Why is my hair so oily?
Everyone’s scalp produces oil, but for some, oil production seems to hit overdrive. Why? At the base of every hair is the follicle – it lies just under the surface of the skin in the dermis. Each follicle is paired with a sebaceous gland, which produces a natural lubricant called sebum. Sebum is part of our dermal biome - it waterproofs the skin and hair and protects it from moisture loss. It’s also what’s responsible for keeping our skin and hair soft and supple. But when sebum is over-produced, the result is oily, greasy-looking skin and hair.
If you’re trying to pinpoint why your rate of sebum production is high, there’s more than one factor that can contribute to an oily hair situation:
Your Hair Type:
Hormones: Hormone fluctuations in both men and women can be triggered by stress, puberty, pregnancy, menopause or medications (including birth control pills) and can result in excessive sebum production. If you notice a sudden onset of greasy hair, your hormone levels might be the culprit.
Skin conditions: Seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis both can both be associated with excessive sebum production. In these cases, greasy hair is accompanied by dandruff or scaly dry skin.
Genetics: Did your mom or dad have greasy hair? There’s a good chance their high rate of sebum production has been passed on to you.
What can I do for my oily hair?
The best way to care for an oily scalp is to begin caring for your biome. When your biome is in balance, oily hair symptoms don’t occur as frequently. Here’s how:
Does oily hair cause hair loss?
An oily scalp is often associated with hair loss. Excessive sebum production is a sign of inflammation, a response of the scalp to injury, infection, or caused by a condition such as psoriasis. And when the hair follicles are inflamed, hair growth is slowed and the hair produced is weaker in structure. To help keep hair thinning at bay, it’s helpful to restore the normal biome of the scalp. As the scalp’s antimicrobial peptides, proteins and waterproofing lipids are replenished, inflammation will gradually subside and sebum production will diminish along with excessive hair loss.
Can oily hair cause acne?
The short answer? Yes, it can. Oily hair is a sign that the scalp's biome has been disturbed. Believe it or not, the microbe that causes acne is a normal inhabitant of a healthy scalp – part of the scalp's "microbiome." When your scalp is healthy, this microbe is part of a community of bacteria that live in harmony with themselves and your skin. But when your biome is disturbed, so is the balance between "good" and "bad" microbes. When this happens, the acne microbe (a.ka. Propionibacterium acnes) makes its presence known to your skin. Your skin, in turn, fights back and the result of this battle is red, raised inflammation – acne.
If you do suffer from an oily scalp, remember - the best treatment begins by treating your dermal biome first, not just your symptoms. Take care of your biome and healthy, beautiful, balanced hair will follow.