Ingredient Label Reading: The Best Ingredients For Oily Hair Shampoos

Shampoos for oily hair should contain specific ingredients astringent enough to remove excess oils, such as tea tree oil, sage or citrus fruit essences.

One quick trip down the haircare section of a department store should demonstrate that not all shampoos are created alike.There are shampoos specifically designed for color-treated hair, dry hair, oily hair, thin hair or thick hair.Each one advertises specific ingredients meant to address all of these hair conditions, but how can consumers know if the oily hair shampoo on the store shelf will help the oily hair on their scalp?It all comes down to ingredients.

First of all, hair in and of itself is not particularly oily.It's mostly a chain of proteins excreted through pores in the scalp and other places.What makes hair relatively dry or oily is the work of sebaceous glands called sebum, which reside around each hair follicle.The sebum excrete an oily substance onto the scalp throughout the day.A certain amount of this oil is essential to maintain a healthy scalp free of dry patches and flakes.But factors such as stress or hair color can cause the sebum to produce more oil than necessary.This excess oil is drawn through the hair by a wick effect or through the use of hair brushes and combs.The result is often a head full of limp, greasy hair which will not maintain its shape.

The first shampoo of the day removes most of the excess oil and dirt from the scalp, but it doesn't stop the sebum from producing more oil. Sometimes those who suffer from extremely oily hair must shampoo twice a day for maximum benefit.


Redheads with thicker hair are least likely to have oil problems, because they have the fewest hair follicles per inch and therefore fewer sebaceous glands.Blondes with very fine hair are most likely to suffer from oily hair, because they have the most follicles per inch and the extra sebaceous glands create more oil.Brunettes also lean towards oily conditions, but it depends on the thickness of individual hair follicles.

So what ingredients should a consumer look for when purchasing a shampoo for oily hair?Think astringents.The last thing oily hair needs is more oil, so eliminate any product which promotes shine or extra body.Oily hair needs to be shampooed on a daily basis, so try not to invest in heavier salon-type shampoos with lots of added vitamins and exotic ingredients.You'll wash most of them out anyway, so stick with a good daily shampoo specifically designed for 'normal to oily hair' at least.A shampoo which specializes in oily hair might be best, but only if it can be used frequently.

Specifically, there are two different camps of oily hair ingredients to look for- the herbs and the fruits.Herbal shampoos designed for oily hair should contain astringent plant extracts such as rosemary, sage, chamomile or tea tree oil.

The idea is to cut through the oil with a slightly acidic detergent.These plant extracts have the ability to break up the oil molecules and allow them to be swept away by the detergents and sodium in the shampoo base.Tea tree oil is expecially effective and can be found in salons, better department stores and in generic form at beauty supply shops.Shampoos containing herbs can often be found in discount and drug stores.The addition of herbs doesn't necessarily mean the shampoo itself is more effective, so you may have to experiment before using cheaper herbal shampoos.

The other ingredients most likely to be found in oily hair shampoos are fruit essences.Specifically, many shampoos for oily hair will contain the oils of citrus fruits such as oranges, mangoes or limes.Again, the idea is to use acidic shampoos to cut through the excess oil buildup.Using citrus fruits in shampoo provide the same effects as citrus-based cleansers do for floors or sinks.The fruit oils quickly strip away surface dirt and oil, allowing the detergents to break up the deeper buildup around the scalp.Shampoos with fruit extracts may not emphasize their oil-cleansing ability, but consumers with oily hair can be assured of their overall effectiveness.

While herbal or citric shampoos may be readily available, the same does not hold true for conditioners.There are very few conditioners on the market which are designed for oily hair.In fact, those with very oily hair should avoid using conditioner altogether, or only use it on the very ends of the hair, not on the scalp.Most conditioners contain oils for added shine or control, which will only compound the problem for those with oily hair.Instead, use a vinegar rinse for additional conditioning after shampooing.Some consumers also find that beer works well as a conditioner for oily hair, but only use it occasionally.Avoid overbrushing oily hair, because the brushing action will draw excess oil from the scalp and spread it all the way to the tips.

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