Do you have an oily scalp with sticky, lifeless, and limp hair on the crown? Does your hair turn greasy just 2-3 days after shampooing even though no hair oil is applied? Do you experience pesky scalp pimples, blemishes, or hair loss pretty often? All these can result from the oiliness of the scalp, which is caused by the sebum produced in it. Regular hair wash can certainly help in keeping the scalp clean and oil-free, but washing the hair too frequently is also not recommended as it hampers the natural oil balance of the scalp. Moreover, it can ruin your efforts to curb down scalp oiliness indirectly by forcing the hair follicles to produce even more sebum. Hence, it is important to control sebum production on the scalp so that it remains grease-free and your mane remains lustrous. We bring you the best natural tips and tricks here.
What Is Sebum?
Sebum is essentially an oily, waxy substance produced by the microscopic sebaceous glands located under the surface of the skin over the vast majority of the body. According to the Harvard Medical School, it is a complex mixture of fatty acids (57%), wax esters (26%), squalene (12%), and cholesterol (4.5%) along with sweat, dead skin cells, and tiny particles of dust floating around. The term ‘sebum’ is the medical name used for ‘natural skin oils, which coat the skin thoroughly and keep it moisturized. However, if your skin or scalp feels too oily, it means your glands are producing more sebum than it requires (1).
Our scalp and face contain the highest number of sebaceous glands while shins and other smooth surfaces have fewer ones. The face itself contains around 900 glands/sqcm. of skin. The palms of hands and the soles of feet are the only areas with no gland at all.
Why Is Sebum Produced On Scalp?
Sebum production is a natural yet complex process that is quite necessary for our body. The primary function of sebum is to provide the skin and the scalp with protection against moisture loss. The sebaceous glands on the scalp are often grouped around hair follicles, and some of them also exist independently. The sebum produced by those glands lubricates the scalp and forms a protective barrier on it in order to moisture, protect, and waterproof the hair shafts. Sebum is also known to keep the delicate pH levels of the scalp in balance. These help in averting a number of scalp issues like dryness, itchiness, dandruff, etc., while maintaining the life and luster of the locks. In addition, sebum is believed to hold great antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, but scientists are still researching on these secondary functions (2).
Why Does The Scalp Overproduce Sebum?
Overproduction of sebum is usually associated with the changes in hormonal levels in the body. If you have very active androgens and high levels of progesterone in your body, the production of sebum on your scalp will go up. Another reason could be the excessive dryness of the scalp, which triggers the hair follicles to produce more sebum. Bad hair hygiene and consumption of too much oily food can also cause excess production of sebum in your body. Several underlying medical conditions, certain hormonal medications, and a few other outside factors are also associated with an uptick in the production of sebum on the scalp.
The condition in which the sebum secretion remains within certain limits is called ‘Physiological Seborrhea’. But when the functionality of sebaceous glands becomes abnormal and the excess secretion of sebum leads to skin problems, the condition is called ‘Pathological Seborrhea’.
Read Also – Home Remedies For Itchy Scalp
Tricks To Control Sebum Production On Scalp
So now that we know the causes, how do we control sebum production on scalp? These simple natural tips and tricks will help you immensely:
1. Eat Right Food
Eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and proteins in order to ensure good hair health. Also, make sure that you include minerals like zinc and sulfur in your daily meals. They help in improving the circulation of blood throughout the body as well as the scalp, thereby controlling the overproduction of sebum and reducing oiliness.
2. Massage With Jojoba Oil
An oil massage to cut down excess oil from the scalp? Will it really work? Well, only a good oil can help remove the bad oil from the skin of the scalp. Jojoba oil regulates the amount of oil produced in the hair follicles, which aids in reducing scalp oiliness. Take 3-4 teaspoons of jojoba oil and give your scalp a good massage with it. You should also work it through the length of your hair and let it soak in the oil for an hour before rinsing with a mild shampoo.
Read Also – Jojoba Oil – What You Need To Know
3. Avoid Sulfate Shampoos
Sulfates are actually industrial detergents used to remove all sorts of oil and grime in industrial levels. You can imagine how harsh they can be on your tender hair follicles. Sulfates in commercial shampoos not only dry up the hair follicles but also cause them to overproduce sebum. So, avoid using shampoos containing various compounds of sulfates and go in for a mild and natural shampoo instead.
Read Also – Why Use A Paraben And Sulfate-Free Shampoo?
4. Rinse ’em Out Well
Your shampoo and conditioner can also give you an oily scalp by getting trapped in the hair follicles. Make sure that you rinse your hair really well after shampooing and conditioning until the water runs completely clean. Also, use cold water for the final rinse in order to seal the hair cuticles. If you use hot water instead, the follicles will again open up and the sebum will start oozing out.
5. Wash With Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is extremely helpful in maintaining the pH balance of the scalp, which further helps in controlling the overproduction of sebum on the scalp. For this, you need to add the juice of half a lemon to 3 cups of water. Once you are done with your hair wash (shampooing, conditioning, and rinsing), do a final rinse with this lemon-water mixture to constrict the hair follicles and reduce oiliness.
6. Get Rid Of Buildups
Using too many hair styling products can cause buildups at the hair follicles on your scalp. This increases the production of sebum in order to push them out. Hence, it is essential to get rid of product buildups in order to eliminate the oiliness of the scalp. You can prepare a paste by mixing baking soda with water and rub it gently on the scalp to remove any buildup. Then, wash it off with lukewarm water.
7. Have More Vitamin B
Include B vitamins in your diet as much as possible. This is amazingly helpful in controlling the secretion of excess oil from the scalp and the skin naturally from within. Eat fresh fruits, meat, eggs, fish, and leafy vegetables to get your required daily dose of vitamin B and keep oiliness at bay.
8. Use A Dry Shampoo
If you want an instant fix for your oily scalp, use a high-quality dry shampoo. It absorbs the excess sebum secreted by the hair follicles on the scalp, thereby making the hair look fresh and healthy. This way, dry shampoo will also help you avoid excessive washing of your locks with harsh shampoos. As a result, the natural oil balance of your scalp will not be affected.
Read Also – 5 DIY Homemade Dry Shampoos
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How To Remove Sebum Plugs From Scalp?
Massage your scalp gently with the pads of your fingers under running warm water. Cleanse it by using a mild clarifying shampoo that will eliminate sebum plugs and also purify the scalp properly. Finally, rinse your hair thoroughly and condition.
How To Unclog Hair Follicles Naturally?
Use a mixture of ginger paste and lemon juice to cleanse your scalp. Massage the mixture in gently while moving your fingertips in a small circular motion. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that the hair follicles become unclogged. Then, wash off with lukewarm water.
How To Rejuvenate Hair Follicles Naturally?
If your hair follicles need to be rejuvenated to get rid of the effects of overactive sebaceous glands, use a mixture of almond oil, rosemary essential oil, and peppermint essential oil. Massage it into your scalp gently and wait for half an hour before rinsing.
- “Sebum Buildup: 3 Causes And 2 Steps to Get rid of It“, HairGuard.com
- “What Is Sebum and Why Does It Build Up on Skin and Hair?“, HealthLine.com