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How to Get Rid of Greasy Hair | Step-by-Step Guide

Wondering how to get rid of greasy hair to get the smooth, shiny locks you’ve been dreaming of? With greasy hair, it’s hard to feel like you’re looking your best. But don’t worry — getting rid of it isn’t as hard as it sounds.

How to Get Rid of Greasy Hair: A Summary

For a piece on how to get rid of greasy hair, a woman holds her hair out and looks in a mirror with a shocked expression on her face


Greasy hair is a common issue amongst men and women alike. While it’s impossible to stop your sebaceous glands from producing oil, there’s plenty you can do to reduce the appearance of oily hair. In a nutshell, these steps include:

  1. Starting a daily cleaning regimen
  2. Avoiding harsh products that might damage your hair
  3. Keeping brushes and styling tools clean
  4. Using dry shampoo between washes

If you notice grease building up in your hair, it can leave you feeling self-conscious as your locks get increasingly lank, heavy and oily looking throughout the day. And it isn’t always a matter of skipping your morning shampoo. Even people who shampoo once or twice a day can battle greasy hair if they are prone to it.  Does that sound like you?

If so, don’t despair. While your hair has given you fits up to this point, there are things you can do to keep the oil at bay. Knowing how to get rid of greasy hair is the first step towards achieving the beautiful, healthy locks that you’ve always wanted.

How to Get Rid of Greasy Hair in 4 Steps

In healthy, balanced hair, natural oils from the sebaceous glands work to moisturize and nourish hair from the roots out. However, in some cases, these glands overproduce sebum, leading to issues such as clogged pores and greasy roots.

Getting rid of greasy hair isn’t simply a matter of removing all the natural oils from your scalp. Without enough sebum, you can face other issues such as dryness and flaking. It may also encourage the scalp to ramp up oil production. Eliminating unattractive, greasy hair is all about restoring a natural balance to your roots. 

With proper care and maintenance, you can transform oily locks. Read on to learn how to get rid of greasy hair in just four easy steps.

Step 1: Start a Cleansing Regimen

Image for a piece on how to get rid of greasy hair featuring a woman in the shower washing her hair

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Cleansing your hair regularly is the single best thing you can do to reduce the appearance of grease and oils. However, there’s a fine balance between washing your hair too often and not cleansing it enough. Too much cleansing can dry out the scalp, leading to issues such as dryness and breakage. If you have this, first read our guide on getting rid of dandruff.

If you have oily hair, it’s best to wash once per day with shampoo and conditioner. Any more, and you run the risk of drying out your scalp. Any less, however, and you may see grease building up between washes.  

Creating the right hair care routine to keep your scalp happy and perfectly balanced can take some trial and error. However, there are a couple of things that all people with oily hair should keep in mind when planning a cleansing regimen. 

  • It’s best to wash your hair each day in the morning instead of before bed at night. Wet hair is more likely to pick up dirt, dust, and oil from your pillowcase.
  • Thoroughly wet hair all the way through. Doing this may take some massaging to accomplish, as greasy hair repels water. 
  • When lathering with shampoo, rub the scalp gently with the pads of your fingers. Being too rough or using your nails may irritate the skin and stimulate the sebaceous glands to overproduce. 
  • Always apply conditioner after completely rinsing shampoo for best effects. Avoid rubbing any product close to the scalp, and instead, focus on the ends of your hair.
  • Wash out all conditioners before drying your hair. Otherwise, it can leave a residue behind that will make your hair appear limp and greasy. 
  • Let your hair dry naturally when possible. The heat from tools such as hair dryers or straighteners can damage hair and strip natural oils, encouraging increased sebum production. 

Once to twice per month, people with oily hair should incorporate a clarifying shampoo into their routine. Clarifying shampoos contain ingredients that deep clean hair, stripping away products, chemicals, and excess oils that build up over time.

Read Next: Shampoo for Oily Hair

Step 2: Skip Harsh Products

Woman holding a shampoo bottle that says Parabens under a magnifying glass to symbolize the second step in getting rid of greasy hair

Alona Siniehina/Shutterstock

Water alone isn’t enough to remove dirt and impurities from your hair. Natural oils such as sebum are hydrophobic, meaning that they repel water. You need a hair washing routine that includes salon-quality shampoos and conditioners designed to lift and remove oils.

