What does hair build up look like & how to get rid of

Do you experience hair dryness, and tangling and are often worried about why your hair does not give you the same thick and shiny touch after you just had your shampoo done? 

We often ponder to get the answers to these questions while neglecting the white snowflake-type product in our hair, considering it dandruff! 

The visible residue you notice in your hair is actually the buildup. You must be intrigued about what does hair build up look like and what are its main causes.

what does hair build up look like

Let’s dig into the topic. 

What is hair build up and what cause it?

You must be curious to know more about what does hair build up look like and the reasons behind it, as every girl is very sensitive about their hair health and look. 

Hair product build-up is simply the piling of unwanted products on the scalp that does not gets absorbed. 

The film-forming layer on the scalp is due to the buildup of natural products (sebum) and the leftover residue of the hair product such as shampoo, styling gel, or conditioner.

What does hair build up look like

The hair buildup looks like blobs or flakes glued to your hair, giving it a greasy messy look. This residue material is easily noticeable and comes under nails on scratching the scalp.

Let’s look into how to tell if you have product buildup in hair to take first-hand measures to avoid it. 

Yellowish or white blobs 

What does hair build up look like?

scalp residue

The buildup is easy to identify by its white or yellowish color. Noticing an oily scalp, with sticky white blobs is a sign of buildup caused by either a chemical-laden hair product, sweat, or pollution that comes into contact with our hairs in our daily day lives. 

Greasy-looking hair 

When you have buildup on hair, it is quite easy to identify by the greasy look of your hair. As the product buildup is often due to oily ingredients, including the hair products we apply and taking a long break from washing hair. 

oily scalp

The greasy hairs can also be the result of a natural condition where the glands beneath the skin produce an extra amount of sebum. 

Dry hair 

The excessive buildup on hair blocks the supply of proper nutrients to your hair. The coating of sebum on the strands does not de-moisturize the hair roots. The issue gets serious when you are constantly applying hair products and enjoying the gorgeous hairstyles, without knowing underneath it is really dehydrated. 

effects of hair buildup

The sebum buildup on the scalp results in the blockage of proper water to your hair and affects its blossoming. If not properly treated the buildup can over time give ground for the bacteria to reproduce, causing infections hair loss, and scalp issues.

Signs of hair build up

Your hair loses shine

The signs of product buildup are pretty apparent, as in a few days your hair loses its natural shine. The hairs appear dull due to the accumulation of too much product. 

Regardless of how expensive conditioners or the other hair products you use, they give no benefit because their way to reach the scalp is blocked by the clogging of follicles due to the thick layer of residue. 

Frizzy hairs

Frizzy strands, split ends, and lack of volume are telltale signs of buildup. The hair feels very rough on the touch, and running the fingers down your hair no more feels the same. 

dull and frizzy hairs

The excessive buildup makes the hair unmanageable, again – due to the insufficient amount of moisture and water reaching the scalp. 

Hair never feels clean

The next issue with product buildup is that you never get satisfied after having a shampoo and you feel something missing with your hair. 

This happens when there is a layer of sticky flakes sitting on your hair blocking the shampoo to penetrate down the scalp to remove oil or dirt and keep follicles clean.

Oily hair roots and dry end

The most common sign of buildup is experiencing a greasy scalp and dry hair ends. This condition occurs when the scalp fights back by producing sebum to unclog clogged follicles and the strands try to absorb moisture to meet their needs.

This imbalance results in oily roots and dry ends. 

Excessive hair loss

causing hair loss

Can product buildup cause hair loss?

The answer is: yes.

Among many other signs of buildup on the hair, product buildup is also accountable for hair loss. If left untreated, the residue layer stuck with the strands and scalp becomes harder, clogging the follicles and indirectly contributing to the loss of hair volume. 

How to remove hair build up?

Experiencing a sooty layer of dust on your scalp is very stressful, and getting up every day with dry-looking hairs, scalp itching, and hair loss make it worst. 

The good news is: The buildup is resistible by following a day-to-day hair care routine. 

I have got some easy ways to help you remove buildup:

Wash your hair frequently 

hair wash

The first thing to follow in your hair care routine is to avoid taking long breaks between washing your hair. 

