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Coily Hair: How to remove product build-up and relieve itchy scalp
6 minute read

Coily Hair: How to remove product build-up and relieve itchy scalp

Itchy scalp? Dry hair that’s prone to breakage? Dull coily hair that just feels wrong? If lacklustre hair and scratchy scalp have been your friends lately, we might know the reason why. Enter: product build-up. 

Plenty of us have heard of this term, but few of us really know what it’s all about. Let us enlighten you. Read on to find out what it is, why it negatively affects our scalp and, crucially, how to prevent build-up in hair.

What is product build-up?

It’s haircare lingo we all know but rarely understand: product build-up. So, what is it?

Product build-up is the accumulation of stuff, both natural and product based, on your scalp and hair shaft. The product stuff is shampoo, conditioner and hair care product residue. The natural stuff is dead skin cells and sebum (the natural oil your scalp produces to keep your skin supple and healthy). 

While we’re on the subject, sebum is not gross. In fact, we’d go so far to say that it’s the world’s best serum. But when combined with product build-up, it can’t do its job properly and all that natural goodness can wreak havoc on your scalp and hair.

How do I know I’ve got product build-up?

Think of your scalp and hair as a living, breathing entity. When they’re nourished and allowed to breathe, they’re healthy and in balance. But sometimes all the products we use to keep our coils, curls and waves beautiful can build up. They act as a barrier, preventing dead skin cells from sloughing off naturally and causing sebum to accumulate. 

All this creates a perfect storm. Our scalp may feel irritated, sore and tight. This leads to itching, inflammation and dryness. The build-up may flake into your hair and shoulders.

Your hair, meanwhile, may be feeling bone-dry, wiry and just plain wrong, like all its get-up-and-go… got up and went.

What products cause build-up?

Not all products contribute to build-up. It’s generally non-water soluble formulations, like mineral oil, petroleum, waxes, butters, heavy oils and high molecular weight silicones. We always recommend avoiding petroleum and silicone-based products, preferring water-based products. These help reduce the level of build-up and therefore reduce the need for excessive cleansing.

If your scalp and coils could do with some TLC, it’s a great idea to assess your locks and get rid of the build-up from time to time.

If you want to dive into our range, but are worried about build-up from other products you've been using for a while, look no further than our Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo. It’s designed to melt away build-up and stimulate hair growth.

Product image of scalp exfoliating shampoo.

How to remove and prevent product build-up

If you want to remove product build-up, you need to detox your hair. We don’t wanna sound extreme, but remember that the skin on your scalp is no different from the skin on your face. Just like you would use a weekly face mask or a weekly exfoliation, your scalp also requires a thorough cleanse every once in a while. 

Here’s how to get rid of product build-up in hair, step by step.

  1. First, get everything you need together: some hair bands to section off your strands and your trusty curl towel
  2. Once you’re in the shower, drench your hair all over for best results from your clarifying cleanser.
  3. Divide your hair into two to four sections using the bands. This means you can work on one section at a time to ensure a thorough cleanse.
  4. Pour our Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo into your palms and massage onto the scalp. Hydrogenated castor oil beads gently exfoliate and stimulate, leaving the scalp soothed and invigorated and strands soft and bouncy. Work through each section of your hair, from root to tip. Don’t scrub, the cleanser will do the job for you. 
  5. Rinse thoroughly and follow with our Intensive Moisture Treatment, designed to complement the Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo and help replenish moisture. 
  6. Leave the mask in for 10-15 minutes and then gently detangle your hair in sections before rinsing off. (Or you can keep the product in for an extra boost of moisture.) 
  7. Tuck it up in your Curl Towel and relax – you’ve tackled that build-up nicely.

How often do I need to clarify my hair?

It really depends on your hair and what you’re using on it. If you use heavy butters and waxes, go for once a week. If water-based products are more your thing, every two weeks or once a month should be enough. Try it and see how you go – you know your hair best.

Concerned that a clarifying cleanser may work a little too well and strip your hair? We’ve got you. Our products are packed full of active plant extracts and essential oils, and nourish fragile hair from the inside out with no drying sulphates or heavy silicones.

If you want to go the fully natural route, try shampooing as usual before giving your hair a final rinse with apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water. ACV is a fine natural clarifier. But nothing works as fast and effectively as a clarifying cleanser!

Why have I got such an itchy scalp?

Build-up of hair care products + build-up of skin cells + build-up of hair oil = itchy scalp (scalp pruritus). It’s a common condition and there are a range of causes.

As a reaction to product build-up, your hair follicles go into overdrive, producing more sebum than ever. This changes the acidity of your scalp’s skin, creating that itchy, flaky scenario – AKA dandruff. 

Or build-up may prevent your skin cells from shedding effectively, creating thick rough crusts and an itchy scalp. 

Product that’s built up on your skin rather than being washed away can also cause an itchy scalp.

Finally, diet, stress, fluctuating hormones and seasonal changes can also play a role in that itchy scalp. Eating fruit every day can help to prevent seborrheic dermatitis, which causes a more severe type of dandruff. A lack of vitamin B7 (biotin) has also been linked to dry scalp problems.

A dry, flaky and itchy scalp could be telling you something more than product build-up. If the itching doesn’t improve or any sores aren’t clearing up, see your doctor.

Video of dry scalp serum being applied to damp. curly hair.

How do I prevent an itchy scalp?

Read on for some ideas on itchy scalp treatment, including shampoo for itchy scalp.

  • Your root reset starts here. Use our Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo to wash away build-up and excess sebum. The nourishing lather contains hydrogenated castor oil beads that gently exfoliate and stimulate, leaving the scalp soothed and invigorated. Your strands will be left whisper-soft and bouncy!
  • Try our scalp massager to boost circulation and overall scalp health. It’s easy to grip, even when wet in the shower, and its silicone tips are flexible and soft to touch. 
  • Apply our soothing Dry Scalp Serum for instant relief from dandruff, scalp redness and irritation. Just add to your Curl Cleanser or Hydrating Hair Cleanser every wash day to get flaking and irritation under control. Then reduce use to weekly, every two weeks or monthly depending on your individual scalp needs. Eat foods rich in omega 3, such as salmon, flaxseed and walnuts to calm your problematic itchy scalp.
  • Steer clear of milk chocolate, white wine and sugary foods, as well as dairy. 
  • Stay well hydrated throughout the day.

Let us know how you get on in your battle against build-up! Learn more about how to take your coils, curls and waves from flaky to flake-free in just four weeks.

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  • Scalp scrub deep cleanses and massages scalp, energises, removing product build up and promoting healthy hair growth.

    Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo


  • This soothing serum provides instant relief for dandruff, scalp redness and irritation. An award winning soothing scalp treatment.

    Dry Scalp Serum


  • A powerful, award winning deep conditioning treatment to strengthen and redefine curls.

    Intensive Moisture Treatment


  • Made from organic cotton, bamboo and elasthene, our super soft Curl Towel enhances curl formation.

    Curl Towel


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