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Why Does My Hair Get Oily So Fast? Causes, Products, and Remedies

Optimistic African American woman with healthy hair sitting on a bench at the park.

Is excessive oily buildup sabotaging your hairstyles? This is an issue that people from all walks of life deal with. If your hair seems to get oily faster than it should, there might be internal or external factors at play. In this article, we will help you identify and treat the leading causes of oily hair and greasy roots.

Why Does My Hair Get Oily So Fast?

Without further ado, let’s get into the drivers of oily hair. Once you know the reason why your hair is oily, you’ll be one step closer to oil-free tresses.

Black female with fine hair wearing a wash n go style created with essential oils and aloe vera gel.

Improper Washing

If you aren’t properly shampooing and rinsing your hair, you might be leaving oil and hair product residue behind. Oil is not water-soluble, so it won’t rinse away without shampooing correctly.

Water temperature is another critical factor that can impact the oiliness of your hair. Hot water stimulates the oil-producing sebaceous glands in your scalp, which causes them to produce more oil.

Product Buildup

Hairstyling products can leave behind a residue that builds up over time. Ingredients like mineral oil, silicones, and polymers bind to your strands so tightly that regular shampoo doesn’t wash them away. Product buildup can weigh down your hair and make it look oily, even after washing.

Hair Type

Some hair types are more prone to oiliness than others. Typically, straight hair tends to get oilier than curly or wavy hair. Here’s how: a healthy scalp produces natural oils that travel down each hair shaft.

Because straight hair doesn’t have kinks, waves, or curls to restrict its sebum distribution, the oil slides down the length of each strand and gives it an oily feel and greasy appearance.

Cute ethnic woman with a curly hair type wearing a twist-out style created with a gentle shampoo and natural oils.

Scalp Type

Just like some people have oilier skin than others, some have oilier scalps. If your scalp naturally produces more oil than the average person’s, you may notice your hair getting oily quicker than you’d prefer.


Every time you wash your hair with shampoo, your scalp gets a signal to produce more oils. Washing too frequently can cause your scalp to try and overcompensate for the loss of moisture and produce even more oil.

Medical Issues

Oily hair can be a tell-tale symptom of several underlying medical conditions. It can be caused by fungal or bacterial infections, hormonal imbalances, and certain skin conditions, like seborrheic dermatitis. 


Prolonged stress can increase your body’s stress hormone levels. Cortisol is a stress-related hormone that can drive oil production into overdrive.

This, in turn, can lead to acne or greasy hair. The effect is usually temporary and subsides once your stress levels return to normal.

Top Remedies for Oily Hair

African American female in gray jeans with a huge afro reading about the biotin hair growth supplement on her phone.

Here are a few remedies to help you address your oily hair. Some of these steps may feel counterintuitive and can even make your hair greasier in the beginning.

Over time, however, your oil production will balance out, and you’ll eventually start seeing less oily locks.

Wash Less Often

Washing your hair less frequently can cause your scalp to stop producing as much oil. With every shampoo, your scalp gets a signal to produce more oil.

By washing your hair less often, your scalp won’t receive that signal as often, and in turn, will produce less oil. It may take multiple skipped shampoo sessions before you see results.

Change How You Wash

Oily hair can be treated using specially formulated shampoos and conditioners. Often these products contain ingredients–like tea tree oil or salicylic acid–that can cut through oil more efficiently or help your body regulate its oil production.

If hot water is the cause behind your oily locks, using warm or cool water to wash will help decrease your scalp’s oil production.

Use Silk Pillows

Cotton pillowcases can rob your hair and scalp of moisture. This can cause your body to try and overcompensate and produce even more oil.

Switching to silk pillowcases helps keep your hair and scalp oils at optimal levels. If your scalp no longer needs to overcompensate for the oil lost to cotton pillowcases, it will eventually produce less oil.

Try a Quick Fix

While these won’t treat the causes behind your oily hair, they can help minimize its effect on your hair’s appearance. Some products you can use to quickly absorb oil from your hair include:

  • Oil blotting sheets
  • Baby powder
  • Dry shampoo

Change Your Hair Products

If your hair products leave behind a hard-to-remove residue, read the directions to see if you are using more than intended. Oftentimes, less is more, and using more than the recommended amount of product can lead to buildup.

If you’re using the correct amount and are still getting significant oil buildup, you may want to consider switching products. Look for alternatives that are silicone and mineral oil-free.

Change Your Diet

Unhealthy and fatty foods can trigger your body to make more oil. You can reduce your scalp’s oil production by reducing junk food and increasing healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Speak With a Medical Professional

If your oily hair is caused by an underlying medical condition and doesn’t respond to other treatments, we recommend seeing a professional.

Your primary care doctor, dermatologist, or trichologist can help you pinpoint the cause of your oily hair and come up with a treatment plan to help you control it. 

Use a DIY Treatment

You can use DIY remedies to treat oily hair in a gentle and cost-effective way. While there are many options available, the following are some of the most popular and effective at-home treatments.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

If your oily hair is caused by bacteria or a fungus, consider using tea tree oil as a treatment. It has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective treatment for oily scalp issues.

Tea tree oil is so potent that it has to be diluted before you can use it safely. For a quick and easy way to incorporate tea tree oil into your hair care routine, do the following: 

  • Add 3 to 4 drops of tea tree oil to a dollop of your favorite shampoo. 
  • Apply the shampoo to damp hair and massage it into your scalp. 
  • After a few minutes, rinse thoroughly and continue with your regular wash routine.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Apple cider vinegar helps balance your scalp’s pH, cuts through product residue, and can treat the bacteria or fungus that is causing your hair to get oily. Here’s how to give it a try: 

  • Mix equal parts vinegar and water and pour or spray the mixture onto freshly shampooed hair. If you have a sensitive scalp, use two parts water and one part vinegar. 
  • Let the mixture sit for up to five minutes before thoroughly rinsing with cool water.
  • Follow up with your preferred conditioner and continue with your wash-day routine. 

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is an astringent that can help your body regulate its oil production. It can also absorb excess oil, decrease oil-causing inflammation, and cleanse your scalp.

Just make sure to choose a witch hazel that is alcohol-free, as alcohol can be drying.

If you have sensitive skin, you may want to dilute the witch hazel with water before you apply it. This will help reduce the chances of irritation. Follow these steps to try a witch hazel treatment: 

  • Apply witch hazel directly to your hair using a dropper or a spray bottle. 
  • Once your hair is saturated, let the witch hazel sit for up to 10 minutes 
  • Rinse and wash your hair as you usually would.
Cheerful young woman with natural hair wearing a curly afro after using a clarifying shampoo to avoid greasy hair.

Related Articles

Oily hair can be caused by any combination of internal, external, and environmental factors – or it can be a sign of a more serious issue. It can be frustrating and make an already bad-hair day even worse.

But with the remedies and tips in this article, you’ve got some promising options to help you maintain healthy hair that you can try right at home. We hope this article has given you the tools to address your oily hair concerns, so you feel and look your best.