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Oily hair is something of a misnomer. On the days when your strands appear to be at their greasiest, the real culprit is your scalp.
After all, that’s where the oil in your hair comes from—not from going too long without a shampoo. And left too long, an excess of oil can lead to flaking, irritation and fungus. Not good.
This is why the best shampoos for oily hair are formulated to target the scalp. Yes, they’ll wash your hair, too, but because they’re tasked with doing the deep work of resetting your hair’s foundation, some of them might dry out your locks in the process—so they may not be good for regular use. Others, however, are gentle enough to use every other day. In either case, you always want to make sure to pair a shampoo with a conditioner.
But there isn’t one oil-fighting shampoo panacea for everyone. What works on your oily scalp might not be the best approach for the next person. You may not need to swap out your current, preferred shampoo, so much as you need one waiting in the wings for the days your scalp needs a little rebalancing.
For a roster of the best shampoos for oily scalps (and hair), read on. You’ll likely find one or two options that suit your needs.
Best Daily Use Scalp Detoxifying Shampoo: British M Kombucha Shampoo
While we don’t advocate daily shampooing, it may sometimes feel necessary, especially if your scalp is oily. British M’s kombucha shampoo harnesses the power of fermentation to give your scalp a “teatox”. It balances pH levels and oil levels alike, while giving you one of the softest and most refreshing washes we’ve experienced. If you feel like daily use is necessary at the start of your reset, this one will steadily encourage you to space out the shampooings—first every other day, then every third day. Take it steady, and watch your scalp actively “learn” to produce less oil. Best of all, it comes in a huge 750mL bottle, so it lasts a long time and is an incredible value.
Best One-and-Done Detox Shampoo: OUAI Detox Shampoo
Don’t take this the wrong way, because this OUAI (pronounced “way”) is so right when it comes to a restart. It’s cleansing can feel like you’re blanching all the oil from your scalp, but not one that’ll dry out either your scalp or your hair. In other words, it’ll leave behind a blank slate. Chase it with a few minutes’ conditioning (or a hair mask, perhaps), and keep this secret weapon on hand for any excess sebum buildup, post-workout sweat cleanups and to flush out any product residue. (It’s not the best for daily use, but then again, few shampoos are.) Still, as effective as it is at detoxifying, it’s just as good at fortifying the hairs and toning the scalp, thanks to the keratin and apple cider vinegar in its formula.
Best Warm-Weather Shampoo: Fellow Barber Summer Wash
Fellow’s summer shampoo is the yin to their winter shampoo’s yang. What makes it specifically ‘summer’? The light-foaming, alcohol-free formula is powered by coconut-derived surfactants, which flush away sweat, oil and grime while also balancing the scalp with zinc and rosemary leaf oil. (This makes it terrific as a year-round pick for oily scalps, too.) So, if your oily scalp is a summer condition, then stock up now. If it’s perennial, then, well, get even more.
Best Shampoo Scrub for a Deep Clean: Davines Detoxifying Scrub Shampoo
Scalp scrubs are underrated; they primarily lift dead skin and boost circulation around the scalp, which promotes optimal hair growth. The best ones, however, do this by deploying ingredients that also balance the scalp. That said, most scalp scrubs are also difficult to use if you’ve got a lot of hair because it can be a challenge to actually get the grit onto the skin. Here’s the best remedy: Davines’ shampoo has the right amount of scrub particles (in the form of jojoba esters), and all you have to do is massage it into your scalp. This action gets the scalp extremely clean, mitigating oily buildup while also flushing away loose, dead skin. The exfoliation leaves a tingling freshness in its wake and allows other nourishing ingredients to absorb more effectively. Use it once a week, or once every other week, since it’s a bit too strong for anything more frequent.
Best Luxury Shampoo for Oily Hair: Sisley Paris Soothing Rebalancing Shampoo
This is the bubble bath of shampoos. Its sudsy lather feels luxurious, but it does serious work fortifying your hair with panthenol and cotton proteins. Moreover, it tones the scalp with celery seed and sage extract, fights fungal foes with piroctone olamine and calms irritation with alpha bisabolol. It’s the first step in Sisley’s rebalancing regimen (preceding an exquisite conditioner and serum), and can be used once a week while you steadily center your scalp. (You’ll feel instant balance, yes, but continued use will give you a reset for the long haul.)
Best Shampoo for Oily, Dyed Hair: R+Co Oblivion Clarifying Shampoo
If you dye your hair, then color preservation is always of utmost importance. But if you also want to control the oil, you need a shampoo that flushes grime but not color. Enter Oblivion, R+Co’s solution for all hair types, but especially those mindful of color compromise. It is especially vengeful against chlorine, hard water, stylers and heat, gently wiping out the buildup and strain from these variables while simultaneously toning oil levels with tea tree oil and witch hazel. It uses rosemary leaf extract and coconut oil to nourish strands, too.
Best Dry Shampoo: Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo
Between washings, you might have the best “good hair days” on record, which makes you hesitant to shampoo it all away. The best way to mitigate sebum buildup on these days is a dry shampoo, which you apply directly to the scalp so that it can soak up oils and prop up hairs. Oribe’s dry shampoo is unparalleled in this category, delivering a cast-free powder spray that smells as fantastic as your hair looks. It soothes the scalp with lavender and chamomile and fortifies the hair with extracts of myrrh, rice silk, celery seed, lychee and edelweiss flower. Use it on second- and third-day hair before you wash in full. (Feel free to rinse with conditioner on those days, too, but only use this and other dry shampoos on dry hair.)