May 11, 2023
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Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by Verna Meachum
Are you tired of shampooing your hair one day and feeling like it needs another wash the next? Does your oily, curly hair feel like a literal grease ball after only a few hours? It’s time to take control of your hair’s oily fate and show it who’s boss!
And it all starts with the right shampoo for oily, curly hair. But before you go grabbing just any bottle off the shelf, let’s dive into the key ingredients that can make all the difference. We will also discuss how to wash oily curly hair to keep it in check.
Managing oily hair can be a nightmare, especially when you add curls to the mix. Choosing the right shampoo can make all the difference, but with so many options out there, it can be tricky to know where to start.
Cleaning your hair is important for maintaining healthy hair. Sebum, dust particles, and product build-up can weigh down your hair and give it a dull appearance, so it’s important to wash your hair regularly to remove these substances.
Each of us has a hair care routine that is customized to suit our hair type. Similar to oily skin, some individuals have naturally oily hair due to the increased biochemical activity of sebaceous glands present on the surface of the scalp. This excess sebum production causes oiliness.
While sebum can help alleviate dryness in curly hair and the scalp, excessive production of sebum can lead to the scalp and hair becoming oily and greasy.
When carbon black particles and debris mix with sebum on the scalp, it causes hair to become greasy and unpleasant. If your hair is oily, it can become limp due to the build-up of oil. This means that caring for oily hair requires a unique approach, different from caring for dry or normal hair. 1-2
The only way to eliminate oily hair is by washing it, but what are the most effective shampoo and ingredients to use for this issue?
Surfactants are the key ingredients in shampoos that help remove dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other build-up from the scalp.
The most common types of surfactants are anionic, cationic, and amphoteric. Anionic surfactants, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, are the most common in commercial shampoos and provide a good lather.
Cationic surfactants, such as Behentrimonium Chloride, are often used in conditioners and provide detangling benefits. They also boost the effectiveness of anionic surfactants in cleansing the scalp.
Amphoteric surfactants, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine, are mild and provide a good balance of cleansing and moisturizing. They are often used in shampoos for sensitive or irritated scalps.
Important factors to consider when selecting a cleansing blend for oily hair.
● Sebum is a lipid composition mainly comprising fatty acids, waxes, fatty alcohols, squalane, and cholesterol.3–4 It is strongly lipophilic, making it difficult to wash off easily. Removing it requires a surfactant blend of superior detergents that can break it up and keep it dispersed in water during washing.
● It is important that the surfactant blend does not cause the hair fiber to become dry or remove the necessary lubrication from the hair shaft. Finding a balance is crucial for maintaining a healthy and natural appearance for oily hair.
● Sulfate surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are often used for their ability to remove sebum or dandruff effectively. However, people with sensitive skin or skin conditions should opt for sulfate-free options, as sulfates may not be suitable for them. They can also result in dry and brittle hair and scalp.
These surfactants can dissolve hair surface proteins, causing protein loss and damage to the hair’s structural integrity. According to a 2005 study, hair that is exposed to a solution containing Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS) (also known as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) loses twice as much protein compared to hair exposed to water. This could potentially result in split ends, breakage, and hair that is harder to handle.
Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate might cause mild issues such as skin or eye irritation. However, as long as it is not consumed, the majority of people should not experience any harmful effects.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the formula and the surfactant blend. Formulators know how to make sure the surfactant blend does not cause any damage or excessive dryness to the hair fiber.
● An optimal surfactant system should be non-ionic, mild, green, and have a sustainable supply chain. Non-ionic surfactants are excellent emulsifiers for emulsifying oils, sebum, and fatty materials, thanks to their non-ionic nature and inert behavior in the presence of water.
Glucosides are surfactants that are non-ionic and sugar-based. They possess superior capabilities for emulsifying, cleaning, and dissolving sebum components.
Personal care cleansing formulations commonly use three glucosides:
These surfactants are non-ionic, which means they are not affected by the presence of hard water ions like calcium or magnesium in tap water. They produce a moderate amount of foam when used for washing.
Glucosides, which are surfactants derived from sugar, moisturize both the hair shaft and the scalp surface without removing the essential lubrication from the hair shaft. They are the preferred ingredient, either alone or in a blend, for removing excess sebum, debris, and product residues from oily hair.
