Why does my hair feel sticky after washing

Why Does My Hair Feel Sticky After Washing 2023 | Easy Ways To Fix Greasy Hair

Why does my hair feel sticky after washing? How do I fix this sticky, waxy feeling? Is it because of hard water or some other. Find it all out here!

Everybody thinks that a solution to a bad hair day is to shower and condition your hair. But what if your hair remains tangled, waxy and even sticky after washing?

Such a bummer, right!

But before you get to solving this problem, it’s important to know why your hair feels sticky after washing.

The reasons for hair feeling waxy, sticky and tangled after washing is usually the excess use of conditioners, product buildup on hair and scalp, accumulation of minerals due to hard water, and others.

In this article, I’ve elaborated on why hair feels sticky after shampooing and what are the steps you can take to fix this issue.

Why Does My Hair Feel Sticky After Washing 

If your hair feels sticky even after you wash it, here are some reasons for it. 

Your Hair Type Requires a Different Shampoo and Conditioner 

Every hair type requires different treatment and this means not every shampoo or conditioner will suit you.  

A rich, nourishing conditioner with ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. is best suited for curly hair or even 4c hair that requires more hydration due to its texture. However, this type of product can actually weigh down fine, straight hair. 

Similarly, a very creamy, mild shampoo will be perfect for those with dry scalp problems. But the same will not cleanse oily scalps properly, leaving them greasy.

So if your hair feels really sticky after washing you should check whether the cleansers and conditioners you use suit your hair type or not. 

You Are Washing Hair Too Much

sticky hair after washing hard water

Now this might sound wacky, but yes washing your hair too much can make it oily and sticky.  Weird? Not really.

When you overwash your hair, you cause excessive dryness on the scalp. To combat this dryness, your sebum glands (oil-producing glands) go into overdrive to maintain moisture on your scalp.

The result? Oily, sticky hair!

So if you find yourself wondering why your hair seems more oily after washing it everyday, I suggest you cut down on the number of wash cycles.

You Are Not Rinsing Hair Properly After Shampooing

A lot of people make this mistake and don’t even know they are doing it. After you shampoo and condition your hair it is imperative that you rinse out all the products. 

Leaving conditioner on your hair will not make it softer or shinier. In fact, it will only contribute to product buildup, causing more issues. 

So wash your hair thoroughly after both shampooing and conditioning hair. You can even try to rinse your hair with cold water at the very last if you’re concerned about retaining softness and shine. 

You’re Using Too Much Conditioner 

why does my hair feel greasy after washing it

Too much of a good thing can actually be bad for your hair. So easy on the conditioner! 

The amount of conditioner you use should actually depend on your hair type and texture. Low porosity hair and straight, fine hair won’t require rich or heavy conditioner or a lot of product.

However, curly, high porosity hair needs more hydration and hence more conditioner. 

So if you’re using almost half of the conditioner bottle thinking it will help make hair smoother or softer, you’re actually doing your tresses a disservice.

Use only a pea sized amount of conditioner if you have fine, thin hair and rinse it out thoroughly.

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Doing so should reduce the feeling of stickiness on your hair after washing. 

You Have Product Buildup On Hair


A lot of women, me included have the habit of using several hair products almost every day. You use conditioners, hair sprays, leave-in conditioners, serums, oils, and the list goes on.

But sometimes just shampooing won’t get rid of all of this buildup easily. In fact, some of these conditioners and serums contain silicones.

Now silicones are not exactly harmful or toxic to hair. In fact, ingredients like dimethicone, amodimethicone, dimethiconol, etc. coat the hair strands making them appear glossy and reducing frizz.

However, these do not get washed off easily and hence the sticky, waxy feeling after you wash your hair!

The only solution to this problem is to completely avoid hair products with forms of silicones in them. But as this is easier said than done, you can use a strong, clarifying shampoo once a week or an apple cider vinegar rinse to remove this buildup. 

You Are Washing Hair With Hard Water

When I shifted towns, I could find my hair felt stickier after washing sometimes and couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong! 

