remove hair build up with natural products

If you often skip regular washes, stretch washes with dry shampoo, or saturate your hair with styling products, you may have noticed a flaky or gummy build up on your hair and scalp. The combination of product build-up mixing with your scalp's natural build-up can create quite a greasy, grimy mess!

While build-up can cause hair to look dull and lifeless, it can also make adjusting to natural shampoo bars especially frustrating.

Natural Build-Up

natural hair build up

We secrete sebum, natural oils, from our sebaceous glands (turquoise) and sweat from the apocrine or sweat glands (blue) located in our scalp.

Also, as new skin cells form, we shed the old dead skin cells from our scalp.

So, we all naturally create this lovely mixture of sweat, oil, and dead skin cells that can coat our hair and scalp--this is the natural build up!

Since everybody is different, you may have an overactive gland or two or shed skin cells a bit more slowly than someone else. Sometimes the dead skin cells lining the opening of your hair follicle do not shed properly and clog your hair follicles, producing more build up and an itchy scalp.

Product Build-Up

hair products build up
Product buildup is the gradual accumulation of products on the hair strands.

The very shampoos and conditioners designed to clean your hair can leave residue on the scalp that accumulates over time.

Commercial liquid shampoos and conditioners often contain waxes, synthetic silicones, and silica that coat your hair, to make it "feel" nice, but leave a residue in your hair. Synthetic silicones are derived from polymers which are soft, plastic, gel-like substances that are hard to remove from your hair and scalp. Styling products can also add to residue build-up.

Products that have accumulated on your hair prevent moisture, oils, and other nutrients from penetrating your hair.

Even when your hair has been freshly washed, it will still look dull, flat, lifeless, and dirty with no shine and may even feel as if it is coated with something. If you repeatedly have ‘bad’ hair days after washing, your hair might be suffering from product buildup.

Natural Shampoo Bar Residue

natural shampoo hair build up
Natural shampoo bars, very gentle cleansers, do not strip hair in the same way as detergent based shampoos and as a result, may not thoroughly clean the residue from your hair.

Gentle shampoo bars may have a difficult time removing the build-up of chemicals that have collected in your hair over the years of using liquid shampoos and conditioners. The build-up may look similar to dandruff, but it is more localized and does not itch.

Clarifying your hair is a way to remove the build-ups some products leave on your hair which can make your hair dull and lifeless.


When you rid hair of natural build-up and product residue, your hair will feel clean and appear much softer and shinier.

Also, when you first begin using shampoo bars it is best to clarify your hair and scalp at least once a week using either an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse or a Baking Soda rinse.

Simple Baking Soda Clarifying Rinse Recipe

baking soda hair rinse
Regular household baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an easy clarifier to use. Baking soda naturally lifts grease and product residue from your hair.

1 tablespoon baking soda
1 - 2 cups warm water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle or cup. Wet hair and spray or pour the rinse on your hair and work it through. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, then shampoo with your regular shampoo.

Or keep some baking soda in your shower and simply add less than a teaspoon of baking soda to the shampoo bar lather already in your hair. Add a bit more water and shampoo.

Simple Vinegar Rinse Recipe

ACV hair rinse
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) removes scaly build-up and residue from hair shafts to cleanse and clarify the hair and scalp without stripping the hair of its natural oils.

Mix 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with 8 ounces of water in a plastic squeeze bottle, spray bottle, or cup.

Experiment to find a dilution that works best for your hair type (dry hair likes less ACV and oily hair likes more).
If you want some variation, create a vinegar rinse tailored to your hair by adding herbs and/or natural essential oils.

Read much more about how to make your own apple cider vinegar rinse here.

Natural Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Rinses

While a simple ACV rinse is easy to make, we stock the amazing Chagrin Valley Organic Hair Rinses, infused with certified organic herbs and organic essential oils that are great for the hair and scalp.

Buy our Hair Rinses here.


Cover Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published