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Avatar universal

Sticky / Oily / Greasy scalp?!?

I have an weird sticky substance in my hair that NOTHING will get rid of and it's extremely frustrating.  About a month ago i noticed after i got out of the shower and blow dried my hair that the hair at the crown of my head was very oily and sticky (but ONLY at the crown of my head). At first i thought i forgot to wash the conditioner out so the next night I scrubbed thoroughly, but once again the stickiness was still there.  Then i bought a few different brands of clarifying shampoo (thinking it was build-up) and still the same thing.  The oil is def coming from my scalp because at the same time that this happened I started breaking out with acne really bad.  I'm 27 years old and have not broken out this bad since puberty.  Very strange.  So i went to the extremes of trying baking soda, lemon juice, listerine, medicated shampoos, even dawn (for it's grease cutting abilities) and NOTHING gets this substance out of my hair.  It's driving me crazy to the point that i asked my dermatologist to put me on accutane to stop oil secretions.  Has anyone experienced this problem before, and if so, do you know of anything that will get my scalp back to normal.  PS - it has nothing to do with my diet, because i eat extremely healthy and always have.
328 Responses
Avatar universal
I'm so happy I found this board!  I got this "sticky scalp" about 3 days ago, funny enough I just switched my shampoo and conditioner a few weeks ago.  I switched back to what I had been using thinking that would work, but it didn't, and the "sticky" part of my hair stills smells like the other conditioner.  I'm going to go the the beauty supply store tonight and get a good clarifying shampoo, fingers crossed that it works because having my hair like this makes me feel so gross!
Avatar universal
Just an update, I went to Sally Beauty last night, explained the problem and said I wanted the best clarifying shampoo they had.  The girl recommended Ion Clarifying Shampoo so that's what I bought.  I washed my hair this morning with it, the first wash there was no lather, I left it in for 3-4 minutes, rinsed and re-washed.  This time it lathered really well so I didn't let it sit long.  My hair looks and feels a lot cleaner, it's not 100% yet, so I'll be washing it again tonight and hopefully within the next day or so it will be back to normal.
Avatar universal
I'm really exited about this board, I've been dealing with this weirdness for almost a month and im going insane, not to mention i didn't feel any better when my hair dresser was surprised as well with my 'gelled' roots. I wish for me it was as easy as going to the store and getting all these amazing products mentioned but unfortunatelly i'm currently living in South America and for the most part all those shampoos and stuff are kinda hard to find here :( HELP!!!
Avatar universal
Oh, I am soo glad I found this thread! I was freaking out trying to figure out what nasty gunk was in my hair! Reading the posts does make me think it's hormones. I'm 34 and started to get really bad adult acne breakouts when this gunkiness started. Looking back, I had the same thing when I was about 12. It felt like numb bumps on my scalp and when I told my mom about it she had to scrape lumps of dry skin/oil/grease off my scalp with a comb. I noticed about 2 weeks ago a lot of new acne, even in my hairline where I never get it, and my scalp was itchy with "numb spots." What the numb spots ended up being were several finger-print sized patches, right on the top of my head, where the roots are a cemented to my scalp with a thick, white, waxy coating that I have to pry up off my scalp. D: The hairs are stuck to each other and it is nearly impossible to even pick this gunk out of my hair! It hurt really bad trying to get it out with my fingers and I ended up ripping some of my hairs out. My scalp is really sore where the patches are. It's terrible. My hair looks really dark and greasy and feels disgusting.  After reading the comments, I'm going to try my home-remedy lice shampoo on it and see how it does. It's dawn dish soap, vinegar, and tea tree oil.
Avatar universal
HI!  I just had this happen to me.  Im a blonde currently working in Iraq and apparently after speaking to my friends here it happens to a lot of girls out here.  I hear apple cider vinegar works but alas i cannot get my hands on any....This was ongoing for me for about two weeks and hats became my best friend...

