Achieving beautiful, healthy afro curls begins by taking good care of your scalp. If your natural hair is not nourished from your roots to your ends, it will not grow strong and healthy. However, sometimes this is easier said than done. On those busy days or those nights out, you could add several products to your hair, like gels or dry shampoos, to give your hair an easier, manageable look.
But, over time, you may notice your hair getting dry or your curls losing their bouncy effect as a result. If this is the case, you might have succumbed to hair product build-up. In this post, we will go through the causes of product build-up, how to tell if you have it, and what you can do to prevent or remove it from your scalp.
What Causes Product Build-Up?
Our scalp regularly produces a natural oil called sebum on our hair follicles to protect our curls and keep them moisturised. However, if you don’t cleanse your scalp periodically or adequately, it can cause a thicker layer of this sebum to build up, which can cause conditions like dandruff.
Your skin cells on your scalp should have a lifespan of only 30-40 days. Following this time, your skin will shed the old dead skin cells to replace them with new ones. However, if your scalp is not exfoliated or cleansed, dead skin can pile up on your scalp. These may look like crusts that are thick and yellowy-white.
Using Products Or Co-Washes That Are Not Suited For Your Scalp
If you are using co-washes or low-poo shampoos as your only method to cleanse your afro hair, this will cause further build-up. This is because a co-wash will not cleanse your hair as it contains ingredients known as cationic surfactants that stick to your hair, causing further product build-up. Then, if any products like gels, moisturising creams or edge control oils are applied right after a co-wash conditioner, it can worsen your scalp. As a result, further build-up can form on your cuticles, making your hair look greasy and flaky.
If you live in the UK, you might be one of the many people who have hard water in your house. As hard water contains large amounts of magnesium and calcium, it can cause your curls to feel lifeless, dry and sticky, and it can lessen the lathering effects of shampoo on your strands.
How To Treat Or Prevent Product Build-Up
Create A Wash And Condition Schedule For Your Hair
You should wash your hair every 7-10 days by using a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo. This process will make sure that you remove dirt, dust and any excess sebum from your scalp. In tandem with a mild shampoo, you should also use a regular conditioner. As conditioners possess positive charges, they are more likely to stay on your scalp as product build-up from the washing process, ensuring that your rinsing time is more than your lathering process.
Unfortunately, if you notice white flakes on your hair after washing, it means that you haven’t rinsed out the shampoo and conditioner properties properly. You could also try using a clarifying shampoo every two weeks, which contain deeper cleansing properties than your usual sulphate-free shampoo and can remove build-up easily.
Apply Your Products Evenly On Your Hair Strands
It is essential to distribute any products you use evenly across your hair. Use your fingers to start applying the product at the ends of your strands and then slowly work your way up to the roots.
Think About How Much Product You Use For Your Afro Hair
As well as avoiding products that contain harsh ingredients, don't feel the need to apply too much product to your hair. Using too much product can quickly cause build-up which will lead to your curls being weighed down/. Instead, firstly use a penny or dime-size amount of product per section of your afro hair and see how far that takes you. In reality, if you for example choose to use our Manuka Honey and Avocado Leave-In Conditioner, you do not need a considerable amount to seal in the moisture for your curls.
It’s important to realise that product build-up won’t occur overnight. Dirt, dust and sebum can gradually build up on your scalp if you rinse or wash your curls properly. Every two weeks, following a regular washing and conditioning routine with a clarifying shampoo, will ensure that any build-up is diminished. Once your afro hair feels lighter and your scalp becomes healthier, it will become easier to manage.