No matter the event, any meeting with a hair expert in Singapore usually ends up with someone asking: “How can I deal with an oily scalp and dry hair?”
It was the same situation when I met Alterna Haircare’s Global Creative Director, Michael Shaun Corby, who like me, had much to say about the effects of Singapore’s humid weather on his scalp – feeling a layer of grease, wanting to shampoo twice a day, you get the idea.
But he also warns, that it is this same need for frequent hair washing that may be causing your oily scalp, rather than the hot weather. “People keep their scalp so dry for fear of going out into this humidity, that we are telling our scalp that it needs more oil,” he says.
It works the same way as it does with your skin: Constant usage of harsh oil-fighting products without properly hydrating it will dry the skin out, causing it to overcompensate for the lack of moisture by producing more sebum.
Similarly, Michael adds that apart from lifestyle and environmental factors, genetics can be the root of the problem, too.
The one-minute test
So how do you tell what’s really causing your oily scalp problem?
“They’re going to look the same – it’s going to be sebum, it is what it is – but the texture of the sebum will really tell you if you’re having some sort of genetic issue, or if it’s being caused by external factors,” says Michael.
For a person with a genetic oily scalp problem, Michael says that the texture of sebum will tend to feel waxy and thick, and you may want to watch out for hair loss issues in the near future. In the worst case scenario, if you feel or see a substance almost like ear wax, under your nail when you scrape your scalp, book an appointment with a hair loss expert as soon as possible.
But, if your oily scalp is mainly caused by your lifestyle – diet, frequent washing – or environmental factors, then the sebum will feel a lot thinner. So instead of a waxy substance, it feels exactly like, well, oil.
Bonus hair experiment!
Apart from feeling the texture of sebum, you can also do a little experiment by washing your hair less frequently for about two months or so.
Give ample time for your scalp to adjust to the change, just like how you would with a new skincare routine. If your scalp is still oily at the end of the period, then it’s highly likely a genetic problem.
Once you’ve figured out the real cause of the problem, it’ll be a lot easier to find products that are better suited for your scalp. Try this tonight!
Want to know more about what causes oily scalps and hair loss? Check out these five factors and why you need to start thinking about hair loss now. If you’re looking for a good clarifying treatment instead, try this.