When you want great looking hair, one of the most important things to pay attention to is product buildup. No matter how healthy your hair is, product buildup can make your hair look limp, dull, and lifeless. Also, buildupcan cause overproduction of natural oils in the scalp, leading to oily hair as well. This guide will show you the different causes of product buildup, many ways to get rid of it, and finally how to prevent it from happening in the future.
- Causes of Product Buildup
- Get Rid of Product Buildup
- How to Avoid Product Buildup
Causes of Product Buildup
When it comes to the cause of product buildup, your first thought may be lack of proper cleansing. While it is true that not cleansing the hair well enough can lead to a buildup of product in the hair, there are many other causes that may surprise you. Here are a few causes that you may want to consider.
Using the Wrong Shampoo
Not all shampoos are created equally. When you are someone who fights product buildup, you want to make sure to find a shampoo that is specifically designed to clarify and deep clean your hair and scalp. Shampoos that are considered 2-in-1 shampoo plus conditioner may contain conditioners you do not need. Also, shampoos designed to add volume to the hair will likely contain ingredients that will leave behind a residue, leading to build up over time.
Lack of Shampooing and Cleansing Regularly
This may seem like a no brainer, there has always been an ongoing argument regarding how often to shampoo hair. Some say that for the healthiest hair, you should only shampoo about every third day. This may be enough for people who do not use many styling products or those whose scalp does not overproduce sebum.
However, for people that fight product buildup, it is safe to wash hair more frequently to remove these issues. Look for a shampoo that is gentle enough to be used daily and contain clarifiers to help battle the product buildup. If you love your current shampoo, consider washing your hair at least once a week with a clarifying shampoo, this will help to wash away some of the buildup.
Shampoos containing Silicones and Sulfates
Siliconesand sulfates can be found in many types of shampoo. These ingredients bind to the hair shaft and become very hard to remove completely. Not only do these ingredients cause excess product buildup but they can also weigh down the hair and cause hair to be dry and brittle. Look for shampoos that do not contain these ingredients. Make finding the right shampoo even easier by opting for natural or organic based shampoo and conditioner.
Many styling products designed to add moisture to the hair contain ingredients that are meant to trap the moisture in the hair. This occurs because the product coats the hair. This works to protect the hair from the elements, and in most cases does lock in moisture. The problem occurs when the time comes to wash the product away. Moisturizers and leave-in conditioners that are not water based, or at least water soluble will be more difficult to wash away. Instead, they will leave behind small traces of the product that will grow as more product is used.
Using Excess Styling Products
There are tons of different styling products on the market and manufacturers do their best to convince us that we need to use all these different products to achieve the best hair. However, the reality is that most of the time less is more when it comes to styling products. Hairspray, for example, is one of those products that people tend to apply incorrectly and in excess amounts. Apply hairspray in light coats from 12 inches away from the hair. This will help to distribute the hairspray more evenly and decrease the excess buildup in some areas.
Another faulty application can be found in styling products such as gels, creams, mousses, or waxes. The thought that more product will work better, leads to using more than is necessary to achieve the style, hold, or look that you want. Choose instead to use as little product as possible. You can always add more product if necessary, but you cannot really go backward without washing and starting from the beginning.
Sweat and Dirt
Obviously, working hard, whether it is your job, or during exercise can increase sweat production and the scalp does sweat. However, this is referring to the natural sweat and dirt that accumulates on the scalp and hair. Sometimes this can even occur immediately following a shower and hair wash, due to the change in temperature from the shower. These often go unnoticed unless they are excessive, but the sweat from the scalp can cause hair to be oily.
Applying product to already oily hair results in the product sticking to the hair more than it would normally. Avoid this by allowing the scalp to air dry completely or use a cool setting on a hairdryer. This will lessen the amount of product that will stick to the hair shaft and cause buildup.
Get Rid of Product Buildup
Now for the good stuff! Here are a few simple steps that you can easily include as part of your regular styling routine to get rid of product buildup.
Use a Clarifying Shampoo
Regular shampoos do a decent job of removing regular dirt and oil. However, they do not contain the necessary ingredients to remove heavy product residue. Clarifying shampoos have ingredients that are more acidic, meaning they can break through the heavy buildup and leave the hair and scalp cleaner.
