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The Online Health Journal Blog

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by Jennifer Summers

Greasy hair can appear stringy and fail to keep its lightness and volume within a few hours of shampooing. Greasy hair can seem lifeless, dull oily and lank. It can also appear heavy and flat, refusing to stay clean and fresh. Is this describing your hair? Ever ask yourself “why is my hair greasy?” Others may judge people with greasy hair as having poor hygiene and that they do not wash their hair very often, even if the sufferer washes it every day.

Grease found in greasy hair is natural body oil called sebum. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous gland. Each hair has a sebaceous gland immediately under the skin. Greasy hair is healthy hair as the oil (sebum) is produced to stop each hair strand from drying and to stop the ends splitting. Sebum is produced by the body to lubricate hair and skin and prevents drying by providing a protective barrier. Sebum is your own built-in moisturizer for the body.

Hormones called androgens can cause greasy hair by stimulating sebaceous glands, causing them to become over active and begin over producing sebum leading to an excess of sebum in the hair. Androgens are male hormones, and although they are present in both men and women, they are higher in men. Androgens make two things happen: First, they enlarge sebaceous glands. Second, they cause the increase of oil production from the sebaceous glands.

Fluctuating hormones can cause greasy as hormones play a part in sebum production. Greasy hair is most common in women because of either pregnancy or monthly cycle, older women going through the menopause, and teenagers experiencing puberty. Stress can be a contributory factor in greasy hair as it is known to affect hormones levels. People with fine hair on their head may experience excessive greasy hair as they have more hair follicles and more sebaceous glands producing more sebum.

There are several external causes of greasy hair. Washing your hair too frequently can cause more sebum to be produced as frequent washing can strip the hair of oils, to combat this sebaceous glands excrete sebum. Sebaceous glands can be stimulated through vigorous scrubbing of the hair and scalp while washing. Touching your hair can also stimulate sebaceous glands, along with vigorous hair brushing which carries oil throughout the hair. The over-use of styling products can cause hair to look greasy as the products can build-up at the roots. Everyday environmental pollutants can also cause hair to look greasy.

There are also several internal causes to greasy hair as well. Along with changing hormone levels, a major cause of greasy hair is the food you put inside of you, i.e. you diet. Western diets are usually much greasier, containing more fat. They are usually processed, containing many additives, and typically are higher in fat and sugar. The high fat content of the diet increases oil in the skin which can lead to greasy hair. The meat in a Western diet often contains some hormones, and these hormones can add to the levels of unbalanced hormones. Greasy hair can also be a sign of a diet that is low in vitamin B.

The best way of avoiding, preventing, treating and getting rid of greasy hair is to treat it from the outside and the inside. On the outside: steer clear of brushing your hair too frequently, and too vigorously. Avoid using a moisturizing shampoo as this can leave some oil in the hair. An extra cleansing or clarifying shampoo that has a mild-ph is the best shampoo to use for greasy hair. When shampooing, massage you hair and scalp lightly and do not scrub your hair and scalp.

When shampooing, leave the shampoo in your hair for approximately 5 minutes for a better clean. Rinse and shampoo again if necessary. It’s up to you as to how often you should wash your hair. Once or twice a week is the ideal but to find your own balance of washing and oil production start with washing once a day, reducing how often you wash as you find that balance. If you are going to condition your hair, use a conditioner designed especially for greasy hair, and apply the conditioner not to the roots but to the mid and ends of your hair. If you use a hair dryer to style your hair, heat will stimulate oil production, so don’t let it get too hot.

With the inside: do all that you can to reduce and eliminate any and all stress. In your diet, consider using a vitamin B supplement. Make sure you eat plenty of whole grains, seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, salads and fresh fish. Reduce the amount of fatty foods that you eat, avoiding greasy, fried and fatty foods as much as possible. Reduce the number of white flour based foods in your diet, foods like pastries, pasta and bread. Lastly, avoid sugar and sugary foods like biscuits, cakes and soft drinks.

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