How to Brush Your Hair If You Have an Oily Scalp

Having an oily scalp often means dealing with greasy, limp hair. It’s tempting to hop in the shower for a quick wash the moment the excess oils emerge, but when you cleanse your hair too frequently, your strands can end up dry and brittle. Instead of grabbing your shampoo, consider this simple technique from colorist Cherin Choi.

After receiving requests for tips on how to deal with an oily scalp and dry ends, Choi shared a short-but-informative video to Instagram with a solution: brushing your hair top to bottom. Does it go against the typical recommendation of brushing your hair starting at your ends and working your way up? Sure — but hear her out first.

The co-owner of Nova Arts Salon explained that this technique distributes the oils through the rest of your hair. Brushing the scalp can also stimulate blood circulation. According to dermatologist Dr. Sapna Palep, with increased blood circulation, there is more delivery of nutrients to the hair, which helps promote growth. Because Choi’s hair is color-treated, her ends get very dry and broom-like. After she brushes her hair with this method, you can see a slight sheen at the processed ends. This technique shouldn’t yank your strands out, so be sure your hair is detangled beforehand to avoid creating split ends and damaging the hair, advises Choi.

Hairstylist Justine Marjan agrees that this method is effective but once again emphasizes the importance of detangling the conventional way first. “I suggest brushing the ends first with the WetBrush Original Detangler, then slowly working upwards to detangle the rest of the hair.” (Marjan has a partnership with WetBrush.) Afterward, you can proceed with Choi’s technique. She also shares that brushing your hair thoroughly before going to bed is a great practice. “This will help stimulate hair follicles for healthy hair growth and prevent hair from tangling or matting while you sleep.”

Similar to Marjan, hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew stresses detangling beforehand and doing so by starting from the ends and working your way up. This will help limit breakage and reduce irritation to the scalp. She suggests dividing the hair into smaller sections to make it easier to detangle and reduce the potential for damage.

Though this tip is great for straight and wavy textures, those with curls or kinks may want to put the brush down first. Both Marjan and Sturdivant-Drew agree that you should not brush curly hair when it’s dry. Curly hair tends to be drier than straighter textures, so transferring oils from the scalp to end isn’t as much of a priority. Brush curly hair when it’s damp, add a leave-in conditioner, and detangle from the ends up.

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