Have you ever wondered why humans are the only animal on the planet who constantly needs to wash themselves in order to stay clean? We don’t have too, at leat as often and efficiently.
Is it Possible to Affect Greasy Hair and What Actually Causes Hair Getting Greasy?
The rapid greasing of the hair is usually due to overactive sebaceous glands that produce too much sebum. This imbalance can itself be affected. Although the hair’s natural sebum and conditioner has many benefits for the hair and scalp, it does make the hair look greasy and dirty in excessive amounts.
Hair that quickly gets greasy is usually a response to excessive washing and irritating detergents that disturb the natural moisture balance of the scalp. As the surface of the scalp dries, the sebaceous glads desperately seek to restore the situation by accelerating their activity. The bone-dry surface of the scalp and the excessive sebum pushing underneath often cause other symptoms, such as itching of the scalp, flaking and even hair loss. The skin is the larges organ on our body and it is a two-way and responsive protection between us and the world.
The dryness, itching and quick greasing have improved by many only by replacing a shampoo containing sulphates (sodium laurel sulphate) to a milder washing shampoo bar. When going through the ingredients in a common shampoo, this synthetic detergent is found second after water in the ingredient list or first in the case of a lump shaped shampoo. There are different kinds of sulphates and milder detergents, however in this context I specifically refer to the commonly used SLS. Which is a synthetic, strong industrial detergent, that interferes with the function of the skin’s protective layer, the hydrolipid membrane. This thin protective skin layer consists of e.g. water, sweat and sebum and helps the scalp and also the facial skin to retain moisture. It protects the skin from e.g. inflammations, dandruff and from drying.
Back in 40’s-60’s, hair washing was a routine about once or twice a week. It was not until the 80’s that there was a shift in washing the hair and body many times a week or even on a daily basis with sulphate containing shampoos and shower soaps. I argue that many of the scalp diseases and skin problems that occur and increase today are caused by excessive washing with too strong detergents.
How to Extend the Washing Interval?
Here are a few tips on how to extend the washing interval and possibly also soothe itching and symptoms of the scalp. The scalp enjoys variation and below you can find a few recipes on how to care for and wash your hair more naturally and gently.
- Extend the Washing Interval
Hah, this may sound quite self explanatory, but try adding at least one extra day in between to the standard washing cycle. The greasiness will stabilise surprisingly quickly if you are patient and let your hair rest for a while. It works best if you make a real jump start and even take a week long washing break (this works if you normally wash daily or every other day). I will give you a couple of tips later to help you survive the worst greasy days, instead of having to wear a beanie . Make sure that you deeply cleanse your hair of any styling products before starting the adjustment period. You can deep clean your hair with activated carbon shampoo, for example Shampoo Bar AC Detox, deep cleansing.
Note! In case the greasiness is caused by seborrhoea, I.e. sebum rash, the scalp on the contrary must be washed and cleaned regularly.
2. Brush your Hair
Brush your hair diligently. The old tip, that the secret to beautiful hair is 100 brush strokes a day involves wisdom. Brushing, especially with a natural brush spreads the hair’s own sebum along the length of the hair and this helps the hair to create its own protective layer on the surface of the hair. When there is a moderate (i.e. natural) amount of sebum on the hair’s surface they do not feel greasy. This is also an important part of the more radical “No poo” method, which is based on only washing your hair with water. I was on the water wash for just over a year and it works. If you would like to find out more about washing with only water there are Facebook groups and google “No Poo Method”.
3. Wash your Hair with a Mild Shampoo
Traditional soap based shampoo bars are a good choice. Do however notice that there are differences between shampoo bars and soap bars intended for e.g. cleaning- , hand- or body- wash, which are usually not suitable for washing the hair. There are big differences between soaps for washing hands, cleaning and washing the hair, both in the oils used and in the over-fatting (fat that does not saponify). This largely determines how washable the soap is. The properties of soaps and shampoos also vary depending on the manufacturer and the recipe used.
Kolme Cosmetics shampoo bars are especially designed for Finnish fine hair and contain lighter oils that minimise soap residue on the surface of smooth hair. D-panthenol has also been added to the bars, bringing silkiness and workability to the hair.
Shampoo Bar Nettlemary is designed especially for a vastly greasing scalp. Nettle and rosemary essential oils help balance sebum production and make the hair clean and soft.
The soap-based shampoo bars are always alkaline, and after washing it is a good idea to use an acid rinse that restores the pH of the scalp. It also adds shine and manageability to the hair. Many however get by well even without an acid rinse. There are many types of hair and the best treatment for your own hair will only be found by trying. The myth that an alkaline soap-based shampoo would destroy and dry your hair probably stems from the fact that an unsuitable soap bar has been used to wash your hair.
4. Use Kitchen Ingredients for Washing
Hair enjoys variation and you can for instance replace every other shampoo bar wash with an alternative ingredient. These ingredients, which can also be found in the kitchen cupboard, help to extend the washing interval and also bring help to itching and other symptom of the scalp. Many natural products themselves contain cleansing and even lathering ingredients that work surprisingly well as shampoo substitutes. Choose your favourite or use them all in alternately.
- Wash your hair with eggs - A protein wash that brings shine and softness. Recipe: Egg yolk + 1,5dl water.
(Double the recipe if you have long hair) Mix and use lukewarm water. Brush your hair thoroughly and apply the mixture to the scalp and hair. Lather and rinse with cool water to prevent a hair omelette. You can also make a hair-repairing protein-containing hair mask when you let the mixture last longer (10-15min). The scent of egg fades quickly from the hair. You can make the scent more pleasant by adding a couple of drops of essential oil or lemon to the mixture. After washing your hair with the egg mixture, you can rinse your hair. Acid rinse with apple cider vinegar has an anti fungal and anti-inflammatory effect and alone can help with itchy scalp. Instructions can be found here.
- A natural dry shampoo + instant hair refreshing with potato flour/cocoa powder.
Both ingredients work together or separately. You can adjust the ratio of starch and cocoa according to your hair colour. You can add a couple of drops of essential oil the mixture (e.g. peppermint or bergamot) and your hair will smell amazing. You can put the dry shampoo in an empty salt shaker or apply a powder line directly to the hair roots. Apply to the scalp, rub into the hair and leave on for 2 minutes and brush off. This is a surprisingly effective and quick hair refresher. You can also apply the dry shampoo in the evening and brush it in the morning (be sure to use a towel to protect the pillow).
- Washing hair with rye flour
Mix 2 tablespoons rye flour + 1dl water. Mix and let the rye flour bake for about 15 minutes. (I recommend to use rye flour with a finer texture). Wet the hair and use as shampoo. Rinse with cool water. Rye flour contains natural saponins, therefore the mixture will lather mildly. The pH of rye flour is close to the pH of the scalp.
There are many more simple recipes for hair care that I will tell you more about in future posts. Would you like to know more of a particular scalp symptom or dilemma for which you would like to read treatment tips or get a recipe?
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