Last Updated on April 21, 2022
It takes time to wash, condition, and dry your hair. So it can be upsetting when all that work still results in limp, lifeless locks.
What is it that makes freshly washed strands feel waxy? How can we get rid of it and have our bouncy blowouts back? There can be several reasons, each with a fairly easy fix.
Read on and find out 5 reasons that might be making your hair feel waxy, and how to fix it.
See Also: Why Does My Hair Get So Tangled?
Reasons for Waxy Buildup on Hair
1. You Have Product Build-up
If your hair feels like it has a film on it even after washing, you might have product buildup. Other signs it is product build-up include it looking greasy after washing or feeling sticky after drying.
Some products don’t wash out thoroughly when you shampoo and can leave residue even after washing. Over time, it can cause build-up that will have your hair feeling waxy and looking like it hasn’t been washed in days.
2. Your Hair Is Over-Processed
When hair is over-processed with excessive chemical treatments, it can feel gummy and break easily. This happens most often with bleach since it has to break down the color molecules in the hair to get that pale blonde we want.
If this happens too often or too quickly, the keratin structure of your hair can be compromised beyond what it can stand. This will leave you with hair that feels gummy, especially when it is wet.
Anyone with naturally dark hair that has gone blonde, or someone who changes their hair color frequently might be over-processed.
3. You Are Over-Washing Your Hair
When you over-wash your hair, the scalp can get dry and create more oil to compensate. That can make your hair feel greasy fast, which usually makes you want to wash it more often and will just make it worse.
When you use harsh shampoos or wash too frequently the scalp will dry out, and tell your oil glands to start pumping out extra sebum to bring it back to balance.
Sebum is the natural waxy oil substance your scalp makes. If your scalp is overcompensating and producing too much, it can make your hair look oily at the roots soon after washing it.
Related: How Often Should You Condition Your Hair?
4. You Have Hard Water in Your House
Minerals in hard water are deposited every time you wash it and can leave a film or residue on your hair. That can make your strands feel like they are coated in something, almost like you didn’t rinse out your conditioner all the way.
If your hair feels like that even after drying it, then you may have hard water.
5. You Don’t Rinse Your Hair Thoroughly
Sometimes the waxy feeling in your hair is just conditioner that wasn’t rinsed out enough. Or, you didn’t rinse your dry hair enough to thoroughly wet it before shampooing and the hair didn’t get fully clean.
Both situations can lead to hair that feels like it is coated in a waxy film after you get out of the shower.
How to Remove Waxy Buildup From Hair
1. Use a Clarifying Shampoo
If your hair has a waxy buildup, the first thing you can do is get a clarifying shampoo. This will help strip the hair of its waxy feel as it removes any build-up or residue.
It will also strip it of its natural oils, so you’ll need to follow it with a good silicone-free conditioner or your hair will feel dry and be difficult to comb through.
2. Use Fewer Products That Contain Silicone
If the issue is product build-up, it’s probably from silicones. Go through all of your hair care products and look for any word that ends in “-cone”. They can be in anything, but conditioners and styling products made to smooth the hair are most often silicone-based.
If used in moderation, silicones can be helpful. They give the hair that silky texture we all love and help fight frizz. But, its strengths can be weaknesses too. It coats the strand with a film that gives it that slip but over time, becomes waxy feeling build-up.
Silicones are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water. That keeps frizz at bay by keeping moisture out. With daily use, silicone products will never wash out completely, so they will build up and that water-repelling action will make it so your hair never gets the moisture it needs.
Products with silicone are safe for your hair and can be used, just be mindful of how often you use them and maybe use a clarifying shampoo once a week to help prevent build-up.
3. Get a Protein Treatment
If your hair is over-processed, going to the salon for a protein treatment and a trim will help your hair get its strength back. While it will take more than one trim and might mean having to switch to a keratin building shampoo and conditioner temporarily, it will help you get back to having healthy hair.
It is important to remember that using a special shampoo or conditioner to add protein to your hair should be temporary. It will help build the hair’s strength, but there needs to be a balance of protein and water in the hair.
Once your hair has become healthier and has the protein it needs, you should stop using it. If not, the hair will hold on to more protein, which means it has less room for water and your hair will start to become dry.
There is a sweet spot for the right amount of water and protein, so they are only for protein-deficient hair. If that’s not your problem, you shouldn’t use them.
4. Don’t Wash Your Hair Daily or Use Harsh Shampoo
If your greasy hair is caused by over-washing or a harsh shampoo, your hair and scalp are too dry. Your body wants to maintain its balance, so it signals the scalp to start releasing sebum to compensate for the loss of moisture.
Washing less frequently and using gentle cleansing shampoos will help. It can take a while for your hair to get the message that it doesn’t need to pump out a ton of oil anymore, so you may have to wear it up or use a little dry shampoo to keep it looking fresh while it finds the right balance.
5. Rinse Well in the Shower
Before you shampoo, you should saturate the hair with water, and scrub the scalp gently using the pads of your fingers when you shampoo. People with very thick hair can have trouble with this.
If you feel like you have a hard time cleaning the scalp, you can buy a silicone scalp massager. It is used for stimulating hair growth, but it works well for shampooing because it cleans the scalp thoroughly but gently.
When it comes to conditioner, make sure you rinse it out completely. Once it feels like the conditioner is out, rinse a little more to be sure you don’t have any left.
Also, be sure your conditioner is the right formula for your hair type. If it has conditioning ingredients that are too heavy for your hair type, it won’t be able to absorb it all, making it look and feel greasy as though it wasn’t rinsed out well.
6. Check Your House for Hard Water
If you want to check your home for hard water, take a look at your faucet. Mineral build-up around the faucet is a good sign that you have hard water. Glasses with spots on them after being in the dishwasher are another sign.
If you are using all the right products, not washing too frequently, but still have a waxy film on your hair, you might have hard water. This can be fixed by installing a water softener in your garage, basement, or other point where your home’s water supply comes in.
If you’re on a budget, a shower head filter is a good option. It will filter out some of those minerals that are building up in your hair and leave it feeling cleaner.
Going through the trouble of styling your clean hair just to have it look like you haven’t washed it in days is frustrating. Now that you have 5 possible causes that are making your hair feel waxy, you can get started on fixing it and have gorgeous hair in no time!