Then after a bit of research I found out that it was the water that was the issue.

Yes, hard water has a reputation for leaving hair dry so you might be wondering how it can leave hair sticky.

Well, the problem is the presence of minerals in the water. These minerals that mainly include calcium and magnesium can coat your hair and create a form of buildup that makes hair sticky.

So the hardness of water is one of the biggest reasons why your hair feels sticky after washing. 

You Use Not Using A Clean Hair Towel Or Brush

why does my hair feel waxy after drying

Sometimes it’s not your hair that is the problem. It can even be your hair towels, scarves or hair brushes. Just be honest, when was the last time you washed your hair brush or comb? And is your hair towel really clean?

If they are not clean (or at least not as clean as you think) the reason for the greasiness on your hair after washing might be due to using these towels and brushes. 

All these items pick up your scalp and hair’s natural oil so they don’t need to be stained or dusty to cause dirt buildup on your hair. 

So if you want to reduce your hair feeling sticky after washing, clean your hair towels and brushes people!

You Have Naturally Oily Hair 

Well, if nothing on this list seems to pinpoint the reason why your hair feels oily, I think you just have an oily hair type. 

Some people’s scalps contain more sebum glands than others. And your hair type is also a huge factor in how oily your hair gets.

If you have straight, thin hair the scalp’s natural oils get distributed on the hair strands easily, making it oily. This is difficult in curly hair and almost impossible in 4c coily hair, so these hair types tend to be on the drier side.

Using a shampoo specifically created for oily hair can help in this case. 

How To Get Rid Of Sticky Hair After Washing

how to get rid of sticky hair after washing

If you’re wondering how to fix sticky hair after washing, here are a few tips that can come in handy. 

Use the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type – Pick a nourishing shampoo if you have dry, curly hair and get a stronger shampoo if you have oily hair that needs a good washing.

Do not use products with silicones – Look for products that are silicone-free when you are buying leave-in conditioners, serums, hair sprays, etc. as this will help prevent product build-up.

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Invest in a water softener – Hard water can cause a lot of trouble for hair and not just make it feel sticky after washing. So a water softener that can remove minerals from water is actually a great investment. 

You can also get a shower filter for your bathroom that will remove calcium and magnesium particles from the water.

Use a clarifying shampoo –  If you have sticky hair due to excess product buildup there are some clarifying shampoos that contain sulfates, sulfonates, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar and other such ingredients that deep cleanse hair. 

These shampoos remove all types of buildup for hair. 

You can also find chelating shampoo for hard water in the market that remove hard mineral deposits from hair caused due to hard water usage. So you can use it in the meantime till you get a water softener. 

Regularly clean your hair tools and towels – As I’ve mentioned before, your hair brushes, combs and towels pick up your hair’s natural oils. So don’t wait for them to get stained or “dirty” to clean them. It’s best to sanitize these tools and hair cloths in between hair washes. 

Avoid certain ingredients in hair products – While silicones are ill-reputed for causing product buildup there are certain other ingredients that can make hair greasy if used improperly. So it’s best to avoid products that contain wax, oil-based formulas or heavy butters like shea or cocoa butter. 

Why does my hair feel waxy and sticky after swimming?

There are several chemicals in the water that you are swimming in, including stuff like chlorine and salt (sodium chloride) and this is the public pool and theme park pools we are talking about. If you’re actually swimming in a natural source of water like the sea when you’re at a beach, the lake, etc. you can be sure there are several other minerals and pollutants in there. All of this can be deposited on your hair strands and making your hair feel sticky and waxy. Your hair can also simultaneously look dried out and damaged because of the heavy pollutants.
Using a good chelating shampoo can help strip your hair of all these minerals and making your hair feel less sticky.

Why Is My Hair Waxy?