Glucosides can be used in conjunction with other mild and gentle surfactants to create shampoo for oily curly hair.
Some examples of other surfactants are:
Healthy hair requires adequate moisture content to avoid dryness, dullness, and frizz.
The purpose of using shampoo for oily curly hair is to eliminate excess sebum while also balancing the hair’s moisture levels. This helps mitigate any harsh cleansing, balance out the water absorption during washing and rinsing, and increase the moisture levels of both the hair and scalp.
Betaine is a small organic and bio-sourced molecule. It has strong water binding and holding capacity. When used in skin and hair care products, it significantly enhances the amount of water content on the surface.
Betaine is a great hydrating agent that can be easily added to shampoo formulations and is compatible with cleansing agents. This makes it a favorite for boosting hair moisture levels.
Another great ingredient for hydration in hair care products is propanediol. It is derived from corn and has multiple functions including increasing moisture in hair fibers and reducing friction as an emollient.
Including cationic polymers in a cleansing product can make it easier to apply, improve the way it feels on your skin or hair, and help make combing wet and dry hair easier.
These molecules carry a positive charge which enables them to bind to the negatively charged sites on amino acids, resulting in the formation of an electrostatic bond. Due to this property, these ingredients have a strong affinity and binding ability to the hair fiber.
Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride (GHPTC) is another great choice for oily curly hair. It comes from Guar beans and is a sustainable molecule. GHPTC can also help increase the amount of oils and other emollient ingredients on the hair shaft, such as sunflower oil and coconut oil.
Polyquaternium-10 is a type of cationic polymer that is commonly used in hair conditioning shampoos. It is derived from cellulose and has a strong affinity for hair fibers. Even at low concentrations, it can significantly improve the ease of wet and dry combing in cleansing formulations.
Natural floral, herbal, fruit, and plant extracts are a rich source of antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals. These are vital ingredients that soothe the scalp, improve product aesthetics and provide a natural feel.
For example, green tea extract is rich in polyphenols that protect the hair shaft and scalp cells against free radical-induced damage.6
Likewise, Chamomile extract is a good source of bio-molecules imparting a natural feel to the hair and scalp. Oily hair needs a cleansing feel and a sense of freshness.
Lemon, Lime extracts, and Grapefruit extract (or their peel oils) are excellent options offering a feel of freshness and a cleansing sensation.
Other ingredients to carefully look out for in a shampoo for oily curly hair:
● Avoid skin-sensitizing preservatives e.g. formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, etc. Natural and skin-friendly preservatives e.g. Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, and Hexylene Glycol.
● Avoid using synthetic fragrances in shampoo for oily curly hair. Synthetic fragrances may sensitize scalp cells and may have a drying effect on hair and scalp surfaces.
This shampoo uses tea tree, grapefruit peel, and Righteous Roots oil blend to gently clean your hair, without stripping it and causing dryness by removing impurities. This is also ideal for deodorizing and removing oil from the scalp.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, Polysorbate, PEG- Methyl Glucose Trioleate, Propanediol, Citrus Paradisi Grapefruit Peel Oil, Glycerin, Adansonia Digitata Oil, Baobab Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima, Avocado Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia Tea Tree Leaf Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Shea Butter, Panthenol, Allantoin, Mentha Piperita Peppermint Oil, Menthol, Urtica Dioica Nettle Root Extract, Phytic Acid, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Acrylamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Acrylamide Copolymer, Annatto Extract, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol.
This shampoo uses Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate and Lauramidopropyl Betaine to gently cleanse the scalp and hair. A unique blend of vitamins, plant-based enzymes, and peptides helps to keep your locks soft and hydrated.
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Oil, Copper Tripeptide-34, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Biotin, Coconut Acid, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Isethionate, Citric Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caffeine, Propanediol, Lindera Strychnifolia Root Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ubiquinone, Glycine, Larix Europaea Wood Extract, Sodium Metabisulfite, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Zinc Chloride, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance (Parfum), Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol.
