We get it: sometimes you just don’t have the time (or energy) to wash your hair. That’s why having a few hairstyles for greasy hair up your sleeve is essential, for those days when shampoo is simply not worth the hassle—but you still need to look presentable for a brief outing, trip to the gym, or quick Zoom call.
It's one of the facts of life that hair gets greasy, although some people will find that their hair gets greasy after washing more quickly than others. But whether you're a short hairstyles woman or prefer a mid length haircut, at some point you'll probably be in need of a hairstyle to hide greasy roots.
Thankfully, there are a few trusty hairstyle options for disguising oily roots between wash days. The woman&home beauty team has scoured the beauty archives to bring you a curated edit of styles that you can fall back on when your hair gets greasy quickly. Bookmark now, enjoy later.
What causes greasy hair?
"The grease you see on your hair and scalp is mainly sebum – an oily substance produced by sebaceous glands," explains trichologist Anabel Kingsley. "The main components of this are fat and cellular debris; however this ‘grease’ will also consist of sweat, dead skin cells and environmental pollution, aka dust and dirt."
Your hair type may also play a role in how soon your hair looks greasy post-wash. Fine hair is weighed down by natural oils more easily, which is what gives it that lank appearance. Anabel also notes that thinning hair also gets greasy more quickly, as there's more of a surface area over which scalp oils can distribute themselves. Hormonal changes can also cause a change in scalp oil production—although after the menopause, glands tend to produce less sebum.
It's also easier for sebum to migrate down the hair shaft in straighter less porous hair types, causing it to look greasier. "Very healthy and silky smooth hair will not be able to absorb any of the oil, which just sits on the surface," explains legendary celebrity hairdresser Michael Van Clarke. "Coarser, more porous hair can absorb some of the oil, delaying the greasy look." If you find your scalp is excessively oily, he recommends trying the 3" More Inches Scalp Balancing Shampoo ($29.71/£21) to help level things out.
The best hairstyles for greasy hair
Wondering how to cover up greasy hair with a chic style? The key to hairstyles for greasy hair and disguising excess oil is all about placement. "Up-dos that leave out shorter strands around the hairline help disguise oily roots," Michael tells us. As for cuts that help slow the accumulation of grease, "One-length hair will lay flatter and get greasier, because more of the hair shaft is in contact with the scalp. Layered hair where the roots lift away from the scalp will not get oily as quickly."
While our trichologist would always recommend washing your hair properly from a hair health point of view, if you're not able to, Annabel suggests using a dry shampoo with scalp benefits. Philip Kingsley's One Day More Dry Shampoo ($23.75/£20.50) contains zinc PCA, allantolin and bisabolol, all of which soothe the scalp.
So, without further ado, the woman&home beauty team has picked 10 failsafe styles to inspire your next "actually-I-don't-have-time-to-wash-my-hair" day. Armed with these hairstyles for greasy hair and a good dry shampoo, you’ll be able to push back your hair wash by a day or two (or, dare we say, three?).
The sleek bun
Is your hair greasy or is it just slicked back into a chic and elegant sleek bun? We will always go with the former. The top layers of your hair will disguise the more oily roots underneath, and you can pull a few strands loose at the front for a more lived-in feel. If you use dry shampoo before styling, apply before brushing your hair into this style to distribute the product more evenly. You can also try nabbing one of these best hair dryers for fine hair and give hair a quick blast, for some shot of volume with minimal damage.
The half up hairstyle
Loose enough for the top section of your hair to disguise oily mid roots, this version of the half bun hairstyle is ideal for those who have fine hair or perhaps not enough to fill a full, rounded bun. Use a snag-free hair tie to keep things simple, or add a pop of color with a scrunchie (very retro!).
The messy topknot
They say classics are classic for a reason, and that much is certainly true of the humble top knot. Taking pointers from Michael, an updo with loose strands around the hairline helps to camouflage greasy roots, while also framing the face nicely. Plus, who doesn't love throwing their hair up into a top knot?
Not just a bedtime hairstyle to protect naturally curly hair; as well as preventing tangles and frizz while you sleep and keeping curls shapely, a pineapple (super high ponytail) can also disguise greasy roots. If your curls are particularly long or loose, use a second hair tie or scrunchie to turn your pony into a bun, folded forwards. This style is ideal if you've only just started the curly girl method and your hair is still adjusting to the "low-poo" life.
The benefits of wearing a scarf hairstyle are twofold: one, they look seriously chic. Two, they can hide roots that are slightly greasy to push back your next wash day. Whether worn with a pineapple, puff, topknot, ponytail, or half-up style, the possibilities for scarf hairstyles are endless. This style is a particularly good choice for naturally curly hair, which can be prone to greasy roots and dry ends.
The half bun
Does your hair need a wash or is it the perfect, lived-in half bun that throws it back to grungey days of 90s trends gone by? Precisely. If your hair is a little too fine and/or sparse for a rounded bun, make use of a hair donut to bulk the style out.
The retro clip
This '90s staple hair accessory is making a comeback in the 2020s. Not only will a claw clip keep your hair out of your face, but it also keeps that grease-concealing positioning secure. If you're opting for an on-trend centre part, make use of some dry shampoo massaged into the roots or brushed through the top layers of your hair.
Seen here on short hair but an accessory that lends itself well to just about any hair length, when positioned just right a headband can disguise oily roots or a greasy hairline brilliantly. Keep things understated with a neutral color or go for a bold, bright shade to make your slightly greasy hair feel instantly more polished.
The half braid
Not only do partially or fully braided hairstyles look seriously chic, but they also have the added benefit of disguising second, third and fourth-day hair brilliantly. They may take a little practise, but it's a skill worth building for its time-saving appeal.
The Double Dutch Braids
Dutch braids (and by extension double Dutch braids) are a little trickier to master than your regular old three-strand plait, so you may need a second pair of hands to assist you. But a fully braided style disguises your hair's overall cleanliness—which is why they're great for gym goers and a popular festival hairstyle, when soap and water is a little harder to come by.
Armed with these hairstyles for greasy hair, you'll look gorgeous even on those days you don't have time for a full wash.
Lucy Abbersteen is a digital beauty journalist and news writer, and has written for the likes of Cosmopolitan (UK), OK! Magazine, Yahoo, and other Future websites including Marie Claire (UK), goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.
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