How to Tell if You Have Product Buildup in Hair

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Have you noticed that your hair is looking dull, feeling overly dry, and not holding a style very well? If so, it could mean that you are dealing with product buildup in your hair. If you’re concerned about whether product buildup is responsible for your hair problems, continue reading. We’ll share some tips to help you learn how to tell if you have product buildup in hair. We’ll also share some things you can do to get rid of the buildup and improve the health and appearance of your hair.

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Table of Contents

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How to Tell if You Have Product Buildup in Hair

Before you can try to treat product build up with a clarifying shampoo or other remedy, you need to identify whether you actually have product buildup in your hair.  In the next few sections, we’ll share more information to help you identify the signs of product buildup and perform a test to check for buildup in your hair.

How Do You Know if You Have Product Build Up in Your Hair?

Wondering, “what is the buildup on my scalp?”  There are different signs you can look for to help you identify whether you have product build up.  These can include overly dry or dull hair, a visible residue on hair, limp hair, and a greasy scalp.

What Does Hair Build Up Look Like?

When you look closely at the scalp or the strands of hair, you may notice that white flakes or white blobs.  Product buildup may also look like a white film covering your hair.

Can product buildup look like dandruff?  Yes, product buildup is often confused with dandruff since both can look like white flakes.  One key difference between the two is that dandruff is more likely to flake off your scalp, whereas product buildup residue typically sticks to the scalp or hair.

What Does Build Up on Hair Feel Like?

The way product buildup feels may vary.  Oftentimes, it can make your scalp feel overly greasy, while also making your hair feel very dry.  Sometimes you may be able to feel the flaky white residue when you run your fingers through your hair.

Signs of Product Buildup on Natural Hair

The signs of product build up on natural hair include:

  • Dull hair that is lacking shine
  • Dry hair
  • Greasy or limp hair
  • Visible residue left in hair
  • Less defined curls
  • Hair isn’t as absorbent as it once was

How Do You Do a Hair Buildup Test?

If you’ve noticed some of the product buildup signs listed above, conducting a hair buildup test can help you determine whether you are indeed dealing with product buildup.  This test is relatively easy and won’t take long at all.  You need to hold a section of your hair straight out and scrape it using the edge of a pair of scissors.  It may be easier to have a friend help you with this.

If, after scraping the hair, you notice a lot of white film and gunk on the edge of the scissors, it means you are dealing with hair buildup in your hair and will need to begin taking steps to get rid of the buildup.

Dandruff vs Hair Buildup

Dandruff and hair buildup can look similar at first glance.  Both involve white flakes on the hair and scalp.  However, product buildup is stickier and tends to remain on the hair, while dandruff flakes off the scalp and can be found on your shoulders and clothing.

How to Get Build Up Out of Hair

OK, so now you’ve identified that you’re dealing with product buildup.  Time for the next step:  removing the buildup from your hair.

How Do You Remove Product Buildup From Hair?

There are a few different options for removing product buildup from your hair.  These include:

How Do I Get Rid of Hard Water Build Up in My Hair?

To save your hair from hard water buildup, try using a clarifying shampoo or using a vinegar rinse for your hair. Once the buildup is removed, you can consider rinsing your hair with filtered water or purchasing a water softener to prevent the hard water buildup from returning.

How Do I Get Rid of Product Build Up in My Hair Naturally?

There are a number of ways to remove product buildup naturally.  These include using apple cider and baking soda, sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil, or bentonite clay, water, and apple cider vinegar.

How to Get Rid of Product Buildup in Hair Without Washing

Trying one of the natural remedies above can help you remove product buildup without washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo.

How to Remove Buildup From Black Hair

The solutions we shared above for removing product buildup can also work with black hair.

Another option you can try is to mix ⅓ cup castile soap, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 3 drops of tea tree oil together. After mixing, gently rub the solution over your scalp and massage it in.  Then, allow it to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

How to Clarify Hair

How do I know if I need to clarify my hair?

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of product buildup described above, such as dull, limp, or dry hair, it is often a sign that you need to clarify your hair.  You can try using a clarifying shampoo, such as BIOLAGE Normalizing Clean Reset Shampoo or REDKEN Detox Hair Cleaning Cream, or trying one of the DIY natural recipes mentioned above.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:


Do hair products damage hair?

Yes, hair products can damage your hair.  Overtime, they can build up on the scalp and hair and lead to irritation, dry out the hair, reduce its ability to absorb moisture, and more.

Does apple cider vinegar clean hair follicles?

Yes, evidence supports that apple cider vinegar can help clean your hair follicles.  It can also lower the pH of your hair and scalp to reduce scalp infections, decrease itchiness, improve hair’s shine, and strengthen hair.

Does baking soda remove product buildup in hair?

Yes, baking soda can be used as a DIY solution to remove product buildup in hair.  You can try mixing it with water or with apple cider vinegar to get rid of excess buildup.

How do you know if you have product build up in your hair?

There are different signs you can look for to help you identify whether you have product build up. These can include overly dry or dull hair, a visible residue on hair, limp hair, and a greasy scalp.

How to clarify hair

You can try using a clarifying shampoo or trying one of the DIY natural recipes mentioned in this post.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Closing Thoughts on Product Buildup on Hair

If you’re worried about product buildup on your hair, it is important to begin taking steps to remove the build up.  This will not only help improve the look and feel of your hair, but it will help it remain healthy.

To learn more about keeping your hair healthy, check out these related posts on our blog:

By Ellis James

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