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Curly Nikki

Snow in June?!- Preventing White Flakes

By January 27th, 202111 Comments

Snow in June?!- Preventing White Flakes

Snow in June?!
Nope… just product induced White Flakes

China writes:

So you just tried a new product combo and you’re super excited to reveal the results. You begin taking down your twists, only to find that white flakes are everywhere! This has happened to me so many times. And the worst part is that it’s happened to some of my best twist-outs. The products work great to define my hair, but leave a hazy white case. It’s frustrating because you don’t always have time to start over, nor would you ever want to. What should I do? What do you do?

CN responds:

This has happened to me countless times… it’s truly unfortunate and sometimes infuriating! I try to look at flakage on a continuum:

|Minor Flakage– Roll with it
|Flakes Throughout-Avoid manipulation, bun, and hope for the best
|White Balls– Rinse and start over

Since I’m not one for gel anymore, I very rarely have to deal with ‘white ball’ drama. Fortunately, as I’m sure most of you know, white balls are readily apparent– they crop up as soon as you try to apply a finicky gel over your leave-in conditioner. In this case, you’re undoubtedly annoyed but simply jump back in the shower, rinse, and start over. It sucks, but what can you do?

With flakes, it’s not that easy. They can range from minor microscopic particles that can only be detected when you shake your head (I find that these usually dissipate on their own), to a dull cast that when manipulated, flakes off and looks like dandruff. The problem is that you usually can’t detect the flakes until the hair has dried… which means you must come to a decision. Do you start over? Or do you roll out?

I’ve done both, but I usually opt to roll out and hope people kindly stay out of my personal space, lol. Recently, after being heavy handed with Aveda’s Defining Whip, I had a case of minor flakage. The set was perfect and I decided it looked too good to start over or pull up… plus, I didn’t have the time, and I had an important meeting to attend. I was slightly self-conscious about flaking around my edges, but I quickly got over it, and did my best to keep my hands out of it. Luckily, the flakes had magically disappeared by the end of the day!

To deal with major flakage, I’ve bunned until my next wash day, being careful not to disturb the hair too much… brushing, combing, or scratching the scalp can sometimes stir up more flakes than you can shake off. This is the worse, especially if your hair (sans flakes) turned out great.

Best treatment for this epidemic? Do your best to prevent it. I always say less is more… it reigns true for this situation as well. Also, it can be hard to predict which product will be the culprit– not all products that go on white and remain that way for a while after styling dries flaky… not all products that are clear and undetectable on wet hair, dry that way either. Bottom line, always opt for less product than you think you need, and take note of which product combos don’t play well together.

Has this ever happened to you? What would you do? Have you discovered any creative ways to remedy the situation?


  • Anonymous says:

    Ahh my god, this happened to me several times. I usually avoid it by not being heavy handed.


  • Tiffany says:

    Yep a little oil sheen can mask them till you can wash again.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  • Sunshinecurls says:

    OMG!! Why was I going to inquire about flakes!! Ever since I used a different shampoo and conditioner last week, it's been snowing on my clothes!! Urrrrrgggghhhh!! Glad you posted this article!! Thanks Nikki!!

  • Anonymous says:

    you know I have never had a problem with my hair flaking, but I use olive oil and I dont use a gel. So maybe there is something to that oil thing.

  • R.M. Jackson says:

    I can only remember that happening to me once… and I just sprayed with good ole water and smoothed it down…flakiness gone. Just like that.

    However, I'm not sure if that method will work for every 'flaky' situation.

  • aubin says:

    Smoothing in any kind of oil will fix the flakes. I discovered this one time at a friends house. I realized after arriving there that I had TONS of flakes in my hair. Since I was determined to look good for the party, I just snatched a bottle of olive oil from the kitchen and smoothed it into my hair, which got rid of the flakes. If it's really an emergency, even regular ole cooking oil (vegetable oil or canola oil) will work, though you'll need to wash it out later.

    I also figured out that if your favorite condish/gel combo always causes flakes, then a light layer of either oil or shea butter over the gel will prevent the flakes (but it will also loosen the hold of the gel somewhat – a tradeoff).

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a method of preventing white flakes that has worked for me so far: When I am thinking of using a new product combination, I test it out by first applying small amounts of the products separately to the back of my hand. Then I take a little from each one and mix them together, if it looks like the mixture is starting to get a little thick and clumpy, I won't use it together in my hair. If it mixes together well, I will let it air dry for a few minutes and rub my hand accross the surface a few times, if it starts to come up in white pieces, I won't use it. This method works pretty consistantly for me.

  • ChrLvsBks says:

    While I cannot recall it happening once my hair is dry, I have avoided white balls when applying products to wet hair. I remember reading a great tip. Place a little of each product in your hand and rub. If it causes white balls, avoid those product combinations. I usually add one at a time as I would onto my hair. I do this when using new products or new product combinations. Has alleviated a mishap a few times :o).

  • Anonymous says:

    I find that misting (super lightly) with water and applying a light oil on top (think olive or coconut) helps with flakes. It seems that sealing moisture into hair makes the product behave as it did when first applied and wet.

  • Unknown says:

    Ah, such a timely post, as this happened to me last week. I layered KCCC on top of some random conditioner, and they just didn't play well together. *le sigh* I fixed it with my trusty-dusty standby, castor oil straight to the scalp and especially around my edges. Cold-pressed castor oil fixes almost everything for me (kind of like the dad's affinity for Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Within an hour, product-induced flakes weren't completely gone, but they were a lot less noticeable.

  • Hillerie Camille says:

    This has happend to me. I'm always heavy handed, and I'm working hard to stop. If I have flakes around the edges, I spray a little water and wrap my head scarf around my edges while I shower and dress. Usually the flakes go away. When my entiere head has a white film (or flakes), I bun, use a little misting oil and gently smooth my hands over my hair.

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