MSN December 23, 2022



The Best Oil-Absorbing Shampoos for Greasy Hair


If you're no stranger to dealing with an oily scalp, you may be used to loading up on one too many dry shampoos as a solution. While these powder cleansers are a suitable temporary solution for sopping up excess oil and avoiding daily hair washing — you don't want to solely rely on them.

"When dry shampoo particles build up on the scalp over time, they can clog hair follicles, trap oil, and prevent normal skin cell turnover," Nancy Samolitis, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles previously shared with Allure. It creates something of a domino effect since Dr. Samolitis explained that "this can lead to overgrowth of bacteria and yeast that normally live on the scalp and cause folliculitis, or the inflammation of hair follicles, and dandruff." Folliculitis can, in turn, lead to red pimples and pustules — sort of like acne on the scalp.

All that being said, it's best to moderate your dry shampoo usage with a traditional liquid shampoo for oily hair, which will essentially work the same way a powder does: absorbing oil, without leaving any residue. When seeking out the best shampoo for oily hair, cosmetic chemist Ginger King advises against buying formulas formulated with silicones. Some silicones may accumulate on the scalp over time, similarly to the way powder particles do, King explains.

This advice was a common thread among the experts we spoke to. Chicago-based hairstylist Nick Stenson also recommends steering clear of silicones. "Silicone tends to coat the hair, making it heavy, which counteracts the benefits of the volumizing," he explains. What's more, "continued used of silicones over time can weigh down the hair," board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, who is based in New York City, previously told Allure. 

The best shampoos for oily hair are those that are formulated with clarifying and exfoliating ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, which reduce residue, oil, and build-up on the scalp, says King. New York City board-certified dermatologist Charlotte Birnbaum, MD, agrees and previously told Allure to look for a clarifying shampoo for a deep hair cleanse, preferably one formulated with salicylic acid.

Now that you know which ingredients to look out for — and which to avoid — the next step is to adjust your washing frequency. "For an oily scalp, I recommend more frequent shampooing, up to once a day," Dr. Birnbaum previously told Allure. 

All of this really depends on your hair type and texture, though. For example, Dr. Birnbaum explained that those with curly hair might be able to get away with less frequent shampooing — once per week — while folks with finer hair may need to shampoo more often. Everyone is different, so do a test run for a few weeks to see how your hair responds to a new regimen. 

Before jumping into a fresh washday routine, get your shampoo options in order. We tapped several experts to find the best shampoos for oily hair that are available across a range of price points, starting at a mere $8.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo

Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo

Briogeo's Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo was awarded a Best of Beauty Award back in 2018 and has been featured in the Allure Beauty Box. Think of the crowd-favorite product as step one of your healthy hair journey. It's another top recommendation for those with dry, itchy scalps, but truly, it's a good first step for anyone looking to draw impurities from the hair follicle, stimulate their roots, and jumpstart hair growth.

Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Special Shampoo combines tea tree oil, peppermint, and lavender for a zingy, get-your-scalp-right kind of clean. It helps wash away dirt and oil and is made for all hair types, too. New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, recommends using the wash with its matching conditioner, which also invigorates the scalp.

Nécessaire The Shampoo

Olaplex No.4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo

Nécessaire is known for its nourishing body-care products, but don't sleep on the brand's signature Shampoo, a 2022 Best of Beauty winner. It's hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic (meaning it won't block pores) and has an impressive ingredient list, which includes moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid, niacinamide (which has been shown to help with hair thickness and fullness), strengthening vitamin B5 (a.k.a. panthenol, and hydrating aloe extract. 

Another Best of Beauty-winner is the beloved hair-care brand Olaplex which finally cooked up a Clarifying Shampoo infused with the brand's signature bond-building technology, and we couldn't be more grateful. Use this one how you might use a hair mask; work into wet hair and let it sit for up to five minutes before rinsing out for a weekly reset — a.k.a. deeply clean and baby-soft hair.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo

Philip B Peppermint & Avocado Volumizing & Clarifying Shampoo

According to New York City-based hairstylist, Mia Santiago, oil helps remove oil. "Shu Uemura's Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo is a lightweight shampoo that uses a delicate neroli essential oil to help remove oil and buildup from the scalp,” she says. Plus, it smells amazing, like that fresh-out-the-salon smell.

