Stress triggers a spike in your body's level of cortisol—aka the stress hormone—which causes your skin to produce more oil. Considering your scalp is also skin, the same thing can conceivably happen up there, too. "Stress can increase oil production throughout the entire body, and just as your face can get greasy—and potentially break out in pimples—the same can occur on the scalp," says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.
In addition to causing run-of-the-mill grease up there, stress can also lead dandruff. "Stress can exacerbate seborrhea—the red, itchy rash and white scales that you know as dandruff—and an overgrowth of yeast," says board-certified dermatologist (and star of our Dear Derm series!) Mona Gohara, MD. "This seborrhea can also leave you with a greasy scalp."
So what's a greased-up gal to do? Aside from taking some deep breaths and investing in the Headspace app to help you remedy the situation internally, there are a few products that can help you handle the oil. Stylists suggest using a clarifying shampoo, which is designed to help get rid of any gunk and residue on your scalp without disrupting the oils you actually need to keep your scalp healthy. Be sure you're using it the right way, and massaging your scalp for at least a minute to ensure it's super clean. Then, use conditioner only on the ends of your strands to keep them moisturized without adding grease up top. And when you need to extend your blowout for a few extra stress-filled days, everyone's favorite dry shampoo has got your back (or, uh, your scalp).
To put together your oily scalp-treating toolkit, shop the products below... and remember to take those deep breaths, for real.
Products not cutting it? See what happened when our video editor tried a full-on scalp detox:
Wake up to your best hair day ever thanks to these nighttime routines. And this $7 conditioner mist tackles dry, damaged hair in a few simple spritzes.
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