Why Does My Hair Feel Waxy? – Solution Guide

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Have you ever wondered why you have waxy hair, even though you’ve only just washed and styled it? You might even have tried washing your hair multiple times, but it still feels heavy and greasy after just a few hours, leaving you asking yourself ‘Why does my hair feel waxy?’ 

We know it’s frustrating when this happens, but you aren’t alone!

Waxy hair is a common problem that can easily stop you from looking and feeling your best. But luckily, it’s usually straightforward to resolve once you know what’s causing the waxy texture.

So this guide will help you pinpoint the factors making your hair waxy and help you find the best solutions to your problem. You’ll also find some product recommendations that will soon make your locks look fabulous again!

Why does my hair feel waxy? – Possible Causes

Before you can deal with waxy hair, you need to know what is causing it. There are several potential causes, and you may even find there’s more than one cause for your waxy feeling hair.

Each cause has its own remedy, so it’s essential to find out precisely what’s making your hair feel waxy. Here are some of the most common causes:

Hair Feels Waxy From Product Buildup

Product buildup is one of the most common causes of waxy hair, especially because some products literally contain wax!

If your hair feels like it has a film on it, even after you’ve just washed it, you may have product buildup. You may also notice the waxy buildup makes your locks feel sticky after drying. 

If you find yourself asking, “Why does my hair feel waxy after washing?”, this is most likely the cause.

There are a few different reasons why product residue can cause waxy hair, so here are some tips for dealing with them:

Excess Silicone

If product buildup is making your hair feel waxy, silicones could be the primary cause of your problems. Silicones help to fight frizz and make your mane feel soft, but they coat the hair shaft with a film that builds up over time and is hard to wash out. 

Many hair products contain silicones, including styling products, hair masks, and even your conditioner, which makes it hard to avoid silicones altogether. A weekly clarifying shampoo will help remove any buildup and reset your hair. 

before and after waxy hair
In this photo, my hair was weighed down and waxy from heavy product buildup.

Heavy Conditioners and Moisturizing Products

Choosing heavy conditioners and oils can contribute to your hair feeling waxy. It’s essential to know your hair type, choose the right conditioner, and ensure you don’t use too much conditioner.

Unless you have damaged or textured hair, you can generally use a lightweight conditioner and then layer on additional moisture from a leave-in conditioner or oil as needed. If you have fine hair, it’s best to choose a lightweight oil, and you’ll find an excellent recommendation further down this guide.

This type of buildup was my problem in the past, and it took me way too long to figure it out.

Too many products

Waxy feeling hair can sometimes be caused by using too much of a product, allowing it to build up on your locks. So when you try a new product, it’s best to use a small amount first and then see whether you need to add more later. 

Not Following the Instructions

If you don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions, applying products incorrectly or using too much is very easy. For example, many people apply conditioner incorrectly or apply too much, which can cause grease to build up and make your locks fall flat. 

So reading your product labels and following the instructions is essential. 

Shocked young woman holding her waxy hair, looking at mirror and asking "why does my hair feel waxy?"

Chemical Treatments

Harsh chemicals like colors and perms can make your hair dry, brittle, and waxy. That’s because the structure of the keratin in the hair shaft is broken down by repeated color treatments or perms, making your hair feel sticky.

If this is why your hair feels waxy, you may need to take a break from chemical treatments to give your hair a chance to recover. 

Sticky Hair From Hard Water

Many American homes have hard water, which means it contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. If you get a mineral build up on your hair, it can feel sticky or waxy. 

You’ll know you have hard water if you see a white buildup on your faucet or white spots on your glasses when they come out of the dishwasher. 

As well as using a chelating shampoo to remove the mineral deposits from your hair, installing a shower head filter is an inexpensive way to reduce the mineral levels in the water. There’s a great recommendation further down in this guide.

Not Washing Hair Often Enough or Too Often

Washing your hair regularly is essential to prevent waxy feeling hair. It helps remove any excessive oil or product buildup from your scalp and hair, so if you don’t wash your hair often enough, it may feel waxy after washing. 

