How To Remove Product Build-up From Your Hair

When I find a hair product that works I use it as often as I can. This applies to shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, you name it. If it works after using it at least three times, that hair product becomes the hair product I use again and again until it doesn’t work anymore.

Before I started my healthy hair journey if a hair product stopped working I would try to power through and hope it would start working again. Or I would ditch the hair product and try to find another one that did work.

Now that I’m more knowledgeable about my hair and hair care, in general, I now know why I would experience this. It wasn’t necessarily the product that stopped working, it was the product build-up on my hair.

How to remove product build-up from hair | A Relaxed Gal
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What is product build-up?

Product build-up is when products you use on your hair don’t completely rinse away and leave a film that builds up over time. Here are some of the signs that you have product build-up
  • Hair constantly feels dirty
  • An itchy, flaky scalp
  • Flaky residue when combing or brushing
  • Greasy feeling hair
  • Dull looking hair
  • Dry hair no matter how much moisturizer is applied

How to get rid of product build-up

1. Clarifying or chelating shampoo

The best way to remove product build-up is to use a clarifying or chelating shampoo. These types of shampoos are formulated to deep clean your relaxed hair and remove or strip all the dirt and grease on it. The difference between a clarifying and a chelating shampoo is a chelating shampoo also removes mineral deposits and heavy metals from the hair.

Here are some good clarifying shampoos I've used and liked: Mielle Babassu Conditioning Shampoo and ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo.

My preferred chelating shampoo is the Ion Hard Water Shampoo. It is a sulfate shampoo formulated to help remove mineral build-up from hard water and well water. It can be a bit drying so I would use it for my first lather and then follow up with a moisturizing shampoo for my second lather and use a moisturizing deep conditioner.

When it comes to how often you should clarify your hair, there is no one-size-fits-all. Depending on what types of products you use, how often you apply the products, the type of shampoo you use, and how often you shampoo all factor into determining your clarifying cadence. 

2. Apple cider vinegar

Another way to help remove product build-up is doing an apple cider vinegar rinse. The acidity of apple cider vinegar is what gives it some cleansing properties. Now apple cider vinegar won't remove everything so I've found it's good to combine it with a good clarifying or sulfate shampoo.

Additionally, apple cider vinegar though won't help with hard water build-up. Only a good clarifying or chelating shampoo can remove build-up from hard water.

You can do an apple cider vinegar rinse every week if you'd like and your hair can take it. You can see more about how to do apple cider vinegar rinses and the other benefits they have in my post Why I Rinse My Hair With Apple Cider Vinegar.

How to avoid product build-up

1. Go lighter on the products

Product build-up is the result of applying too much product to your hair over time. So using fewer products with each application can help with making sure you don’t have an issue.

2. Clarify more regularly

I try to clarify my hair every four weeks so that I can avoid having the hair products that I use build up on my hair to the point it becomes detrimental. How often you clarify is up to you, but making sure it’s a regular occurrence can be beneficial.

3. Use sulfate shampoos more often

If you use a sulfate moisturizing shampoo on a more regular basis it can help to break up the dirt, oils, butters, and silicones sitting on your hair that can cause product build-up. By using a sulfate shampoo there will be less of a need to use a clarifying shampoo.

4. Do apple cider vinegar rinses

Incorporate apple cider vinegar rinses into your hair regimen since they can help with product build-up lessening the need for more frequent clarifying.

Do you have any tips for getting rid of product build-up?