Oily hair can be a cause of serious stress. Besides having to shampoo daily and being relegated to a tight bun, managing stubborn greasy locks can trigger feelings of shame, where your self-esteem ends up taking a hit. Out of the many remedies available to you, the easiest one is, perhaps, picking out the right shampoo.
First, let's talk about what oily hair can look like at the dermatologist's. According to Dr Maha Sultan, a specialist dermatologist at Medcare Medical Centre, Jumeirah, Dubai, signs of greasy hair include an oily scalp with yellowish scales and strands sticking together.
"Patients will say that they have to wash their hair every day or every other day, and if they stop for two days, the hair becomes very oily. They also complain of greasy dandruff," explained Dr Sultan.
What causes oily hair?
It boils down to genes at least "90 per cent of the time", our dermatology expert with 22 years of experience tells us. She added: "It's like skin - some people have dry or oily skin, and the scalp is the same. But, some other causes of oily hair can be diseases of the scalp, like seborrheic eczema (dandruff) or skin disease."
Even engaging in incorrect hair care practices could beget sticky hair. You might be using a shampoo meant for dry hair or are heavy-handed with oiling your scalp. Dr Sultan also says that applying excessive gel is another problematic habit.
"Those with oily hair should avoid shampoos for dry hair, since these can cause adverse side effects, commercial gels and keratin treatments in salons that are not medicated," advised Dr Sultan.
Which shampoo is the best for oily hair?
If you're wondering whether shampoo can help, the answer is yes. In the case of an underlying medical cause, however, your greasy hair might need more. "The right diagnosis needs to be made by a dermatologist before picking a medicated shampoo," she said, adding that severe cases may be treated with prescriptions for oral retinoid or cortisol creams.
For day-to-day management, Dr Sultan lists beneficial ingredients that can cut through the grease. Look for shampoos with selenium, salicylic acid, sulphur, and tea tree oil, if you prefer a natural alternative, all of which "help a lot in the treatment of oily scalp".
And, as tempting as it may be to shampoo daily, the best schedule for your hair is washing two to three times per week, but not more. "If we've chosen a good shampoo, this [schedule] is enough. Washing daily can affect the nutrition of the hair by removing good vitamins," explained Dr Sultan.
Make sure you're massaging the scalp thoroughly with the product, letting it sit for three minutes before rinsing. Dr Sultan added: "I advise my patients to do a final rinse with drinking water." You can hop out of the shower right after - a conditioner for oily hair types is usually not needed.
With recommendations from our expert and user reviews, we've compiled a list of the best shampoos for greasy hair that you can shop from Amazon. You can also check out our expert-picked shampoos for colour-treated hair, dandruff and thinning hair. Some of these are discounted thanks to Super Saver Week.
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1. Best Overall: Nizoral Anti-dandruff Shampoo (Pack of 3)
If oily hair and an itchy, flaky scalp is how you'd describe your concerns, then Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo is an oft-recommended solution. One of Dr Sultan's picks, this shampoo has a key ingredient, called ketoconazole, which binds itself to the hair's natural protein to eliminate dandruff. It dials down the symptoms associated with dandruff, including sebum buildup and scaling. Reviewers call the formula a miracle that works instantly after a few uses. Ratings of approval pour in from those who've suffered from oily hair for years, and many mention purchasing upon their dermatologist's suggestion.
2. Best Non-Drying: Bioderma Node DS+ Anti Dandruff Intense Shampoo Hair Scalp Care
This bottle of Bioderma Node DS+, recommended by Dr Sultan, goes the extra mile by reducing the scalp's sebum secretion. Formulated for itchy heads marked by dandruff, it cuts down excess oil on the scalp to prevent the overgrowth of yeast. In its long list of useful, patented ingredients, you'll also find salicylic acid, zinc and soothing agents like Palmitamide MEA, an anti-inflammatory. Like Nizoral, it's meant to stay on for a few minutes before rinsing.
3. Best Clarifying Shampoo: Ouai Detox Shampoo
A detoxifying shampoo can help cleanse the scalp, if you routinely layer on styling products. The Ouai shampoo is meant for a clarifying treatment twice a week to get rid of buildup, dirt and oil. It does this with apple cider vinegar, known for exfoliating and adding shine, hydrolysed keratin to keep the hair moisturised and chelating agents for tackling hard water deposits. Reviewers with oily hair say that they're finally able to end their frustrating search thanks to this detox shampoo, immediately noticing how clean and fresh their scalp feels. It doesn't strip the locks of necessary moisture, which is a huge plus. Most are able to proudly wear their three-day hair out.
4. Best with Tea Tree Oil: Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special
Transform weighed down and lifeless locks with Paul Mitchell's tea tree shampoo. It's infused with natural tea tree oil, a wonder ingredient that's antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory, peppermint, and lavender to rid the scalp of impurities, with an invigorating scent that offers aromatherapy of sorts in the mornings. Like most tea tree oil products, the shampoo leaves behind a cooling, tingling sensation on the scalp. Do note that it's not recommended for broken skin, which can, in turn, cause irritation. Even people with thick oily hair find relief in the reviews, as they chime in with recommendations from their hairdressers. They've also managed to skip a few wash days.
5. Best Anti-Dandruff: Isdin Nutradeica Oily Anti Dandruff Shampoo
Another medicated shampoo recommended by our expert is the Isdin oily dandruff treatment. It targets excess sebum with the anti-dandruff ingredient piroctone olamine, antioxidants and minerals. Unlike other shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis, this one is meant for the specific yellow scaling found on oily scalps. Buyers, too, attest to the difference in the texture of their hair, which is no longer greasy. Though it removes excess sebum, it retains essential moisture for the health of your locks.
6. Best Dry Shampoo: Klorane Dry Shampoo With Nettle Oil Control
Get instant fluffy and volumised hair with dry shampoo, especially when you're pressed for time. This temporary solution uses a powdery formula to absorb the excess oil on the scalp, an expert previously told us. Their number-one pick is Klorane, and our choice is the range infused with nettle oil, an oil-controlling ingredient. It promises sebum-free bouncy locks in just 25 seconds that will last you for up to 48 hours. Don't worry about the residue - reviewers say that it immediately dissipates once you brush it out. It's especially helpful for fine oily hair types or anyone who wants to stretch out their wash days.
7. Best for Scalp Acne: Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo, Scalp Build-Up Control
Still want a more potent option? Neutrogena's 3% salicylic acid shampoo might seal the deal for you. This active ingredient treats symptoms caused by scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, breaking down crusty buildup and fighting off scalp acne. Reviewers take note of the transformation of their 'wet mop', the shampoo reviving their tresses through late evening, and getting rid of their painful pimples.
8. Best for Odour: Shiseido Professional Fuente Forte Shampoo Scalp Care, 500ml
Japanese haircare is all the rage on social media, and beauty enthusiasts on TikTok are rallying behind viral Shiseido hair masks and shampoos. Its salon professional line offers the Fuente Forte shampoo for purifying scalp care, best for those who experience clogged pores, odour, stickiness and dandruff due to excess sebum. The silicone-free formula is fortified with salicylic acid and natural ingredients: sansho extract, Japanese pepper for boosting blood circulation; Scutellaria extract, which is a moisturising, antioxidant active; peony root extract for breaking down sebum; and the antibacterial neem leaf extract. With the addition of menthol and a mild floral scent, you're getting a cooling sensation after every wash. Happy reviewers say that the shampoo doesn't strip necessary oils and cleans the scalp well, effectively eliminating odour.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.