This shampoo contains biotin which delivers essential nutrients to strengthen and reinforce hair. Chia seed oil is added to thicken and volumize while hydrolyzed keratin softens hair, smooths frizz, and adds shine. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is an ingredient that aids in gentle cleansing and enhances the effectiveness of other ingredients when used in combination.
Ingredients: Water / Aqua / Eau, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Peg-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Cocamide Mipa, Fragrance / Parfum, Panthenol, Cocoglucosides Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Biotin, Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil, Cetrimonium Chloride (Anti-Static Agent/Agent Antistatique), Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Glycinate, Peg-150 Distearate, Propoxytetramethyl Piperidinyl Dimethicone, Trideceth-6, C11-15 Pareth-7, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium-7, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium Edta, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Acetic Acid, Sodium Acetate, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal.
This certified organic formula uses plant-sourced botanicals and essential oils to cleanse and revitalize hair by removing excess oils and build-up. It contains a balanced blend of lemon essential oil, quinoa protein, aloe, and vitamin E to condition and seal the hair cuticle, leaving it smooth and shiny.
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Ingredient), Aqua (Water), Coco-Glucoside, Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Cedrus Atlanta Bark Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Chenopodium Quinoa Seed (Certified Organic Ingredient), Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract (Certified Organic Ingredient), Styrax Benzoin Resin Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol (Certified Organic Ingredient), Babassu Oil Polyglyceryl-4 Esters, Bisabolol, Citric Acid, Inulin (Certified Organic Ingredient), Sodium Chloride, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citral, Limonene.
This shampoo contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine as the surfactant blend, which work together to effectively cleanse the scalp and hair. It also has Panax Ginseng Root to cleanse the scalp and Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract to stimulate the scalp and Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract to clarify the scalp and support the hair shaft.
Ingredients: Water\Aqua\Eau, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Magnesium Chloride, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil, Magnesium Nitrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Isoceteth-20, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Green 5 (CI 61570), Ext. Violet 2 (CI 60730).
This shampoo is probably one you’ve never heard of if you have curly hair, but it’s a great shampoo for all hair types! It contains a blend of gentle cleansing agents, including Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, and Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate that are mild and help to remove excess oil without stripping the hair.
It contains Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, and 10% Aloe Vera Leaf Juice to balance, replenish, and hydrate. The formula is pH-optimized with gentle plant surfactants and can be used on color-treated hair. It is made to minimize build-up and irritation. It uses Sodium Benzoate as a preservative and is fragrance-free!
The National Eczema Association has awarded the Shampoo with the Seal of Acceptance. The shampoo does not contain SLS/SLES, silicones, phthalates, parabens, or PEGs.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Propanediol, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Apium Graveolens (Celery) Seed Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Glycerin, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Citric Acid, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Sodium Chloride, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate.
This shampoo contains blue-tansy and other extracts that help to remove build-up and promote healthy hair growth, while also enhancing shine. It is ideal for addressing issues such as dryness, oiliness, and lack of shine.
The product’s benefits include being able to nourish the hair while deeply cleansing it, helping to reduce breakage, and maintaining the hair’s moisture level.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Cocamide DIPA, Polyquaternium-7, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tanacetum Annuum (Blue Tansy) Flower Oil, Ulmus Rubra (Slippery Elm) Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Extract, Polyquaternium-10, Hydrolyzed Quinoa Protein, Fragrance (Parfum), Macrocystis Pyrifera (Sea Kelp) Extract, Cetrimonium Chloride, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Panthenol, Citric Acid.
This shampoo contains coconut charcoal and kaolin clay that effectively removes build-up from hair without causing it to look dull and dry, even if you are a daily dry shampoo user. One can use activated charcoal powder as an ingredient for a deep cleansing hair mask as it can absorb impurities and toxins naturally. Moreover, it can help in removing scalp and hair impurities, and is believed to be effective in fighting against dandruff and other scalp problems.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Charcoal Powder, Kaolin, Polyacrylate-1 Crosspolymer, Polyquaternium-22, PEG-7 Amodimethicone, Linoleamidopropyl Pg-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Polyquaternium-39, Sodium Hydrolyzed Potato Starch Dodecenylsuccinate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Citrate, Hexylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance (Parfum), Ext. Violet 2 (Ci 60730).
This product uses a surfactant blend of Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, and Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate to gently cleanse the hair and scalp.