You can find shampoos specifically formulated to combat greasy hair and balance oil production. It’s best for people with oily hair to avoid anything marketed as hydrating or moisturizing. These often contain compounds that build up in greasy hair.

Conditioner can help smooth hair, but it also tends to trap oils and lead to grease buildup. If you’re prone to oily hair, it’s best to look for a non-greasy conditioner. Again, it’s best to pick balancing formulas over those that claim to be hydrating. 

When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, it’s important to always read the label. There are a couple of ingredients that people with greasy hair should be careful to avoid:

  • Sulfates: Sulfates are a common component of many shampoos since they work up a lather to strip oils from your hair. However, sulfates are harsh on the scalp and can lead to dryness and frizzing, even in oily hair. 
  • Parabens: Parabens are a preservative commonly found in health and beauty products. While they prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, they also pose a cancer risk.
  • Triclosan: Another common preservative, Triclosan also shows signs of being carcinogenic. It may also raise the risk of other health issues such as infertility, depression, immune system disruption, and more.  
  • Silicone: Many conditioners use silicone to make hair smooth and shiny. For those with oily hair, silicone can build up on the surface to create the appearance of excess grease. It’s best to stick to silicone-free hair products if you have an oily scalp.
  • PEG: Polyethylene glycol, or PEG, is a common thickening agent in shampoos and conditioners. It can dry out hair and cause brittleness, breakage, and frizzing. 

Step 3: Keep Your Tools Clean

Girl pulling a bunch of long brown hair off a wooden hair brush for a piece on getting rid of greasy hair

ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock

After washing and styling your hair, you should take some time to clean out all of the tools that you used before storing them. Otherwise, dirt, debris, and oil residue can build up between bristles. Some brushes may even trap hair, creating an environment where mold and bacteria can thrive. 

Using a dirty brush can spread oil and old sebum over otherwise clean hair, leading to faster buildup. You should always remove any loose strands from the bristles and wipe down your brush with a damp, clean cloth after use. 

The same goes for tools such as hair curlers and straighteners. Once they’ve cooled to a safe temperature, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove any excess oils or other debris from your tools so that they’re clean and ready for their next use. 

Step 4: Use Dry Shampoo

To help get rid of greasy hair, a woman using dry shampoo to absorb the excess moisture


When it’s not possible to clean oily hair each day, you can maintain it between washes by using a dry shampoo. You can also use a specially formulated oil-absorbing powder, as long as it’s gentle enough for application to the skin.

Dry shampoo uses an alcohol or starch base to attach to oil and grease molecules sitting in your hair. It then lifts and removes this oil as it evaporates, leaving your hair looking fresh and clean. Dry shampoo can even help to eliminate odors and add volume to flat or lifeless locks. 

Try to avoid touching your hair in between washes to prevent oils from your hands and fingers from transferring. Excessive touching or brushing can also stimulate the sebaceous glands, so it’s best to leave your hair alone as often as possible after cleaning. 

Things to Consider

Image titled Greasy Hair Things to Consider featuring a number of considerations to keep in mind when learning how to get rid of greasy hair

When dealing with greasy hair, there are a couple of considerations that you should keep in mind:

  • Every scalp is different. What works for one person may not be the best option for your unique hair makeup. It may take some experimentation to find the best hair care routine and products for your scalp.
  • Oil production varies. People with thin, straight hair are more likely to experience excess oil production than those with thick, naturally curly hair. 
  • Hair can change throughout a lifetime. While teenagers are most likely to experience oily hair, it can happen at any age. Many women experience fluctuations in oil production during menstruation or pregnancy
  • Don’t dry your hair too much. Stripping away natural oils may cause your scalp to respond by producing even more sebum. Instead, maintain your hair with the goal of establishing a balance.

So, How Do You Get Rid of Greasy Hair?

Most of us are no strangers to waking up with greasy, unkempt hair. Fortunately, a proper care routine is all it takes to turn your hair from dull and lifeless to shiny, healthy, and clean. If you know how to get rid of greasy hair, you can ensure that you step out the door looking your best each day. 

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