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Sometimes product buildup can be mistaken for dandruff, because when products flake off the hair and scalp, it looks similar to flakes that you get when you have a scalp disorder. There are some products that cause the scalp to flake and that is because there is an ingredient in the product that triggers dandruff.

Sensitivities to ingredients vary, and what will cause the scalp to flake for some people may not be the same for others. If your scalp has scales, itches, and feels tight, this is an indication of dandruff. Hot tools such as flatirons, hooded hair dryers, and blow-dryers can encourage dry scalp and peeling.

How can you tell the difference?

One way to tell that you have product buildup and not dandruff is to look closely at the color and size of the flakes.

When you have dandruff...

The color of the flakes may be yellow and the flakes are different shapes and irregular in size.  If you have been scratching your scalp, you may see some dried blood attached to the fallen skin cells, which can cause the scalp to feel tender.

When you have product buildup...

The flakes tend to be a similar color to the product used and the flakes from the product stick to the hair instead of falling on the shoulders like dandruff.

How to deal with product buildup

Product buildup not only causes the scalp to itch and peel, but it can also stop your conditioners from moisturizing your hair properly. It is important to use a clarifying shampoo that is gentle on your curls and can remove excess product from the hair and scalp. If not, your hair will lack moisture, shine, and tangle easily.

I recommend Malibu C Un-Do-Goo Shampoo, because it is sulfate free, safely removes dandruff buildup, and will not leave your feeling hair dry. This shampoo has no parabens, gluten, or sodium chloride (salt) added. You can use a clarifying shampoo two times a month in between co-washing.

How to treat dandruff

If you suffer with dry scalp or dandruff, I suggest using a clarifying shampoo one to two times weekly and staying away from co-washing (cleansing with conditioner). You should always shampoo two times on wash day.  Lather and rinse with the first shampoo application. The second shampoo needs to sit on the hair and scalp for two minutes, which helps to remove the remaining product off the hair and scalp.