If you are trying to find out about clarifying shampoos and which one is the best, then you’re probably feeling like your hair isn’t at its best, and isn’t behaving or looking the way it once did. Does it seem weighed down, greasy or limp, even though you’ve just washed it and even used conditioner? Or maybe it’s lost its usual bounce and shine. Every one of these issues and more can be improved by using clarifying shampoo, which is great for removing troublesome and dulling buildup on your hair. But it’s one thing to know that you need a good clarifying shampoo, and another matter to actually settle on the best clarifying shampoo for you. Here is a close look at what clarifying shampoo is, how it works, and how to use it so you can return your hair to its former glory.
What is Clarifying Shampoo?
This type of shampoo is specially formulated to remove leftover buildup from hair products as well as excess natural oil from the hair. There are so many different hair products out there, and sometimes without our even knowing it, our hair may be full of buildup from product. Along with hair sprays and gels, air pollution and perfume can get trapped in your hair too. Add sebum (natural oil produced by your scalp) to the mix and it’s no wonder your hair is looking weighed down. So, no matter what your hair type, it’s a good idea to use a clarifying shampoo every now and then. But all of these clarifying products are different from each other, so it’s important to find the best one for you.
Not all manufacturers specify which of their products are clarifying shampoos, so it helps to understand the ingredients of the shampoo. You can find all the information you need on this site about how and when you should use clarifying shampoo.
The Top 5 Reasons You Need Clarifying Shampoo
We often talk about the importance of using gentle cleansers and gentle procedures because for the most part, hair responds best to gentle methods, especially if it is kinky or curly. You may be nervous about using a product like clarifying shampoo that is designed to completely strip the oil away from your hair. It is good to be cautious, but these clarifying products can be useful if you use them in the right circumstances. There are five main reasons to clarify:
1. You’re planning to switch to milder hair products, such as silicone and sulfate free
If you’ve chosen to make this switch, you might find that these new gentler products work better if you start with hair that is 100 percent clean. If you’ve been using silicone based gels, serums, or other styling products, it’s especially important to start fresh with a clean slate. Clarifying shampoo will remove any deposits left behind by your old styling products, as well as oil and dirt, allowing the new gentle products to have a chance to work. Omitting the step of clarifying may mean that the new shampoo might not remove all the buildup and the new conditioner may not work as well.
2. Buildup: On your scalp you see visible whitish residue after shampooing
You may notice this residue on your scalp, which may be clear near your forehead and temples and whitish everywhere else. This is a sure sign that washing your hair has not effectively cleaned your scalp, and that clarifying shampoo is needed to get rid of all the gunk.
3. Buildup: You notice your hair getting drier and drier, and moisturizing and conditioning products don’t help
When conditioners and hydrating products stop working AND your hair keeps getting drier, this is a classic sign of too much buildup. This is a different situation from someone whose hair stops needing moisturizing products because it stops drying out. Changing your hair care habits can cause such a change, which is entirely positive. However, if you are keeping the same routine you always do (such as, shampooing and conditioning once a week, and co-washing mid-week) and after several months you suddenly need to co-wash several times a week, buildup is probably to blame. Using clarifying shampoo to remove buildup may allow your regular conditioner and shampoo to work again as they used to.
4. You’ve been co-washing only
Conditioner alone is not the most effective way to clean your hair in the long term. If you’ve just been co-washing and continuing to use moisturizers, oils and other styling products, there is a danger of buildup. Using clarifying shampoo now and then will prevent this buildup, improving the look and feel of your hair.
5. You Use a Lot of Oils
If your hair is naturally oily, or if you use lots of hot oil treatments, shea butter or castor oil, a mild shampoo may not be enough to properly clean your scalp and hair. If you don’t use conditioner you might be fine, but if you condition on top of all the oil treatments, you may need to do a clarifying treatment sometimes to get rid of buildup.
