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Understanding Your Hair Type: How to Tell if Hair is Dry or Oily


Hair care has reached new levels in recent years. The increasing awareness of people towards what they hair needs, their hair type, hair damage and what causes it, hair health and how to obtain it, and hair products has contributed to this change.

Being a professional reviewer, I have seen so many hair products formulated for specific hair types. For instance, there are different shampoos and conditioners for dry and damaged hair with split ends, oily hair, curly hair, treated hair, fine hair and even for grey hair or “aging” hair.

If you still haven’t found the right hair care products for your needs, it is probably because you still don’t know what your hair type is.

Is my hair dry? Is my hair oily? Is my hair normal? Why does my hair get oily?

Let me try to help you! For years I have been studying hair and trying and reviewing different hair care products. 

So let’s get to it and find out how to tell if your hair is dry, oily, or normal!

Table of Contents:

  • What causes Oily Hair and How to Deal With It?
  • What causes Dry Hair and How to Deal With It?
  • How to Tell if Hair is Dry or Oily?
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What causes Oily Hair and How to Deal With It?

Oily Hair

If you believe that your hair is oily, you must have noticed your hair becoming greasy very fast after washing it, probably the next day. 

Therefore, if you are asking yourself “why does my hair get oily?” here are some factors that may cause oily hair:

  • Sweating due to physical workout;
  • Overuse of hair products;
  • Over-washing your hair;
  • Your natural hair type;
  • Not using the right hair products for your hair type;
  • Exposure to high humidity.

If you do have oily hair, your sebaceous glands produce excess sebum that slowly accumulates on the scalp and then starts to spread towards the ends. This makes your hair look greasy and flat, and you feel the need to wash it very often.

Different types of Oiliness in Hair

Ok, so your hair is oily. But is it oily all over, or just close to your scalp? Because if your hair is greasy close to the scalp, but dry and damaged towards the ends, you probably have combination hair, which is a different type. In this case, to control the oiliness on different regions of your hair, you might need different types of hair products for different parts of your hair. For instance, you might need to use a shampoo for greasy hair on your scalp and a shampoo for dry, damaged hair on your ends. 

Going back to oily hair, here are a few tips to deal with it: 

  • Add essential oils (such as tea tree and rosemary) and other natural ingredients that help regulate sebum production to your homemade hair masks;
  • Look for a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo, packed with natural ingredients that can prevent excess sebum production and remove hardened sebum from the scalp and hair shaft, such as apple cider vinegar;
  • Don’t wash your hair more than 2-3 times a week because you’ll be stressing your sebaceous glands and put them into overdrive; 
  • Avoid brushing your hair too often to prevent damage to the hair shaft;
  • Avoid heat styling your hair. 

What causes Dry Hair and How to Deal With It?

Dry Hair

Dry hair typically looks rough, frizzy, and lifeless. If your hair is damaged and dry, either your sebaceous glands don’t produce enough sebum, or it gets ripped off by external factors. Here are factors which might make you pose the question “is my hair dry?” 

  • Dry and cold weather;
  • Extremely hot weather;
  • Swimming in chlorinated water
  • Spending a lot of time in sunlight;
  • Harsh and chemical-based shampoos;
  • Other hair care chemical-based products;
  • Hairdryers and other heat styling tools.

All these factors lead to dry and brittle hair that is prone to split ends, breakage and damage. Now, how to tell if the hair is dry? There are many visible signs of dry hair, such as: brittle, lifeless hair, frizz, flaky scalp, itchy scalp, split ends etc. If you are experiencing any of these, your hair is probably dry. 

Here are a few tips on how to deal with dry hair:

  • Avoid over-washing your hair;
  • Deep conditioning is your best ally. Deep condition your dry hair every time your shampoo;
  • Avoid heating tools, and if you must use them, always use heat protectants to prevent damage to the hair shaft;
  • Try not to blow-dry your hair very often;
  • Avoid harsh chemical treatments.

Just these minor changes in your hair care routine can help you deal better with your dry hair and keep it hydrated, bouncy, and conditioned. 

How to Tell if Hair is Dry or Oily?

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If you still don’t know if your hair is dry or oily, here is how to tell if your hair is dry or oily:

  • Wash your hair before going to bed and let it dry naturally; 
  • When you wake up, press a tissue against your scalp;
  • If the tissue has a large oily stain on it, you probably have oily hair;
  • If there are tiny stains of oil on it, you probably have normal hair;
  • If there is either a large oily stain on it or a few tiny stains, but your ends are very dry, you most likely have combination hair
  • If there is no oil stain at all, your hair must be dry. 

However, just to be sure, also take into consideration the other signs we’ve talked about in this article. Once you know your hair type, it becomes quite easy to find the right hair care products for your hair’s particular needs. It also becomes easy to give your hair the tender love and care that it deserves.

Shefali Chautala

Shefali Chautala is a professional content creator, reviewer, and a lifelong learner who loves to write about stuff she finds interesting. Always curious to learn about new things, Shefali combines her curiosity and knowledge to create content that is valuable for the readers.

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