Santiago also loves Philip B's Peppermint & Avocado Volumizing & Clarifying Shampoo because it has "the perfect combination of refreshing and cleansing," she says, adding that its peppermint-based formula leaves the scalp feeling tingly and refreshed for days. 

Klorane 2-in-1 Mask Shampoo Powder With Organic Nettle and Clay

Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight Water-to-Foam Shampoo

Add a few drops of water to Klorane's 2-in-1 Mask Shampoo Powder and watch it magically transform into a thick, creamy foam. And, as its name aptly suggests, its nourishing formula is packed with oil-absorbing ingredients like nettle and clay — the latter of which can "minimize the appearance of greasy hair," Dr. Zeichner previously told Allure.

This Best of Beauty Award-winning Wash Day Delight Shampoo from Carol's Daughter gently removes oil and build-up without stripping your scalp of moisture. Star ingredients include cleansing micellar water, moisturizing glycerin, exfoliating salicylic acid, and soothing aloe. 

L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo

Ethique St. Clements Shampoo Bar for Oily Hair

This Best of Beauty Award-winning shampoo is an Allure editor favorite — and for good reason. The creamy formula inside L'Oréal Paris's Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo is well-suited for oily-hair types since it's enriched with kaolin clay to eliminate excess oil and salicylic acid to exfoliate your scalp. According to Allure's associate beauty director Sarah Kinonen, "after using it once a day, I found my hair loved the stuff — no easy feat for my thin, flat, color-treated hair."

This hydrating, moisture-attracting Ethique St. Clements Shampoo Bar was designed specifically with oily hair in mind. That's because it's formulated with nourishing ingredients like castor oil and cocoa butter — and without harsh foaming agents, which can strip your scalp of natural moisture. To use, simply slide the shampoo bar from the roots to the ends of hair. Massage the cleanser into your scalp as it foams up, and then easily rinse away to reveal clean, refreshed hair. 

Kérastase Specifique Shampoo for Oily Scalp

Matrix Total Results High Amplify Volumizing Shampoo

New York City-based hairstylist Devin Toth recommends this Kérastase shampoo since it helps treat the overproduction of sebum — a crucial component of your skin barrier — along with your scalp. The shampoo is also enhanced with glycine, a protein that helps regulate oil production, and according to Toth, "prolongs the amount of time your hair can go without becoming greasy." 

Turn up the volume — that is, in your hair — with Matrix's Total Results High Amplify Volumizing Shampoo that cleanses, strengthens, and adds buoyancy to flat hair. Key ingredients include hydrolyzed wheat protein to repair damaged hair, salicylic acid for deep exfoliation, and glycerin to hydrate dry hair.


Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume

Aveda Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo

Kevin Murphy Balancing Wash Shampoo

Rex Jimieson, a colorist at Chicago's Maxine Salon, recommends using this volumizing Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume — which he notes is especially great for fine hair — once a day for virgin hair, or once every other day for chemically treated hair.  It's packed with a combination of moisturizing fruit and botanical extracts, as well as moringa seed extract, which, according to King, is "known to get rid of pollution." It also features a blend of hydrolyzed proteins, which are made with amino acids and peptides to strengthen brittle hair. 

Maria Elizabeth, hairstylist and owner of Salon deZEN in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, loves Kevin Murphy's Balancing Wash Shampoo. "This rich shampoo gently and effectively cleanses with green tea, strengthening hair against environmental damage," Elizabeth tells Allure. As a counterbalance, ylang-ylang flower oil conditions and restores moisture on the scalp and hair. 

Aveda's Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo uses buildup-removing micelles and clarifying white vinegar to break down excess grease. You'll also find rosemary and peppermint extract in the formula, which creates a soothing tingle as you lather. What's more, King previously told Allure that peppermint extract can help remove excess sebum from your scalp.