Have you ever noticed your hair gets greasy a few hours after styling it? Or you applied a homemade hair mask days ago and just can’t seem to get it all out? Oily locks can be caused by a lot of different things, like excessive sebum production, heavy styling products, or simply using a hot oil treatment on fine strands. At best, excess oil can leave your hair looking flat and greasy. At worst, it can lead to clogged pores, scalp irritation, dandruff, dryness, and even hair loss (oof!). That’s why it’s so important to cleanse the scalp and get the oil out of hair before it causes issues.
We’ll show you how to get oil out of your hair in just 5 easy steps. And if that doesn’t work (because, let’s be honest, oil can be incredibly stubborn), we’ve got 9 additional home remedies to help you tackle stubborn greasy residue and leave your locks feeling clean and nourished.
How to Get Oil Out of Hair Step-by-Step
I swear by baking soda for tackling greasy strands. It’s a mild, nonabrasive cleanser that absorbs oil and impurities. When mixed with water to form a paste, baking soda can be applied to the scalp and roots, where it binds to oil, shea butter, or any other greasy residue in the hair and rinses it away. You’re left with clean, soft, hydrated hair.
1. Wet your hair
Start by wetting your hair to help loosen the oil and rinse out any dirt or debris.
2. Mix baking soda and water to form a paste
In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a little bit of water to create a loose paste. It should be slightly runny but still easy to apply with your hands.
3. Apply the baking soda + scrub well
Apply the baking soda paste to your scalp, focusing on the roots where the oil is usually most concentrated. Massage the paste into your scalp for a few minutes before working it down through the ends of your hair. Don't worry, the paste won't feel like shampoo, and that's okay. Just do the best you can.
4. Rinse hair thoroughly
Rinse well with warm water to remove as much of the baking soda as possible.
5. Wash your hair 2 to 3 times
Use a gentle shampoo to wash your hair. Rinse well, then wash again—you may need to wash your hair 2 to 3 times to get rid of all the baking soda. Follow up with a conditioner to help hydrate and protect your hair and scalp.
It's important to be gentle when using baking soda on your hair since it can dry out locks if used too often. It's also vital that you rinse your hair thoroughly after using baking soda to keep irritation at bay.
9 Home Remedies To Get Oil or Shea Butter Out of Hair
If you’ve ever used a hot oil treatment, you’ll know that getting the oil out of your hair is easier said than done—even after all that scrubbing and sudsing. If baking soda just isn’t cutting it, here are a few more ways to get coconut oil or shea butter out of hair.
1. Dry shampoo
Dry shampoo can help absorb excess oil and make hair more manageable. Simply spray or sprinkle the dry shampoo on the roots of your hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and then brush it out.
2. Cornstarch or baby powder
If you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative to dry shampoo, try cornstarch or baby powder. Sprinkle a tablespoon of powder onto your roots, and use your fingertips to work it into the hair. Let it sit for a few minutes, then brush it out.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a clarifying rinse to help remove oil from hair. Mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar, then pour the mixture over your hair. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
4. Lemon juice
Just like apple cider vinegar, highly acidic lemon juice helps break down oily buildup in the hair. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water in a measuring cup or squirt bottle and apply to wet hair. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
5. Clarifying shampoo
Clarifying shampoo is specifically formulated to remove oil, product residue, and mineral buildup from hair. Apply a generous amount to the scalp, and massage into the hair from roots to tips. Rinse hair thoroughly with warm water, then repeat as needed until all the oil has been removed and the hair feels clean.
Salt works by absorbing oil in the hair and rinsing it away. Mix a small amount of salt (any kind will do) with water to create a paste, then massage the paste into the roots of your hair.
Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing. Better yet, mix sea salt and apple cider vinegar to create a clarifying scrub that helps tackle flakes and stubborn buildup.
7. Rice Flour
Rice flour is another dry shampoo alternative that helps absorb oil. Sprinkle a small amount on the roots of your hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and then brush it out. You can also use it as a pre-wash treatment to help tackle oil before shampooing and conditioning as usual.
8. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal absorbs practically anything it comes in contact with. Mix a tablespoon of activated charcoal with water to create a paste, then massage the paste into the scalp.
Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing. You can also add half a teaspoon to your regular shampoo to boost its clarifying properties and wash oil out of your hair quickly and easily.
9. Try a detox hair mask
While most hair masks are known for their hydrating abilities, some can actually help clarify greasy strands. Look for a hair mask that contains ingredients like clay (like this hair detox recipe) or charcoal, which are known for their oil-absorbing properties.
Apply the mask to your hair for 15 minutes, then shampoo and condition as usual.
Removing Oil from Hair FAQs
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to wash your hair, you can still remove light, oily residue on the go. All you need is an absorbent powder, like dry shampoo, baking soda, arrowroot starch, or rice flour.
Simply shake a small amount onto the roots of your hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and then brush through to distribute it evenly. Then you should be good to go!
Rinsing your hair can help break down the oil and make it easier to remove, but you may still need to use a clarifying shampoo or another technique to get rid of all the excess oil. If your hair gets greasy easily, you'll need to rinse it a few times to get all the oil out.
No conditioner washes oil out of hair by itself. In fact, most conditioners actually add oil to the hair in order to help boost moisture. However, a clarifying conditioner contains ingredients specifically designed to break down and remove buildup, including oil.