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Gunky hair blues

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FlybyStardancer

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So my hair has this mysterious gunk in it that I would really like gone, and could use some help figuring out how to make that happen without resorting to, say, Head & Shoulders.

So, in the early half of last year, I gave Genny's shampoo bar a try. I had been using H&S and really wanted to get away from sulfates and silicones. I also started doing citric acid rinses just before switching to Genny's bar. It wasn't surprising that my hair gunked up (even with the rinses). But after a couple months, the gunk was not going away, and it became apparent that my hair was responding badly to the combination of alkalinity and soap scum caused by extremely hard water.

So I switched to a silicone- and sulfate-free storebought syndet shampoo, continuing to do the rinses afterwards (and trying different timings of the rinses). It did not get rid of the gunk.

A couple months ago I started interspersing washes with a silicone-free SLS-based shampoo. No change.

I stopped doing the citric acid washes, mostly because I kept running out of time to make them before I showered. No change.

I'm at my wit's end, honestly. My hair is constantly this mix of greasy sticky gunky. It leaves a dark grey gunk on my combs. That same gunk can be seen gluing strands of my hair together, making its already super-tangle-prone nature even worse.

I don't use any kind of styling product in my hair. Lately the only conditioner I've used is a very tiny amount of homemade BTMS-based lotion, and that's a rare occasion. The last items I can think of that would contribute to the gunk were the H&S and the shampoo bar, both of which have had a year+ to wash out.

My hair really needs a trim. It's long enough now that putting it up in a bun is giving me a lot of headaches from he weight, and the gunky nature means I can't make nice smooth braids out of it. Yet at the same time I don't want to walk into a shop with my hair this gunky and have other people mess with it.
 

gigisiguenza

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I know absolutely nothing about shampoo or shampoo bars, but in the past when I've had a great deal of build up on my hair (from products or whatever) I've used an Apple cider vinegar rinse on my hair. It sounds silly, but it worked for me.

I do this on a day when I'm going nowhere, just household chores etc for the day. I wet my hair so it's damp, then use one cup of cider vinegar in 3 cups of lukewarm water, pour it on my damp hair til it feels saturated. I wrap my wet head in a cap and let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it out thoroughly. I then let my hair air dry. No shampooing, nothing, just let it air dry. Then later, before bed, I wash it with a gentle shampoo and a very very light conditioner, and I let it air dry again.

I've not had to do this in a good while, but it's worked when I've done it.

HTH :)
 

Obsidian

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YOu won't like this answer but it really sounds like you need to clarify and chelate your hair. Get a clarifying shampoo, I like suave daily clarifying. Wash your hair 2-3 times paying special attention to the strands and not the scalp.

If you have hard water, it could be mineral build up. For that you need a chelating shampoo, look for one designed for swimmers. Another option is to call your salon and speak to them, tell them you need clarifying/chelating along with a trim. They have the specialty shampoos and can help you choose the right product.
 

shunt2011

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I agree with Obsidian, I would try her suggestions or just contact your hairdresser and get her recommendations. Something's definitely going on. Hope you get to the bottom of it.
 

gigisiguenza

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I always went for the at home fix, which worked fine for me, so offered it. They make chelating shampoos? I had no idea. What would you look for? I've never seen a shampoo that says it's for swimmers and I doubt it says chelating on the label LOL. Sorry to sound clueless, but I'm not a frufru shampoo person, so I've not much knowledge beyond lather rinse repeat, and I'm very interested. :)
 

gigisiguenza

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Ahhh ok I've seen stuff like that before, just didn't realize it was for things beyond chlorine saturated hair. Very useful info, learn something new every day. Ty :)
 

amd

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You didn't mention it, but have you tried a baking soda shampoo slurry? I add a bunch of baking soda to my shampoo (like... enough to make it thicker but not a paste), let it sit for a minute and rinse out. Lather again with just shampoo. I'm trying to switch to shampoo bars, but so far haven't found anything that hasn't turned my head into the same gunk factory you mentioned no matter how long I use them or how much ACV rinse I use. The baking soda shampoo slurry helps degunk but mine is usually a 3 week buildup, not months.

Also, what kind of combs and brushes do you use? I recommend switching to wooden combs and boar bristle brushes if you can. Gentler on your hair and they will also help clean off some of the build up on your hair. Don't forget to wash your brushes and combs weekly!
 

navigator9

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Not a shampoo expert here, but I agree, it certainly sounds like you need a clarifying shampoo. Also, I use an apple cider vinegar rinse every time I wash my hair, a very dilute solution, one capful in a large yogurt container of water, poured through after I shampoo, and before I use conditioner. I have thick, but very fine hair, and if I get a build up of any kind, my hair goes limp, so I like to keep it "ungunked." Also, I've read that the ACV acts to normalize the Ph of the scalp. My hair and scalp just seem to like it. Hair is such a tempermental thing, what works for one person, does nothing for the next, it's a shame, but it takes lots of experimenting.
 