Solution: My friend out here happened to have some tea tree oil (brand:Finest Natural) I had never heard of it, nor do i ever use products such as this but i thought what the heck id try anything.  I dumped some on my scalp and left it there for two hours (def felt a nice tingle), showered with a clarifying shampoo, and right before bed i rubbed a little on my scalp for good measure.  When i woke up IT WAS COMPLETELY GONE!!!!! Tea tree oil is now a staple for my toiletries.
Avatar universal
i m 21, i had perfect hair,bouncy normal, shiny hair,i never needed to wash my hair more than 2times a week,they would still be great on the third day after washing,but suddenly i found that my top part of scalp got greasy after 24 hours of washing,i donno wats happening,this started happening 2 weeks back.can anybody help?
Avatar universal
Battling this problem for weeks. Just tried Neutrogena T-Sal Shampoo for Scalp Buildup...hair is still wet but I can already feel the difference. I think this may be the solution. will let you know. So happy to have found this forum, I thought I was losing my mind!
Avatar universal
Hello everyone-i had this exact problem being described after having completely normal hair the rest of my life. I tried everything possible and finally went to my dermatologist who gave me ciclopirox shampoo 1% -its prescription, and i use that now-no conditioner and works!!! Thank G-d!! You have to wash your hair with it, leave it in for 3 mins and then wash out. If i switch to another shampoo, like if i go away and forget to bring it, i am in trouble as my hair goes back to its difficult disgusting self-i really hope this helps everyone as much as it helped me!!!!! I don't know if itll work for everyone-just rly wanted to tell you all abt it cuz i know what its like to have this problem and not know what to do or where to turn.
I took some herbs to kill a rare parasite I had. We are not supposed to have them in the us but I had been having a lot of bloat every time I ate I was so sick but no doctors would believe I had these flukes so I bought a book for remedies. I was so alone.  I took the recommended herbs  black walnut extract, wormwood and ground cloves   It cured me of the parasites. They look almost like an almond but once cleaned off they are pink. The herbs killed them. The bloat and pain stopped and I passed hundreds in my stool (dead) it was them a clear liquid began to come out of my hair follicles. It burned like I think acid would've I screamed and cried in my shower for two days. After it stopped burning it still seeped out and soon began to harden. I scraped with my fingernails and soon it was coming off like Sand. My scalp was buried almost a half an inch with this coating. All this was six years ago. I'm still going crazy with it ZIT WILL NOT WASH AWAY NO MATTER WHAT I USE. I've now removed it enough that I feel my skin again yet it still sticks to me. My hair sticks to the skin and hardens overnight  I use olive oil to keep it oiled otherwise their has developed another problem, right after I wash and dry it something thin like powder or flour flys around and I breath it so you understand why I must put vasoline or oil on it. I do fort that reason and also to pull my hair, which feels like it's glues away from my skin. I have no life!! I splend every minute trying to take care of this awful condition and look for a remedy. I'm so angry at the doctors who would not take care of me in the beginning. Helllpp
Avatar universal
Hi everyone,
I have the exact same thing that happen to me. I came home that night and took a shower, immediately after my hair dry it got really sticky and greasy and hard ( I am a very clean person and highly concerned about my hair ) . So I thought I did not rinse enough, I jumped back and rinse several times with my Head and Shoulder shampoo. Things turned worse and I was pretty disappointed. I read a few things online and decided to try tea tree shampoo and conditioner. I went to Whole food and bought the brand Avalon ( make sure its organic and ask for SLS free. It worked immediately after the first try, my hair even gets softer and shinier. I am so happy now. if you cant get it at whole food or you dont have whole food around, I believe you can get it on amazon. please give it a try because it worked so perfectly on me. Just apply shampoo, and then conditioner. Its not expensive, I paid 19$ for shampoo and conditioner which I think totally worth it. please consider this before you put things like dish washer on your hair !
Avatar universal
you might want to try the organic tea tree oil, brand avalon, i hope it would help
Avatar universal
try tea tree oil shampoo, you can get it on amazon i guest. it works perfectly for me
Avatar universal
has anyone heard of demodex? a tiny mite that lives on humans including hair. a person told me about this as i have been going through the same thing for over a year. this mite can also cause acne. i'm doing some research. would like for others to do the same and let us know what you find out. this mite normally lives on humans but may become over populated, maybe due to low immune system, and cause these symptoms. also known to get in eye lashes.
Avatar universal
This has happened to me when I need to get my hair highlighted. Only a few times in the past year I would say. It would go away after I got my hair done and wouldn't return till time to color it again. So it happened and went to get my hair done she used some mixture to get it out.It worked. 2 days later it was back.and wasn't leaving:/ in a huge panic I googled it for days. I have done the vinegar and baking soda idea. I wet my hair and pour vinegar on the CROWN (just like everyone else is saying is the spot) of my head wait 10 minutes and I mix baking soda with my kids shampoo. It works BUT am I going to do this forever! The smell of the vinegar is pretty bad. What causes it? Whats the CURE? I didn't do the vinegar one time and it came back. could of been the Pantene shampoo. I rinse with cold water also. don't know what difference it makes. I will about try anytime at this point to get it to leave.I've read a lot about Accutane on other sites and a Fungal Infection. going to ask family doctor and dermatologist about this. I'm seriously about to lose my mind! Im slightly comforted that I'm not alone with it from this sites.
Avatar universal
I had the same issue. It first started at the crown of my head. I read within this discussion that Listerine worked. Sadly after I used it, the stickiness went from the crown to the whole top part of my head. However, after I bought Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree oil shampoo from Sally Beauty Supply, about 80% of the stickiness went away! Then, a couple days later, I washed it again with that shampoo and it was gone. I honestly think that this is some kind of fungus on the scalp. Tea tree should help. Good luck guys. I understand your frustration. On the bright side, even though I only had this ordeal for about a week, I have been sticky free for a year now.
Avatar universal
Hi all....
I have suffered with this problem for some time on and off....managed to get it under control using natural shampoos and APC Vinegar(live organic).  However it keeps coming back....and Im trying to get to the bottom of it...( I thought my hair was so badly damaged I almost had it cut off!) BUT its not damage and the lovely silky hair is still under there when you find the right cure...so dont give up there is hope!
The reason I am posting is...I am now thinking rather than grease and moisture being our problem...its coming from dryness of the scalp.....(which could explain why some have flare ups whilst abroad and after coloring hair)  The things we are doing removes the grease so we feel better and think we are cured....BUT they probably add to the main cause which I believe is a dry scalp!   We stay away from putting anything moisturising on the scalp for fear of causing the grease....when actually I believe our scalp is wanting moisture and is the reason it is over producing its own and causing our problems.   Here is what Im trying...Coconut oil (only use organic  extra virgin edible ) It comes in a tub a bit like a butter but dissolves easily. Yesterday I washed my hair and it was sticky at the back...(that dread feeling came over me as I know its on its way back!)  Last night when i went to bed I rubbed a littel coconut oil into the effected area ....half expecting my hair to be stuck when I awoke...BUT its not...it actually feels better...and the oil has gone into the scalp.   You can read about coconut oil benefits for hair and skin all over the internet... well worth some time IMO.  Anyway girls thats what Im trying...natural moisture for the scalp...OH coconut oil also has antifungal properties...so if it is fungal it should help that too. I also read to add a few drops tea tree oil to it...havent tried that yet...will see how i get on with just the coconut oil first.   Just thought I would give my thoughts...as lots of the things we are doing is going to dry our scalp... if the cause is I suspect lack of moisture all we are doing is stripping the grease (on temp basis) but doing nothing to address the cause.. hence why it keeps returning.   Just my thoughts...would appreciate comments...and GL ladies I know how horrid it makes us feel !!
Avatar universal
i had a same problem, sticky hair only in my crown. look so gross:(.
i tried the mayonnaise with olive oil,it helped a little bit. i had to cut my hair, still not getting ok. So then i decided use regular oil of olay bar soap an no conditioner needed. then back to normal/shiny/and so light. its works for me. why don't you try it nothing to lose except the greasy and sticky in your hair.
Avatar universal
I had this problem starting about 8 days ago.  Tried many things, none of which worked, so today I sprayed Apple Cider Vinegar on my hair (not diluted at all), let it sit about 15-20 minutes, washed, rinsed with more vinegar, washed again and used conditioner, and FINALLY my hair is back to normal again.  I was extremely grateful to all who recommended the apple cider vinegar!
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone,

