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Best shampoo for greasy hair 2022: We help you battle your oily roots

Flora Baker
19 Aug 2021
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Washing your hair every day can be a burden. Switch up your routine with our pick of the best shampoos for greasy hair

If your hair gets greasy by the time you go to bed, you’re not alone. It’s common and totally natural to have a visible buildup of oil within a single day – although that doesn’t stop it being frustrating. Finding the right shampoo for your hair type can be a game changer, adding another wash-free day to your shampooing cycle, but it’s just as important to understand exactly what’s adding to the grease.

We’ve put together a guide to the best clarifying shampoos, anti-dandruff solutions and environmentally friendly shampoo options, as well as some tips and tricks to help extend the amount of time you go between washes.

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Best shampoo for greasy hair: At a glance

  • Best clarifying shampoo for a deep cleanse: Bumble & Bumble Sunday | Buy now
  • Best shampoo for combination hair: L’Oréal Elvive Clay | Buy now
  • Best shampoo for dandruff: Vichy Dercos Technique | Buy now
  • Best solid shampoo bar for greasy hair: Ethique St Clements | Buy now
  • Best shampoo for curly hair: Ogx Apple Cider Vinegar | Buy now
  • Best dry shampoo for greasy hair: Living Proof | Buy now

How to choose the best shampoo for greasy hair

Why does my hair get greasy so fast?

We all have sebaceous glands in our scalps that produce sebum, a type of oily substance that keeps the scalp moisturised and protects hair from dryness. Different types of hair absorb this sebum at varying rates: thin or fine hair absorbs the grease quickly and will look oily fast, whereas thick, coarse or textured hair can stay looking fresh for longer because the oil is absorbed more slowly. Some people also naturally produce more sebum than others, and the production can accelerate with excess sweating or when we’re in polluted areas.

There’s also a chance that you’re not fully removing product from your hair. Many shampoos and conditioners have ingredients that adhere to the hair, and over time this repeated buildup can cause a greasy appearance.

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Which shampoo ingredients best tackle greasy hair?

There are plenty of shampoo ingredients designed to cut through oil buildup without damaging your hair. Typically they’re described as “clarifying” or “purifying” on the bottle, and can be used for a deep cleanse every week or so. Acetic acid is often the active ingredient in these, which probably sounds familiar as it’s the key ingredient in vinegar too. Clarifying shampoo can also contain sulphates, a type of emulsifier that binds to oil and dirt so it can be washed away more easily.

The issue with sulphates is that they clean almost too well: they’re pretty harsh when used every day, and can eventually strip natural protective oils and encourage your scalp to overproduce oil, creating a greasy cycle that’s hard to break out of. So, if you’re washing your hair every day to get rid of grease, it’s a good idea to opt for clarifying shampoo once a week and then use a sulphate-free one for the rest of the week.

Is there anything I should avoid?

Shampoo containing sulphates should be avoided on a daily basis for the reasons explained above, and you can also choose not to use conditioner after every wash as it will add to product buildup and generally weigh your hair down. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any shampoos and conditioners that use the words “smooth” or “glossy”, or ones that promise to fix dry or damaged hair: these contain heavy moisturising ingredients and add a fine film to your hair that can appear greasy.

Any other tips and tricks?

Cut out conditioner for some of your washes, and only apply it to the tips of your hair when you do use it. Only use a small amount of shampoo – the size of a 10p piece is sufficient. Try washing with a combination of apple cider vinegar and water for a DIY clarifying solution. Wash your hairbrush often, and wear a headband or scarf for particularly greasy days!

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The best shampoo for greasy hair to buy

1. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo: Best clarifying shampoo for a deep cleanse

Price: £22.50 for 250ml | Buy now from Boots

If you’re a regular user of various products, or you live in a hard water area, it’s a good idea to treat your hair to a full deep clean once in a while. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo is literally made for this reason – it’s a clarifying shampoo that cuts through any product buildup and excess oil on the hair shafts and scalp. Once you’ve washed your hair with this, it will reemerge silky soft and squeaky clean, and should alleviate greasy roots for a couple of days afterwards.

There are some caveats to using Sunday Shampoo, though. Due to its clarifying properties, it’s likely to dry out and strip your hair if you use it for every wash, and the same goes for those who don’t have much product buildup to begin with. Thankfully that makes the high price point a little more worth it!

