why does my hair feel waxy

It can be a frustrating experience when you take the time to cleanse and condition your hair, only to find that it feels greasy and waxy immediately after washing. However, it is a common issue that many people face. Fortunately, there are simple solutions available to address this problem. 

In this article, we will delve into the root causes of waxy buildup on your hair and provide seven effective methods to eliminate it for good. By implementing these strategies, you can transform your lackluster, lifeless locks into healthy, shiny tresses.

Why Does Your Hair Feel Waxy?

Understanding the underlying reasons why your hair feels waxy after washing is the first step in finding an effective solution to this common hair concern. So, let's delve into all the common reasons behind waxy buildup on your hair below.

Product Buildup

Waxy hair can happen after shampoo because shampoos and conditioners contain heavy, water-resistant ingredients that cling to the hair. Silicones are commonly found in hair care products as lubricants, and they fill in pores and gaps in the hair, making dry hair look healthier. Over time, silicones can build up on hair follicles, leading to waxiness.

Additionally, using too much product, regardless of the type, can also lead to excessive buildup and waxy hair. Ingredients found in hair care products like resins, dimethicones, plasticizers, and polyquaterniums can enhance the appearance of hair but build up on the hair shaft and compromise hair health over time. 

Oil Buildup

Various factors can cause your natural oil production to go haywire, such as medical conditions like seborrhea(1), which causes an overproduction of oil from the sebaceous glands in the scalp. Additionally, sulfates in shampoos can strip natural oils from hair, causing the scalp to produce more oil in response, leading to oilier hair. 

While taking hot showers in winter might seem relaxing, it could cause dehydration in the scalp, resulting in the buildup of oil in the scalp. Medications like steroids, blood thinners, and birth control pills can lead to the production of excess oil in the body, which coats the hair and makes it feel stiff or waxy. 

Moreover, stress is another factor that can cause waxy buildup in the hair as high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can increase the production of scalp oil, leading to a wax-like hair coating.

Mineral Buildup

If your hair feels waxy after drying, it could also mean mineral buildup, especially if you live in an area with hard water. Hard water contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can accumulate in the hair and scalp over time, causing a heavy or waxy feeling. The minerals in hard water can interact with the oils in the hair, making the ends feel waxy and reducing the effectiveness of shampoo and conditioner.

Improper Washing

Waxy hair can also be a result of improper washing techniques. For instance, not rinsing hair thoroughly can leave behind shampoo and conditioner, leading to dull and lifeless hair. If shampoo and conditioner ingredients are not properly rinsed out, they can get trapped in the scalp and affect the pH of the hair, contributing to waxy hair. 

Proper washing techniques and frequency of washing should be based on an individual's natural oil production level and the number of buildup-causing products used in the hair routine.

7 Useful Ways to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

Now that we’ve established the most common causes behind waxy hair, here are several effective ways to remove the buildup and restore your hair's natural shine and softness. 

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

Use a Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

Using a clarifying shampoo once a month can help to get rid of excessive buildup on your scalp, leaving your hair feeling soft and clean. Look for formulas with capryl glucoside, a chemical that exfoliates hair without stripping it of necessary natural oils, if you find that clarifying shampoo is too harsh for your scalp. 

Clarifying shampoos typically contain stronger and more surfactants than everyday shampoos and can be purchased at your local hairdresser or salon. Be sure to follow up with a good silicone-free conditioner or treatment to put some moisture back into your hair. 

While clarifying shampoo can be used more frequently on straight or fine hair, individuals with wavy or curly hair should monitor their usage carefully as too frequent hair washes can lead to excessive dryness on textured hair types.

Avoid Silicone Products

Avoid Silicone Products to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

If you're dealing with waxy hair, it may be a good idea to avoid using silicone-based hair care products altogether. Instead, look for hair care products that are silicone-free or contain natural, nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, or shea butter.

By avoiding silicone products and using gentle, nourishing ingredients, you can help prevent waxy buildup and maintain healthy, beautiful hair.

Rinse Well

Rinse Hair Well to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

Good rinsing is an important step to prevent waxy build-up on your hair. It is essential to rinse your shampoo and conditioner thoroughly, even if you are in a hurry. 

When you rinse your hair, use warm or lukewarm water instead of very hot water. This will help to open the cuticles so that the shampoo can penetrate deeply and cleanse your hair. Also, make sure to saturate your hair with water before applying shampoo and scrub the scalp gently using the pads of your fingers.

Remember that even a small amount of product left on your scalp can lead to excessive oil production and product build-up, so never skimp on rinsing. Finally, avoid washing your hair too often as it could dry your hair out and make your scalp overproduce sebum.

Change Your Diet

Change The Diet to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for healthy hair. Avoiding junk food and eating a diet rich in vegetables and other healthy foods can help control the production of sebum by your sebaceous glands, reducing the risk of a waxy buildup. 

Dairy, oily foods, and fatty foods should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether. These types of foods can cause your scalp to produce excess oil(2), leading to clogged pores and waxy hair. It's important to remember that healthy hair starts from the inside out.

Deal With Hard Water

Deal With Hard Water to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

If you suspect that hard water is the root of the problem, you can check by looking for mineral buildup around the faucet or glasses with spots after being washed. 

Once you confirm that hard water is the cause, you can install a water softener in your home or opt for a more budget-friendly option like a shower head filter. This filter will trap or neutralize the minerals that contribute to the buildup before they settle on your hair, leaving your hair feeling cleaner and free of waxy buildup.

Keep Your Accessories Clean

Keep Hair  Accessories Clean to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

To fix waxy hair, it is important to keep anything that touches your hair clean. This includes your brushes, combs, towels, and hats.

By routinely washing and drying these items, you can prevent a buildup of sebum on them, which can then transfer back onto your hair. It's also a good idea to clean items like your coat hood or scarf if they come into contact with your scalp.

Use Natural Remedies

Apple cider vinegar for hair to Remove Waxy Buildup on Hair

Using natural remedies is a great way to fix waxy hair. Green tea-infused products can be effective in removing waxy build-up from hair and scalp, as it has properties that help control sebum production. A 2016 study(3) found that greasiness decreased after 28 days of use.

Apple cider vinegar is another potential remedy that can be applied to the scalp for ten minutes to combat waxy hair. Additionally, mixing freshly squeezed lemon juice with water and applying it as a mask to your hair for twenty minutes can be effective. 

After a shower, rinsing hair with black tea may also prove helpful in removing waxy residues. Regular use of these natural remedies can help maintain a healthy and clean scalp, free from waxy buildup.

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, waxy buildup on hair is a common problem caused by factors like too much product, oil, or minerals, or washing your hair the wrong way. By implementing the tips we've discussed, you can bid farewell to waxy buildup and enjoy soft, clean, and healthy hair after every wash.


1. Seborrhea: What It Is and How to Treat It. (2000). American Family Physician, {online} 61(9), pp.2713–2714. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2000/0501/p2713.html.

2. ‌Boelsma, E., van de Vijver, L.P., Goldbohm, R.A., Klöpping-Ketelaars, I.A., Hendriks, H.F. and Roza, L. (2003). Human skin condition and its associations with nutrient concentrations in serum and diet,. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, {online} 77(2), pp.348–355. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/77.2.348.

3. Saric, S., Notay, M. and Sivamani, R. (2016). Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris. Antioxidants, {online} 6(1), p.2. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox6010002.