It’s an awesome feeling to have your curly hair care routine down pat, and have the feeling that you finally have your curls under control. Then out of the blue, your hair starts to become unmanageable, frizzing more often, and your curls start to loosen. If you haven’t changed anything or added any steps or products to your hair care regimen, what could have possibly got your curls in a fuss? The problem may be product build-up. Constantly using products that are coating your hair with filler ingredients will have a negative effect that can be hard to reverse later on. Product build-up doesn’t allow any moisture to get into your hair, creating a product coating that is hard to manage after a while. But this is easily avoidable, and with some input from the Master of Curls himself, Jonathan Torch, we’ve got all the information you need to keep your curls in tip-top shape!
What is product build-up?
There are several ways product build-up occurs. The first is absorption when the ingredients in hair products are absorbed into the hair shaft and are layered over and over again, until the build-up occurs. There are certain ingredients that you want to build up into your hair, and others you don’t. Ingredients you want to build-up in your hair are therapeutic and are used to strengthen your hair, and others are cosmetic meaning they make your hair look better but either cause significant damage to your hair or don’t do anything. For example, a conditioner with a certain type of protein is therapeutic because it’s something you want to be built up into your hair shaft, because over time your hair gets healthier as a result of the proteins.
Silicone on the other hand is a cosmetic ingredient. With continuous use of silicone, it acts as a barrier to moisture, which is necessary to grow healthy curls. When the build-up of ingredients such as silicones becomes too extreme, it takes harsher ingredients to break down the build-up, which may cause significant damage to your hair. Build-up of oils has a similar effect, as oils do not moisturize your hair, but act as a lubricant instead. When moisture is unable to get into your hair, your hair becomes hydrophobic, meaning that it starts to repel water altogether.
The biggest difference between therapeutic and cosmetic ingredients is the size of the molecule in the ingredients that you’re using. Therapeutic ingredients tend to be made up of smaller molecules, while cosmetic ingredients are made of much bigger molecules. The smaller the molecule the more that it will penetrate the hair shaft; the bigger the molecule, the more it will sit and coat the hair shaft.
If you really want to care for and repair your hair, the best curly hair conditioners and styling products to use are the ones with tiny molecules. Try to stay away from very thick, greasy conditioners because it may sit on your hair and weigh it down.
How does my hair texture change when build-up occurs?
In the beginning, when you use products which have silicones you may see some benefits such as your hair is shinier and easier to detangle. However, over time the build-up eventually blocks any moisture from entering your hair shaft. Eventually your hair starts to become unmanageable, and your curls have a more difficult time forming into ringlets.
How do you get rid of product build-up?
When Jonathan Torch encounters product build-up, he uses Curly Hair Solutions Treatment Shampoo because he doesn’t want to try and strip away product on the hair all at once. Stripping it away entirely at once will do damage to the hair, so instead he leaves shampoo on a bit longer to try to lift the build-up. When the build-up begins to lift, you may not like the texture of your hair for some time, as it feels a bit rougher without the cosmetic ingredients in your hair – something you got used to. Ultimately, the removal of build-up will take some time and patience to regain soft and manageable curls.
Remember, product build-up doesn’t always have to be bad. If you use good moisturizing products, it’s going to have a positive effect on your hair. It’s always best to keep track of the ingredients you put into your hair. Moisture is key! Always avoid products with oils and silicones to avoid your hair from repelling water. If you believe your curls are currently suffering from product build-up, hope is not lost. Build-up can be lifted and you will return to having a full head of bouncy curls in no-time!