Does Shiny Scalp Mean Permanent Hair Loss?

It is common to see bald people have shiny scalps. However, there isn’t really a connection between the two. Still, someone whose hair is falling out and whose scalp is shiny might wonder: “Does a shiny scalp mean permanent hair loss?”

Bald scalps usually look shiny because of the sebum produced by the sebaceous gland. Although if you have hair, it will absorb some of this sebum, making that look more oily and shiny instead. 

However, increased noticeability of a shiny scalp can indicate permanent hair loss. And it can happen due to different reasons. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about having a shiny scalp. 

Why Does Your Scalp Look Shiny? 

In general, the scalp looks shiny because of the oil produced by the sebaceous glands. However, it can also be indicative of skin conditions or permanent hair loss. 

Let’s take a look at the details. 


Sebaceous glands are located all over the body (except for palms and soles). Present within the hair follicles, these are the ones that produce the waxy, oily substance called sebum.

Sebaceous glands
Structure of Sebaceous Glands

While sebum protects the skin from drying out, too much of it can make the skin of your scalp look oily. And according to the Cleveland Clinic, our faces and scalps have the most sebaceous glands. The amount of sebum you produce depends on your genetics, hormones, and humidity. 

Still, when you have hair, this sebum makes the hair look oily. That’s because some of the sebum is absorbed by those hairs. And you can’t really see the skin of the scalp because of the hair. 

But once that’s gone (or their numbers start to dwindle), you’ll start to see the oil on the skin of the scalp instead. And that’s usually why bald scalps look shiny. 

Keep in mind that hair loss is unlikely to be caused solely by sebum on the scalp. The buildup may cause some temporary hair loss, but it’s usually reversible.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Your scalp may be looking shinier to you because of androgenetic alopecia. 

Firstly, it is because hair loss will make your scalp more see-through. And the sebum on it will become more visible.

Shiny scalp
Shiny Scalp with Androgenetic Alopecia

Secondly, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that the sebaceous glands were overgrown (more lobules) in patients who had androgenetic alopecia. 

In this case, having a shiny scalp means permanent hair loss. 


Overwashing may cause your scalp to look oily.

That’s because it strips the skin of the existing oils. And to compensate for that, your sebaceous glands will produce even more oil. 

The same can also happen if you’re using hair products that are too drying for your scalp skin. 

Overproduction of oil will probably not lead to permanent hair loss. Just make sure to switch to gentle products so your hair can regrow. 

Skin Conditions 

Certain skin conditions can result in the formation of scaly patches on the skin of the scalp. These include: 

Of course, this could be another reason why your scalp looks more shiny. 

In this case too a shiny scalp doesn’t usually mean permanent hair loss. Once you get treatment for your skin, your hair should start to grow again. 

Scarring Alopecia 

Scarring or cicatricial alopecia is a type of permanent hair loss that results in inflammation and ultimate destruction of the hair follicle. Examples include lichen planopilaris and frontal fibrosing alopecia

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this type of alopecia can leave the skin of the scalp smooth and shiny where hair used to be.

Since the hair follicle is permanently damaged, having a shiny scalp with scarring alopecia means permanent hair loss. 

How To Get Rid Of Shiny Scalp? 

There are different things you can do to reduce the shininess of your scalp. These are as follows: 

Don’t Shave Too Close To The Skin

If you’ve decided to go completely bald, don’t shave too close to the skin. Leave a short length of those prickly hairs behind. 

Clippers for shaving
Use clippers to shave against the hair grain

That’s because they’ll reflect the light on your scalp in a way that’ll make it look less shiny. 

For this, you can consider using clippers or shaving with the grain. 

Keep Your Scalp Clean 

Even if you don’t have any hair left on your scalp, you should still keep it clean. Other than keeping the skin healthy, it will also make it look less shiny. 

Just make sure that you don’t use anything too drying either (like soap) because that can lead to overproduction of oil. Use a shampoo (even one that’s for your beard would work).  

Use A Mattifying Product 

There are different kinds of mattifying products that you can use to get rid of the oily sheen on your scalp. For instance, you can use: 

  • Oil-absorbing/matte/anti-shine moisturisers 
  • Mattifying lotion 
  • Matte setting spray 
  • Matte powder
  • Matte primer  

Just keep in mind that if you’re using these products, you need to be careful about washing your scalp to avoid a buildup (that too can make the scalp shiny). 

Wipe It 

You can simply use disposable napkins to wipe the oils off your scalp. 

It’s probably better if you use disposable wipes because using the same handkerchief can be a bit unhygienic. 

Hide Or Camouflage The Scalp 

If you’re bothered by the appearance of your shiny scalp, you can also consider hiding it with:

Some non-surgical treatments like PRP and laser hair growth therapy can also help stimulate hair follicles.

But for permanent results, you can consider getting a transplant surgery. It’ll redistribute the follicles on your scalp and hide the shiny bald spots. 

Hair transplant
Hair Transplant


Many people are bothered by the appearance of a shiny scalp. Usually, it’s because of the sebum produced by the sebaceous glands. However, it can also be indicative of permanent hair loss. 

Some people also have a shine on their scalp as a result of a skin problem, autoimmune hair loss (alopecia areata) or scarring alopecia. 

If you notice anything unusual with the skin of your scalp, make sure to get in touch with a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment. 


Is a shiny scalp healthy?

The scalp can look shiny because of the natural production of sebum. While that’s usually nothing to worry about, having a shiny scalp can be indicative of permanent hair loss. 

Does a shiny scalp mean dead hair follicles?

Scarring alopecia, which destroys the hair follicles, can make the scalp appear smooth and shiny. So, it may indicate the presence of dead hair follicles. But that’s not always the case.

Can hair regrow on a shiny scalp?

If you don’t have permanent alopecia, you can regrow hair, whether or not your scalp appears shiny. It depends on the condition of your hair follicles.

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