What does "build-up" mean here:

Many hair products contain chemicals which can cause build-up, resulting in dull hair or a change in perceived texture.

  • Thanks for asking this. I've been wondering about it, too. Maybe it's just marketing speak?? My current shampoo claims it reduces build-up, but I don't seem to notice a difference to other shampoos that don't mention that phenomenon. Shampoos are probably also 100% fat free, gluten free and contain no traces of peanut, sugar or fish, but so far, the marketing people have not yet cottoned on to the benefits of printing that on the label...
    – teylyn
    Jul 2, 2011 at 5:50

3 Answers 3


The phrase 'build-up' generally means the gentle accumulation or slow increase of something (for example, of plaque on unbrushed teeth). Occasionally, it is not so slow (as in a build-up of troops before an invasion). In this context, it really means something like 'which can cause a build-up of residual chemicals on the hair, ...'.


Build-up in this instance means that residue of the hair product is left behind and accumulates, causing the mentioned effects.


"Hair Build-up" is a layer of chemicals that haven't been washed away, usually caused by shampoos, or hair stylers like gel.

From a hair-care site:

Buildup occurs when:

Certain products like non-water soluble waxes are used to style the hair.
2 in 1 shampoos are used continuously.
Certain shampoos cause buildup due to the type of cheaper ingredients they use to give instant combability. These can form a film on the hair or you may have to use a large amount to make your hair feel clean also resulting in buildup.
Hair sprays applied too close and in too strong a concentration to one area e.g. the fringe, leave a flaking powder on the hair after brushing.
If gel is applied in a blob it cannot spread through the rest of the hair causing build-up on that spot. We sometimes find that wetting your hands before getting the gel out of the pot and mixing it can solve this problem.

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