Whether your hair is straight, kinky, wavy or curly, you most likely use products besides just shampoo in your hair care routine. Your stylist refers to these things as “product”, which can refer to waxes, mousse, gel and volumizers. These products can leave residue behind on your beautiful locks, even if you shampoo every day. On top of all this product, there are also environmental factors such as pollutants, minerals from hard tap water, and swimming pool chlorine. Your hair can quickly be overcome by buildup fr0m all of these different sources, and the result isn’t pretty. For this reason, clarifying shampoo should be an important part of your hair care.
What Is Clarifying Shampoo?
These products contain normal cleansing agents, but they also include ingredients to help remove the buildup from your hair. Many of these shampoos say that they contain all natural ingredients, such as citric acid, which dissolve the residue. But hair stylists state that the best ingredients for clarifying are surfactants. We’ll get back to these later. The purpose of a clarifying product is to remove built-up residue from styling products, allowing your hair to return to its natural beauty.
There are many different clarifying shampoos for every different budget, so we really should all try to keep some handy in our homes. Nobody likes having a bad hair day, but a clarifying shampoo can make a world of difference to heavy, unmanageable hair.
How to Use Clarifying Shampoo?
It’s always good to understand the ingredients in the hair and body care products you use, and that includes clarifying shampoo. It is completely normal to talk about what clarifying shampoo is and how it should be used. Surfactants, the buildup-removing ingredients, are the most important part of clarifying shampoos. The most common and effective of these agents are lauryl sulfates. These powerful but safe chemicals act on a molecular level to combine water and oils, allowing the residue to be rinsed away from your hair easily. If you really want to avoid sulfates, you can use products containing sodium lauryl, sodium cocoyl isethionate, or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate.
Be careful about using clarifying treatments. Used too frequently, they can strip away natural oils as well as your hair’s outer protective layer. Use them only on an occasional basis, when they are really necessary.
If you really are into product (for instance, if you start with mousse, add wax and finish it off with hairspray) you might have to wash with clarifying shampoo two or three times per week. If your tap water is very hard or you swim in a chlorinated pool on a regular basis, two clarifying treatments per week might be best for you. Once every week or two times per month work for most people.
To use, first wet your hair the same way you would for any kind of shampoo. Use a nickel-sized amount of shampoo and apply to your wet hair. Work it through for a minimum of one minute. If there is a lot of buildup on your hair, you won’t see very much lather. That’s okay; the product still works even if you can’t see bubbles. Rinse out the shampoo and repeat the process, this time with a smaller amount. Allow this to sit for two or three minutes on your hair, while you continue with the rest of your shower. Thoroughly rinse and apply your usual conditioner. Dry your hair and style it as you normally do, and enjoy your good hair day!
How Can I Tell If I Should Clarify?
These are the five most common signs that you need to shampoo with a clarifying shampoo:
1. You regularly use oils or other products
The number one cause of buildup is hair product, as we stated earlier. Conditioners, scalp oils, hair sprays and gels will all leave residue behind if you use them often enough. You’ll need to clarify regularly, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. See if your regular shampoo brand also makes a clarifying treatment as part of their line. If not, it’s easy enough to find another brand at a salon, beauty supply store, or even just a drug store.
2. Your scalp has a whitish, waxy substance on it after you shampoo
This buildup may be visible on your part or close to your temples. This residue comes from your hair products, particularly silicone-based sprays and gels. Clarifying shampoo removes this gunk from your scalp and returns it to a more healthy, functioning state. That’s what clarifying products are for. Healthier scalps produce healthier, cleaner hair.
3. You notice your hair looks dull or dry
If you’re continuing to follow your usual hair care routine and your hair just keeps getting drier, it’s probably because of residue left behind by your hair products. This residue or buildup makes you use your hairdryer or other styling tools more than you should, leading to dry hair. Using a good clarifier can get rid of the gunk after using it just once or twice. Don’t forget to include clarifying shampoo as a part of your regular hair care.
4. You want to prepare for chemical treatment
Whenever you’re planning on a perm, color treatment, or straightening, be aware that all of these treatments will work better if you clarify your hair first. Get rid of all the residue on your hair, and the color or chemical treatment will give you results that are worth the time and money you spend on them. The chemicals all work better on the cleanest possible hair, and your treatment will last much longer, too. Clarifying is also good if you plan to try out a new product or product line.
5. You swim regularly
Most (though not all) swimming pools contain chlorine and other chemicals. In fact, even the saline treatments used in non-chlorinated pools can damage your hair too. Just like styling products, these pool chemicals leave behind residues that cause buildup on your hair. Because these chemicals can dry out your hair, many swimmers use hot oil treatments and leave-in conditioners which themselves contribute to buildup. All of these buildups combine to leave your hair in pretty bad shape, so you should be using clarifying shampoo several times every month to stay ahead of the game.
So, now you know all about clarifying shampoos, how they work and how easy they are to use. Now you can apply your new knowledge and have healthy happy hair in a matter of days. Just be aware that if you have colored hair, clarifying shampoo can cause some of the color to fade, so use them only occasionally or compensate by using a little more color than you normally would. Even taking into account this small extra cost, clarifying shampoo is a great way to work miracles with your hair without spending much money.