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Say Goodbye to an Oily Scalp with These 4 Remedies

Published | 5 min read

An oily scalp can stem from both internal and external causes. Find out the root of the problem and natural ways to combat greasy hair.

Young Indian lady brushing her wavy long hair, using wooden brush indoors 

Having a bad hair day is a problem that has occurred to many of us. Is it because of the hot weather? Could it be your shampoo? The main culprit of flat hair is an oily scalp, which can be caused by various factors.  

If your scalp produces excess oil, it’s bad news for your hair. You might even notice you have the “oily scalp and dry hair” combo, which makes it tricky to find the right haircare products. Before your oily scalp issue worsens, it’s important to know the primary cause, then find natural solutions to get rid of the greasiness and bring healthy shine to your hair.

What Causes An Oily Scalp

A man and woman riding a motorcycle, wearing helmets
Wearing a helmet or hat for prolonged periods can cause an oily scalp, making your hair feel greasy and flat.

Oil is your scalp’s natural defence and hydration. A little amount of it is normal, especially If you haven’t washed your hair in a few days. However, when your oily scalp is accompanied by itchiness, and dandruff, and feels slick and heavy, then you need to take action. 

Here are some potential causes of an oily scalp. 

Skin conditions 

Skin disorders caused by immune dysfunctions such as eczema and psoriasis can result in red, scaly patches on your scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis, a common type of eczema that attacks oily parts of the body, causes a rash and greasy scales. The worldwide prevalence of skin disorders is around 5%, but the prevalence of its non-inflammatory variant, dandruff, is closer to 50%. 

Spleen Deficiency with Phlegm-Dampness Syndrome 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), health is achieved by having all your body’s organs perfectly balanced. Issues like rashes, a cold, and even an oily scalp can occur when there’s disharmony in the body.

TCM Physician Wong Si Xuan explains, “People who have a Spleen Deficiency with Phlegm-Dampness body constitution tend to suffer from an oily scalp. Excessive consumption of fried, fatty, and spicy food can worsen the condition as this type of diet weakens the Spleen. It results in Damp-Heat arising and causing over-secretion of oil in the scalp area.” 

Hot weather 

Humidity has a say in whether you’re going to have a good hair day or not. When the weather is hot and humidity levels are high, the body works hard to cool down. This will result in overactive sebaceous glands that trigger oil production. Sweat also makes your hair look greasier. 

According to Physician Wong, hot weather can add to Heat and Dampness accumulating in the body too.

Remedies for an Oily Scalp

An Asian woman washes her shampooed hair under a shower head
Washing hair with a specially formulated shampoo remains one of the most effective treatments for an oily scalp.

Caring for an oily scalp can be tricky. Washing your hair too often can dry out the ends while leaving your hair for more than a day resulting in greasy hair. Here are some tips for tending your mane and clearing out excess oil from your scalp. 

1. Shampoo 

According to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Trichology, shampoo is the most used tool for managing hair and scalp conditions. It’s proven to be effective for the treatment of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, as well as psoriasis

Use shampoos that are specific to targeting an oily scalp. Antifungal shampoos with labels like “scalp care” usually work by controlling Malassezia spp, a type of fungi that thrives on oily surfaces and causes dandruff. Products from brand-name stores in Malaysia are generally safe to use. Physician Wong advises people to seek recommendations from dermatologists for faster results. 

2. TCM herbs for an oily scalp 

An oily scalp can recur when your body isn’t in balance. According to Physician Wong, the herbal remedies for this condition are in accordance with each individual’s body constitution and pattern differentiation. She says, “There are TCM herbs available that can help strengthen the Spleen, remove Phlegm-Dampness and clear Heat. Once the body’s energies are back in balance, these symptoms would resolve on their own.” 

Some commonly used herbs for an oily scalp are Rhizoma alismatis (ze xie, 泽泻), Rhizoma dioscoreae hypoglaucae (bi xie, 荜薢), white atractylodes rhizome (bai zhu, 白术), poria mushroom (fu ling, 茯苓), Semen plantaginis (che qian qi, 车前子), and Rehmannia root (sheng di huang, 生地黃)

3. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil dripped from a glass dropper into a wooden bowl
Tea tree oil has been found to be effective in improving oily skin.

Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an antiseptic that can help control bacterial and fungal growth. Produced from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree, it’s commonly sold as an essential oil.

A 2021 study in Pakistan found that shampoos with 0.5% to 3% concentration of tea tree oil have antifungal properties, which can combat scalp dandruff and oiliness. Its pH level is also close to your skin’s slightly acidic pH of 5.5, so tea tree shampoos are considered good for your hair.

4. Green tea 

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that green tea hair tonics (2% concentration) significantly lowered scalp sebum, suggesting that this topical remedy for scalp greasiness is safe and efficient. 

The remedies above might provide relief for an oily scalp and other associated conditions like dandruff. However, if your oily scalp doesn’t improve, speak to a medical professional or a qualified TCM physician for diagnosis and treatment. Are you ready for great hair?


  1. Current Cosmetic Science. 2021. Formulation and In Vitro Characterization of Tea Tree Oil Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. [Accessed on 23 September 2022]
  2. International Journal of Trichology. 2018. Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress. [Accessed on 12 September 2022]   
  3. Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2016. Development and clinical evaluation of green tea hair tonic for greasy scalp treatment. [Accessed on 12 September 2022]  
  4. National Library of Medicine. 2022. Seborrheic dermatitis. [Accessed on 12 September 2022]  

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