Help! Save my hair!

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
Ladies, my hair hates me. No matter what I do, after washing it, it remains extremely, like, waxy? It never fully dries underneath. If I put my hand on my neck, fingers upward, and run my hand upward on my scalp, the "underneath" hair is so gross. Kind of like greasy, but not.
I thought for a long time that it was product buildup. I bought Neutrogena clarifying shampoo, and it works well, but I read you're not supposed to use it more than once a week or it strips your hair and dries it out too much.
Then I thought it was hard water (I used to live in a place with soft water, but moved three years ago). So I bought a special shampoo that is supposed to counteract the effects of hard water. It didn't work AT ALL.
Has anyone had this problem and found a good daily use shampoo?

ETA: When I say "product buildup" I just mean shampoo/conditioner. I don't use gels, mousses, sprays, or things like that.
 
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stugatz

Pelican
I have problem hair that I haven't figured out. I'll at least list the problems I had, and how I tried to fight them. I have an oily & dry scalp (sounds strange to describe it that way, but it seems to swing back and forth between those two things). Usually dry after washing, and oily after a couple of days - the hair next to the scalp didn't feel too good, but the hair on the outside felt just fine.

Your hair may be a similar type to mine? Mine is extremely thick and curly - gave up and got it cut a month ago, but was down to my back before then...and that process had taken the better part of two years. I had to buy a special brush to make sure the hair wasn't a tangled mess, and even that struggled to do a good job - I'd pull out oily little balls of tangled hair each time. It took forever to dry, too.

I used a tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner twice a week, and used a leave-in conditioner every few days or so. It worked fine, but only to a point.
 
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catholicmom

Sparrow
Woman
Have you tried using a baking soda paste and then rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar? Don't worry, the vinegar stink doesn't stick.
Seconding this. My hair is worst when I use actual shampoos. Even the more "natural" stuff often has straight-up detergents in it that exacerbate the buildup problem in the long term. I'd suggest trying to wash it less and less and when you do wash it, do a 30-minute apple cider vinegar soak (I think the typical dilution ratio is 1:3 ACV-to-water) before you shower (in lieu of shampoo). I find I generally don't need conditioner when I wash with ACV.
 

KC123

Pigeon
Woman
Hey, I can completely relate.

Thankfully this past year during lockdown and being able to work from home has allowed me to go all out on experimenting on the best way to care for my locks and I have finally nailed it (so much so that my hairdresser who saw me yesterday after 6 months was asking me for my routine/products. The whole bunch comes to under $15 you'll be glad to know!). So alas, this is what worked for me and as you will see, you might have to tweak it here and there but it might serve as a guide for you to learn about your own hair and try somethings out.

Firstly, forget products for a moment and think about your hair porosity. This was a game changer for me. Hair porosity means how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Read this article and it teaches you how to test your hair: https://www.naturallycurly.com/texture-typing/hair-porosity

From your description it MIGHT seem that you have low porosity since you say you use little product and still have this build up. The article has recommendations for that, but literally do a youtube search for low porosity routines and experiment until you find the product that suits you.

However, I had similar issue as you and turns out my hair is very high porosity.

I had easily greasy hair from my teens onwards, even though I was careful to never use too much conditioner or product etc... but guess what? As my hair is high porosity, it turns out I actually need to SOAK my hair in moisturising conditioner which is HIGH in silicones and only partially rinse it out. I also need to use a moisturising shampoo that isn't too heavy. Lastly, I use a moisturising leave in that also contains silicones. Aside from this, I'll occasionally do a coconut oil hair mask to balance the protein levels in my hair. And I swear, I only need to wash my hair once a week now and it has never looked or felt better. Turns out I had been starving my hair of the moisture and protection it needed all in the name of 'sulphates and silicones are bad', but 1 year on and I think she's forgiven me :)

If you are interested,

Shampoo: Garnier Ultimate Blends HONEY TREASURE

Condtioner: Charles Worthington Salon at Home Moisture Seal Masque

Leave in conditioner: Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Hair Healer Leave in Conditioner

Summary: What is your hair porosity? Does it need more/less moisture or protein? Select your products accordingly and be willing to try a few out before you find the ones that work for you. I bought a few that ticked all the boxes and they left my hair limp and greasy, whereas the ones I used now were all from youtube video tutorials and seeing people with similar hair using them.

Good luck!
 

Starlight

Woodpecker
Woman
I think I know what you’re talking about. My daughter had something similar and her pediatrician said it’s a form of eczema (the eczema caused dandruff and overactive oil production). She started using Neutrogena T-Gel (the nasty brown stuff) and that really helped. She used it every time she washed her hair to get the eczema under control and now just uses it if she starts to get a flare up. I’m not really sure what causes it. It comes and goes for her. She uses these as her regular shampoo and conditioner:

Also, are you rinsing the conditioner out well enough? When you’re rinsing your hair, lift all of it up so the water can spray directly on the hair by your neck and ears.
 

