Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Understanding Sebum & Dandruff

At the roots of your hair, there are glands that secrete an oily substance called sebum. The amount of sebum these sebaceous glands produce determines whether your hair is naturally dry or oily. If you have fine hair, it means there are more strands of hair per square inch of your scalp and consequently a greater number of sebaceous glands underneath the scalp. This may cause your hair to be naturally oily. Sudden changes in the level of hormones in the body, during adolescence and pregnancy, can also stimulate excessive production of sebum and cause your hair to look and feel greasy.~homeremediesforyou.com
I grew up old school hearing and beliving the worst myth I could have ever been told.  Dirty hair makes my hair grow longer and faster.  Nothing could be further from the truth for me.  It wasnt until the birth of my last son in 2005 when I began experiencing severe hair thinning that I felt the need to research why and how it was happening to me.  In the beginning I contributed my hair loss to postpartum side affects.  By the second year however I knew it was much more than just postpartum side affects and opted to try and understand other causes of hair thinning.  As the diagram above shows, each of the three hair follicles should be producing 2-4 hair strands per follicle.  When sebum is allowed to build without properly being removed from frequent gentle hair washing thinning and even balding can occur. 

When I used to wear my hair straight all the time and the first 3-4 days my hair would be full of body.  As the days would pass my hair began to lose body and become stiff and  oily looking.  Understanding Sebum helped me see now why that used to happen to my free flowing flat irons over the course of a few days.  People with straight hair wash their hair more often because the sebum oil which is natural oil produced from the scalp or root of you hair, can run freely down the shaft.  Where as in kinkier textured hair like mine it can only go so far down each coil which further helps me understand the necessity for me to wash more often.  I dont want sebum building up on roots sufficating my hair follicles, this is why my hair was thinning.  It also explains why Ayuveda works so well on my hair and scalp as well.  It gently removes the sebum from my scalp without stipping my hair to the point of drying it out completely. 

Excessive sebum may form dandruff? (This is where I found this information) I was surprised to read this.  I always thought dandruff came from dry scalp. Most people I know who had dandruff would try to deal with this by not washing their hair with shampoo, or wash it less often, believing that washing worsens the problem. This is a myth (not true). Dandruff differs from a dry scalp in that it usually gets better when you shampoo more frequently (with the right shampoos).


Dandruff – is caused by several factors that  vary from person to person or in one person over a period of time. If you have a very oily scalp and have been exposed to a specific type of yeast or fungus the resultant infection can lead to dandruff.  Excessive sebum secreation may also be a factor.

Dry Scalp – is usually caused by an alternation in temperature or humidity. For instance, in the winter when the heat is turned on, your scalp is suddenly exposed to a drier environment and reacts by peeling and flaking.


For rinsing your hair, you may mix either the juice of two fresh lemons or two tablespoons of vinegar in four cups of distilled water. This cleans away excessive sebum from the scalp and the hair and makes hair look less greasy. Alternatively, you may also follow up shampooing with a rinse with apple cider vinegar or beer in order to absorb the excessive oil from your hair and make it feel lighter and grease-free.



  1. wow! learn something new everyday

  2. but the treatment you propose helps to get rid of dandruff forever or it comes back ??