While some clarifying shampoos are gentle enough to be used every day, the most effective are better used once a week, or even once a month depending on the number of products used on a regular basis and the buildup they leave behind.
One of our favorite clarifying shampoos is Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo. This shampoo provides a deep clean without all the chemical ingredients found in other shampoos. Safe enough for all types of hair, even color-treated hair. Use this shampoo once or twice a month to provide a fresh reset to your hair. That means that the 12 oz. bottle will last quite a while.
The urge to use conditioners of all types and all the time is tempting for those individuals that fight dry or frizzy hair. However, using conditioners too often can be even more detrimental to the health of your hair. Conditioning styling products, such as leave-in conditioner, anti-frizz products, even heat protectants leave a residue in the hair. Layering these products on top of each other cause buildup to occur rapidly.
Choose instead one type of conditioning product and stick with that one. You might choose to use a conditioner immediately after washing your hair with shampoo. Alternatively, you may desire to use a spray, leave-in conditioner during the styling process to soften and tame your locks. Remember to use the less is more technique. Leave-in conditioner sprays are very easy to overuse.
Pro Tip: A simple DIY leave-in conditioner can be made with just 1 or 2 squirts of your favorite conditioner in a spray bottle of warm water.Shake well and use on the hair. This will condition the hair and help with detangling without excess buildup.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
One of the most tried and true methods of removing product buildup from hair is to use an apple cider vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar cuts through the product residue and rinses down the drain. However, if you choose to use apple cider vinegar, there are a few tips you should know.
- Always use apple cider vinegar diluted. Undiluted, apple cider vinegar is too strong to be used straight on the hair and scalp and can cause damage. Shoot for a ratio of 4:1, or four parts water, one part apple cider vinegar for the perfect balance to wash away unwanted residue without damaging your locks. This rinse will restore shine and body to dull, lifeless hair.
- Choose raw organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar – regular apple cider vinegar has been pasteurized and filtered, removing all the powerful enzymes that are so great for hair.
- Using an apple cider vinegar rinse just once a week is all you need to maintain clean, buildup free hair.
- Rinsing well with cool water will remove any vinegar odor while sealing the hair shaft and pores on the scalp to reduce moisture loss and help protect the hair.
Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar – In addition to removing product buildup, here are some more benefits to your hair.
Hair that is severely damaged can benefit from a hair mask containing two parts coconut oil, two parts honey, and one-part apple cider vinegar. Mix together and apply the hair mask to the hair and allow to sit for up to 30 minutes for healthier stronger hair. Follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week to maintain.
Another kitchen cupboard wonder product is baking soda. Yes, the plain baking soda that some people use to fight odor in their refrigerator can be great for hair. There are two main ways to use baking soda to get rid of product buildup in your hair.
- Shampoo booster – Mix one tablespoon of baking soda to one tablespoon of shampoo and wash hair as normal.
- Preparation treatment – Before shampooing, apply baking soda directly to wet hair and work into the hair and scalp. You can let it set for 1 – 2 minutes to fight extensive buildup. Rinse and shampoo as normal.
Benefits of Using Baking Soda – Baking soda is a natural cleanser, here are some other advantages to adding it to your hair cleaning routine:
Pro Tip: Baking soda and water are great carriers for natural essential oils. Add a few drops of your favorite essential to the baking soda rinse can offer many natural benefits.
Dish Soap is designed to cut through the toughest dirt and grime on our dishes and cooked on grease on pots and pans. Therefore, it should be no surprise that it can do the same for the gunk hanging out in your hair.
The foundation of most product buildup is excess oils in the hair and scalp that does not get washed away easily with regular shampoos. Why not break through that oil with the grease fighting power of dish soap? However, a word of caution for those with fragile curls or thin hair, dish soap can be too harsh. Test it out on a small section of hair before using it on your whole head.
Additionally, look for all-natural dish soap, these will have little or no harsh chemicals that may harm your hair. Dish soap can cause hair to be especially dry, so a good conditioning treatment will be needed after washing the hair. Leave the conditioner on for 5 – 10 minutes for the best results. Also, use this method sparingly, and only when the buildup is excessive.
