How to remove build-up

Is your scalp caked and flaky within days of washing your hair? Have you just taken out a weave or braids? Here’s what to do.

Hair & Beauty

Meet the experts

Dexter Dapper Johnson

Dexter Dapper Johnson

Toni&Guy session stylist Dexter frequently flies around the world for exclusive campaigns and Fashion Weeks

Schola Rose

Schola Rose

With many award-winning accolades to her name, Schola is also ambassador for premium haircare brand, Avlon

How to remove build-up
Jemima Cousins

Jemima Cousins, Spell editor says

‘After all my years in the hair business and obsessing over every strand on my head, my number one rule is (drum roll): don’t take your scalp for granted! It truly is the bedrock to healthy hair. Think of a beautiful budding rose: it needs fertile soil to feed it essential minerals and nutrients. Our scalp carries a similar role - it’s the environment that gives our hair life.’

What causes build-up?

We get build-up when our hair and scalp becomes coated in a mixture of natural sebum (produced by the scalp), the products we reach for daily and dust or dirt from our environment. The scalp is like any other area of our skin; in order for hair to thrive, build-up has to be removed regularly. Session stylist, Dexter Dapper Johnson says, ‘Build-up is very common in finer hair which becomes weighed down, or hair that isn’t particularly porous, as any product formula is likely to sit on the strands and not be absorbed.’ How often you need to remove build-up from your hair will depend on how quickly your scalp and hair gets oily. For example, if you have a naturally oily scalp, exercise regularly or use lots of hair products, you may need to wash your hair more frequently.

What does build-up do?

If left for extended periods of time, build-up can affect healthy hair emerging from the scalp, prevent hair from responding to chemical treatments (like dyes and relaxers) and can cause breakage - especially when taking out braids and weaves. Dexter warns:‘If you haven’t washed products out properly, the hair will feel coated, yet still dry, as no products will be able to break through to inject moisture.’ This means moisturising and conditioning won’t work effectively and hair will appear dull and limp.

Get scrubbing

Schola Rose, stylist at Hype Coiffure, advises: ‘Hair should be shampooed every seven to 14 days, depending on your lifestyle.’ A popular method is to use a conditioner only on wash day. While this is much gentler on the hair and will provide some cleansing, occasionally a shampoo will be needed to effectively remove dirt. Look for clarifying shampoos, as these usually have stronger ingredients to really power through any dirt, dust, flakes and product residue. Clarifying shampoos should only be used once every four to six weeks, as they tend to strip the hair, which can be drying if done too often. If your hair is braided, weaved or in locs,dilute your shampoo with water before applying to the hair for easier rinsing.

Preventing build-up

Prevention is better than cure, right? To keep build-up at bay, firstly reduce the number of styling products you use. Firstly, reduce the number of styling products you use. If you wear a weave or extensions, use water-based ingredients (where water is the first ingredient) with a liquid consistency. Limit the use of butters,creams or products with silicones as they are much harder to remove from the hair. ‘Most silicones aren’t water-soluble and canonly be removed by a good cleanser, so use these sparingly and add them to your hair little by little if you need to,’ advises Dexter.

How to remove build-up

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