I just thought I would share what worked for me, as it was the most simple unexpected solution. Basically, I read on here that someone tried head and shoulders citrus fresh and left it on for a good 20 minutes, and that's what worked for them. I thought it sounded too simple but at this point I had literally tried everything from organic herbal treatments to weird and wonderful medicated shampoos. HEAD AND SHOULDERS CITRUS FRESH WORKED STRAIGHT AWAY, and now I just wash with it like a normal shampoo and don't even have to leave it for a long time..  I am so happy I could cry. no more smell whatsoever. It's worth a try if you're desperate like I was as it just might work for you too. I think it's the zinc that kills off the fugus which is what I suspected the problem was but for some reason herbal treatments didn't work... GOOD LUCK! :)
Avatar universal
Hey everyone. I have had this problem happen to me many times actually.

The previous time nothing fixed my hair except switching to designline shampoo. I had to keep going to salon's and getting treatments done in order to get all the gunk out before trying designline and I nearly cried! I was using a mix of suave and Garnier Fructis shampoo before designline and both of them just built up on my hair every time.

So anyway, this time I ran out of designline shampoo and because my problem got better I decided to just go cheap and use Suave again....bad mistake. My hair was more than disgusting for three days up to about ten minutes ago when I just went and rebought Designline clarifying shampoo and used it. I actually used it twice because my hair was really gross....and it feels fine now! It could use maybe one more go to totally strip my hair down, but it worked nonetheless! It's back to being really soft and my hair doesn't have that sticky...greasy feel or odor anymore.

So, long story long...Go right now and buy Designline Clarifying shampoo, follow the directions, and then use designline from then on. I was using color treated for Designline and then switched to the regular shampoo and neither of them gave me nasty buildup. I also quit using conditioner all together for a long time and designline kept my hair soft regardless.

