Why Does My Hair Feel Heavy or Weighed Down?

We hear from many customers that certain products or product types can make their hair feel heavy or weighed down. Sometimes, the feeling we describe as "weighed down" may actually mean something different, and it may not be related to using products that are too heavy for our hair.

It's difficult to know exactly what is causing your hair to feel weighed down; it could be multiple things! We don't like to encourage customers to completely avoid all hair products containing specific ingredients, or certain product types, or even an entire brand, because you could miss out on your next holy grail product.

It's a common misconception that only fine or low density hair can feel weighed down. Realistically, most of us want bouncy, healthy curls, and heaviness or stickiness of any kind can keep us from reaching this goal regardless of our hair type.

Read on to find out some common causes of "weighed down" hair and how you can fix it.

woman pulling her curl down

What Causes My Hair to Feel Weighed Down and How Do I Fix It?

  1. Products are Building Up. It doesn't matter if you're using the lightest products in the world: if you're not cleaning your hair and scalp effectively, even light products can build up to the point of making your hair feel weighed down. Ingredients that are particularly prone to building up on your hair are things like silicones, polyquats, and waxes.

    Clarify every 2-4 weeks with a shampoo containing sodium olefin sulfonate or a sulfate, if necessary, to ensure you are giving yourself a clean slate. If you co-wash exclusively, you will likely need to add a shampoo of some kind into your routine to help break up this build up and give your scalp a thorough clean.

  2. You Have Hard Water. If you are in a hard water area like we are in Calgary, minerals can form a film on the hair. Over time this can stop your products from working and penetrating into your hair, so they'll essentially just sit on top of your strands. This can lead to heaviness. Using a chelating shampoo like Malibu C's Hard Water Wellness Shampoo will remove mineral build up. This is also a clarifying shampoo, so you'll remove product build up with it as well.

  3. You're Not Washing or Rinsing Properly. Ensure you are really dispersing your shampoo and scrubbing your scalp with a shampoo brush or the pads of your fingertips every wash day. You can shampoo twice if you feel like once is not enough (your second shampoo application will likely lather more, which is also infinitely more satisfying!). Then make sure you are rinsing your shampoo and conditioner out as thoroughly as you can, which may even involve flipping over under the water to get at the nape of your neck.

    If you are prone to weighed down curls, we don't recommend leaving your rinse-out conditioner in as a leave-in. Rinse-out conditioners are often formulated with more moisturizing ingredients than something designed to be part of your styling routine.

  4. You're Using Too Much Product. It's very easy to use too much product on wash day, or to keep adding more and more in an effort to get a certain look or style. This is even more true if you add more product on refresh days.

    Focus on applying a thin application of each product in your routine and ensure it is evenly spread throughout your curls by using a brush or your fingers to rake it through. We recommend a maximum of two styling products on wash day, especially if you feel like your hair is weighed down easily. If you are adding additional product when you're refreshing, try mixing the product with water to thin it out before applying. Before giving away or discounting a product, try applying half of the amount you are used to using, and lots of water. Brush or comb it through for even distribution. See if that makes a difference to how it feels on your hair.

  5. Your Products Have Heavy Formulas. The overall formulation of some products are heavier (they contain high amounts of rich ingredients) than others. It is this formulation, rather than a specific ingredient, that should be looked at when determining how heavy a product is going to be on your hair. Shea butter, for instance, may feel heavy if it is in the first five ingredients in a formulation and you're leaving it in (i.e., as a leave-in conditioner or as a styler). However, if you are rinsing it out as a conditioner or deep treatment, it shouldn't leave you with any heavy feeling once your hair is rinsed.

    Avoiding specific ingredients because you are concerned about their weight is a great way to miss out on amazing products! Always look at the full formula before dismissing a product. If you have particularly fine hair, you'll probably want to stick with products that have water as the first ingredient.

  6. You're Using Products That Aren't Compatible. Some products don't play well together. If you are getting a heavy or sticky feeling when using two products together, for example, switch out one for something else or style without it, and see if that improves things. This doesn't mean that the products themselves don't work for you; it may be that together they are too much for your hair.

There are tons of great, lightweight products out there and many that have the ingredients that don't commonly build up. If you are looking for something new, you could try:

 

Need help with product recommendations? Visit us in store or email us at products@curlwarehouse.com and we'll help you narrow down which product may be the right fit for your hair type.