Key spec – Quantity: 250ml

Buy now from Boots


2. L'Oréal Elvive Clay Oily Roots Shampoo: Best shampoo for combination hair

Price: £3.37 for 500ml | Buy now from Amazon

Having combination hair – greasy roots and dry ends – can be a bit of a nightmare to care for. When you continuously attempt to clean off the oil at your roots, you’re also stripping the rest of your hair on a daily basis, which can cause excessive dryness. Luckily, L’Oréal Clay is designed for this issue: it combines three refined clays to gently balance out the grease while also hydrating any dry ends. L’Oréal seems so certain about this shampoo’s success rate that it promises up to 72 hours of freshness, and it’s echoed by many users who say they’ve achieved an extra wash-free day as a result.

It’s worth noting that L’Oréal Clay works particularly well for those with thicker or longer hair: those with fine hair have said it’s a rather heavy shampoo that leaves their hair feeling somewhat flat after use.

Another plus point is L’Oréal’s recent switch to recyclable shampoo bottles, and its continued promise to focus on sustainability changes where possible with its products.

Key spec – Quantity: 500ml


3. Vichy Dercos Anti-Dandruff Advanced Action Shampoo: Best shampoo to fight dandruff

Price: £9.50 for 200ml | Buy now from Boots

Although it’s not exactly cheap, this Vichy Dercos shampoo is a lifesaver for those with a dandruff issue alongside their oily hair. It’s dermatologically formulated to target visible dandruff flakes straight away, with ingredients like Selenium DS and Cohesyl that help to purify and soothe irritated scalps and clean away excess sebum. This shampoo has a thick consistency and a lovely smell, alleviates itching from the first wash, and promises six weeks of anti-dandruff protection, too. Even customers with seborrheic dermatitis have said they see an immediate improvement, and that its dandruff-fighting capabilities make it worth every penny.

In terms of curbing excess grease, this Vichy shampoo is gentle enough to use daily without stripping back natural oils the way a clarifying shampoo might, although some people have suggested using it regularly for a few weeks until their dandruff is under control then alternating it with other shampoos. It also seems to be hard to source in store, but we’ve found it available online at both Boots and Amazon.

Key spec – Quantity: 200ml

Buy now from Boots


4. Ethique St Clements Solid Shampoo: Best solid shampoo bar for greasy hair

Price: £12.99 for 110g | Buy now from Boots

It can be tricky to find a good shampoo bar for greasy hair. What equates to using a bar of soap can mean the waxy substance sticks to hair more easily, leaving you with that awful limp and straw-like appearance straight after washing – not ideal!

Luckily, Ethique has solved this with a range of different solid shampoos, including the St Clements bar, which is soap-free, pH balanced and safe for use with colour-treated hair. It creates a lovely soft lather with just a few swipes across wet hair, but still washes out easily and leaves a fresh citrusy smell behind, thanks to the lime and orange oils that balance out oil production on the scalp.

Although it’s small, the St Clements bar lasts a surprisingly long time (around the same as three liquid bottles of shampoo), which makes it a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic bottles. As with other shampoo bars, the best way to ensure it lasts a long time is to dry it out thoroughly between washes.

Key spec – Quantity: 110g

Buy now from Boots


5. OGX Clarify & Shine Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo: Best shampoo for curly hair

Price: £5.32 for 385ml | Buy now from Superdrug

Although curls naturally lack moisture, there’s no reason why a curly-haired person can’t also be faced with an oily scalp. Quick fixes for greasy curls can include cutting back on washes and regularly using a clarifying shampoo to cut through the oils – but for shampoos themselves, the apple cider vinegar-based OGX shampoo is a great choice. It has a thick honey-like consistency that creates a rich lather, but it uses a gentle formula to balance the scalp’s pH and make hair feel light and look shiny without any irritation. There’s also no vinegar smell – instead, just a light and zingy scent of apples. Some customers have said it weighs down fine hair, so this shampoo is best suited for curly and thick hair.

Key spec – Quantity: 385ml

Buy now from Superdrug


6. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo

Price: £20 for 198ml | Buy now from John Lewis

Living Proof’s dry shampoo is a step above the others, thanks to its ability to actively soak up oil and sweat. Once you’ve sprayed the aerosol in a smooth arc, wait a few seconds and then massage it into your hair. There’s virtually no powdery residue left on your scalp (which is especially useful for those with darker hair), and the time-released fragrance neutralises odour and provides a light scent that continues throughout the day.

Free from silicones and parabens, the Living Proof dry shampoo is obviously a pricey option but it really does deliver. Pop it in your handbag and rest safe in the knowledge that your greasy hair is covered – literally.

Key spec – Quantity: 198ml

Buy now from John Lewis


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