But it’s also important not to wash your hair too often or use very hot water, as that can make your scalp get dry. When this happens, the sebaceous glands produce more natural oils to compensate for the dryness. That causes scalp buildup which results in, you guessed it, greasy hair.

And more frequent hair washes or using harsh shampoos to try and reduce the excessive oil will only make your oily hair problem worse.

So pick the frequency that suits you, which could be every other day or twice weekly. And be sure to rinse your hair properly to ensure the shampoo and conditioner don’t build up. 

conditioner buildup on hair making it feel waxy

Unhealthy Diet

A healthy diet is vital for good hair health. Junk food and fatty foods contain saturated and trans-fats which can cause inflamed and oily skin, and increase the production of your scalp’s natural oils. 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking enough water will help your body to regulate sebum production.

Health Issues

Medical conditions that can cause a waxy buildup include:

  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis

Some medications like steroids and birth control pills can cause your sebaceous glands to increase sebum production. And high levels of stress cause your body to increase production of the stress hormone cortisol, making your scalp produce more of its natural oils. 

If you’ve ruled out every other possible cause, your general practitioner, a dermatologist, or a trichologist may be able to find and treat the cause of your excessive oil production.

Products to Combat Waxy Feeling Hair

Once you know why your hair feels waxy, you can start to deal with the problem. Remember that it’s essential to choose products that suit your hair type as well as its density and porosity.

In the Shower

Healthy hair starts in the shower, so keep these products close at hand to clean and protect your locks.

Shower Head Filter

If hard water is the cause of your hair’s waxy buildup, installing a shower head filter can help to remove minerals like calcium from the water. This stops them settling on your tresses and, over time, they should look and feel better.

AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter

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Scalp Massager

A scalp massager stimulates your scalp and improves circulation to your hair follicles to promote healthy hair. All hair types can use this Kitsch Scalp massager, which is designed to feel comfortable in your hand. 

Kitsch Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush
$6.00 ($6.00 / Count)

Since many curly and wavy haired people use less sudsing shampoo, a scalp shampoo brush helps really cleanse the scalp and boosts hair growth!

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Clarifying Shampoo

Using a clarifying shampoo once a week is a great way to remove waxy build up and keep your tresses feeling clean. They can be quite drying, especially on textured hair, so always follow up with a good conditioner to keep your hair feeling soft. 

Top Pick
Malibu C Un-Do-Goo Clarifying Shampoo
$17.00 ($1.89 / Fl Oz)

This is my top pick for clarifying all hair types. It removes buildup the best and is still gentle on curly hair.

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Sulfate-Free Shampoo

If excess sebum is making your hair feel waxy, choosing hair care products without harsh sulfates will help protect your scalp and calm excess sebum production. This Briogeo line comes highly recommended by the HairTok community!

Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Banana + Coconut Nourishing Superfood Shampoo
$29.90 $28.13 ($2.25 / Fl Oz)

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Silicone-Free Conditioner

This conditioner from MopTop is ideal if you’re trying to avoid silicones in your haircare products. It’s silicone-free and contain a blend of natural ingredients that will help moisturize without causing excess oil and buildup, leaving your hair healthy.

Top Pick
MopTop Daily Conditioner
$16.99 ($2.12 / Fl Oz)

This is my favorite for light moisture, slip, and softness.

Use code HE10 to save at MopTop.com.

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Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

An ACV rinse is a natural method for dealing with waxy buildup on hair. The acidic vinegar cuts through oil or product build up and has an anti-inflammatory action that could help the root cause of your problem. 

Mix 2 parts water to 1 part ACV and apply the mix generously after you’ve rinsed out your shampoo. Let it sit for five minutes and then rinse thoroughly, following up with your regular conditioner.

Read more: Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse For Curly Hair – Everything You Must Know

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
$12.06 $9.99 ($0.62 / Fl Oz)
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On Your Beauty Counter

Keep these goodies on your beauty counter to keep your hair looking healthy and free from waxy buildup.

