Chris Zainal/Demand Media

Sebum is another name for the oil your pores emit onto your scalp and skin. It's purpose is to keep your skin and hair from becoming too dry and to protect your skin against the drying effects of wind and water. Because oil repels water, sebum helps to give your skin a waterproof coating. But your skin can overproduce sebum, causing your hair to appear greasy and oily. Knowing how to care for oily hair helps to reduce these symptoms.

Chris Zainal/Demand Media

Brush your hair from your scalp to the tips of your hair using a boar-bristle brush before you wash your hair. This can help to reduce the amount of sebum in your scalp, breaking up built-up sebum before washing your hair.

Chris Zainal/Demand Media

Use warm -- not hot -- water on your hair before washing it. Hot water can strip your skin, causing your scalp to overproduce sebum.

Chris Zainal/Demand Media

Massage a clarifying shampoo into your scalp using the pads of your fingertips. Using fingernails on your scalp can cause scratching that causes your scalp to produce more oil. A clarifying shampoo can help to remove dirt and sebum buildup from your scalp, but should only be used once per week unless otherwise directed. You do not have to rub excessively -- just in small circles to remove the added sebum.

Chris Zainal/Demand Media

Apply conditioner once to twice per week to your hair if conditioner tends to make your hair too oily.

Chris Zainal/Demand Media

Apply a light dusting of baby powder to your scalp to reduce the amount of sebum buildup and reduce your hair’s oily appearance. Gently brush the baby powder through your hair to keep it from taking on a whitish tint.


If you prefer a natural method to reduce sebum, use remedies such as squeezing lemon into one cup of water and applying this to your scalp. Or blend 1/4 cup of vinegar with two cups of water onto wet hair, leave on for a few minutes and shampoo.


Buildup from using too many styling products can increase the amount of oil on your scalp. Avoid using an excess amount of styling products like gels, hair spray or styling lotions. Avoid placing styling products directly on your scalp. If you tend to produce excess sebum, adding styling products tends to compound the problem.

Video of the Day

About the Author

Rachel Nall

Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.