and scalp. Avoid using your nails or aggressively scrubbing. There is no need to apply shampoo to the ends of your hair, just allow the shampoo to flow through your ends as you rinse.

A photo taken of a woman with her back to the camera with bare spin as she stands in the shower. Water is running and she's lathered her long brown hair up in shampoo. She's got her head turned to the right and her elbows up.

4. Condition Correctly

Conditioner provides a healthy dose of hydration, nourishment, and protection that your hair can’t get from shampoo alone. To prevent greasy hair, only condition the mid-length and ends of your hair. Also, make sure to thoroughly rinse out conditioner to avoid product buildup.

5. Use Cooler Water In The Shower

Hot water stimulates your sebaceous glands. Try rinsing your hair with cool water to close your hair cuticles and prevent your glands from overproducing sebum. If you can’t face a full cold shower, just turn down the temperature for the last minute on your hair before stepping out.

6. Lemon Juice

Lemon isn’t just great for cleaning the microwave. Lemon juice is also helpful in maintaining the pH balance of the scalp, which will control the overproduction of oil on your scalp. Add the juice of half a lemon to 3 cups of water and rinse your hair with the lemon-water mixture after shampooing and conditioning.

7. Deep Clean With Aloe

Aloe is known to remove extra oil, fight product buildup, soothe the scalp, and protect strands. Aloe will leave your hair feeling soft and shiny. To learn more about the benefits of aloe on your hair, scalp, and skin, check out this useful Healthline article.

8. Be Gentle

When you’re washing, brushing, styling or scratching, be sure you are gentle. An abrasion to the scalp is a signal for it to produce more oil. Boar-bristle brushes are a good option for those who suffer from greasy roots. The fibers will help distribute your natural oils throughout your hair.

9. Hands Off!

Your fingertips and face also produce oil, which can easily be transferred to your hair, making your grease problem even worse. Be mindful of how often you touch your hair!

10. Keep your Tools Clean

Use clean brushes, combs, and hot tools, free of residue from styling products and sebum. It is best to clean your products 1-2 times a week. First, make sure your hot tools are unplugged and cool. Next, use warm water and gentle soap to clean leftover product residue off of the plates or barrel.

11. Try a Scalp Serum

A scalp serum is a beneficial way to manage and repair damage, increase growth and shine, and protect against environmental damage. A serum specifically for an oily scalp will correct imbalances and soothe inflammation of the hair follicle, which manages oil production. Massage a few drops of the serum into your scalp after the shower. Look for the following ingredients in a serum:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple Cider Vinegar can act as an anti-inflammatory and reduce the pH balance of your hair, which can help manage oil production. Be careful using apple cider vinegar if you have eczema.
  • Tea Tree Oil – Tea Tree oil can help control bacterial and fungal buildups. Tea tree oil can improve dandruff and greasy hair and reduce itchiness. It is recommended to dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil, like coconut or olive oil.
  • Jojoba Oil – Jojoba oil is similar to the sebum your body produces naturally. Jojoba has moisturizing properties that signals your hair and skin follicles that it doesn’t need more sebum.
  • Witch Hazel – Witch hazel can relieve itching, reduce inflammation, and close oil-producing pores. Witch hazel can help correct your scalp’s pH balance and is also gentle enough to use on a sensitive scalp.
  • Centella Asiatica – Centella asiatica is an ayurvedic herb that is used to strengthen hair and promote hair growth. Centella asiatica nourishes the scalp by strengthening the tiny blood vessels. This helps in getting proper blood circulation to the scalp to feed the hair follicle.
  • Ginger – Ginger has anti-inflammatory benefits for scalp conditions like dandruff and psoriasis. Additionally, many clinical studies have shown that ginger oil promotes hair growth and fights against split ends.
A man with a very light moustache and beard growth is looking in the mirror. We see his reflection. He has short dark hair, and he's putting a hair over it. He has dark eyes and looks to be in his 30s.
A black scroll divider.

Do you struggle with greasy hair? How’ve you found your hair to change as you age?

[ This is a sponsored collaborative post from Better Not Younger & as such the ideas shared here are that of the author. ]

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23 comments

Animalcouriers January 30, 2021 - 4:58 pm

Always have had short hair so it isn’t an issue 😉

Reply
Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet January 30, 2021 - 5:18 pm

Thank you for this informative post. I have been experiencing oily hair recently. Possible causes: Ketogenic diet, ovarian cysts. Still trying to figure it out. Will archive this post to refer to. <3 All the best!

