what causes oily scalp

What Causes Oily Scalp And How To Get Rid Of It? |  6 Shocking Causes For Oily Scalp

Does your scalp get sweaty and oily too often? In spite of washing your scalp and hair? Here’s everything you need to know about what causes oily scalp and how to deal with it!

In this article, we’ll talk about what causes oily scalp and how to correctly deal with an oily scalp. Also, I want to give you some tips on proper scalp care. If you have severe scalp related issues then please do visit a doctor for the best treatment. 

An excessively oIly scalp can be very frustrating as it can lead to acne in the scalp, itchiness, dandruff, and a smelly scalp. If along with an oily scalp you’re also dealing with bad odor then check out our blog on how to get rid of smelly scalp  

Read on to find out what causes oily scalp so you can understand the problem and come up with a solution for your oily scalp to get rid of it completely! 

What Causes Oily Scalp? 

There are 6 main causes of oily scalp: 

  • You’re not shampooing your scalp enough 
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive stress
  • You’re using the wrong shampoo 
  • Scalp Condition

You’re not shampooing your scalp enough or properly 

If you don’t wash your hair scalp regularly or thoroughly then there’s a high chance that the sebum gets collected on your scalp leading to sticky, oily scalp. If left untreated, this can cause a sebum buildup in your scalp causing acne, dandruff, flakiness, and even hair loss as the extra sebum can clog your follicles. 

Sebum buildup can also cause bad odor along with greasy hair. This can give an impression that you’re unhygienic because your hair looks greasy and smells bad. 

shampoo hair to reduce oily scalp

So make sure that you shampoo your hair regularly and also massage the shampoo into your scalp thoroughly to break the dirt and oil buildup in your scalp. You can even use a shower brush for best results. 

Poor diet can cause an oily scalp 

If you find yourself eating a lot of oily food like fried chicken, fries, burgers, and other junk food, this can be a reason why your scalp is excessively oily. Eating a lot of oily foods can cause your skin to produce more sebum, including your scalp. 

I used to have this issue too. I had a very bad diet when I initially moved out of my parents’ home. I ate a lot of cheap fast food like fried chicken and burgers. I not only put on a ton of weight but also started noticing that my scalp was always greasy. And soon after, I even experienced hair loss.      

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When I learnt about how oily foods can not only impact my weight but also my skin and scalp, I almost immediately made dietary and lifestyle changes. 

oily food can cause oily scalp

Firstly, I had to put a hard-stop on fast food. Secondly, I started cooking my own food. I added a lot of vegetables and fruits to my diet. And soon I saw that my skin, weight, and scalp conditions improved! 

So I guess I killed not two but three birds with one stone.  

Lack of exercise can cause an oil buildup in your scalp 

Along with dietary changes, I also started exercising on a daily basis. Some cardio in the morning, before I started work, has made such a BIG difference in my life. 

I have better energy levels during the day and I feel good about myself! 

If you do not engage in physical activity, it can lead to poor blood circulation and lowered metabolism. Oxygen and nutrients necessary for hair growth and scalp health are less likely to be carried to the scalp. 

This can cause oily scalp and also hair loss and result in hair thinning. In particular, those who work from home or do not have the opportunity to go out much should make a conscious effort to get into the habit of moving around.

Excessive stress can cause oily scalp and hair loss 

I had a pretty high-stress lifestyle being a workaholic. I realized because of stress I didn’t sleep well, my appetite had reduced, and my health simply worsened along with hair loss. And I have a combination skin type leaning towards oily skin. And because of all the stress, my skin was always oily and acne went out of control. Along with a constant oily scalp, ofcourse.

Excessive stress disturbs the autonomic nervous system and causes hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalance can lead to increased sebum production and a sticky scalp.


So I made a conscious effort to spend some time doing something I love (other than work). Give some time to develop my hobbies like dancing and bottle painting. And this helped get my stress levels in control. Finding a balance between work and personal life is so important. 

Using the wrong shampoo can cause an oily scalp

I had problems with my hair and scalp for the longest time. And I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Until one day, my dermatologist asked me what shampoo I used. And then she told me that the shampoo I was using was the wrong shampoo because of which I was facing scalp issues. 

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I was using a pretty strong (read: harsh) shampoo. This was causing my scalp to go on an overdrive and secrete more sebum than necessary. 

Now don’t get me wrong. Sebum is necessary on your scalp cause it can protect the scalp from 

UV rays, dryness, and external stimuli. But the wrong shampoo can completely strip your scalp of the natural oils and leave it dry which can cause overproduction of sebum resulting in a sticky and oily scalp. 

Which is why I started using a mild shampoo for regular use and kept the clarifying shampoo once or twice a week to get rid of any buildup.  

Skin or scalp conditions can also cause oily scalp 

If you notice that you have excessive dandruff and/or itching along with oily scalp, it is possible that you have a scalp condition

In this case, you’ll need to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. It is not a good idea to try and treat this condition yourself cause it can do more harm than good.  

Are there differences in the causes of sticky scalp between men and women?

Men tend to have a more oily and sticky scalp than women. This is largely due to the effects of male hormones. The difference in sebum secretion between men and women is largely due to the influence of male hormones. When male hormones are high, sebaceous glands tend to develop and naturally secrete more sebum. In addition, high levels of male hormones have various effects, such as making body hair thicker and creating a muscular body.

What happens if oily scalp is left untreated?

There is no benefit to leaving a sticky scalp untreated. If you understand the specific conditions that can lead to this problem, you will be able to take action as soon as possible. Excessively oily scalp can clog pores causing thinning and hair loss. When sebum and dirt clog pores, they form keratin plugs. The formation of keratin plugs can block the pores and worsen the scalp environment. As a result, the growth of new hair may be affected.

How to Correctly Shampoo Your Hair To Get Rid Of Oily Scalp? 

Stickiness on the scalp can also be reduced by shampooing methods. Try to master the correct shampooing method and put it into practice.

  • Step 1: Brush your hair before taking a bath.
  • Step 2: Wet your scalp and hair with lukewarm water.
  • Step 3: Massage gently (from the ears to the temples and the top of the head)
  • Step 4: Rinse thoroughly to ensure that no shampoo is left behind.
  • Step 5: Dry scalp and hair with a hair dryer.
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Pro Tip: One key point is to pay attention to the temperature of the water. If the water is too hot, even the necessary sebum will be washed away, making it easier to dry out. On the other hand, if the water is cold, the pores will not open and dirt will not be washed out. The ideal shower temperature is around 38 degrees Celsius.

Our shampoo recommendations for healthy hair growth and different types of hair

To grow healthy hair, it is important to maintain a good scalp environment. Sebum buildup on the scalp can cause stickiness, while excessive washing off can lead to a dry condition. Since you use shampoo every day, choose it with care.

If you are having trouble choosing a shampoo, here are some shampoos for different hair conditions and hair types: 


There can be more than one cause for oily scalp like not shampooing your hair properly or shampooing too much, or even using the wrong shampoo. Other than this factors like: poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, or scalp condition can also cause an oily shampoo. 

If you feel that none of these issues apply to you then you should definitely visit a dermatologist to understand the reason behind your excessively oily scalp cause if left untreated, all that sebum buildup can lead to a smelly scalp, hair loss, and worsen your scalp condition!