Hair Build up: What Does It Look Like? How To Get Rid of It

LovingkinkycurlsHair CareLeave a Comment

Hair build up

Have you ever noticed white flakes, greasiness or weighed down curls but were NOT sure whether you are experiencing hair build up?

If so, this article is for you.

Lets explore this together:

  • What is hair buildup?
  • What does hair build up look like?
  • How to get rid of build up in hair

What is hair build up?

Hair build up is the progressive coating of the scalp and the hair shaft with accumulated sebum, sweat, dead skin and hair products.

There are two forms of hair build-up:

Product build up

This is build-up that results from accumulated hair products.

Some hair products contain waxy substances that can stick to your hair or scalp if not rinsed properly.

This includes shampoos, mousses, conditioners, and styling products such as gels, creams, oils, and foams.

Natural build up

This is caused by the build-up of sebum, dead skin cells, and sweat on your scalp.

Some people produce more sebum than others and it builds up on your hair.

Dead skin cells should be shed to give way to new skin cells. However, sometimes the dead skin cells do not shed fast enough causing build-up in the hair.

Sweat can also lead to build-up on your hair if you do not wash your hair often.

What does hair build up look like?

If you have hair build-up, you will notice the following:

#1. Visible white flakes

Hair build up

You will notice a flaky scalp caused by products, sweat, dead skin , and oils.

They look like tiny balls or a white film that sticks to the hair strands.

These white flakes accumulate over time creating layers of build-up.

#2. The hair looks weighed down and dull

Hair build-up makes your hair look weighed down because of the accumulation of products or sebum deposits on the scalp.

The hair will look dull and without shine.

#3. Hair looks and feels greasy

Hair Build Up

Greasy hair is one of the most obvious signs of hair build-up.

As the hair strands are struggle to absorb moisture, the scalp will ‘fight’ back by producing more sebum to unclog its pores.

It results in a combination of dry ends and oily roots.

Hair products that contain silicones, mineral oils, and petroleum are a major culprit of build-up that causes greasiness.

#4. The hair won’t hold up curls    

You will notice that your hair will not hold its regular shape.

Hair build-up makes the hair stiff and it lacks elasticity and bounce.

To maintain the perfect hairstyle your hair needs enough moisture. Any build-up on the scalp means your hair will not receive the moisture it needs to maintain amazing curls.

#5. Hair feels clunky and sticky

Excessive use of hair products will lead to your hair feeling clunky and sticky.

This is due to the accumulation of these products on your hair and scalp.         

How to get rid of build up in hair

1. Use a clarifying shampoo

A clarifying shampoo has more cleansing power thus making it good for getting rid of hair build-up.

To clarify the hair:

  • Wet your hair with some water
  • Squeeze a little amount of clarifying shampoo, and massage onto the scalp to create a lather.
  • Focus the shampoo on your scalp as that is where the build-up mainly is.
  • Leave the shampoo in for a few minutes before you rinse it off.

You should use clarifying shampoos in moderation as excessive use leads to the hair being brittle and weak.

If you have a lot of build-up, use a clarifying shampoo at least once a month and alternate with your regular shampoo on other wash days.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Apple cider vinegar is a great natural remedy of removing build-up from your hair.

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to 1 cup of warm water, and use it as a shampoo.
  • Apply the mixture using a spray bottle or pour it directly onto your hair.
  • Leave it in for at least 2 minutes before rinsing it out thoroughly with cold water.
  • You can also add some essential oils such as jojoba oil or coconut oil to this mixture.

Not only with ACV remove build-up, it will also detangle the hair and keep it strong and shiny.

3. Lemon Juice Rinse

Lemon juice is another good natural remedy for build up in the hair. [2]

To remove build-up in hair using lemon juice:

  • Gently massage A few drops of lemon juice throughout your hair.
  • After a few minutes, rinse out the lemon juice

Another way to use lemon is to prepare a homemade lemon leave-in conditioner as it makes it easier to detangle your hair after washing it. Here is the recipe:


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed Lemon Juice,
  • 4 tablespoons of Aloe Vera
  • 2 teaspoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 pack of plain Gelatin.


  • Mix the gelatin and water in a saucepan over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves.
  • Add the lemon juice to the mixture and allow it to cool. This will form a gel
  • Blend this gel with coconut oil and aloe vera juice until it’s creamy and smooth.
  • Use this as your normal conditioner. This will ensure your hair strands are always moisturized and free of build-up.

4. Go slow on products

With products, a little goes a long way.

When trying to find the right balance, experiment with different quantities until you find what feels right and then stick to it.

When applying hair products, focus on the hair strands and avoid coating the scalp.

5. Do a scalp detox

To scalp detox is to deeply cleanse the scalp with the aim of reducing build-up and residue from hair products, hard water, oils, and dead skin cells.

This is done by using treatments that exfoliate and remove the ‘gunk’ thereby unclogging your hair follicles. 

Common ingredients used in scalp detox include:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Activated charcoal
  • Bentonite clay
  • Chelating agents
  • Surfactants
  • Physical exfoliators such as scrubs.

A detox gives your hair more shine and volume. It also balances out excessive oil.

For a more effective detox, abstain from using too many hair products, only stick to the absolute essentials during the detox.

BTW, did you know hair porosity plays a key role in hair growth? Take this simple hair porosity test to determine if your hair is HIGH, LOW or NORMAL porosity.

Recent Posts

What did you think of this post? We love feedback!