You step out of a steaming shower feeling squeaky clean and ready to start the day.
You just sudsed up with your new natural shampoo and you feel pretty darn good about not putting any harsh chemicals on your locks.
After a quick blow dry, you flip your hair over. And immediately freak out when instead of the luscious locks you expected, you see greasy roots. Not coating your hair with phthalates, parabens, and chemical fragrances was not worth this greasy mess, was it? What gives?
Before you give your natural shampoo the evil eye, let’s take a look at what’s going down with your greasy hair.
Here’s What’s Causing Your Greasy Hair
First, your hair isn’t actually greasy.
The natural oils on your scalp make your hair feel slick. Those oils also keep your hair healthy. But regular shampoos contain harsh detergents that strip your hair of these natural oils.
“We are so used to overwashing our hair with sulfates to remove these natural oils that protect our hair and scalp,” says Kim Wallace, founder of kimberlyloc.com, a lifestyle and natural beauty blog. “So, making the switch from conventional to natural will make it appear that these shampoos are making your hair greasy. That’s not the case at all!”
Think of your hair as detoxing.
You just broke up with your conventional shampoo. And, your hair is going through an adjustment period. A greasy one.
“When you go from conventional hair products that are often filled with sulfates, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, potassium sorbate, and other harsh toxic chemicals, you have to expect a period of detoxification,” says Britanie Faith, founder of Beauty by Britanie, a lifestyle blog that incorporates natural beauty, fashion, and wellness. “It will manifest as a release of years of the toxic build up of residue, waxes, and chemicals that have been clogging your scalp and hair follicles.”
Your hair may not feel as luscious as you want it to, but don’t give into temptation and go back to regular shampoo. You’ll start the hair detox process all over again. And that means more days of greasy hair.
“Greasy hair is a good thing at the beginning of the transition,” Faith says. “A necessary side effect, if you will, of switching over to a healthier, more environmentally-friendly personal care product.”
“I went through this frustrating transition period too with my hair,” Faith says. “Ever since I made the switch (going on five years now), I've seen my hair become thicker, shinier, and grow at a very fast rate.”
“Anything worthwhile takes time and effort,” she says. “And just think how much healthier your entire body will be to eliminate all those chemicals in your morning shower.”
Wallace says you might just need to get used to what your hair feels like when it’s not stripped of its natural moisture. “If you prefer a little less oil, you can add apple cider vinegar as a rinse to help with removing product buildup,” she says.
How to Find the Right Natural Shampoo for You
Kate Murphy, founder of Living Pretty Naturally, a natural beauty and holistic health blog, says since most natural shampoos don’t have sodium laureth sulfates (SLES), foaming agents that strip the hair of grease, natural shampoos may appear to not work as well to remove grime.
Murphy recommends looking for natural shampoos that contain black soap or saponified coconut oil to give your hair that clean feeling.
Black soap, or African black soap, is traditionally made in West Africa from the ash of plants and barks such as plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea butter bark. It also includes oils like palm oil, coconut oil, or palm kernel oil. It’s a lightly exfoliating soap used for cleaning both body and hair.
And, saponified coconut oil is a lipid substance treated with sodium or potassium hydroxide to convert it into soap.
Wallace recommends testing a variety of shampoos to see what works for you. And to get rid of that greasy hair feeling. Her favorite tip? Ask for samples or buy travel sizes so you can explore different formulas without committing to full bottles.
And don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. “Make sure you write to the companies and express your opinion and experience,” she said. “They need this feedback in order to make even better products.”
7 Culprits Behind Your Greasy Hair (That Aren’t Your Natural Shampoo)
Turns out your natural shampoo isn’t causing your greasy hair. Blame one of these other more likely culprits instead.
1. Washing too often
It sounds counterintuitive. But you may need to chill out on the washing.
Washing your hair too much can dry out your scalp. And stripping the scalp of its natural oils might mean it overproduces oil to replace the moisture. Making your hair oiler than before.
2. Using too much shampoo
Don’t over apply your natural shampoo. “Some people feel that the more product they use, the better the chances of their hair not feeling greasy,” Faith says. “That's not a good idea and it won't help with the detox period. It's just a waste of shampoo.”
She recommends doing a double cleanse to the scalp. Start by applying a tiny amount of your natural shampoo to your scalp, massage it in, and then rinse. Then, use a normal amount of shampoo and rinse again.
“Doing this can remove build-up in the hair, especially if you use styling products,” she says. “Then, when you go in with the second shampoo, you’ll be able to cleanse your scalp more deeply with the added build-up already removed from the first wash.”
You can use two separate shampoos or the same one.
3. Using too much conditioner
Slathering on the conditioner won’t help your locks look less greasy. Quite the opposite.
Wallace recommends using conditioner before shampoo. And just use the conditioner on the ends of your hair, especially if you have fine hair.
4. Not fully rinsing out conditioner
If you rush in and out of the shower after hitting the snooze button twice, you might not have rinsed your hair as well as you needed to. And that extra product can lead to greasy hair.
Use a comb to distribute the conditioner evenly throughout your hair. Or, skip the roots and only condition the ends of your hair. And rinse, rinse, rinse.
5. Letting product build up
All that hairspray, dry shampoo, and leave-in conditioner you use might clunk up over time. “If you use a lot of hair product, double the wash to ensure you remove all build-up from the hair,” Murphy says.
And, before you start a new shampoo, give your locks a clarifying rinse. This will remove gunk and product build-up from your hair.
6. Using the wrong brush
The good news? Your natural shampoo isn’t stripping your hair of its natural oils. The bad news? Those oils may accumulate around your roots, making you feel like a grease ball.
But how you brush your hair may make the difference between a greasy mess and soft and shiny.
A natural bristle hair brush can redistribute your natural hair oil, getting rid of those greasy roots. “When your hair is dry, brush gently from roots to tips,” Faith says.
And make sure to clean your brush often. (Especially during your detox period.)
“A dirty hair brush will transfer dust, oil, and all kinds of residue remnants from years of chemical build-up on your hair strands,” Faith says. “Clean your hairbrush with a small amount of natural shampoo, then rinse with warm water, and dry face down on a clean towel.”
7. Not choosing the right shampoo for your hair type
If your hair feels like sad, greasy curtains hanging from your head, you probably didn’t choose the right shampoo for your hair type.
Put some oomph back in your hair with a natural shampoo designed specifically for your fine, oily, dry, or frizzy hair.
Want to Shampoo Your Hair Like a Green Beauty Blogger?
Don’t split hairs trying to decide on a natural shampoo to use. Wash your locks with the same shampoo green beauty bloggers use. Here’s what Kim Wallace is shampooing with right now.
De-gunk your hair of product build-up with this clarifying shampoo that’s also gentle enough for everyday use.
This shampoo balances pH levels, making it great for all hair types. Safflower and sunflower oil help moisturize hair. And, amino acids strengthen hair and boost elasticity.
Do you have a dry, flaking, or itchy scalp? While helpful for all hair types, this herbal-infused shampoo supports the treatment of dandruff, psoriasis of the scalp, and seborrheic dermatitis with ingredients like tea tree, lemon tea tree, geranium, and lavender.
This gentle shampoo cleanses and nourishes the scalp with its key ingredient: hemp seed oil. The Wonder Seed even calls hemp seed oil, “food for your scalp.” It comes in two scents: green tea and sweet orange.
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