When greasy hair strikes, sebum is usually the culprit. Those heavy, weighed down strands of hair that seem to gleam under the lights in the most unattractive way possible are actually the victims of sebum overproduction. This typically occurs when the sebaceous glands are out of balance, resulting in either an overproduction or underproduction of sebum. Both instances can result in severe problems for the hair, roots, and scalp.
How to Help Prevent Hair Follicles Clogged by Sebum
Sebum is a substance that is produced and excreted by the skin's sebaceous glands. It coats the hair follicles, traveling through the follicle's pore to eventually reach the surface of the skin. When it reaches the skin, it combines with lipids and sweat to form a fine, acidic coating called the acid mantle. The acid mantle may not sound very skin-friendly, but its purpose is definitely beneficial: It acts as a barrier, preventing viruses and other contaminants from penetrating the skin. It also keeps the skin moist and hydrated.
Overproduction of sebum on the scalp may result in undernourished roots. This is because the hair follicles clogged by sebum are literally "drowning" in the oil, thereby weakening both the scalp and the hair strands. When too much sebum builds up on the scalp, it eventually hardens and hinders the growth of healthy hair. Essentially, hair that falls out (a natural occurrence for men and women alike) is not replaced as it normally would be due to the clogged follicles. The end result is thinning hair and eventual hair loss.
Marcia Brady's secret to great hair was to brush it 100 times every night. That might be a bit impractical for most of us, but brushing the hair is still fairly underrated when it comes to its importance in keeping the scalp healthy. In addition to stimulating the capillaries, increasing blood circulation and encouraging the transport of nutrients and oxygen, brushing also helps keep the scalp's pores open. This allows them to "breathe" and retain a natural amount of oil.
However, too much stimulation can cause the scalp to produce even more oil, which you want to avoid. Maintain a good balance of gentle brushing to maintain healthy hair and scalp, but avoid rough and over-brushing or other scalp irritation.
The Right Products
Choose hair products formulated specifically to treat sebum build-up. While ordinary shampoos won't do the trick, these special formulas work to soften, loosen and eventually release the sebum clogging the hair follicles.
- Rene Furterer's Curbicia Concentrated Purifying Shampoo treats the scalp by deep cleaning and regulating sebum production.
- Use a weekly clarifying shampoo like Neutrogena, Anti-Residue Shampoo to treat clogged hair follicles on the scalp.
Tea Tree Oil
The natural drying and antiseptic properties of tea tree oil are also excellent for remedying excess scalp sebum. Look for a shampoo based on tea tree oil, or make the shampoo at home yourself for an effective remedy.
There Is Help
Sebum-clogged hair follicles can cause a range of different problems from mild acne to severe hair loss, but with a few simple steps and proper hair care, the naturally healthy properties of sebum can be used without the adverse effects.