Hair comes in many different variations and textures. Some happen to be oilier than others and this can cause trouble for some. You’re about to learn some ways of fixing hair that looks thin when it’s greasy.
But first, why does it happen in the first place?
Why Does Hair Look Thin When It’s Greasy?
Greasy hair looks thin because the individual strands clump together and these clumps appear separate from each other. This reveals more of the scalp, leading to the illusion that the hair appears thinner than it actually is.
People with hair that’s already pretty thin to begin with are more vulnerable to this effect.
Their scalp may already be pretty visible, particularly in the light. Getting it oilier will simply worsen this.
Some scalps are just oilier than others – it can be pretty difficult to manage.
When trying to combat the greasy hair look, it’s important to ensure you aren’t stripping away too much of the scalp’s natural oil (sebum) – it protects and moisturizes the scalp as well as the hair.
Bear this in mind and don’t overdo it. The opposite – an excessively dry scalp – is not what you want either.
Ways of preventing hair from looking thin when greasy include reducing the amount of oil, as well as styling it in the right way.
Let’s talk through some of those techniques now.
8 Tips For Hair That Looks Thin When It’s Greasy
These tips attempt to tackle this endlessly frustrating problem from different angles.
Although it’s unlikely that all of them would work for your specific hair type, there’s a good chance that some of them will.
1. Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is a product that is supposed to soak up oil and sweat from the hair, making it look less greasy without the need for a full wash and cleanse.
It can be applied directly to oily hair and doesn’t need to be washed out. Dry shampoo often comes in a spray can for ease of use, although other formulations are available.
The name can be misleading, however. It is not a substitute for a full wash with a normal cleansing shampoo.
It doesn’t cleanse the hair. All it does is use its alcohol or starch-based ingredients to soak up the oil and sweat to quickly make the hair look less greasy and therefore – less thin.
It disguises the greasiness as opposed to cleansing it.
For people that find their hair getting especially greasy and thin-looking in between shampoo rinses, using some dry shampoo from time to time may be a good temporary fix.
It’s especially useful post-workout when you don’t have time to wash your hair before an important event.
A quick spray of dry shampoo may be all that’s necessary to reduce that greasy look.
A couple of cautions:
It’s important not to overuse dry shampoo. Doing so can dry out and irritate the scalp. Try not to use it more than once (maximum twice) a week when you feel you really need a touch-up.
Also, some people find that dry shampoo leads to a powdery finish or flakiness after it’s applied.
This is more common in darker hair types – so be sure to choose a dry shampoo that’s specifically designed for darker hair types. These exist, as it’s a pretty well-known problem.
2. Clarifying Shampoo
Think of clarifying shampoos as deep cleansers. They aren’t too different from traditional shampoos, which do also aim to cleanse the hair and scalp.
The main difference is the heavy level of surfactants that do get rid of excess grease and grime.
While these substances do provide a deep cleanse and are more likely to reduce a greasy appearance than normal cleansers, it’s important not to overuse them.
As you’d expect, doing so will lead to a dry and flaky scalp.
But for people that do struggle with an excessively greasy scalp and a thin appearance as a result, using a clarifying shampoo once a week could make all the difference.
Avoid using it more than that, however.
Stick to traditional shampoos for the rest of the time. Let’s talk about those.
3. Don’t Overuse Traditional Shampoos
Traditional shampoos are your everyday shampoos – the one you’re probably used to using all the time in an attempt to defeat that never-ending greasiness.
They can be used more often than clarifying shampoos because they aren’t quite as deep or strong.
But it would be a mistake to overuse them, no matter how greasy your hair looks or feels.
It may seem like the best approach. After all, shampoos are designed to get rid of excess oil and that happens to be something you struggle with.
But the problem is that overuse of shampoo can be counterproductive. It can actually stimulate the scalp to produce more natural oil because you’re stripping away too much of it.
So, avoid shampooing more than two or three times a week – see if that makes a difference as it may be where you’re going wrong.
4. Stop Playing With It
Playing with hair can be endlessly tempting. It’s fun and some even swear that it improves their concentration.
Some may even do it to check how greasy their hair feels.
You may not even realize you’re doing it until someone points it out or you accidentally catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror.