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cmzaha

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When all else fails try finding Green Soap, it will remove most anything. And this proves why I always say do not use soap on hair. If green soap fails there is always old fashioned Tide, don't scream we had a well know dermatologist here that would prescribe Tide for patients with severe psoriasis on their scalp and it did help. He was genius, member of Mensa, and a tad eccentric :p. Not saying it is great for the hair but the gunk should be gone. I used to hate it when my customers would come in with such a mess, 90% of the time Green Soap would cut it. Anything with silicone is only going to add to the mess. Green soap may be available through a medical supply or I have seen it on Amazon. At one time it was used in hospitals, not sure if it still is. Good luck to you and stick to shampoo!
 

FlybyStardancer

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So it looks like the next step is trying to find a chelating shampoo. I thought the SLS-based one I bought would work as clarifying (and in fact this morning was a hair-washing day, I ended up washing my hair twice with it, the second time leaving it in the couple minutes it took to wash the rest of me before rinsing, though that felt like a mistake afterwards).

I also wonder... Saturday I used sodium acetate to clean my (very scummy) tub, and that worked really well... I mixed baking soda and white vinegar in a container (slowly to prevent overflows), and then once it had pretty much finished reacting used the precipitate to clean. It really felt like I was dissolving the scum rather than just scrubbing it off. Would making a sodium citrate mix work similarly for hair? I'd err on the side of too much citric acid to completely react the baking soda, with just enough distilled water to mix them...

Just an idea, since I have a bunch of citric acid around anyways for bath bombs and the like.
 

Obsidian

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Vinegar acts as a chelator, baking soda as a clarifier. I would try a strong vinegar rinse after you use your SLS shampoo, let it sit a few minutes then rewash. It might help until you can get a proper chelating shampoo.
 

cmzaha

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Here is a link. We used to be able to purchase it from Beauty Supply houses but I am not sure about that anymore. This stuff will cut anything. While vinegar rinse will cut soap scum it will not do much if the hair is very gunky, also if hair spray is used or any other hair styling products used they will add to the yucky gunky. I have also seen the time I just had to comb out gunk with a fine tooth comb, the type used for combing out nits.
https://www.mooremedical.com/index....PG=CTL&CS=HOM&FN=ProductDetail&PID=1112&spx=1
 
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FlybyStardancer

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I was thinking of pre-mixing the baking soda and citric acid to try to boost the chelating action. I really don't want to put straight baking soda on my hair, not after how it reacted to the alkalinity of soap. I thought sodium citrate might work better than citric acid, because I had worked up to citric acid rinses that were 2-4x as powerful as what I saw recommended and it was having no effect on my hair. Plus there was one post from DeeAnna over in the CP section that pointed out that sodium citrate is better at chelating than vinegar because it has three sites for calcium & magnesium, as opposed to vinegar's one.

Not to mention vinegar rinses STINK until the hair dries, and mine takes all day (if not longer) to dry. I don't want to smell like vinegar for that long!

One of the things that I was trying during the year where I was using citric acid rinses religiously was to make up a pint of it. Then I would use half of it in my hair after rinsing out the shampoo, scrub my hair around, rinse in the shower water, then put the rest of the CA rinse in my hair and leave it like that. Again, no effect.
 

Jstar

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Guess Im going to be one to not suggest a shampoo. I had terrible build up on my hair from years of using commercial shampoos..finally I took one of my homemade bars {not formulated as a shampoo bar..just my regular body shower bars} and used it on my hair..my hair was incredibly clean afterwards..once out of the shower and towel dried but still damp, I spritz my hair with argan oil and run it thru first with fingers and then with a clean brush or comb and let it air dry...

My hair stays soft, shiny and not weighed down, and the argan makes it smell nice and fresh..I'll never use commercial shampoo or conditioner on my hair ever again.
 
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FlybyStardancer

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Jstar, soap is what got my hair into this gunky mess in the first place! I'm sure you understand my unwillingness to try it again. :) Especially with the super-hard water creating super-scum in my shower.
 

DeeAnna

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If you are reluctant to try clarifying shampoo (I have no experience with this type of product, so no opinion to offer), you could try rinsing with a very dilute tetrasodium EDTA solution -- the same stuff that some of us are adding to our soap to reduce soap scum. This is truly an off the wall suggestion, but I do know that EDTA will break down soap scum in water in the little experiments I've done. Maybe it would do likewise on a person's hair???? Take this idea with a large grain of salt! :)
 

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