This product helps to detoxify and eliminate build-up, oil, and impurities from your hair and scalp. It also works to hydrate, balance, and soothe an itchy, irritated, and flaky scalp. This is all thanks to the inclusion of Binchotan Charcoal, which can detoxify and draw out impurities that can clog hair follicles and cause build-up on the scalp.
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate*, Glycerin*, Microcrystalline Cellulose*, Cocamidopropyl Betaine*, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate*, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate*, Hydrogenated Castor Oil*, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Panthenol, Xylitylglucoside*, Charcoal Powder*, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil*, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil*, Anhydroxylitol*, Bisabolol, Menthyl Lactate*, Xylitol*, Polyquaternium-7, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance (Parfum), Citric Acid*, Sodium Hydroxide.*Coconut, vegetable, or plant derived.
The reason for dull, discolored, dry, unmanageable, or oily hair is build-up. This shampoo has advanced technology to remove more impurities that damage hair. This product is sulfate-free and pH balanced for maintaining hydrated hair.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua/Eau), Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, Coco-Betaine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Acrylates Copolymer, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Decyl Glucoside, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Coco-Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Chlorphenesin, Panthenol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Polyquaternium-11, Benzoic Acid, Sodium PCA , Pentasodium Triphosphate, Sodium Lactate, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, PCA, Citric Acid, Glycine, Alanine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucin, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Fragrance (Parfum), Citral, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene.
This shampoo contains Coco-Glucoside, a gentle surfactant derived from coconut oil that cleanses oily curly hair without stripping away natural oils. This shampoo is designed for curly hair and is sulfate free. It uses Micellar Water which acts like a magnet to attract and remove buildup, providing a thorough cleanse of hair and scalp without stripping the hair.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water, Coco-Glucoside, Glycerin, Parfum/Fragrance, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Linalool, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Limonene, Geraniol, Citral, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.
A few years back, I got rid of severe dandruff and the Maple Holistics brand played a huge role in it, which is why I really love it. This shampoo is specifically designed for oily hair to help clarify your scalp and hair.
It combines a unique blend of botanical extracts like Cyprus, Basil, Jojoba, Rosemary, and others to effectively remove the build-up of impurities on your scalp and nourish your hair strands. This formula provides long-lasting moisture for days.
Ingredients: Water, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauryl Glucoside Carboxylate, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Acrylates Copolymer, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glycerin, Glycol Distearate, Laureth-4, Sodium PCA, D-Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Fragrance, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Prunus Persica (Peach) Kernel Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Cupressus Sempervirens (Cypress) Oil, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil.
Cleansing oily hair requires a specific formulation that must carefully combine surfactants to effectively clean the hair.
The purpose of shampoo is to get rid of excess sebum, but it shouldn’t remove important lipids that keep hair and scalp moisturized. We prefer to use non-ionic surfactants called glucosides because they are gentle, effective at cleaning, and made with skin-friendly ingredients.
Shampoos formulated for oily hair usually contain hydrating agents, conditioning polymers, and natural extracts such as citrus extracts for their cleansing properties and refreshing scent.
1. Breuer, M. M., Cleaning of Hair. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem 1981, 32, 437-458.
2. Cornwell, P., A review of shampoo surfactant technology: consumer benefits, raw materials, and recent developments. Inter. J. of Cosmet. Sci 2018, 40 (1), 16-30.
3. Green, S. C.; Stewart, M. E.; Downing, D. T., Variation in sebum fatty acid composition among adult humans. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1984, 83 (2), 114-117.
4. Picardo, M.; Ottaviani, M.; Camera, E.; Mastrofrancesco, A., Sebaceous gland lipids. Dermato-endocrinology 2009, 1 (2), 68-71.
5. Clarke, J.; Robbins, C. R.; Schroff, B., Selective removal of sebum components from hair by surfactants. J Soc Cosmet Chem 1989, 40, 309-320.
6. Marsh, J. M.; Davis, S. L.; Fang, R.; Simmonds, M. S.; Groves, P.; Chechik, V., UV Oxidation: Mechanistic Insights Using a Model System. J. Cosmet. Sci. 2021, 72, 697-710.
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