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
Have you tried using a baking soda paste and then rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar? Don't worry, the vinegar stink doesn't stick.
I did try that several years ago. It made my hair very dry... almost a straw-like quality. I was thinking earlier today though that maybe I ought to try it again. Maybe it would react differently with the hard water.
 

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
I think I know what you’re talking about. My daughter had something similar and her pediatrician said it’s a form of eczema (the eczema caused dandruff and overactive oil production). She started using Neutrogena T-Gel (the nasty brown stuff) and that really helped. She used it every time she washed her hair to get the eczema under control and now just uses it if she starts to get a flare up. I’m not really sure what causes it. It comes and goes for her. She uses these as her regular shampoo and conditioner:

Also, are you rinsing the conditioner out well enough? When you’re rinsing your hair, lift all of it up so the water can spray directly on the hair by your neck and ears.
Nice! I might have to try these. I wouldn't doubt if it's a type of eczema/dandruff.

And as for rinsing out... I'm pretty sure I do it well? I could always pay extra attention.
 

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
I have problem hair that I haven't figured out. I'll at least list the problems I had, and how I tried to fight them. I have an oily & dry scalp (sounds strange to describe it that way, but it seems to swing back and forth between those two things). Usually dry after washing, and oily after a couple of days - the hair next to the scalp didn't feel too good, but the hair on the outside felt just fine.

Your hair may be a similar type to mine? Mine is extremely thick and curly - gave up and got it cut a month ago, but was down to my back before then...and that process had taken the better part of two years. I had to buy a special brush to make sure the hair wasn't a tangled mess, and even that struggled to do a good job - I'd pull out oily little balls of tangled hair each time. It took forever to dry, too.

I used a tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner twice a week, and used a leave-in conditioner every few days or so. It worked fine, but only to a point.
My hair is super thick, too. But it's straight, not curly.

Yeah see, what you say, "It worked fine, but only to a point".... aaaaghhh. Me too. Is it too much to ask to have hair that looks clean when it is clean??
 

stugatz

Pelican
My hair is super thick, too. But it's straight, not curly.

Yeah see, what you say, "It worked fine, but only to a point".... aaaaghhh. Me too. Is it too much to ask to have hair that looks clean when it is clean??
Everyone envies my hair. I always say, great, want to deal with the maintenance?
 

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
Hey, I can completely relate.

Thankfully this past year during lockdown and being able to work from home has allowed me to go all out on experimenting on the best way to care for my locks and I have finally nailed it (so much so that my hairdresser who saw me yesterday after 6 months was asking me for my routine/products. The whole bunch comes to under $15 you'll be glad to know!). So alas, this is what worked for me and as you will see, you might have to tweak it here and there but it might serve as a guide for you to learn about your own hair and try somethings out.

Firstly, forget products for a moment and think about your hair porosity. This was a game changer for me. Hair porosity means how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Read this article and it teaches you how to test your hair: https://www.naturallycurly.com/texture-typing/hair-porosity

From your description it MIGHT seem that you have low porosity since you say you use little product and still have this build up. The article has recommendations for that, but literally do a youtube search for low porosity routines and experiment until you find the product that suits you.

However, I had similar issue as you and turns out my hair is very high porosity.

I had easily greasy hair from my teens onwards, even though I was careful to never use too much conditioner or product etc... but guess what? As my hair is high porosity, it turns out I actually need to SOAK my hair in moisturising conditioner which is HIGH in silicones and only partially rinse it out. I also need to use a moisturising shampoo that isn't too heavy. Lastly, I use a moisturising leave in that also contains silicones. Aside from this, I'll occasionally do a coconut oil hair mask to balance the protein levels in my hair. And I swear, I only need to wash my hair once a week now and it has never looked or felt better. Turns out I had been starving my hair of the moisture and protection it needed all in the name of 'sulphates and silicones are bad', but 1 year on and I think she's forgiven me :)

If you are interested,

Shampoo: Garnier Ultimate Blends HONEY TREASURE

Condtioner: Charles Worthington Salon at Home Moisture Seal Masque

Leave in conditioner: Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Hair Healer Leave in Conditioner

Summary: What is your hair porosity? Does it need more/less moisture or protein? Select your products accordingly and be willing to try a few out before you find the ones that work for you. I bought a few that ticked all the boxes and they left my hair limp and greasy, whereas the ones I used now were all from youtube video tutorials and seeing people with similar hair using them.

Good luck!
OK, so I did the tests and both tests had "low porosity" results. I was today years old when I learned this existed. :)
 

Starlight

Woodpecker
Woman
Nice! I might have to try these. I wouldn't doubt if it's a type of eczema/dandruff.

And as for rinsing out... I'm pretty sure I do it well? I could always pay extra attention.
This is the shampoo she uses to treat the eczema (forgot to post it):

Also, if you decide to use it make sure to leave it on for a few minutes.
 

