Shiny scalp

How to reduce or prevent scalp shine

This is a topic that is covered a million times over, as the question is relevant to bald guys as well as those with scalp micropigmentation. Unfortunately many articles you’ll find online just regurgitate the same old crap advice, ridiculous remedies and worthless old wives tales, so here is a guide specifically for those with SMP.

Its a funny topic because some guys like and encourage a shiny scalp, whilst for others its a real source of anxiety. Most men who have had SMP however want to reduce how much their head shines, so I’ll leave the topic of how to get a really shiny head to another blogger.

A smooth head reflects more light. Most people who have SMP will have a smooth head most of the time, so SMP and a matte head are kind of at odds with one another. There are ways and means however, and I’ll talk you through them right now. I’m going to divide this into two sections – routine and maintenance, and specific anti-shine products.

Routine and maintenance

The golden rule to remember here is: smoothness + oil = shine.

If you’ve had a scalp micropigmentation treatment, the chances are that you shave every day, or at least every 2-3 days as a minimum. Your shaving routine affects how much your head shines, especially if you wet shave, as your hair is ultra short and cannot therefore absorb any light which subsequently bounces straight off your skin.

Most people agree that SMP looks most realistic when you wet shave, but you can achieve perfectly acceptable results by using an electric rotary or foil shaver too. Switching to electric will leave your hair just a tiny bit longer, which can definitely help. If you want to continue wet shaving, try shaving with the grain instead of against it. As well as reducing irritation, this will leave a tiny amount of hair length that may help to absorb that pesky bouncing light.

Cleanse your scalp daily to avoid sebum and grease build-up. A good exfoliating facial wash is ideal. Alternatively use a mild body soap, although be aware that soap can go too far and actually dry your skin.

Avoid greasy moisturizing creams and sunscreens. Oil based products will aggravate the problem, but thankfully there are a number of matte alternatives on the market now. More on these now.

Anti-shine products

These are suggestions, not recommendations. I haven’t included links to any particular retailers so you know I do not have a vested interest in any of these recommendations, so just Google any products you’re interested in.


There are a number of cleansers on the market that claim to reduce shine. Marketed under the banner of ‘matte’ cleansers, they generally attract a higher price than standard products. There are some good matte products out there, but I seriously question whether adding a matte effect to your cleanser makes any difference. Think about it. After you cleanse, chances are you’ll then use a moisturiser, possibly followed by a specific mattifyer or SPF cream, by which point the cleanser you used is a distant memory.

I recommend a decent facial cleanser. Supermarket brands such as Clearasil, Clean & Clear or Freederm are just fine, but feel free to use a more expensive product if you feel the need. If you want to experiment with a matte cleanser try:

  • Loreal MenExpert Pure & Matte
  • Men-U Matt Skin Refresh Gel


This is where I believe it is worth shelling out a little extra for a matte product, and there are loads to choose from. If you’re looking for a sunscreen, many of these products also offer an SPF factor. Try:

  • Dermalogica Clear Start Oil Clearing Matte Moisturizer (SPF15)
  • Jack Black All Day Oil Control Lotion
  • Clinique For Men Oil Control Mattifying Moisturizer
  • Recipe For Men Anti-Shine Moisturizer
  • HeadBlade Headlube Matte

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on moisturisers, the guys at HIS Hair Clinic apparently recommend Nivea Aftersun Lotion. It makes sense, as aftersun is basically a cheap watered-down moisturizer making it perfect for the scalp as you don’t want anything too thick. There was also a long discussion on their forum in regards to the best anti shine for scalp.


If you have tried some of the products above and you’re still experiencing too much shine, you should consider a product with a sole purpose of reducing shine, bringing out the big guns so to speak. Some are expensive, some are very cheap, all have mixed reviews. This really is a trial and error thing as what works for one might not work for another:

  • Neals Yard Remedies Purifying Palmarosa Mattifier
  • Mary Kay Oil Mattifier
  • Peter Thomas Roth Mattifying Gel

There are some cheap alternatives too. Try applying a little baby talcum powder to your freshly shaved head for instant shine control. If this works and you feel like stepping it up a notch, try Clubman Pinaud flesh colored talc. Its expensive but apparently very good.

Finally if you’re really up for a little experimentation, try dabbing a little Milk Of Magnesia on your head. Yes I know its a constipation cure, but believe it or not its getting rave reviews as a mattifyer in one of the major forums. Just remember to wipe it off after a few minutes and don’t buy the minty version, unless you want to smell like a polo.

In conclusion

There are ways to reduce how much your scalp shines, whether or not you’ve had scalp micropigmentation. It is important to remember though, that a shiny scalp is perfectly natural and even men with hair experience the same. Try to control it if you desire, but don’t let it become an obsession because its really not that big a deal to have a little shine.

Laurie Downing