Our scalp is exposed to dust, residue from hair products, sweat, and dead skin cells, which are necessary to get out of your scalp to avoid buildup. 

If you have an oily scalp, it is very important to wash your hair every 1-2 days to prevent dust layer filming. Whereas with dry hair you can take a 2 days break. 

Note: Putting so much shampoo on your scalp is not recommended. Wet your scalp, and then put shampoo for better results and to prevent shampoo residue in your hair. 

Choose the right shampoo 

Does it feel right to use a shampoo with a lot of moisturizing ingredients, when you already have an oily scalp? 

Absolutely not!

I have got your back to help you choose the right shampoo for your hair, to prevent buildup. 

Shampoo for Labels to look for Labels to avoid My pick Pick details 
Oily scalp Clarifying shampoo, Volumizing, Strengthening Moisturizing, Hydrating Pureology Pure Shampoo  Rich sulfate-free shampoo,
Contain wheat protein to add volume 
Dry scalp Sulfate free shampoo,coco-glucoside, glycolic acid,   hydrating ingredientsVoluminizing shampoo Pureology Hydrate Nourishing Shampoo Sulfate free, Best for hydrating dry and color-treated hair. 
Thick hair Hydrating and moisturizing shampoo Sulfate-containing products OGX Biotin Shampoo  Infused with ProVitamin B7, biotin, and collagen
Brittle hairsFortifying shampoo, Avocado, and olive oil  Contain sulfatePeppermint ShampooDeep Argan Oil Moisturization, Hydrates Strands Shaft, contains Coconut Oil

Clarifying shampoo 

clarifying shampoo to prevent buildup

Using a clarifying shampoo once a week works best to get rid of product buildup instantly. Unlike regularly used shampoo, clarifying shampoos are specifically formulated to remove the film of product glued to your scalp and offer a deep cleanse to remove oil from the strands and the scalp, making you feel your hair clean and clear. 

Based on my personal experience, I suggest you try using OUAI Detox Clarifying Shampoo if you notice product buildup. 

DIY remedies to remove product build up on hair

Product buildup is really hard to remove just by washing your hair with a regular shampoo.  Here I have got some DIY remedies for you that is super easy to keep your hair looking soft and healthy. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Apple cider vinegar rinse is the most loved DIY remedy when it comes to removing product buildup. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) with a pH of around 3 acts as a detoxifying agent on the scalp having product buildup. 

You can get apple cider vinegar from a store or make it yourself at home to lift up residue from hair products and dirt from your strands and enjoy healthy-looking hair. 

Here is how you can make apple cider vinegar at home! 

DIY to avoid hair buildup


  1. 4 apples 
  2. Sugar – 6 tablespoons 
  3. Water as required


  1. Wash the apples and cut them into pieces. 
  2. Put the sliced apple into a 1-liter air-tight glass jar. 
  3. Add 6 tablespoons of sugar.
  4. Press the mixture into the glass jar with a wooden churner. 
  5. Repeat the churning process for 7 days. 
  6. After 7 to 10 days of storage at a warm place, extract the liquid formed due to the fermentation process and strain the excess solid. 

The apple cider vinegar is ready and you can use it once a week before shampooing your hair or after conditioning to enjoy immediate results. 

Lemon Juice Rinse

The lemon buildup is another DIY remedy I found working amazingly to remove the buildup caused by sprays and dust. Here is what you need: 

lemon rinse to avoid builup


  1. 1 cup lukewarm water 
  2. ¼ Aelovera gel 
  3. ½ cup lemon juice 
  4. 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. 


Take a cup of warm water and add a quarter cup of aloe vera gel and lemon juice to it. Mix it thoroughly and now add apple cider vinegar to it. 

Here is your lemon juice ready which you can apply to your strands for about 20- 30 minutes to help it soften the buildup and give your hair a nice shiny look. 

📌 You might also love reading: Signs of low porosity hair, characteristics & caring tips

Wrapping up

Our hair is exposed to dirt, sweat, and the different hair care products we use on the daily basis, and a little negligence in not washing your scalp properly can result in the accumulation of product buildup, resulting in volume loss and major scalp issues. 

Being a little careful while choosing the shampoo, not putting heavy oily products on your scalp, and following the hair care routine can help you a long way to avoid product accumulation and enjoy natural shiny hair.