Scalp buildup: causes and ways to fight sebum

We often focus on our hair strands when we think about our hair health. If hair is too dry or dull, we look for products to bring it back to life. Some even make the mistake of applying oils and other hair care products only to the strands. But if you want voluminous and healthy hair, you also need to pay attention to your scalp. Buildup of scalp or oil on the scalp is one of the signs that your dandruff problem may be getting worse. Be sure to avoid buildup on the scalp.

What is scalp buildup or oil buildup?

Scalp oil buildup is a condition in which the oil glands of the scalp produce too much sebum, explains Dr. Aleena Rehman, a surgeon and cosmetic physician who specializes in hair restoration and non-surgical treatments. It is an oily substance that helps lubricate and protect your hair and scalp. When too much sebum is produced, it can build up on the scalp and clog pores.

Avoid accumulation of sebum on the scalp. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What causes scalp buildup?

Sometimes genetic factors can contribute to the body’s tendency to produce more sebum. Other causes of sebum buildup are:

1. Hormonal changes

We experience hormonal fluctuations during puberty or at different stages of life. These hormonal changes or imbalances can increase sebum production.

2. Poor skincare routine

Using harsh or drying skin care products can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to overproduction of sebum as a protective mechanism.

Whatever the cause, the accumulation of sebum on the scalp must be stopped. If you don’t control it, it can lead to various problems.

• Excess oil can clog hair follicles, leading to the development of scalp acne, dandruff and itching.
• It can also create an environment conducive to yeast overgrowth, leading to conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis or fungal infections.
• Oil buildup can make hair look dull and flat.

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How to get rid of scalp buildup?

If you don’t want to have hair problems, follow these steps:

1. Wash your hair regularly

Washing your hair regularly helps remove excess oil and other build-up from the scalp. However, it’s important to avoid over-washing your hair, as this can dry out your scalp and stimulate oil production.

2. Use a clarifying shampoo

A clarifying shampoo can help remove stubborn oil buildup from the scalp. It’s important to use clarifying shampoo sparingly, as it can make your hair drier than usual.

The woman's scalp
Use a clarifying shampoo to remove excess oil. Image provided by: Shutterstock

3. Exfoliate your scalp

When you exfoliate your scalp with a scalp brush or gentle scrub, it helps remove dead skin cells, says Dr. Rehman.

4. Use a light conditioner

Avoid using heavy conditioners, as they can clog pores and contribute to oil buildup. Instead, use a lightweight conditioner specifically designed for oily hair, suggests Dr. Rehman.

5. Avoid heat styling

Heat styling can damage the hair and scalp, and can also stimulate oil production. There are times when you feel the need to heat style your hair, but be sure to use a heat protectant spray first.

6. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet can help regulate hormone levels and reduce sebum production. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limit processed foods, sugar and unhealthy fats.

7. Manage stress

Stress is something that can trigger the release of hormones that can lead to sebum production. Find healthy ways to manage stress so you can do exercise, yoga, or meditation.

If you have heavy oil buildup or are experiencing hair loss, consult a hair specialist.

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