How to retrain your hair to be less greasy
The secret to washing your hair less frequently? Well, just wash it less. Of course, it’s not just that simple, so allow me to explain. “Hair training,” which is also known as “scalp training,” is a method of retraining your hair to produce less grease, therefore requiring fewer washes.
In short: The more often you wash your hair, the more natural oil—or sebum—your body wants to produce. When your scalp is stripped of its natural oils from all that shampooing, it goes into oil-production overdrive resulting in greasier, dirtier hair.
It’s also important to take a closer look at your hair texture and type, as this can have a lot to do with your washing needs. For example, fine Caucasian hair tends to absorb grease and dirt faster, while coarse and curly hair runs drier. While genetics play a significant role in your hair’s needs, it is possible to reset your scalp’s oil production with a training regimen. Below, I explain how you can shampoo less frequently, as well as share a few tricks to extend days between washes in the meantime.
For those who wash their hair five or more times per week, this might be a slower and more gradual process. Start by reducing your washes to four times per week, then three times the next week, and eventually two. Those who wash their hair three times per week can reduce their washes to twice a week for a couple of weeks and then eventually perhaps to just once a week. After a month or so, you’ll notice a clear difference in your scalp’s oil production. During these weeks of wash reduction, you might discover that your hair needs time to adjust. There are things you can do to make the process easier and products you can buy to help extend days between washes. Below, we’re sharing some of our favorite know-hows:
1. Stay cool
Hot water is a no-no—whether it’s in your hot tub or bathtub. To ensure that your scalp doesn’t lose too much moisture when showering or bathing, avoid very hot water, as this can dry out the skin.
2. Scrub a dub dub
Just as you’d use a scrub to exfoliate your skin or body, there are scrubs formulated just for your scalp and hair. Before shampooing with a clarifying shampoo (more on that later), try a scrub. Some of our favorites formulas include this sea salt scrub by SOLU, this acid blend from Drunk Elephant, and this homemade DIY sugar-and-vinegar scrub. By combining moisturizing ingredients with exfoliants, you can remove buildup from the scalp without depriving it of essential moisture.
3. Sulfates to the side
Sulfates, which add suds to your favorite shampoos, aren’t all bubbles and fun. While they might make your hair feel super clean, in fact, they strip it bare of its natural oils. Opt for a clarifying shampoo like one from Morrocan Oil or Oribe, and your strands will dutifully slow down their oil retention.
4. Cut down on products
We know you love your hair products. We love them, too! But during this time of retraining, you’ll need to slow your usage as they often contribute to buildup and grease, except for dry shampoo—that can stay. In fact, dry shampoo might just be your best friend. We always like to keep this one from R+Co on hand.
5. Wear your hair up
By having your hair tied up or pulled back, you’re less inclined to touch it. Less touching = less oil. We typically reserve the hair-up day as the last final day before washing as it makes oily stands a bit less obvious.
6. V is for vinegar
Does your hair feel like it’s being pushed to the limits of greasiness? Give your strands a break by rinsing them with a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar. This helps reset your hair’s PH balance and buys you some extra time between wash days.
All of this hard, greasy work comes with a reward: healthier hair that requires less maintenance. So next time your blowout stretches into day six, pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you did to make that happen.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.
- "How to Train Your Hair to Be Less Greasy, According to Hairstylists," Byrdie, February 14, 2021.
- "Is It Possible to Train Your Hair to Be Less Greasy?," Healthline, n.d.