How to Remove Oil From Hair Without Washing It

by Melissa J. Bell

Get beautiful, shiny hair without the shampoo fuss.

Choreograph/iStock/Getty Images

Put down that pocket comb, daddy-o -- there's no need to settle for the unintentional rockabilly 'do on days when your hair oil is out of control. Sure, a good dollop of oil can make your hair look sleek, healthy and shiny, but misjudge the amount -- or miss a shower -- and you're sporting a heavy, lanky look all day. If you've no time for a shampoo, cut through that oil slick on your head with detergent-free alternatives that not only prolong your between-showers hairstyle, but keep your hair healthier in the long run.

Your Own Oil Rig

A natural buildup of oil on your head may be unavoidable. Your scalp's sebaceous glands work to keep your strands from drying out, but sometimes miss the memo that your hair passed "hydrated" and moved on to "limp" a long time ago. Too much or too little washing can contribute to oil overproduction, but the woke-with-it greaser look is also often attached to hereditary traits, skin conditions and hormone fluctuations from pregnancy, puberty and birth control medication.

An Ounce of Prevention

Oil overproduction aside, you might just need to back off on the hairstyling products. Less is more, particularly if your hair always feels heavy after styling. If you're not using a silicone-based hair oil, don't overdo it -- apply it before your shower, not after, so that your hair retains only part of the moisture. You can also dilute hair oil before use -- pour hair oil into wet hands and rub them together, then run your hands through your hair. If you only went a little overboard on oil, rub a dry towel or piece of cheesecloth over your head to soak up the excess.

An Alternative Product

Skip the shower on a busy morning and add a bit of dry shampoo into your hair, instead. Commercial products come in liquid aerosol or powder forms, but you don't have to empty your wallet to experience the effects of dry shampoo. Ransack your kitchen supplies for almost any powdered product that soaks up water and vegetable oil -- like cornstarch, ground cornmeal, chickpea flour or baking soda. Baby powder, too, is a common makeshift dry shampoo. You may have to experiment to find a product or combination that you like -- powders are not all equally absorbent, and unlike commercial dry shampoo, some products can leave dark hair looking gray. However, you can add cocoa powder to any mix to darken it.

The Quick Save

Whether liquid or powder, dry shampoos strip fewer oils than regular detergent-based shampoos -- which is healthier for your hair in the long run, but not as effective for a truly oily mess. To get the best possible result, shake commercial or kitchen-based powder into your roots or hold the spray can 10 to 12 inches from your head and spritz it into 2-inch-wide sections of your roots. Work the product in with your fingers and let it sit briefly. Drag a boar bristle hairbrush or a tourmaline -- crushed gemstone and nylon -- hairbrush down from your roots to spread the dry shampoo throughout your hair. Blow dry if necessary.

Photo Credits

  • Choreograph/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.