I'm so happy it helped once again because I have a wedding to attend this saturday and my hair was disgusting! I didn't even want the stylist to have to touch it. So, before you try covering your head with baking powder or any of the other remedies give this a try and let me know what you guys think. I hope it helps you as well!
Avatar universal
HELP ME. I'm only 18 and just started out college. I've never had problems with oily skin or greasy hair. Like everyone else said, at first I thought I had just left conditioner in my hair, but the next night I made sure to scrub extra hard and the stickiness and greasiness came back even worse. I switched shampoos and that seemed to help a little but it's still greasy and sticky on one side of my head and I don't know what to do! I know it's not scalp fungus because my head isn't itchy and I don't have any red rings or spots. It's literally the most aggravating thing because my hair looks and feel gross all the time. And when it comes to strightening my hair I can't anymore because it looks even more greasy. And my hair seems to fall out a lot. I have no idea what to do. :( but it makes me so self conscious I refrain from going out on weekends.
Avatar universal
I just recently got over this problem. I started using head and shoulders a year ago. All of a sudden, my hair started getting greasy only at the crown and roots right after showermping. I thought it might have something to do with the time of year it started happening (when it started getting cold out) or maybe some sort of chemical build-up (head and shoulders contains some form of zinc). So, I switched shampoos to Herbal-Essence "drama clean," and after the very first wash, I noticed a dramatic difference. No greasy crown, no sticky roots. I will probably still use head and shoulders when my dandruff gets bad, but for now, I'm sticking with Herbal-Essence. If you're having the same problem, give it a try.  
Avatar universal
I had the same problem of a waxy crown for about 2 months. I am in the medical profession and am very skeptical of all of these home remedies. I wasn't going to try anything that would make all of my hair fall out or turn purple, but I did try the paul mitchell clarifying shampoo and a pureology clarifying shampoo multiple times..neither worked. I went as far as soaking my hair in listerine, which did not work. I started drinking these soy protein shakes two weeks prior to the onset of the problem and I stopped them about a week after I noticed the problem, thinking there was a connection. It was not a fungal infection (not to say someone could not have one), but I believe my body was ridding itself of a toxin/access protein. I decided that I would have to wait it out, but after a few more weeks, I went to the store and desperately sought out a new shampoo/conditioning system because I had not changed from what I had been using successfully for 2+ years. In short, TRY PANTENE AQUA LIGHT!!!!!! My scalp is finally back to normal and has been for a good month now. Give it at least 2 days. I really hope it works for others out there; it was the most disgusting feeling and I really felt bad about myself and that others could tell.
Avatar universal
I had this exact problem after using Head and Shoulders will Almond Oil for the first time, after reading your post regarding dimethicone, I checked the ingredients and sure enough, its contains dimethicone!!  Out of desperation I washed my hair with my husbands Radox Hair and Body wash.  Theres a definite improvement but will need a few more washes.  I will be avoiding this ingredient from now on.  Thanks for the heads up!!
Avatar universal
Hello and THANK you for posting so much on this subject!
I also had this problem for the first time this fall, I'm 23 and live in Greece. So I couldn't find any of the US or UK products some of you recommended, but I did try a loooong wash with Johnson's baby shampoo, and my sticky crown is gone!!!

So yes, as some of you said, before doing anything drastic try washing it for 10 minutes with (Johnson's) baby shampoo, I hope it'll do it for you too. It's not expensive and for sure will not make the situation worse.

THANKS AGAIN you guys!!!
Avatar universal
Thanks for all of this information.  I also had this problem for the first time this past week and have never experienced anything like it - the crown of my head just became greasy and looked unwashed.  As I have curly hair, I normally wash every other day, but this week have had to wash every day to control the grease.  

Today I tried a number of the remedies mentioned on this board and while I'm not 100% back to normal, it is a lot better.  I'll post back later this week to let you know if my plan is still working.  

This was what I did today:
- first, I mixed lemon juice, vinegar and some listerine and massaged handfuls of it into my crown, and then let it soak in for about 15 minutes.
- I jumped in the shower and poured more of the mixture in
- Then massaged Klorane Nettle Shampoo into my hair (purchased at Duane Reade for $18) as it is supposed to help remove oil/grease
- Then massaged Neutrogena T/Gel in
- Then massaged Organix Tea Tree Mint Shampoo in (both Duane Reades near my apartment were out of Paul Mitchell)
- It seemed to be working, but after rinsing everything out it was still greasy.  I then used a little palmolive (whatever I had in my kitchen - it says power grease remover) with the tea tree shampoo, and that helped.
- Finally, I massaged in a small mix of the tea tree shampoo + T/Gel

There is significantly less grease, but I can still feel it a bit.  Tomorrow I'm going to try just the Tea Tree Shampoo + T/Gel and will post back.

Thank you!  So glad to know it isn't just me with this annoying issue.
Avatar universal
HI everyone.