Lemon juice provides many of the same benefits associated with apple cider vinegar. The natural substance can easily remove product buildup from the hair without the effects of harmful chemicals and drying agents. One thing to keep in mind when using lemon (or lime) juice is that it can lighten your hair, particularly if you spend time in the sun shortly after use.
Additionally, the acidity of lemon juice means that it should be used diluted. Use a tablespoon of lemon juice in 2 or 3 cups of water. Use as a hair rinse after normal shampooing to break through any left behind product residue. Allow the rinse to sit on the hair for a few minutes then rinse away with cool water. Lemon juice can cause hair to become dry, so follow up with a gentle conditioner or use a leave-in conditioner to help maintain hair moisture.
Benefits of using Lemon Juice – Not only is lemon juice readily available in every grocery store, but it can be beneficial to the health of your hair. Here are a few benefits of using lemon juice on your hair:
I’ll be the first to admit, I have no idea how micellar water works, I just know that it does work. Micellar water is essentially a cleanser that contains soft water and tiny molecules that are attracted to dirt, oil, and other impurities. The makeup remover industry has known for years the power of micellar water, and now the hair care industry is beginning to understand its power.
One of the most astonishing aspects of micellar water is that it can be used in place of shampoo to completely clean the hair! Micellar water is extremely gentle on hair while providing a deep clean. However, if you are not ready to take the no-shampoo plunge, fear not, some of the biggest names in hair care are now producing shampoos and conditioners that have micellar water in them.
Pantene produces an amazing Shampoo and Sulfate-Free Conditioner Kit. This kit includes shampoo made with the deep cleaning micellar water AND conditioner made with micellar milk. Free of parabens, dyes, silicones, and sulfates, this combo cleans and fortifies your hair.
How to Avoid Product Buildup
Now that you know some ways to fix the problem of product buildup. Life would be so much easier if we did not have the buildup in the first place. Here are a few tips to help decrease product buildup.
Switch Your Shampoo
Like mentioned above, using the wrong shampoo can cause excess product to buildup, but so can using the same shampoo over and over and over. It is generally recommended that every 3 months or so you switch your shampoo for another one.
While in the past many believed that somehow hair became resistant to shampoo over time, the reality is that it is our environments that change. Different environments call for different hair care. Areas that have harsh winters and dry summers may require shampoos that do not strip the hair of all its natural oils, while milder spring and fall weather may allow for more deeper cleansing.
If you do not want to stray from your favorite shampoo, using a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month will be enough to reduce buildup that may occur from using the same shampoo in different seasons.
The Right Way to Shampoo
Lather, rinse and repeat as necessary. This, or something close to it is printed on every shampoo bottle. However, it really is not that simple. Individuals that fight product buildup will want to follow a few simple steps to ensure their shampoo is working the best that it can.
The first time you shampoo, you should target the hair. Work the shampoo into a rich lather, focusing on the length of the hair. Rinse the hair completely. The second shampoo is to clean the scalp. Work the shampoo into a rich lather again, this time focusing on the scalp. Massage the shampoo deep into the scalp and allow the shampoo to sit on the scalp for 1 to 2 minutes. Finally, work the lather down the length of the hair and rinse thoroughly.
You may be surprised how well your shampoo works when you use this method.
Keep Hair Tangle Free
Detangled hair is not only easier to style and maintain, but no tangles or knots also means there is less opportunity for product to get caught in the hair. Keeping your hair brushed or combed allows the cleansing products to work easier, meaning less buildup.
Avoid Applying Conditioner to Roots
One big misconception is that applying conditioner to the root of the hair and scalp can decrease dryness and dandruff. Actually, conditioners do very little to help moisturize the scalp and prevent dandruff. Avoiding applying conditioner to the roots of your hair helps to prevent the chance of buildup from conditioner being left behind. Conditioner that is left behind will not only trap styling products and dirt but clog the pores.
A good way to think of shampooing and conditioning is to focus shampooing from the root to tip and to condition in the opposite direction. Most of the conditioner should be applied to the dryer ends of the hair and little or none to the scalp.
This article has provided several solutions for getting rid of product buildup and ways to prevent it. Hopefully, you have found this article helpful! Next time you are fighting the product buildup battle, you will now have more tools in your corner.
- Causes of Product Buildup
- Get Rid of Product Buildup
- How to Avoid Product Buildup