Silicone-Free Heat Protectant Spray

Most heat protectants use silicone to coat the hair strands and protect them from heat. Desert Essence Hair Defrizzer & Heat Protector is free from silicone and made with natural ingredients, so it’s gentle on your hair and scalp. 

Desert Essence Hair Defrizzer & Heat Protector
$16.73 ($16.73 / Count)

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Weightless Hair Oil

If your waxy hair is caused by sebum buildup, avoiding heavy hair oils is essential. This lightweight vegan hair oil is sulfate- and paraben-free and will lock in moisture to make your hair soft, shiny, and frizz-free.

VERB Ghost Oil – Vegan Weightless Hair Oil
$20.00 ($10.00 / Fl Oz)

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Dry Shampoo

This vegan dry shampoo absorbs excess oil and instantly adds volume, leaving your hair fresh and clean. It’s ideal for refreshing your hair between hair washes and is free from sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. 

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
$28.00 ($5.28 / Ounce)

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Satin Bonnet

This satin-lined bonnet has an adjustable side fastening that keeps it in place overnight and makes it comfortable for sleeping in. 

YANIBEST Silk Satin Bonnet Hair Wrap for Sleeping
$15.99 ($15.99 / Count)

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Satin Hair Scrunchies

These soft scrunchies make an excellent alternative if you aren’t comfortable sleeping in a satin bonnet or nightcap. The soft, breathable fabric won’t pull or damage your locks.

Kitsch Satin Hair Scrunchies for Women
$7.99 ($1.60 / Count)

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Why does my hair feel waxy? FAQs

Here are some of your most common questions about waxy hair:

How Do You Fix Waxy Hair Fast?

There are a few easy steps you can take to fix this problem:

  • Wash your hair as often as it needs, no more or less 
  • Use a clarifying shampoo weekly to remove the buildup of sebum or product
  • Clean your brushes, hair tools, and hair accessories frequently
  • Apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, avoiding the roots
  • Clean your hats, pillowcases, and towels frequently and thoroughly
  • Check your haircare products for silicone and find alternatives if possible

Do All Hair Types Experience Waxy Hair?

Anyone can experience waxy hair, but hair type is one factor contributing to waxy-feeling hair. 

If you have straight hair like Type 1B, the natural oils can travel more easily down the whole hair strand from root to tip. If too much oil builds up, it can leave your hair feeling waxy. It’s more difficult for the natural oil to reach the lower parts of wavy and curly hair types, so the problem is more likely to be confined to your roots.

Why Is There Silicone in Hair Products?

Silicones put a shiny coating on your hair’s cuticles, making it look softer and shinier. They can also make your hair more manageable and easier to style and they smooth your hair texture. This can be helpful if you have high-porosity hair, as it will reduce frizz. 

Unfortunately, silicones can also build up on your locks, making your hair feel waxy after washing and causing a lack of volume.

Do Natural Hair Products Work?

DIY treatments for waxy buildup can be an affordable way to get rid of waxy hair. However, they can be quite drying, so it’s best to be cautious and avoid these if you have dry hair and skin.  

You could try mixing two parts baking soda with one part water and spreading the mix thickly over your hair. Leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly, then shampoo and condition your hair as usual. 

Alternatively, you could try the apple cider vinegar rinse mentioned earlier in this guide.

Can Sulfates Be Good for Your Hair?

Sulfates help remove dirt and oil from greasy hair and are generally safe to use. However, they can strip away moisture from your hair, leaving your hair and scalp dry and possibly irritated. 

Why Does My Hair Feel Waxy – The Bottom Line

Spending time washing and styling your hair just to have it look limp and greasy is frustrating. But after reading this guide, you now know the factors that can make your hair feel waxy and the solutions to this common hair problem. 

So with a little effort and some simple hair care products, you can get rid of waxy hair and soon have beautiful, healthy-feeling hair again!

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