Why Is Your Hair Greasy After Washing It? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

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There's literally no feeling more frustrating than having dirty hair, showering, and emerging with your hair feeling greasy, even after washing it. It kind of negates everything you just did, right? While grease is normal after a couple days, you definitely should not have oily hair when it's freshly washed, so something is going wrong. The causes can vary, but if this is something you've experienced, it's probably a good idea to figure out what's happening and correct it before you waste anymore of your time.

If you're like me and find washing and drying your hair to be a seriously arduous process, then you want to make sure that when you carve out time to do it, you're doing it right, and it's a wash that's going to last you. Whether you go a day, a few days, or a week between washes, you want to be able to go your standard duration and not have your hair grease up too quickly. Like, freshly out of the shower. What gives?!

There's several mistakes or oversights you could be making that are causing your hair to feel oily before your hair has even dried yet, so check out some of these more common ones to make sure your clean hair is actually clean.

1. You Over-Conditioned Your Hair

This mistake is made with the best intentions. You think you're taking care of your hair, so you slather conditioner all over it, but you actually don't need to. Your ends need it more than your roots do, and you might be putting too much conditioner on your roots, causing it to feel greasy. To remedy this, just put conditioner on your weak ends.

The botanical formula of this moroccan oil shampoo and conditioner helps reduce the sebum building up on the surface of your scalp. While this might go without saying, often the reason your hair appears greasy is because it's oily. Even if you've properly showered, excess oils can build up on the surface of your scalp causing your hair to appear as if it hasn't been washed in a while. Even better, this organic shampoo and conditioner combination is made without parabens, GMOs, or harmful chemicals. It's also vegan, cruelty-free, and organic. A win, win.

2. You Didn't Rinse All The Conditioner Out

In a rush? You might not have gotten it all out. Next time you shower, take your time and make sure all the suds are out before you call it a day. If you're not sure if you're washing your shampoo and conditioner out correctly, take it step by step.

You can start by washing your hair clean with just water. While there have been some myths that cold water more effectively washes your hair clean, you'll actually want to stick with warm (but not hot!) water when you shower. The warm water helps open up your cuticles so your shampoo can penetrate your hair. Be careful not to overdo it with the heat, though. Truly hot showers will cause your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.

For more info, check out this step-by-step guide to how to rinse conditioner out of your hair the right way.

3. Your Conditioner Is Too Strong

If you're only conditioning the ends and you made sure all the conditioner has rinsed out, you could be using a conditioner that's too strong for your hair. If you have fine, thin, or naturally oily hair, you may not need to use something as heavy as someone with thick hair, damage, or dry hair. Instead, switch to a lightweight conditioner, or even a conditioner spray.

This lightweight leave-in conditioner moisturizes your hair without leaving behind any grease. Just spritz it over damp or dry hair and let it sit. You'll have softer, more nourished (but not oily!) hair before you know it. One Amazon reviewer puts it best, "I never liked using leave in conditioners, they always weighed down my hair and left it greasy. This being said this is the BEST one! It's light, smells good, distributes evenly. I have processed hair and I use a blow dryer and straightener on my hair everyday and you would never know because it makes my hair that healthy."

4. You Have Product Buildup

The more product you use on your hair (think serums, heat protectants, hair sprays, etc.), the more buildup they create. Regular old shampoo doesn't always do the trick, and sometimes you have to use a clarifying shampoo to make sure all that gunk is out of there.

This anti-residue shampoo from Neutrogena is designed to reduce the build up of oils and residue caused by a lot of popular hair products. How it works: Continue using your regular hair products as you have been, but use this clarifying shampoo once a week. You'll see less build up, and a less greasy overall look to your hair. One fan writes, "I love this clarifying shampoo. I have naturally oily hair and this stuff really cleans my hair/scalp - I have also found it to be gentle enough to use daily. My hair does not feel brittle after shampooing which I was afraid of - really leaves it pretty soft..though I do follow up with conditioner still."

5. You're Rinsing With Super Hot Water

As mentioned before, there's an ideal temperature to wash your hair at to avoid build up and grease. Because super hot water stimulates the sebaceous gland, which secretes oil, your hair will look and feel greasier if you take hot showers. Wash your hair with warm water to allow your shampoos and conditioners to penetrate your hair follicles, and then finish with a cool rinse instead.

6. You Put Too Much Serum On

If the first thing you do after you wash your hair is put on your frizz fighter, shine serum, or heat protectant, just make sure you're only applying a small, pea-sized amount or so. Applying too much, even of a good thing, can cause greasy roots.

Made with coconut oil and egg, this anti-breakage serum helps promote stronger and healthier hair. It's lightweight, yet provides maximum hydration to your hair without leaving behind any grease. It's also blended with silk and keratin to help your hair shine. Apply a small pump to your hair while wet, and it'll dry soft, shiny, and grease-free.

7. You're Washing Too Often

You might think you need to wash more because your hair is oily, but the more you wash, the more oily it's going to get. Washing often dries out your scalp, so it will naturally secrete more oil to moisturize itself. Try going longer between washes and see if you notice a decrease in oil production.

Not sure if you're over-washing your hair? Here's a hair stylist's take on how often you should wash your hair if it tends to feel oily or greasy.

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This post was originally published on January 12th, 2016. It was updated on June 18th, 2019. Additional reporting by Amy Biggart.