Why Your Hair Still Feels Greasy After You Wash It, According to a Hairstylist

Say it with me: Grease, be gone!

brown hair in a bun on a yellow background
(Image credit: Getty)

We've all been there: You step out of the shower after lathering your favorite shampoo and conditioner into your hair, and then, after drying and styling as usual, you find that your hair is still greasy—even after all that hard work! And whether you're encountering this after working out, styling your hair differently, or simply during a run-of-the-mill wash day, it's frustrating and even baffling. But why does hair sometimes still feel like an oil slick at the roots, even after a routine cleanse?

"If your hair feels greasy after you shampoo it, it may not have been washed very well," says Allison Gandolfo, celebrity hairstylist and designer colorist at the Zahir Ziani Salon.

But before you question yourself and your knowledge of how to wash your hair, bear in mind that if you've been using more products than usual, if you've switched to thicker haircare products (like leave-in conditioners, hair oils, and other styling products), or if you've been sweating more than usual, you may also need to switch up your hair-washing routine and even amend your collection of haircare products. 

But what changes need to be made, and where do you need to start? I had Gandolfo break down the best hair de-greasing methods, step by step, so you can exit your everything-shower with confidence. 

How To Solve It

For a quick triage to resolve your de-greasing needs, Gandolfo recommends another round of hair-washing consisting of "two rounds of shampoo with little to no conditioner on the roots."

She adds that your in-shower technique matters, too. To get the most out of your cleansing regimen, she advises, "Start with a massaging motion at top of scalp and then move around edges of the hairline, ending at the base of your head. Press firmly, making a circular motion, trying to create a nice lather from the shampoo. I also want to reiterate using little to no conditioner on roots."

Indeed, a good rule of thumb to remember is that shampoo is best used at the roots, while conditioner is best used along the lower-shaft and ends. 

Gandolfo also says that if your hair consistently feels greasy after you've washed it, or if grease is something you struggle with often, you should consider revisiting your choice of products.

"If your hair feels greasy after multiple washes, I would recommend silicone-free and sulfate-free shampoos," she says. You should also consider making clarifying shampoos a regular part of your routine so you can combat build-up, sweat, and excess oil before it weighs down your hair or causes dandruff. 

And if you're already dealing with an irritated scalp as a result of excess grease, look into a high-quality scalp treatment and schedule an appointment with your dermatologist or trichologist. 

Below, two of Gandolfo's favorite shampoos for eradicating that unpleasant post-wash grease.

Meet the Expert

Allison Gandolfo
Allison Gandolfo

Allison Gandolfo is a hairstylist and designer colorist Zahir Ziani Salon, which is located in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York City. 

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, gabrielleulubay.medium.com. Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at @suburban.graffiti.art