A step-by-step guide to removing stubborn hair products, from heavy-duty hairsprays to super sticky gels and mousses

A step-by-step guide to removing stubborn hair products, from heavy-duty hairsprays to super sticky gels and mousses

The higher the hair...

Text: Emily Heng

Whoever said heat is your hair's worst enemy has clearly never squared off with humidity. Responsible for many a frizzy, uncontrollable mane, it is a challenge best combated with all manners of hair product. Think stronghold hairspray, styling creams, and pomades that help preserve the sanctity of a carefully crafted hair look.

And while there's no lack of hair styling products in the market, removing all such gunk from tresses is another battle in itself. The assumption is that a shampoo sesh proves sufficient, though it is hard to believe seeing that our tresses still feel lank or stiff following a good scrub — especially when contending with strong, stubborn formulas that no amount of sud (or praying) can eradicate. Eep.

Does this mean we should resign ourselves to a lifetime's worth of built-up product on our tresses? Don't be ridiculous. There are a few solutions at hand that go beyond a simple wash-and-go. We gather the best of the lot below, with a how-to guide on ridding yourself of stubborn hair products. When you're done, we can then work on removing the useless men who've been clinging onto you. Ha.

To untangle...

What you need: A detangling spray and towel
What you need to do: As unbelievable as it may sound, it is actually possible to get most of the products out of your hair without water or shampoo. A trade secret amongst professional hairstylists, a detangling spray allows for the quick hair changes we so often see at runway shows and photoshoots. To begin, spritz all over tresses. Then, rope in a towel to work through the knots and stiff parts with scrunching motions. The detangling spray softens the polymers (aka chemical substances) that keep hair in place, making it easy for all that muck to slide right off onto a towel.

To de-grease...

What you need: Dishwashing liquid
What you need to do: This isn't a joke — applying dishwashing liquid to dry hair lifts oil and grease more effectively than if you apply it on wet strands. According to hair expert, Amanda Shackleton of New York Bridal Beauty, this phenomenon is so because water causes gunk to slip and slide all over hair, spreading its coat, and hence, making it harder to banish entirely. Once dishwashing liquid is massaged through hair, simply rinse off for squeaky locks.

To dissolve...

What you need: Baking soda, shampoo, and a comb
What you need to do: The humble kitchen staple is known to be particularly effective in breaking down chemicals and compounds commonly found in hair styling products. In this case, its pairing with a shampoo will help disintegrate any remnants of pesky hair waxes, sprays, and more, so they're easily washed off after. Mix a teaspoon into shampoo, run the cocktail through hair with a fine tooth comb (to catch any stragglers), then rinse the guck away.

To restore...

What you need: Apple cider vinegar
What you need to do: The accumulation of hair styling products can change your hair's natural PH level, making it more alkaline in nature. This, in turn, may make it more difficult to remove subsequent styling products left on your mane. To rectify this, rinse hair off with a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar (use a four-to-one ratio with water) ever so often to restore optimal PH levels.

To cleanse...

What you need: A clarifying shampoo
What you need to do: "Clarifying shampoo is like regular shampoo but on steroids," Raquel Minwell, former salon stylist of seven years, explains in an interview with Bustle. "It works to bust through any gunk, oils, or product you might have lurking up there." Any leftover hairspray, wax, and the like are thus easily stripped with a pump or two of this bad boy — though you should be warned that excess use could suck up natural oils and moisture from your hair, leaving them dry and brittle. Limit use to once or twice a month.