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Product Buildup on Scalp: The Most Efficient Ways to Get Rid of It


As an avid naturopath and herbalist, I am always on the lookout for the best plants and plant-based products to have on hand. I have built a reputation among my friends and followers as the most trusted person for home remedies and recommendations, and I am proud of it. Recently, I have become obsessed with the most efficient ways to get rid of scalp buildup. I have done what I call a “deep dive” on ways and means to deal with this problem, across a range of hair types (because I, my two daughters, and my husband all have distinct types), and I have found some excellent material. To begin, let us start with the basics: what is scalp buildup? 

Table of Contents: 

  1. What Is Scalp Buildup? 
  2. Efficient Ways to Eliminate Scalp Buildup
  3. Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and Onion for Scalp Buildup
  4. Best Products on Market to Eliminate Scalp Buildup

What Is Scalp Buildup?

Scalp buildup is a naturally occurring condition for anyone who uses over-the-counter hair products, exercises regularly, or has oily hair. Several reasons exist for this type of buildup, typically revealed through a dry, flaky scalp, with dead skin cells accumulating and sometimes through actual white flakes sitting on top of your hair. It is not pretty, and it affects each of us in diverse ways. Studies show that more than 30 million people (about the population of Texas) suffer from eczema. This skin condition causes itching, burning rashes, and more than 100 million people deal with psoriasis, an immune-related disease that causes dry patches of skin to appear, commonly on the scalp. Both conditions make scalp buildup worse, but you can be free of any skin condition and still struggle with the irritation of excess product residue, sweat, and dead skin cells sitting on your scalp. 

Efficient Ways to Eliminate Scalp Buildup

1. Clarifying Shampoo

Typically, the number one answer you will find to the elimination of scalp buildup is to use a clarifying shampoo. The problem with this answer is that it often leaves you wondering which shampoo to use (the market is huge!), and sometimes the shampoo can cause new problems. Using the wrong one or using it too much can damage your hair and even cause hair loss. More on this below.

2. Examine Your Existing Products

I went to a fancy hairstylist once years ago in Southern California, and I asked her what shampoo I should be using to get healthy hair, as I had been grabbing whatever cheap products I could find at my local drugstore. "Honey, no one should be using the cheap stuff from the drugstore." Was her response. Anything but that. Since those days, I have come a long way, and after years of research, I would say to use the most plant-based, natural products you can find. The more synthetic your hair products, the more buildup you will have in your hair. These hair products can harm both your scalp and hair.

3. Exfoliate

Yes, just like your face, you want to get right in there and scrub, scrub, scrub the dry skin, and all the other buildup off your scalp. You can buy a brush or glove for exfoliation, an exfoliating shampoo, or just a mix of brown sugar and baking soda to get right into your scalp and remove all excess material, rinsing after each exfoliation, of course.

4. Moisturize

After exfoliating any of your skin, you should apply a protective oil. Amazing, all-natural, plant-based conditioners exist on the market that not only relieve any dry, itchy feeling on your scalp but also provide a layer of protection from future aggressors on your scalp like sweat and excess products, even from the heat and drying effects of the sun. You can also use a classic staple like coconut or avocado oil. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar 

The "mother" of all remedies, of course, apple cider vinegar had to appear on this list. It has been on every shelf of every wise woman (and man) for thousands of years as a home remedy for myriad ailments thanks to its antibacterial ingredient, known as "mother," which is created during the fermentation process. No wonder it is a natural option for the elimination of scalp buildup and for obtaining healthy hair. 

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and Onion for Scalp Buildup

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV for short, is one of the most widely studied and therefore most popular natural products in every naturopath or herbalist home, and its close second is onion. Every household with a working kitchen has onion, but few people know of its revolutionary benefits. Onion is anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. Both apple cider vinegar and onion have enormous antibacterial benefits, not only when taken internally and digested. When considering which ingredients to keep on your shelf and which products to buy, to implement the above five ways to eliminate scalp buildup, apple cider vinegar and onion should be in your toolkit and part of your hair care routine. 

Add Wow to Your Shower Shelf!

The easiest way to make sure you get the best ingredients in top-quality shampoo and conditioner is to invest in a product that integrates those ingredients. You also want products designed specifically for your scalp and hair concerns. 

ACV and Coconut Oil

ACV and Coconut Oil

This shampoo and conditioner combo pack packs some of the healthiest ingredients into products designed to pamper your hair. Natural and vegan, rich in vitamins, and perfectly pH balanced, this top seller on the Wow website is ideal for eliminating and preventing scalp buildup while boosting healthy hair growth. 

Red Onion and Black Seed Oil

As an alternative, and in the interest of healing damaged locks, you can try the Red Onion Black Seed Oil shampoo and conditioner. Drawing on years of science showing tremendous benefits of onion both internally and externally, this Wow product will not only clarify and protect your scalp, but it will also make your hair follicles stronger, stimulate natural hair growth, and make your hair feel healthier.

Click the links above and browse the Wow website for all your clarifying, moisturizing, and scalp buildup elimination needs! 

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website

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