I have been researching this problem for the past couple of days. I too found that after I washed my hair, it would still feel sticky and greasy. I was really confused because I felt like I had been paying extra attention to my hair and scalp lately. I tried to use natural shampoos and conditioners, as well as regularly use coconut oil treatments. I had even been experimenting using ACV and baking soda. I thought that there was no way that I could possibly "clarify" my hair any more.

However, since researching it, I think I found out what the problem is. Ive read that many people here have found this happened after they used a hair dye. Both Hair dye and baking soda are very alkaline (over 7 on the Ph scale) and they both open up the cuticle of the hair and raise the ph levels of your hair (which is usually around 4.5) After using a very alkaline substance, you are supposed to use an acidic one to bring your hairs levels back down.

What must have happened is that both the dye and the baking soda (or perhaps even very alkaline shampoos) have stripped away the sebum of our hair ( which is more acidic) which makes our hair unable to defend itself against bacteria or fungus etc.

THEN, because all the sebum was stripped away so forcefully, our scalp went into TOTAL overdrive mode and 'waxed' our hair in order to protect itself--making it appear oily.

The solution I suppose would be to restore our bodies (especially our scalps) natural PH levels. That is why people have been finding success with using vinegar and other acidic rinses. Beer I believe is almost the exact same level as our hair, but we may need something more acidic to counteract the high alkaline.

I am not a scientist ( by any means)  and I may have gotten something wrong, but this is the only reasonable explanation that I can come up with for this mess on my head. I sincerely hope this helps someone (or maybe someone can expand on it) because I have also been going crazy with this for ages.

good luck!
Avatar universal
Ahhh thank you SO much guys!!!!

I moved to London from Brighton (lovely seaside city in the UK) 3 months ago very suddenly, moving to a brand new job, lots of stress, eating badly etc and obviously being around a lot of pollution on the underground....my hair started to feel as though it had wax all over the roots. I also had really bad white flakes all over my head and in my fringe - disgusting!! My hair before this had always been shiny and lush, so this was really not fun at all.

I persevered with my normal shampoo (organic and natural stuff) and just hoped the wax would shift..but it remained the same --- tough around the roots, feeling as though i hadn't washed it for weeks even when I was washing it in the shower! Bizarre. It made me so self conscious. As well as this, whenever I ran my fingernails over my scalp I would get white cream under my nails..it was if I was scraping conditioner off my scalp?! So weird.

Today I had enough so tried pouring Cider Vinegar all over my head (mixed with some water) and i rubbed it all over my scalp and put a plastic bag over my head and left it for about half an hour. Then I washed it out with a Boots own anti-dandruff cheap shampoo for greasy hair, lathered it up and again put it in a plastic bag and left it for another 30 mins.

Washed it all out and now my hair is back to normal!! Amazing, thank you everyone!!! It is so bizarre that this 'condition' or whatever it is isn't known yet!

Thanks xxx
Avatar universal
Oh my, what would I do without the internet!  Thank you all so much for your tips!  I had exactly the same thing happen to me last week, all the sudden my hair became so greasy, waxy and sticky on the top of my head.  I hadn't changed anything about my diet or beauty routine.  I washed and rewashed and it only got worse.  I started to wonder if it would ever go away or if I had some sort of medical condition.  I finally looked it up on the internet to find that many people have experience the exact same thing!  I had all of the products that you all were suggesting so I tried them, I want to pass on what WORKED for me!  
I didn't have tea tree shampoo, but had a bottle of 100% tea tree oil so I worked that into the oily area on the top of my head and let it sit for about 30mins, then worked in 1/4 cup of vinegar and let it sit for about 10mins.  By then my scalp was really tingling, so I decided not to do the Listerine.  Then I washed my hair with the green Palmolive dish soap until it was easy to get lots of suds.  ....it worked!  It dried nice and silky and fluffy, not a bit of that residue left!  
I still wish I knew what this was from and if it will come back.  ...but at least I know what to do now!
Avatar universal
use ketoconazole based shampoo everyone. i had same problem 2 years ago. it was that worse that once i shoved off my head and then my doc. prescribed me that. believe me, it works best! just using it as a regular shampoo twice a week and i'm normal again (:
Avatar universal
I have been suffering with this on and off for about 5 years now.  It came on very suddenly.

The first time it happened I used Neutrogena clarifying shampoo and it worked immediately.

Then a year later it happened again, and the neutrogena cured it again, but for some stupid reason I decided I'd be on the safe side and use the Neutrogena clarifying EVERY day.

Well then my hair or scalp seemed to have built up a tollerance to it, and it would no longer work to remove the build up. So when it came back again about 6 months later I used "Paul Mitchell's clarifying 2" shampoo and that cured it, and I vowed ONLY to use the Clarifying 2 Shampoo when the build up began.

It came back about a week ago, and I had given my bottle to a friend who had been going through the same thing and she lost it in a move, so I went and bought a new bottle of the Paul Mitchell Clarifying 2 shampoo again. This time it didn't work by itself.