There’s a significant difference between hair feeling waxy and hair feeling oily. When your scalp produces excess sebum and/or if you have very straight, fine hair that allow this sebum to move down through strands easily, your hair can get really oily.
However, the feeling of hair feeling sticky, wavy and uncomfortable is something different. The reason for this is because of product buildup due to excessive use of hair creams, serums, oils and other products like silicone-based shampoos and conditioners that contain silicones.
Regular hair washing won’t get rid of this buildup as a daily use shampoos (rightly so!) doesn’t contain strong surfactants that can wash this residue. The one way to keep your hair from getting waxy is to cut down your use of hair products, especially if these products contain amodimethicone, dimethicone, and other forms of silicones. You can use a clarifying shampoo every other week to remove the residue.

Why Does My Hair Feel Sticky After Straightening It?

I have told you in the article above that hair feels sticky due to the buildup of hair products, minerals, and general sebum and dirt. But sometimes, you can hardly notice this waxy buildup on hair unless you straighten it.
This is because the buildup on your hair isn’t that harmful and maybe not even noticeable. But the heat from the straightener can make the buildup become congealed after melting and this buildup can become a waxy, sticky and lumpy mess in your hair.
Also a lot of people do not clean their flat irons. So the dirt and grime on the plates of the flat iron can get transferred on to the hair strands and then get stuck on due to the heat. This can also be one of the reasons your hair feels sticky after you straighten it.

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Why does my hair feel waxy after coloring

The main reason why hair feels waxy after coloring is that the dye has utilized excess moisture in the hair, causing it to become parched and brittle.

Additionally, the hair cuticle could be damaged during the coloring process, leading to the hair becoming rough and exposed to the elements. When the hair cuticle is exposed, it becomes more susceptible to dirt and grime, leading to a feeling of stickiness and waxiness.

However, this waxy feeling can also occur when the coloring product isn’t adequately rinsed out of the hair. When the product stays in the hair, it accumulates, leading to a coating on the hair’s surface that gives it a greasy, heavy feeling.

This condition is known as lockdown. Lockdown can be correctly identified by feeling the hair coating with your fingers. The coating should be light and silky, not greasy or heavy.

Another factor that could lead to waxy hair after coloring is if you used a shampoo that’s not suited to colored hair.

Regular shampoos contain harsh ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) that can strip the hair’s natural oils and colors, leading to an oily or waxy buildup.

Instead, use gentle shampoos specially formulated for colored hair. These can help cleanse hair without stripping it of essential moisture.

Tips for Preventing Waxy Hair After Coloring

  1. Choose the Right Shampoo: Choose a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that is specially formulated for colored hair. This can help prevent excess moisture loss and protect your hair from harsh chemicals that can strip the color off.
  2. Condition Your Hair: Condition your hair properly to restore lost moisture and keep it hydrated. Choose a conditioner that is suitable for colored hair to ensure that your hair doesn’t become weighed down or greasy.
  3. Rinse Your Hair Thoroughly: Make sure to rinse your hair thoroughly after coloring to remove any remaining coloring product, so it doesn’t build up and make your hair waxy.
  4. Avoid Styling Products That Include Alcohol: Alcohol is a prevalent ingredient in styling products, and it can lead to dryness and brittleness of the hair. Choose styling products that don’t include alcohol to maintain the softness of your hair and prevent buildup.

Now that we know the the reasons why hair feels sticky after washing, you can easily find remedies to rectify this issue.

Some of these causes of waxy, gummy hair are easily remedied by using a clarifying shampoo or simply washing your hair less. 

But sometimes if these solutions do not work, then there might be a more serious reason for hair to feel gummy.

A lack of proteins in hair due to excessive bleaching, coloring, and chemical treatments. 

In this case, a deep protein treatment will do your hair good.

The author of this article, Leah Marie Priest has a degree in Cosmetology with years of experience in dealing with hair care, scalp care, and hairstyling. As someone who extensively deals with all kinds of hair textures, products, styling methods and more, hair Leah Marie knows what kind of products and procedures suit each hair type and person. We have also tested these hair products and processes ourselves to provide you an unbiased review about every product. Each of our articles are also reviewed by a team of medical professionals so that you get the most accurate and expert-reviewed information.

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