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
@KC123 Fam! This is entirely me! Man, I love this forum.

Characteristics of low-porosity hair:
• It does not get easily saturated when wetted down.
• It takes a long time to dry without adding heat.
• Products tend to build up on the surface rather than absorb.
• Added oils don’t penetrate quickly and sit on the surface of any strand of hair.
 

KC123

Pigeon
Woman
@KC123 Fam! This is entirely me! Man, I love this forum.

Characteristics of low-porosity hair:
• It does not get easily saturated when wetted down.
• It takes a long time to dry without adding heat.
• Products tend to build up on the surface rather than absorb.
• Added oils don’t penetrate quickly and sit on the surface of any strand of hair.
Yes!! So happy for you. I joke to my friends that hair porosity should be included on your birth certificate. I genuinely can't believe it took me 27 years to learn about it. Now you shall descend onto the low porosity youtube community but don't be overwhelmed. At the end of the day, it comes down to moisture/vs protein and how to get your hair to absorb and retain it. From what I know overall, your hair will really not like protein so avoid it. Also, heated hair masques with light oils as this allows your hair follicles to open up and absorb them. But do keep us updated!
 

muhtea

Robin
Woman
I did try that several years ago. It made my hair very dry... almost a straw-like quality. I was thinking earlier today though that maybe I ought to try it again. Maybe it would react differently with the hard water.
Baking soda can do that. ACV by itself (diluted) might be worth a try. FWIW, when I've used it it has made my hair nice and soft, but I have fine slightly wavy hair that's prone to frizz, especially in humid weather. One weird one perhaps is Head and Shoulders (or the off brand way cheaper one) seems to agree with my hair though I really don't need the medication aspect. I use very little conditioner. For smoothing once in a while I like Josie Maran's argan oil serum. Pretty sure that has silicone in it though, which I've read isn't that great.
 

stugatz

Pelican
@KC123 Fam! This is entirely me! Man, I love this forum.

Characteristics of low-porosity hair:
• It does not get easily saturated when wetted down.
• It takes a long time to dry without adding heat.
• Products tend to build up on the surface rather than absorb.
• Added oils don’t penetrate quickly and sit on the surface of any strand of hair.
Looks like I'm also low-porosity. Thank you for posting this thread, this has bugged me for years.

One thing that drove me crazy when my hair was long - I would get in the shower, get my hair saturated with water, and then struggle to use shampoo - it seemed like for some reason, the shampoo was just on the surface of my hair, and wouldn't actually penetrate all of it. Like my hair was a giant rope or something. I'd shampoo and condition, but feel like I'd done little more than do an overglorified rinse.

I then had to wait at least an hour before I was comfortable leaving the house in cold weather. (To speed this up, I sometimes had to lie on a pillow for at least 20 minutes, so the moisture would go somewhere.)
 

Starlight

Woodpecker
Woman
I then had to wait at least an hour before I was comfortable leaving the house in cold weather. (To speed this up, I sometimes had to lie on a pillow for at least 20 minutes, so the moisture would go somewhere.)
Have you tried using a microfiber hair towel? They’re super absorbent and don’t make hair frizzy like a terry cloth towel.
 

Kitty Tantrum

Woodpecker
Woman
I'll have to look into that hair-porosity thing. Interesting stuff! I have also struggled with my hair in similar ways.

I can chip in a little personal insight on the baking soda thing. I washed my hair with baking soda for years (started just to save money, and loved the results) and took for granted how easy it was. I'd just mix a couple tablespoons of baking soda into a tall cup of water, get my hair wet first and then saturate it with the baking soda water, massage a bit, rinse out - then do the same thing with the lemon juice (mix with water, saturate, massage, rinse).

Then I moved somewhere with hard water, and the same method left a scummy mess on my hair and scalp. The only way to make it work was to boil the water first to make all of the minerals and such precipitate out, and basically not get any of the normal water on my hair until after the baking soda step was completely done. Was far too much of a pain to keep doing it.

These days I use a natural bulk unscented shampoo and conditioner that I buy by the gallon. I used to buy the "everyday" shampoo and conditioner from Shikai and I liked it pretty well, but it was quite expensive (by my standards) at the retail price, and pretty soon after I found THAT in gallons, I found out I could get the unscented stuff, and that was a no-brainer for me, because I hate scented things.

I've learned that a lot of the tacky/greasy stuff I used to run into was primarily because of two things:

1. Too much/too frequent shampooing, causing the scalp to over-produce its various secretions.

2. Silicone in the conditioner, which stays on the hair and gets nasty quick.

So I made sure my conditioner has no silicone-based ingredients, and I usually skip the shampoo at least every other time I wash my hair, and just use conditioner. If I'm not sweating or getting dirty or anything, sometimes I'll go 2-3 showers just washing my hair with conditioner.

I could probably switch back to baking soda with where we live now, but this works fine for me.
 
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