Skip to main content

6 Sources of Product Buildup on Natural Hair

• Feb 7, 2012

Applying product is an almost-daily practice for most naturals. Whether to moisturize, condition, style or seal, there’s always a risk of product coating the strands, leaving them dull, weighed down and hard to style. Product buildup can also lead to dry hair since product is not penetrating the cuticle and infusing moisture. Here are 5 sources of product buildup.

1. Ineffective Moisturizing Products

Moisturizing products should be water-based and have the ability to infuse your cuticle with moisture. If not, it will sit on the outside the strand, coating it and leaving it dry. Moisturizing products should leave hair feeling soft and supple, not coated and greasy. If your moisturizing product isn’t doing the job, ditch it.

2. Non-porous hair

Hair that isn’t porous has a harder time allowing product into through the cuticles because they lay flat as opposed to being raised. Product applied to non-porous hair will sit on the outside of the strand, leading to buildup. Try steaming your hair (in the shower or with a hair steamer) before applying moisturizing and conditioning products. The steam will help lift the cuticles, allowing moisturizing product to get inside. Click here to determine your hair’s porosity level.

3. Applying too much product

With the many product applications that natural hair requires, it can be easy to get heavy handed. Excess product will sit on the strands, attracting lint and dust and weighing them down. When applying product to hair, make sure it doesn’t feel greasy or waxy.

4. Co-washing and the “no poo” method

Co-washing is often used as a substitute for shampooing, but they are designed to leave deposits on your hair that fill in damaged cuticles. Make sure that you perform occasional clarifying rinses to remove conditioner residue from your strands and scalp.

5. Incomplete rinsing/washing

Although some naturals recommend not fully rinsing out conditioners, the excess product can lead to faster buildup.

6. Ineffective sealing products

Sealing products should soften strands and help them retain moisture. Ineffective sealing products will leave a waxy residue.

If you are dealing with buildup, apple cider vinegar, bentonite clay and good ol’ shampoo are great for clarifying. Ladies, do you get buildup? How do you deal with it?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 years ago

Castor oil makes hair feel greasy/waxy. Does that mean it’s too much?

10 years ago
Reply to  Lola

Castor oil is very thick by nature and can leave a greasy/waxy feeling depending on how much or the way you’re using it. You can cut the thickness of the oil by mixing it with a lighter one, such as grapeseed, sweet almond or jojoba oil to make it easier to apply/use. Hope this helps.

J Kenn (SpeakingTALL)
10 years ago

I used to have a lot of build up when I had locs. The ACV treatment worked wonders. Now, I don’t deal much with build up. The only leave-in product I use is my moisturizer, and it is very light.

Also, I wash my hair frequently, so that helps too!

Parker Putt
Parker Putt
10 years ago

A big thank you for your article post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

9 years ago
Reply to  Parker Putt

This is a great post. I think that teenagers and young adult shuold especially take notice. I own a and I try to convey to all my younger clients just how damaging it is for your hair when you are constantly having it exposed to the sun.Good Post.

9 years ago

Vinegar and clay alone do not remove build up.

Many silicones will build up in the hair. (except for the water-soluble ones)

Waxes and petrolatum too, tend to build up in the hair.

Not all conditioners build up in the hair. See


[…] Also, be aware of product buildup and try to avoid it. […]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Shopping Cart