The other day, I received an email which asked: "I've noticed that my hair is a lot more greasy lately. Could this be why more hair is shedding? Or could the shedding have made my hair more greasy? I've noticed a correlation between my hair being oilier and my shedding more." There are actually a lot of reasons that this may be taking place. I'll discuss them in the following article.
Greasy Hair, Androgens, And Hair Loss / Shedding: The most obvious answer here is that the oily hair is a result of excess sebum, DHT, or androgens. This could be the result of genetics that is finally rearing its ugly head. It could also be the result of a medical issue that causes the production of excess androgens. Examples of this are PCOS, some endocrine disorders, or an excess or cortisol (in both men and women) or testosterone (in women.) Many people with genetic shedding, hair loss, or thinning have a sensitivity to androgens. It's not necessarily that they produce more of these substances than what is normal. It's that they are overly sensitive to them so that even a little bit can cause more loss or shedding.
Sometimes medications can cause androgenic responses. One example would be if you changed birth control pills and your new ones contain more progesterone (this can cause an androgenic effect in some.) You can get the same reactions at certain times of the month (for women.) When you get or are approaching your period, you sometimes get more breakouts or oil on your face and hair as you have more progesterone to deal with.
Inflammation From Shedding And Hair Loss: Another possibility is that your scalp (and therefore your hair) is reacting to the inflammation that is likely the result of many hairs going into the resting phase at one time. This happens when you're shedding quite a bit (telogen effluvium.) Your scalp may become sore, red, pink, or angry looking. As a result, your body produces more oils and sebum in attempt to soothe your scalp or counter the inflammation. Of course, this can sometimes make the problem worse if you are sensitive to these things as I've described.
Are Your Hair Strands Becoming More Fine?: Sometimes, I'll have people tell me that their hair is becoming more limp and greasy when what is really happening is that they are having some hair miniaturization (where their hair is beginning to grow in more thin and fine – usually due to AGA) and these limp, finer hairs are not able to handle the same amount of natural oils that were always there because the strands are smaller and thinner and diameter and are getting saturated and weighed down. In this case, I often tell people to use their conditioner before their shampoo and to be careful of using heavy products. You'll also need to shampoo regularly to keep the fine hair from becoming limp and sticking to your head and to keep your scalp healthy.
Are You Avoiding Washing Your Hair For Fear More Will Fall Out?: Speaking of washing regularly, I find that it's very common when you are experiencing shedding or hair loss to think about washing your hair less often. It can seem logical that when you're losing tons of hair every time you wash it that you're going to think that it may be a good idea to wash it less. This can seriously backfire because it can make a bad situation worse.
You must keep your scalp clean and your hair follicles unclogged to encourage healthy, thick regrowth. The appearance of your hair is dependent both on how much is coming out and how much is regrowing. You will harm your regrowth if you don't keep your scalp as clean as it needs to be. And, the hairs that are coming out when you shampoo were going to come out soon anyway and there's nothing you can do to stop it from coming out once it is in the resting phase. (It is in the phase for a few weeks before it actually sheds out.) So, although you may think that you're sparing yourself from loss by skipping a shampoo or two, you could be doing more long term damage than you know.
How do I know all of this? Because I lived it. Greasy hair was just one issue I had to address when my own hair was shedding horribly. At that time, I didn't know about androgens or inflammation and this seriously delayed my progress. Thankfully, I finally educated myself and found something that helped quite a bit. You can read a very personal story at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/.