Playing with hair can lead to a small amount of grease being added, depending on how oily your hands get.
But a bigger problem is that twisting and tousling your hair all the time will lead to the strands clumping together.
Causing the hair to group together like this will inevitably lead to more of the scalp showing through to make it look thinner than it actually is.
It’s generally a good idea to leave your hair alone once you’ve styled it, as difficult as that may be at times.
Overall, doing so will lead to your hair looking neater and fuller as the day goes on.
Although some of you may be doing it unknowingly, being more conscious of it now should make it more likely that you catch yourself doing it next time.
5. Build Volume
Hair that lies flat is more likely to look thin when greasy. This is because the hair lies so close to the scalp.
One way of making hair lie less flat against the scalp is to build lift, fullness, and volume.
Doing so will reduce the visibility of the scalp through the hair as the strands are more upright, despite the amount of grease remaining the same.
The main difficulty here is that greasy hair is more difficult to build volume with. It’s just heavier.
You’ll need to get to grips with the proper technique.
One factor is making sure you avoid oil-based products – we’ll come to that later.
But something to consider is using a blow dryer after washing it in order to build volume. It’s a great way to target some pressure and heat at the roots.
Use medium-heat and speed settings and be sure to hold the blow dryer at least 8 inches away.
Tousle the hair upwards while doing so to really get lift where you want it.
But to get even more volume, learn how to use a round brush while blow-drying. It does take some coordination and getting used to, but it’s a great way to amplify that fullness and get flips and waviness as well.
Overall, it may be harder to build volume with greasy hair – but it isn’t impossible.
Learning how to do so will lead to it looking less thin, even with greasy hair.
6. Brush It Out
A boar bristle brush is great at redistributing oil. The bristles prevent oil from accumulating in any specific areas or at the bases.
They distribute the oil throughout the hair and also from root to tip. This gives it a gentle sheen as opposed to a greasy and weighed-down appearance.
While this may not do anything to reduce the total amount of grease, it’ll still spread it out in a more appealing and aesthetically pleasing manner.
What’s great is that it doesn’t dry the hair out in doing so. It’s simply a redistribution of oil, leading to a less greasy and less thin outcome.
It’s also a great way to reduce breakages and split-ends.
However, it’s important not to overbrush, as this in itself could do more harm than good.
Once a day should be enough for most people.
In addition, avoid synthetic bristles. These can be harsh on the hair and also lead to static which in turn leads to frizz.
Boar bristle brushes should address your specific concerns more effectively than most other types.
7. Cut It Shorter
Long hair is generally more likely to look thin when greasy.
This is for a couple of reasons.
One may be that longer hair is more likely to weigh itself downward and press close against the scalp, soaking up more oils as it does so.
Another reason could be that longer hair simply leads to increased warmth and more sweat production as a result.
This makes the hair look shinier and thinner as a result.
Although cutting the hair shorter won’t be acceptable to some, it’s worth considering if you’re willing to give it a go.
The ease of maintenance that comes with it is also something that may be appealing.
It’s also a fine balance to strike.
Cut it too short and you risk revealing too much of the scalp as well – something that you were looking to avoid in the first place.
Find that happy medium length where it’s long enough to allow for proper coverage, but not so long that it leads to an excess of oil and sweat throughout the hair.
Your trusted barber or stylist may be able to help give you some ideas here.
8. Use Matte Products
Although this may sound obvious, you’d be surprised by how many people stumble with this.
When you’re looking to make hair look less greasy, avoid greasy-looking hair products.
Oil-based products like pomades and waxes are typically shiny and more likely to reveal the scalp. They’re great for slick and formal hairstyles, but not so great when you’re looking to reduce greasiness and make hair look thicker.
They’re difficult to build volume with.
Although oil-based products are more likely to lead to shine, you need to be careful with certain water-based products as well.
Hair gels and water-based pomades are also shiny products, despite having a lower oil content.
In general, when you’re looking to reduce shine and a thin appearance, avoid them.
Go for low shine or matte products instead. These are generally water-based.
These products are usually easier to build volume with. They’re also usually less shiny and reveal less of the scalp after styling.
It may not be the easiest problem to tackle, but there are definitely tips and techniques to see you through.
Hopefully, this run-down should give you a good place to start.