I mixed 2 tbsp of baking soda with about 1/4 cup of Paul Mitchel Clarifying 2 shampoo, shampood my hair, rinsed with a mixtue of half apple cider vinegar and half water. Then I applied MORE shampoo/baking soda mixture and again, rinsed with half and half cider vinegar and water.

This seems to have done the trick FOR NOW.

The condition seems to happen to me when I have switched off my normal Salon brand shampoo and conditioner and grabbed cheap drug-store brand shampoo and conditioner when I couldn't afford the good stuff.

My salon brand is Matrix Biolage Normalizing Shampoo, now called the Clean Reset Normalizing shampoo, and I condition with Matrix Biolage Detangling Solition, now called Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Detangling Solution.

When I use this combination of products from 2 separate Matrix brands (the normalizing for getting rid of build up and it can be used every day- and the detangling solution for silky, hydrated, moisturized hair and scalp that tricks the scalp into producing less oil by moisturizing the scalp [for people with greasy hair who need to wash every day, this combo is AMAZING])

So anyway, I know what you're all going through.  Fortunately I have had success in clearing it with clarifying shampoos and natural remedies.  I say, try everything you can, mix multiple solutions together and STOP using cheap conditioners.

Also, I have Poly Cystic Ovarian syndrom which means my hormones are SERIOUSLY messed up.  If any of you suffer from acne, facial hair that is courser and darker than the average woman, irregular periods- I suggest you talk to your doctor about PCOS and have an ultrasound to see if you have it.  I strongly suspect this hair condition is a hormonal issue. Have blood work done to check your androgen, estrogen and testosterone levels. This might be the cause of your sticky hair.
Avatar universal
Thank you wonderful women. I thought I was having a hair melt down. I decided to lighten my hair professionally with a bleach bath and new colour and highlights. I then could not work out why my hair was full of sticky stuff immediately after washing at the back. I blamed my stupid idea of lightening my hair.

After reading all your comments I remembered I also paid for an intensive conditioning treatment after the colour. Putting two and two together I realised this was just not coming out of my hair.

I used Fairy Liquid and tea tree shower gel / shampoo then finished with a silicone/paraben free shampoo. A little conditioner on the roots. I was so desperate I would chance a little color fade.

It's gone!!!!!!!!! No wax at all. Plus no color fade. Thanks.
Avatar universal
This is Seborrheic dermatitis.  The vinegar on scalp for 15-20min and shampooing does help.  You have to make sure you hair is clean.  It happens if fair is not shampooed regularly.  Our doctor recommended Hydrocortisone cream after shampooing with head and shoulder or sensing blue 3 times/week..
Avatar universal

1. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in microwave in small cup.
2. Pour melted coconut oil onto crown and top of head, and massage into roots (WARNING: make sure the coconut oil isn't too hot!!)
3. Shampoo vigorously at roots, where oil is applied, then rinse.
4. Repeat shampoo to ensure all coconut oil has been washed out.
5. Condition if desired.

For me, the greasy/sticky roots came on suddenly and I tried many things on this thread. This finally worked for me, and I do this whenever I see it coming back.
Avatar universal
After reading everyone's posts and suggestions, I headed (no pun intended) to Walgreens and bought baby shampoo, Suave clarifying shampoo, their version of T-Gel Shampoo, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar. Can you tell I was determined?

There didn't seem to be a consensus on the specific order of products, but here's what I did last night: massaged a generous amount of tea tree oil into the yucky areas of my hair and scalp. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and rinse out. Soak affected area with the vinegar. Again, maybe 5 minutes (as others have said, don't let it drip in your eyes) and rinse. Then the T-Gel shampoo. Rinse and rinse some more. Here's when I had to stifle my gag reflex -- the smell was incredible. I covered my pillows with towels and went to bed with wet hair.

This morning, I repeated the vinegar step before showering. Then, in the shower, I used the Suave clarifying shampoo and quickly noticed that the lather was much, much richer and frothy than I've seen in a long time. Product or Progress, I'm not sure. After a thorough rinse, I shampoo'd again, with the baby shampoo. Good step, because it was a nice, neutral fragrance after all the stink. Last: Pantene conditioner everywhere but on the top of my head.

Even wet, my hair felt different: lighter and smoother. I blew it dry and then flat-ironed it (which I haven't been able to do lately, since it's accentuated the greasy patch) and it came out very, very nice. I wouldn't say it's 100%, but I suspect only I would notice. I think I'll repeat this whole thing in a couple of days to get it "all the way."

