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How To Get Hairspray Buildup Out of Hair: Step-by-Step Guide

Colombian woman with type 3 wavy hair and caramel skin wearing neutral make-up and shiny hair spray.

In the past, you probably used your hairspray as much as you wanted without thinking twice. Unfortunately, many people have no idea that hairspray can build up and leave you with dull, lifeless strands.

Learn How To Get Hairspray Buildup Out of Hair: DIY Guide

If you are currently dealing with hairspray buildup and don’t know what to do about it, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will share several tips for removing hairspray residue and buildup from hair. 

Use a Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Buildup

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By far, the best way to get rid of product buildup is by washing it thoroughly with clarifying shampoo, but not just any clarifying shampoo.

For your hair to stay healthy, you should use a clarifying shampoo that is formulated with effective yet natural ingredients that will not strip your hair of all its essential oils.

Shea Moisture Residue Remover Shampoo is a natural clarifying shampoo that will help you combat hairspray buildup. Incorporating this product into your hair care routine will ensure that you don’t leave residue in your hair for extended periods.

Note that if you use a sulfate-laden shampoo, your hair could end up drier than the Sahara.

Using a Clarifying Shampoo: Step-by-Step

 Now that that’s understood, follow the below steps to get started:

  • Turn your shower on and set it to hot. You should make the water as hot as you can handle without burning yourself. While it’s not great to wash your hair with hot water every time, it’s necessary in order to remove stubborn hairspray buildup. 
  • Hop in the shower and wet your hair with the water. Your hair should be completely drenched. 
  • Apply your clarifying shampoo all over your hair, but especially in the parts where hairspray has built up. In most cases, hairspray buildup will occur at the roots of your hair. After applying the shampoo, use the pads of your fingers to scrub.
  • Once you’ve massaged the shampoo into your scalp, we recommend using a shampoo brush to further exfoliate and cleanse your scalp. Scrub in circular motions and be sure not to miss any spots. 
  • Rinse the clarifying shampoo out of your hair, ensuring that all of it is removed. 
  • Repeat the previous 3 steps to ensure that your hair is totally free of buildup.
  • Follow up the shampoo with a conditioner or a deep conditioner, depending on how your hair looks and feels. If it feels like straw or looks like it could use a pick-me-up, do a quick deep conditioning session. 
    • To deep condition your hair, apply a moisturizing deep conditioner on all of your hair, leave it in for 5 to 10 minutes or longer, and then rinse it away.

How To Use an ACV Rinse To Clarify Curly Hair

Here’s a unique spin on the clarifying process, as Gena Maria uses Apple Cider Vinegar (or an ACV rinse) to clarify her curly hair.

Clarifying Curly Hair: How to Clarify & Remove BuildUp + ACV Rinse

Use Regular Dish Soap to Deep Clean Your Hair

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You probably already know that dish soap is strong enough to cut through tough, caked-on grease. But what you may not have known is that those same detergents can rid your hair of hairspray buildup in just a few minutes.

That’s why many use dish soap on their hair to get rid of stubborn buildup, stains, and other unwanted substances. If other options on this list don’t work for you, dish soap is a viable option to try.

Note: If your hair is compromised in any way, be it through repetitive coloring sessions, bleaching sessions, photobleaching, relaxers, or perms, we recommend that you skip this method. It will zap your hair of moisture like nothing else.

It’s best not to use the method unless your hair is in tip-top shape.

Using Dish Soap: Step-by-Step

When trying to remove hairspray buildup with dish soap, you shouldn’t wash your hair as you normally would. Instead, follow the below instructions: 

  • Buy regular strength dish soap from your local grocery store – brands like Dawn and Ajax will work fine. You don’t want to use any formulas that have a bleach alternative or are marketed as “extra-strength.” 
  • Hop in the shower or lean over the sink and wet your hair thoroughly. 
  • Apply the dish soap to your hair, focusing on your scalp, where hairspray buildup tends to accumulate. Scrub your scalp vigorously for a few minutes with the pads of your fingers. We advise against using your nails because it can cause superficial cuts on your scalp. 
  • If you have a ton of visible hairspray buildup on your hair, allow the soap to sit for several minutes. We only recommend doing this in the most severe cases.
  • Rinse the dish soap out of your hair and immediately follow up with a conditioner or deep conditioner. A deep conditioner may be more appropriate in this case, considering that dish soap is one of the most stripping soap types out there. After applying the deep conditioner, leave it on your hair for the time recommended on the packaging.
Cute Colombian girl with freshly washed wavy hair wearing a white tank top.

Test It Out: We understand if you’re hesitant to use dish soap on your hair. In fact, in most other cases, we would advise against using dish soap on your hair. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and your hair will be much healthier without the buildup. 

To ease your doubts, you can do a strand test with dish soap. To do this, follow the below steps: 

  • Part out a tiny section of hair at the back of your head, wet it down, and then apply the dish soap.
  • Rub the soap into your strands and scalp, and then leave it on for several minutes.
  • Rinse the dish soap out.
  • Examine your hair to see how it looks and feels. 

Proceed with the dish soap wash if your hair doesn’t look or feel too dry and brittle. It’s not uncommon for dish soap to leave you with squeaky clean dry hair strands.

Use a Baking Soda Treatment to Remove Hairspray Buildup

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Sometimes even a clarifying shampoo isn’t enough to remove product buildup from your hair, particularly in the most severe cases of buildup.

Thankfully, baking soda is yet another cleanser that has the ability to strip away buildup from the hair. 

Using a Baking Soda Wash: Step-by-Step

Follow the below instructions to give it a try: 

  • Dispense some shampoo into a container – enough to cover all of your hair. To be safe, you may want to dispense a little more than you’re used to.
  • Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the shampoo and mix thoroughly with a spoon. 
  • Apply the baking soda shampoo mixture onto your hair, focusing on your scalp and eventually bringing it down to the rest of your hair. Feel free to leave the baking soda mixture on your hair for up to 5 minutes.
  • Rinse the baking soda mixture out of your hair. 
  • Immediately condition your hair with your regular conditioner or a deep conditioner. Your hair may feel a bit drier than usual. 
  • If this method did not rid your hair of all of the hairspray buildup, repeat the process another day. It’s important not to do multiple baking soda washes back-to-back, as it can destroy the outer structure of your hair when done in excess. 

Prevent Hairspray Buildup in the Future

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It’s not the end of the world if you get hairspray buildup, given that there are several methods you can use to get rid of it. However, preventing buildup in the first place is best. 

Here are a few tips to help you prevent hairspray buildup in the future: 

  • If you use hairspray regularly, switch out your regular shampoo for a clarifying shampoo. This will help to keep the hair and scalp buildup under control on a regular basis. 
  • Always focus your shampoo on your scalp when washing, as it will keep buildup from accumulating there. 
  • Only use as much hairspray as you need at the time. Try your best not to overuse it and other styling products. 

Even though removing hairspray buildup can be a pain, we’re sure that one of the methods outlined above will do the trick. We wish you the best of luck as you work to eliminate hairspray buildup.