How to Manage & Solve Oily Curly Hair

Have you ever felt as though your curls are greasy, no matter what you do? Oily curly hair can be a nuisance - however, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to manage greasy curls .

Is oily hair good or bad?

First off, an oily scalp isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the sebum naturally produced by your scalp travels down your strands and protects your hair.

Sebum - a natural oil produced by your scalp’s sebaceous glands - forms a kind of barrier on the surface of your skin and hair to protect it from the elements and oxidative damage. So oily hair isn’t healthy or unhealthy by default, as your hair needs oil to be healthy and to keep it moisturised.

However, too much oil can lead to build-up on your hair and scalp, leading to greasy-looking, lank, lifeless hair which is tricky to style. Too much oil on your scalp and in your hair can lead to issues further down the line, as over productive sebum glands can clog your hair’s roots, resulting in excessive hair loss and dandruff .

Do I have oily hair?

You can normally tell if you have oily hair by examining your hair a day after washing. Does the hair closest to the root look flat and lifeless, and is your hair sticking together in clumps? Oily hair tends to look, well, oily - it’s dull, looks darker than usual, doesn’t have a post-wash shine, and is tricky to style.

People who have oily skin tend to also have oily hair, as the skin on your scalp is the same skin type as the skin on your face. Here are a few other easy ways to tell if your hair’s oily:

  • It looks dull and lifeless
  • It becomes greasy and unmanageable a day after washing
  • There’s more-than-average hair fall
  • Your hair is tricky to style
  • Even after washing, your hair never feels squeaky-clean

A simple test is to gently press a clean tissue onto a section of your scalp a day after washing, and leave it there for 5 seconds. If the tissue has a small translucent oil spot on it, there’s a good chance you have oily hair. If the tissue looks dry and there’s no oil spot, you probably don’t have oily hair.

Why is my hair oily?

There are a number of causes that can contribute to oily hair, ranging from how your hair reacts to washing to environmental factors.

  • Dietary and hormonal changes, especially if you’re pregnant or post-partum
  • Using products which are too heavy for your hair type, such as conditioners, leave-in conditioners and hair serums for thick hair
  • Applying conditioner to your roots
  • Not rinsing your hair properly after washing
  • Using dirty hairbrushes, styling tools and towels
  • Overbrushing your hair - this can spread sebum through your lengths
  • Frequently touching or playing with your hair throughout the day, especially the strands near your face
  • Styling products, including hair oils, sprays and serums, that build up until your next wash
  • Seasonal changes, such as the transition from autumn to winter. Your body senses the change in temperature, and your sebum glands will adapt to help protect the scalp, often increasing the levels of oil they produce

How to solve oily curly hair

There are a number of super-simple ways to counteract oily hair . Some changes may take longer than others to have an effect and reduce the amount of oil on your scalp and in your hair, so be patient.

  • Wash your hair more often with a shampoo formulated for curly hair - it’s an easy quick fix, especially if you feel you’re going too long in between washes
  • Wash your hair less frequently - it sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re overwashing your hair, you’re stripping your scalp of its natural oils and it’s producing more oil to overcompensate
  • Shampoo thoroughly and gently every time you wash. Gently work the shampoo into your roots and scalp. Don’t scrub aggressively or use your nails, as this can irritate your scalp and cause it to produce more oil
  • Focus on where the oil is when you wash - don’t apply shampoo directly to your lengths. Instead, work the lather onto your scalp and let the shampoo flow through your ends as you rinse
  • Use a lighter conditioner for curly hair and only apply it to the ends of your hair
  • Dry your hair gently using a soft towel or a microfibre turban
  • If you can, avoid heated straightening tools - by letting your hair air-dry and letting it form its natural texture, you’ll avoid heat damage, which can irritate your scalp
  • Use dry shampoo in between washes to absorb oil
  • Avoid products made with silicone. Silicones smooth hair and add shine, but they can also build up and make your hair looks oily
  • Deep clean and nourish your hair with aloe vera gel - it helps treat frizzy hair and rehydrate dry skin on your scalp. Use aloe vera gel as a hair and scalp mask to remove excess oil, fight product build-up and protect your strands
  • Clean your brushes, styling tools and towels to remove any lingering product build-up


Does curly hair get greasy?
Even though curly hair types tend to suffer from dry hair, this doesn’t mean that curly, wavy, and coily hair can't become oily. Everyone is susceptible to oily hair, regardless of hair type. Curly hair can take longer to become oily as oil from your scalp takes longer to travel down curly strands, but that doesn’t mean people with curly hair are immune to greasiness. In fact, if your hair’s super-coily, this can mean that oils struggle to move down the hair shaft and excess oil accumulates on your scalp as it can’t travel any further.
Why is my curly hair so greasy?
There are a number of factors that can lead curly hair to becoming greasy, including using products that are too heavy for your curl type, not rinsing products out properly after washing, using heavy serums and leave-in oils, and overstyling. Start by looking at the products you’re using on a daily and weekly basis, and assess if they’re too heavy for your curly hair type. Switching your shampoo and conditioner is a good start - after that, follow the advice above to begin caring for your scalp and reducing excess oil production.