Thank you to everyone who posted their history and help. I really was beginning to think I was losing my mind. (48 y.o., straight hair, some grays)
Avatar universal
Hey guys. So I just recently had this problem with the disgusting sticky scalp, and after reading these comments I was desperate and saw someone used dish soap. So, I reached for the Palmolive dish soap and scrubbed it into my scalp in the shower. Then I shampooed and conditioned as normal. I could not believe it...MY HAIR WAS BACK TO NORMAL! I was SO happy! Now I use dish soap everytime I shower, and my hair has never been softer. I highly recommend. Hope this helps! :)
Avatar universal
It started a week ago for me! I've always prided myself in having healthy, shiny hair so imagine my shock when I woke up one morning to find my greasy hair stuck to my forehead. When the grease didn't go away after the third day I decided to switch to baby shampoo for a few washes to see if it would make a difference. Thankfully it did! I don't know what went wrong but I've been using Pantene every day for the past 4 months (I usually change shampoos every month) when this happened, so I will be steering clear of that! Baby shampoo from now on :-) thank you everyone for all your suggestions! This discussion thread helped so much, I would've gone crazy if my hair continued to be as greasy as it was!
Avatar universal
After much research I learned that this "issue" is called Cradle Cap. Most common in babies but adults can get it. It IS a fungus. It doesn't have anything to do with your personal hygiene. It occurs most often when we don't dry our hair out completely before we put it up in a ponytail or bun. Selsin Blue is the most recommended remedy followed by Paul Mitchell clarifying Shampoo. If neither of these work see a dermatologist. I have had it for four days now and finally get to start curing it. I will keep you all posted. Remember CRADLE CAP!!! Hope this helps some of you
Avatar universal
Didn't read through all the posts so I am not sure if someone else posted this solution yet. The best and easiest method is mayonnaise mixed with a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Apply the mixture generously to hair and leave on for at least one hour. Rinse the salad dressing (come on this is too frustrating a problem not to laugh at it) from hair and then lather wet hair with Dawn and rinse out. No conditioner required. Let hair dry naturally and you'll find the stickiness is gone and your hair feels quite luxurious again. Do this treatment every time your hair gets sticky, otherwise wash and condition as you normally would in between treatments.  

As an aside, the Mayonnaise actually coats the hair with good protective natural fats and protein while the vinegar molecules bind to the sticky residue so once the hair is rinsed with water (oil and water naturally separate from one another just as oil and vinegar separate from one another) the vinegar (now bound with the sticky residue) washes off with the water leaving the fat (oil) molecules behind on the hair. This is why I follow with a quick Dawn lather and rinse because it cuts through the grease (fats and oils) without stripping or damaging the hair.

I apologize for the long response, but as a Chef, I decided to go at this hair issue that I have been dealing recently from a food science perspective. Like how would I get the stickiness out of calamari or okra. Anyway this method will actually be beneficial to your hair in the long run.
Avatar universal
I've had this exact problem since 2012. I tried everything. Never having this problem in my life, I, too, figured it was hormones. Then started researching and found this could very well be a symptom of heavy metal accumulation in the body. Getting hair and / or blood tested for heavy metals, would at least give answers because people from all over are getting this problem, and the common denominator is extremely high levels of heavy metals in the body. And oddly, all within the same time frame. Coincidence? I don't believe in those anymore.
Avatar universal
Why not Pantene?  Does it exacerbate the problem somehow?
Avatar universal
Ladies, you are not crazy! My first "sludge attack" happened last May, I was 49. It's interesting we are all different ages because I'm guessing this is hormones. Or stress. I've had this happen 4 times since, and there seems to be no specific reason. It's not the shampoo or conditioner I'm using, my hair color, the water, how well I wash my hair...

I never had oily hair like this in my life. I wash almost everyday, and even if I'm sick and don't wash for a couple days I've never seem anything like this. All the oil is at the crown of the head and sometimes from there to the back hairline. It's a thicker oil than I've ever seen on my hair.

What I have noticed is that about a week before I find my hair is unmanageable. The ends are super dry, and I it doesn't style as well as normal. It just seems blah. I'm guessing because the oils are distributing well for a few days. Then bam! I wash my hair and dry it and notice a big oily patch at the top of my head that won't wash out. Uck!

So I dab tea tree oil on it, don't know if it helps but it's feels good because the scalp gets kind of itchy. I wash with a baking soda or vinegar rinse and it gets back to normal in a couple days. Mostly, I tell myself to relax and not freak out. It will go away.
Avatar universal
While there may be several causes, I've discovered that for me, the problem can be traced to dimethicone.  I've used some of the treatments listed here with varying success, but dimethicone-free shampoo is the only prevention I've found.  
See links for more info:


The second one is obviously trying to sell their brand of skin-care, but they do have a good list of other names for dimethicone, and some interesting comments as well.
Avatar universal
I just found this...hope it'll help.  These are actually affordable too!

Avatar universal
I’ve figured it out!! I know the pain you are going through... I cried when this happened to me and everyone thought I was crazy, or kept telling me my hair was just oily...

