We’re right in the middle of the humid Indian summer and our hair and skin are not faring well. Pimples are cropping up, and our hair wash frequency has basically doubled. But why is it that your hair is still feeling dry when there’s so much moisture around? The way hair works is, the more you wash it with sudsy shampoos, the more it gets stripped of its natural oils and dries out. Your hair follicles then go into overdrive, producing more oil to keep your strands healthy since you keep stripping it off so often. This back and forth leads to increased oil production on your scalp in general, becoming the reason why you can’t go more than two days without washing your mane.
To combat this, oil training refers to a haircare technique where you slowly reduce the frequency of hair washes to get your scalp accustomed to not being rinsed often, naturally minimising oil production. Celebrities and influencers have been big fans of this, but does the routine really work, or is it just going to make things worse? Hairstylist Rod Anker, founder of Delhi-based salon chain Rod Anker Salons, gives us the lowdown on oil training haircare routines, and whether they are ideal for you or not.
What is your take on oil training? Do you believe that it helps reduce oil production?
While oil training has merit in theory, I don’t think it stands by itself outside of it. Even though it can help to temporarily reduce oil production, your scalp doesn’t have a memory. There’s a good chance that you’ll still have random days of sudden oiliness. A healthy scalp means healthy hair growth—too little cleansing can build bacteria and affect your hair growth, and too much with the wrong shampoo can dry out your scalp and cause hair fall. One of the primary causes of hair fall is an unhealthy scalp; playing around with the natural state of your scalp can bring up a host of other hair concerns like this one.
What do you suggest is the ideal hair wash cycle?
I recommend washing your hair daily or on alternate days with a sulphate- and paraben-free shampoo.
Does conditioner make your hair oily?
No, conditioner doesn’t make your hair oily since it’s only meant for the lengths, not your scalp. It’s absolutely essential to be used after every wash to close the cuticles.
What if someone has naturally oily and greasy hair inspite of not washing often?
If your hair gets super oily, adding a clarifying shampoo to your routine once or twice a week, and then slowly removing that from your regime, can reprogram your oil production. If you’re living in areas with heat and pollution, daily shampooing is best for a healthy scalp; however, picking the right shampoo is more important. Simply using a shampoo that says ‘for oily scalp’ on the bottle is not the approach to fix all your problems, and nor is loading up on dry shampoo in the hope that it’ll help you skip washing your hair for a few extra days.
Is oil training a long-term solution to grease?
Factors like your body, hormones, diet, the environment and your shampoo can all affect the oiliness of your scalp. While oil training may work for you at a given time, it might not last because you need to understand your scalp type—eventually it will do what it wants to do. Circumstances change, hair changes, the environment changes and thus, so should your haircare regime. What worked for you when you were 18 won’t work when you’re 35.
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