Hair can be a temperamental thing.
It’ll behave perfectly some days, especially when you just plan on lounging around at home. But when you’ve got a great night out planned? Cue the shenanigans.
If your locks feel gummy and sticky even after you’ve just washed them, you may have asked yourself in confusion: ‘Why does my hair feel waxy?’
Sit back and relax. Chances are, the solution to waxy buildup on hair is in your pantry or just a brief grocery store trip away from you. This article will go through some of the different causes, treatments, and useful tips to tackle and avoid waxy, gummy hair.
If your hair feels waxy and lifeless, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get to the bottom of your greasy, heavy locks.
Waxy Hair: What are the Different Causes
These are just some of the most common reasons that cause waxy buildup on the scalp or hair. But before we start, it is important to identify waxy hair properly so you know how to correctly treat it.
The most common way to identify it is the feeling of waxy greasy hair after a shower. Even if you’ve just shampooed and conditioned your hair, and given yourself a nice blowout, your hair will be limp and feel heavy. Many people also describe it as ‘gummy hair’.
Now, why does this happen?
Excess Sebum Production:
Our scalp contains sebaceous glands which produce a natural oil or sebum to coat the hair and protect it. Sebum prevents dryness and gives hair a nice shine. When we wash our hair, we wash away the sebum, and the scalp produces some more.
But sometimes, the body produces way too much sebum. This will make your scalp very greasy. If you have fine, straight hair, this oil will travel down the hair shaft and give your hair that unwashed, greasy look. And over time, these oils can build up and make hair waxy.
Moreover, excess washing can cause your sebaceous glands to go into overdrive and produce lots of sebum to make up for what is lost. On the other hand, some shampoos are too mild to break down and clean sebum properly.
If your hair feels waxy after washing, there is a good chance that there is buildup from the products you use. Conditioners, masks, mousses, and other hair care and styling products contain heavy ingredients like silicones, waxes, and oils that remain in your hair even after washing.
A build-up of products will weigh your hair down, making it limp and lifeless. Waxy-feeling hair after dying is an indication of buildup on the scalp and hair.
Sometimes excess sebum or grease can be caused by medical problems. Hormonal imbalances can account for the production of lots of sebum which will leave your hair perpetually greasy.
Moreover, if your hair is greasy after washing, and has lots of flakes and itchiness, you might have seborrheic dermatitis. This is a skin condition that causes scaly, flaky patches on the scalp, along with excess oils.
Treating Waxy Hair: 5 Simple Fixes
Here are a few ways you can get rid of excess sebum and product buildup.
Change Your Shampoo:
If you think your waxiness is caused by excess sebum, your regular shampoo may not be strong enough. Use a shampoo that can break down oils and sebum without stripping your hair and making it too dry.
For instance, the Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Aloe + Oat Milk Shampoo cleanses thoroughly without irritating your scalp. For a more budget-friendly option, L’Oréal Paris’s Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo works well too.
Add a Clarifying Shampoo:
If your hair is greasy after washing and you suspect product buildup, incorporate a clarifying shampoo into your hair care routine. These are powerful cleansers that break down residue from other hair products and leave your hair squeaky clean.
Great affordable options include the OGX Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo, which is my personal favorite. People with dandruff prefer Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo, while the Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo and Ouai Detox Shampoo are fan favorites.
However, you need to remember that these shampoos are very strong, so use them sparingly. Once or twice a month is usually enough, and always follow up with a deep conditioner to keep your hair soft and hydrated.
An itchy, waxy scalp is one of the worst feelings out there. But sometimes, just showing your scalp some extra kindness will go a long way. Massage your scalp before you wash your hair to loosen up the sebum and product, as this makes it easier to wash off.
Many people like using warm oils to break down sebum as well. Oils dissolve in oil, so this actually makes sense, especially because oil cleansers are popular in skincare.
You can also use a scalp massager in the shower. After shampooing your scalp, gently massage the scalp with this tool to really work the shampoo lather into your hair and lift dirt, grease, and buildup.
Things like green or black tea, apple cider vinegar, hibiscus, and even the humble lemon are great for reducing mild buildup and preventing waxiness. Simply brew your tea or dilute lemon juice or ACV in some water and soak your hair with it before shampooing.
If none of these solutions seem to be doing the trip, it may be time to see a doctor. You may need medicated shampoos or need treatment for hormonal imbalance.
Preventing Waxy Hair
Once you have your waxy hair under control, make sure it never comes back by doing the following.
Try Shampooing Less:
Washing your hair every day will increase sebum production. If you have curly, coily, or kinky hair, you can get away with shampooing twice, or even just once a week. For people with fine, straight hair, shampoo every other day is more than enough.
Use Lightweight Products:
Avoid conditioners and styling products laden with heavy oils, waxes, and silicones. Opt for a silicone-free hydrating conditioner instead. If you have thin and fine hair, ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and Cetyl/Stearyl Alcohol will weigh it down, so use them sparingly.
The same applies to hair styling products. Lightweight products like the Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum or Not Your Mother’s Naturals Weightless Mousse will avoid the build-up issue for most people.
Clean Your Brushes:
Your combs and brushes hold onto the sebum and product in your hair. If you use them without cleaning in between washes, you’re just adding them back into your locks. A good way to avoid this is to clean your combs and brushes once a week.
The same applies to pillowcases and towels. Wash and replace them often.
Here are answers to questions people often have about waxy, gummy hair.
01. Why Does My Hair Look Greasy After Washing?
Hair that has excess sebum or grease, as well as a build-up of residue from styling products will look and feel waxy or sticky.
02. Why is My Hair So Gummy and Mushy?
Sometimes overhydration can leave your hair gummy and waxy. Stick to lightweight conditioners, and leave them on for as long as the packaging says to. Always rinse your shampoo and conditioners out of your hair thoroughly so that no residue is left behind.
03. Are There Any Oils That Can Treat a Waxy, Flakey Scalp?
Essential oils like tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, and geranium can help treat build-up and flakiness in the scalp. Dilute a few drops of these oils in a light carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil and massage it into your scalp as a pre-wash treatment.
Buildup, excess sebum, and flaky skin can lead to hair fall and itchiness which is never pleasant. Instead of hiding your hair in a bun, a beanie, or a scarf, give the suggestions in this article a try. If nothing works, please go see a doctor.
With any luck, you won’t be asking yourself Why does my hair feel waxy? Instead, you’ll be flaunting smooth, lively locks wherever you go!