Oil-Absorbing Shampoos for Greasy Hair

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

If you're no stranger to dealing with an oily scalp, you may be used to loading up on one too many dry shampoos as a solution. While these powder cleansers are a suitable temporary solution for sopping up excess oil and avoiding daily hair washing you don't want to solely rely on them.

'When dry shampoo particles build up on the scalp over time, they can clog hair follicles, trap oil, and prevent normal skin cell turnover', Nancy Samolitis, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles previously shared with ishonest. It creates something of a domino effect since Samolitis explained that 'this can lead to overgrowth of bacteria and yeast that normally live on the scalp and cause folliculitis, or the inflammation of hair follicles, and dandruff.' Folliculitis can, in turn, lead to red pimples and pustules sort of like acne on the scalp.

All that being said, it's best to moderate your dry shampoo usage with a traditional liquid shampoo for oily hair, which will essentially work the same way a powder does: absorbing oil, without leaving any residue. When seeking out the best shampoo for oily hair, cosmetic chemist Ginger King advises against buying formulas formulated with silicones. Some silicones may accumulate on the scalp over time, similarly to the way powder particles do, King explains.

This advice was a common thread among the experts we spoke to. Chicago-based hairstylist Nick Stenson also recommends steering clear of silicones. 'Silicone tends to coat the hair, making it heavy, which counteracts the benefits of the volumizing', he explains.

What's more, 'continued used of silicones over time can weigh down the hair', board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, who is based in New York City, previously told ishonest.

The best shampoos for oily hair are those that are formulated with clarifying and exfoliating ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, which reduce residue, oil, and build-up on the scalp, says King. New York City board-certified dermatologist Charlotte Birnbaum agrees, who previously told ishonest to look for a clarifying shampoo for a deep hair cleanse, preferably one with salicylic acid.

Now that you know which ingredients to look out for and which to avoid the next step is to adjust your washing frequency. 'For an oily scalp, I recommend more frequent shampooing, up to once a day', Birnbaum previously told ishonest.

All of this really depends on your hair type and texture, though. For example, Birnbaum explained that those with curly hair might be able to get away with less frequent shampooing once per week while folks with finer hair may need to shampoo more often. Everyone is different, so do a test run for a few weeks to see how your hair responds to a new regimen.

Before jumping into a fresh washday routine, get your shampoo options in order. We tapped several experts to find the best shampoos for oily hair that are available across a range of price points.

Klorane 2-in-1 Mask Shampoo Powder with Organic Nettle and Clay

Add a few drops of water to Klorane's 2-in-1 Mask Shampoo Powder and watch it magically transform into a thick, creamy foam. And, as its name aptly suggests, its nourishing formula is packed with oil-absorbing ingredients like nettle and clay the latter of which can 'minimize the appearance of greasy hair', Zeichner previously told ishonest.

Ogx Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo

Looking for a lightweight hydrating shampoo? Consider Ogx's Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo, formulated with a blend of coconut water, electrolytes, and coconut oil all of which work together to leave your hair strong, silky, and shiny. Cosmetic chemist Ni'kita Wilson previously told ishonest that coconut oil offers incredible moisturizing properties since it's rich in fatty acids. Additionally, New York City board-certified dermatologist Robert Finney previously explained that coconut oil can help condition and repair damaged hair, as well.

L'Oral Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo

This Best of Beauty Award-winning shampoo is an ishonest editor favorite and for good reason. The creamy formula inside L'Oral Paris's Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo is well-suited for oily-hair types since it's enriched with kaolin clay to eliminate excess oil and salicylic acid to exfoliate your scalp. According to ishonest's associate beauty director Sarah Kinonen, 'after using it once a day, I found my hair loved the stuff no easy feat for my thin, flat, color-treated hair.'

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

'Clarifying shampoos contain strong cleansing ingredients to fully remove dirt, oil, and residue from previous hair products', Zeichner previously told ishonest. Like other clarifying shampoos, Neutrogena's Anti-Residue Shampoo works to deep- clean hair and removes buildup on the scalp. The budget-friendly drugstore shampoo is also infused with hydrating glycerin to rebalance moisture levels in all hair types.

Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight Shampoo

This Best of Beauty Award-winning Wash Day Delight Shampoo from Carol's Daughter gently removes oil and build-up without stripping your scalp of moisture. Star ingredients include cleansing micellar water, moisturizing glycerin, exfoliating salicylic acid, and soothing aloe. What's more, Wilson previously told ishonest that micelles (or the gentle cleansers in micellar water) 'make your hair bouncier by cleansing it without stripping, and are good for all hair types.' To sweeten the deal even more, this shampoo is also sulfate-free.

Kevin Murphy Balancing Wash Shampoo

Maria Elizabeth, hairstylist and owner of Salon deZEN in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, loves Kevin Murphy's Balancing Wash Shampoo. 'This rich shampoo gently and effectively cleanses with green tea, strengthening hair against environmental damage', Elizabeth tells ishonest. As a counterbalance, ylang-ylang flower oil conditions and restores moisture on the scalp and hair.

Wella Invigo Aqua Pure Purifying Shampoo

Wella's Invigo Aqua Pure Purifying Shampoo is great for removing build-up and grease since it's enriched with lotus extract, which King explains has clarifying properties. King also notes that the shampoo comes infused with a slew of toning ingredients including citric acid (a type of AHA), glycerin, and grape seed extract that help alter the chemical composition of hair to level out oil production and make the color more balanced.

Matrix Total Results High Amplify Volumizing Shampoo

Turn up the volume that is, in your hair with Matrix's Total Results High Amplify Volumizing Shampoo that cleanses, strengthens, and adds buoyancy to flat hair. Key ingredients include hydrolyzed wheat protein to repair damaged hair, salicylic acid for deep exfoliation, and glycerin to hydrate dry hair.

Aveda Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo

Aveda's Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo uses buildup-removing micelles and clarifying white vinegar to break down excess grease. You'll also find rosemary and peppermint extract in the formula, which creates a soothing tingle as you lather. What's more, King previously told ishonest that peppermint extract can help remove excess sebum from your scalp.

Krastase Specifique Shampoo for Oily Scalp

New York City-based hairstylist Devin Toth recommends this Krastase shampoo since it helps treat the overproduction of sebum a crucial component of your skin barrier along with your scalp. The shampoo is also enhanced with glycine, a protein that helps regulate oil production, and according to Toth, 'prolongs the amount of time your hair can go without becoming greasy.'

Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo

Toth calls Shu Uemura's Cleansing Oil Shampoo 'perfect' for anyone with an oily scalp since it cleanses without stripping away your natural oils. Although the concept of using an oil-based shampoo to eliminate oil may sound counterintuitive, King says 'oil dissolves oils, as water and oil do not mix.' Additionally, according to King, the shampoo's key ingredient, onsen-inspired ferment which is derived from volcanic bacteria helps maintain a healthy scalp balance.

Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume

Rex Jimieson, a colorist at Chicago's Maxine Salon, recommends using this volumizing Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume which he notes is especially great for fine hair once a day for virgin hair, or once every other day for chemically treated hair. It's packed with a combination of moisturizing fruit and botanical extracts, as well as moringa seed extract, which, according to King, is 'known to get rid of pollution.' It also features a blend of hydrolyzed proteins, which are made with amino acids and peptides to strengthen brittle hair.

Playa Every Day Shampoo

'Playa's Every Day Shampoo really has everything you need for a daily shampoo with enough moisture to hydrate for a great air-dry', hairstylist Eddie Cook tells ishonest. With a lightweight texture that won't weigh the hair down, Playa's sulfate-free shampoo is formulated with nourishing coconut cleansers and moisturizing honey to hydrate as it cleanses.

Peter Coppola Clarifying Shampoo

While Peter Coppola's Clarifying Shampoo is strong enough to remove stubborn products like strong-hold hairsprays and gels (plus, oil and environmental buildup), it's also gentle enough for daily use. A blend of oils including, goldenseal, lemon, apple, and cactus help counteract the potentially damaging effects of chlorine, which can strip your scalp of natural oils and cause irritation.

Ethique St. Clements Shampoo Bar

This hydrating, moisture-attracting St. Clements Shampoo Bar was designed specifically with oily hair in mind. That's because it's formulated with nourishing ingredients like castor oil and cocoa butter and without harsh foaming agents, which can strip your scalp of natural moisture. To use, simply slide the shampoo bar from the roots to the ends of hair. Massage the cleanser into your scalp as it foams up, and then rinse away to reveal clean, refreshed hair.

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