It started happening to me approximately 3 years ago…I would shower and as my hair dried I noticed a sticky / waxy feeling to part of my hair (in my case just the top) which was not at all the same thing as oily hair. I initially thought the plastic from my brush had melted while drying my hair, or I had improperly rinsed, or some weird product had been spilled in my hair somehow…

This would happen on and off, sometimes lasting only a few days, other times for weeks. I would try endless things to fix it: change shampoos, shower twice a day, not wash my hair for 3 days, airdry, blowdry, stop conditioner, try dish liquid (dawn or fairy) and it would eventually go away without me truly understanding the cause of it, or which part of what I had done solved it…

My most recent episode was quite persistent (>2 weeks) and none of my “old” tricks were working…  So I started researching and analysing my situation more closely and finally figured out the root cause!! I realized this only happens to me when I am in areas that have hard water. Minerals/ions which are found in hard water can interact somehow with your hair and/or shampoo to create this sticky substance. It usually appears suddenly, I suppose because a threshold “reaction point” is reached

The key to getting rid of this is using a chelating agent. Chelating agents improve rinseability by binding with metals and minerals and removing them from the hair.  The most common chelating agent used in hair products is EDTA. Shampoos which I have found that are high in EDTA content are:

- Johnson’s tip to toe wash (works better than johnson’s baby shampoo for me)
- John Frieda Brilliant Brunette
- Kerastase Divalent
- I am sure there are others, but these are the ones that were available in my area…

Another potential solution is to wash / rinse your hair with distilled water.

I just used the Johnson’s tip to toe, washed my hair 3 times, rinsed with bottled water, and it was back to normal! I now use only EDTA containing shampoos and the problem has not recurred!!

Hope this information helps!
Avatar universal
OK, so I too am convinced that it's Nice N' Easy's conditioner.  I have naturally thick, curly auburn hair so it's also normally dry.  Until recently.  A few weeks ago, I ran out of my normal conditioner and since I had a tonne of leftover tubes of conditioner from the Nice 'N Easy colour kits, I decided to make use of them. Suddenly, I started to have residue / waxy/ sticky build-up.  Gross. I was seriously considering taking a razor to my head because I was running out of hope.  Not knowing that the conditioner might be the culprit, I used everything to try and rid the nastiness that had resulted including Jason tea tree shampoo, baking soda & water mixture, apple cider vinegar & water mixture, salicylic acid shampoo, and a combination of all of the above to no avail whatsoever.  Then I came on here and started reading all the posts and put two and two together.  Sure enough, I went out and bought Loreal's hair color kit and conditioner, and ta daaaaaa!  Sticky residue was gone in a flash.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who also made the connection.  My razor and Nice N' Easy color kits both made it to the trash after this experience
Avatar universal
Both my daughter and I had 'sticky' hair at the same time, rather weirdly! Never had it before and then started researching it and found it was quite common. The Somaluxe Shampoo came recommended by my doctor so I decided to try it - after the first wash, the difference was amazing. Immediately after rinsing I could feel my hair as 'squeaky' clean again for the time in weeks / months. Now it has fully air-dried, my hair is back to it's usually dry bounce once again and feels great....my daughter said the same. So pleased and happy to spread the word that the Somaluxe Shampoo works for sticky hair!
Avatar universal
Thank you thank you thank you.  I did the exact same thing ... tried to use up some of the Nice and Easy conditioner leftovers that I had, when my normal conditioner ran out.  I have had this nasty head of hair ever since and it does NOT NOT NOT wash out.  I also noticed what appeared to be a sudden spurt of hair growth... in other words, the small sliver of gray roots is definitely larger in a very short period of time.  L'Oreal to the rescue... need to go and pick some up....
Avatar universal
I've had this happen to me twice. Once about 3 years ago when I moved to a new state. I had always used Pantene but as soon as I moved here and showered the first 2 weeks I had this really sticky thick film only on the crown of my hair. I bought some Pert from the regular shampoo aisle and used a few times and poof gone. For the next 3 years I used different shampoos but not Pantene and it didn't happen again until I recently tried Pantene again (I used to love the way it smelled) and low and behold it came back. Back to the Pert. It works wonders and way less expensive that tea tree oils and salon shop shampoos.
Avatar universal
Have had this problem on and off for years. Sticky crown, like tree sap on the top of my head. Tried most of the remedies listed here. Would go away after I had my highlights done. This time, it came back just a few days later and I was NOT going to put up with it for another 6-8 weeks till my next hair appointment. Researched some more online today anf shampooed with Neutrogena T-Sal tonight AND THE STICKINESS IS GONE! My hair is soft and silky again. So happy I don’t have to walk around tomorrow looking like I don’t wash my hair!
317787 tn?1473362051
Amazing stories! I wonder if hard water contributes. I had this, used distilled water and vinegar to rinse. It's better.
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