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PainReaction January 30, 2021 - 5:22 pm

I have ALWAYS struggled with greasy hair! I’ve tried so many things, best I can do is go about 20 hours before it looks awful again. Function of Beauty shampoo has made the most difference for me and I’ve gone through a million brands. My hair used to look greasy after about 10 hours before so I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes I miss being bald 😛

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ashleyleia January 30, 2021 - 5:37 pm

I’ve occasionally used dry shampoo, but the kind I got isn’t great for dark hair, as it leaves a white residue.

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Blogging_with_Bojana January 30, 2021 - 6:18 pm

I’ve always had very dry hair. Lifeless. Well, that too, so…

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Kelly Matthews January 30, 2021 - 6:35 pm

A super guest post, thank you for sharing it Caz. My hair has become more dry at the ends as I’ve got older and more greasy at the roots. I had no idea why it was getting greasier though, so this is really interesting. I also hadn’t thought of homemade remedies or swapping out my shampoo for a more natural one, I’ll look into those. I do feel like sometimes my hair is very weighed down with all the product build up from lots of shampoos, conditioners, treatment masks and the like. I’ve probably been making it increasingly greasing through all of this without realising it. Thank you for the guest tips, they’re very much appreciated and I know a few friends online who’ll like this too so I’ll forward it along ????

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Sandee January 30, 2021 - 6:58 pm

Great information and I’m happy to say at 69 years of age my hair isn’t greasy. I’m lucky with my hair. There are other things that age gifted me though.

Have a fabulous weekend, Caz. ♥

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Looking for the Light January 30, 2021 - 9:07 pm

We are on the same page! I’ve been updating my Hair Loss post with some results I’ve had since they were written. I hope you are doing better. tell that damn intestine to quit jumping around! I’m sure you have many times. 🙂 Hugs.

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Rachel Duerden January 30, 2021 - 10:21 pm

I found my hair has got a bit dryer as I got older. I try to wash it not more than 3 x a week. I’m guilty though of scratching my scalp when I wash it!

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Mrs. Ram’s Jams January 30, 2021 - 10:23 pm

Ahhhhhh! I don’t have to worry about over washing as a cause for oily hair—because I never wash it. ????????????????

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Nisha January 31, 2021 - 1:02 am

Wonderful detailed post Caz, I did not know about the benefits of scalp serum and that’s a great list of things to look for in a serum. Great tips about over washing and using sulfate free hair products .

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Liz January 31, 2021 - 12:24 pm

I had issues when a teenager and a bit older when it came to greasy hair. But for years since, I have not had this problem, then when I tried a different product for my hair. The product being the problem.
I wash my hair 2 to 3 times a week. I think I started doing this from my 30’s, but I can’t remember. I may have been doing this for longer.

Reply
indianeskitchen January 31, 2021 - 8:35 pm

How fascinating! I was shocked that washing too much causes oily hair….who knew! Lol

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The Oceanside Animals January 31, 2021 - 9:31 pm

Charlee: “Hmm, hair getting thinner when you get older? Hmm.”
Chaplin: “I don’t think we have to worry about that, Charlee.”
Charlee: “No, but maybe Dada does.”
Lulu: “I think it’s too late for Dada to START worrying about that.”

Reply
James Viscosi January 31, 2021 - 9:46 pm

Note to self: Revoke computer privileges for Charlee, Chaplin, and Lulu.

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Despite Pain February 1, 2021 - 10:26 am

I’ll need to check my shampoo because, it’s true, the more I wash my hair, the greasier it seems to get in between washes. One advantage to the lockdown is that we hardly go out and very rarely see people, so I can afford an extra day or two between washes until it starts to drive me nuts.

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D. Wallace Peach February 1, 2021 - 5:49 pm

My hair tends to run dry so I add oil. I did train it for less washing and that helped a lot. It seems strange, but really once a week is more than enough now, and it looks and feels better.

Reply
chronicmom February 2, 2021 - 7:17 pm

I had no idea about the hot water, thanks for the tip! I’ve definitely been battling grease the last few years. Sulfate free shampoo has helped a lot.

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chattykerry February 3, 2021 - 5:41 pm

My hormones (or lack of) have been making me spotty and greasy, yet other bits dry. My eye doctor recommended flax capsules and they have definitely helped.

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dtills February 4, 2021 - 9:02 pm

I actually find that my hair has been drier as I age!

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Bette A. Stevens June 21, 2021 - 8:02 pm

Very informative. Thanks!

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Crystal July 25, 2021 - 6:01 pm

Very helpful post–thanks for sharing these tips!

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Evelyn Beveraggi February 5, 2022 - 9:13 am

My semi curly hair, full set, has been getting greasy for the past 6 months & pretty straight, I miss my light curly hair, I’m 55 , never happened before, now I wash it twice a week to keep it from getting greasy, I always had normal to dry hair, and I deep condition, when younger.

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