Don’t necessarily take labels at face value: A bottle may claim to be “Clarifying” simply because the company decided to repackage an old product with a new name. To avoid falling for this ploy, compare the list of ingredients on a bottle of regular shampoo and a bottle of clarifying shampoo. If you understand the names of the ingredients and their uses, you’ll be able to make a better choice. Do a side-by-side comparison:
Our Picks for the Best Clarifying Shampoos
1. Neutrogena Shampoo, Anti-Residue Formula
- Improves your hair quality
- Cleans thoroughly
- Good lather
- Good smell
If your hair is oily, curly or wavy, you’ve probably noticed that it can be higher-maintenance than other people’s hair. This product is an excellent choice if this description fits you. If you shampoo daily, try using this product instead for one or two days per week. Doing this will even improve the performance of your everyday shampoo and conditioner.
This shampoo has a fresh, clean light fragrance that is not overpowering and won’t cause headaches or stinging to your scalp and eyes. According to reviews on Amazon, this shampoo is highly satisfactory to most people, and it offers fast results. Before long, you will notice that your hair is be back to its healthy shiny appearance and feel. This product is gentle and safe enough for the whole family to use, and everyone will appreciate the quick results.
2. Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo Three
- Helps remove chlorine and impurities
- Great for Swimmers
- Increase inner strength
- Excellent before deep conditioning
If you swim regularly, you will love this product. This shampoo is capable of removing all kinds of chlorine as well as other pool chemicals that may build up on your hair when you swim frequently. It can also prevent the chemicals from re-depositing onto your hair in order to give the best possible result and extra protection. To achieve optimum results, it is suggested to use this product before you condition your hair. This product was rated 4.5 and has 54 reviews.
If you don’t deal with chlorine, it can be extremely damaging to your hair, and this damage can even be permanent. For this reason, most stylists recommend that swimmers use a good quality clarifying treatment to keep hair healthy and beautiful. This is one of the very few clarifying shampoos that is up to the job of preventing chlorine damage in swimmers’ hair.
3. Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo
- Brings out the natural beauty of your hair
- For normal to oily hair
- pH-balanced deep cleansing formula
- Longer lasting fragrance
Although this product is dirt cheap, it’s a high quality product and worth checking out. This is a simple product that does exactly what you need it to do. It completely removes all the product buildup and grease, making your hair squeaky-clean. One thing to be aware of is that this shampoo is a powerful clarifier, and you need to use an ultra hydrating and rich conditioner afterwards to avoid drying out your hair.
4. Herbal Essences Clarifying Shampoo
- Smooth and light hair
- For oily hair
- Good lather
- Good smell
This product is best for oily hair, so it’s not the best choice if your hair is dry. This is a fantastic company that makes a range of good products, the clarifying shampoo among them. The product, called Drama Clean, uses extracts of citrus to clean pollutants from your hair. Use this treatment once per week only to avoid drying your hair out.
This shampoo is a great value for money. One possible drawback is the strong pineapple scent, which may bother you if you have a sensitivity to fragrances. There is a conditioner in the same product line, so for best results, use them together.
5. Bumble and Bumble Clarifying Shampoo
- Improves hair quality
- Not for color treated hair
- Without lather
- Good smell
There are several products in this line for clarifying, but the Sunday Shampoo clarifying shampoo is the best of them. Using natural ingredients such as sage and rosemary extracts, this product can get rid of minerals left by hard tap water as well as other environmental pollutants. The natural extracts give this shampoo a light, fresh and pleasant fragrance unlike the heavy perfumes that so many hair products seem to have. If you have very dry or color-treated hair, this shampoo may not work for you; for everyone else, this product will leave your hair looking healthy again.
This clarifying treatment may make your scalp tingle a bit while you are using it, but this is normal and no cause for alarm. B&B recommends waiting for about 60 seconds after applying the shampoo to your hair before rinsing, or until you start to feel the tingling sensation. You will notice that this shampoo does not produce much in the way of lather, making it a good choice if you are trying to avoid the foaming agents that so many shampoos add. How often you use this product depends on the type of hair you have – one or two times per week works for most people.
How to Use Clarifying Shampoo?
Many people have never used clarifying shampoo before, so you may have questions about how exactly it should be used. In fact, clarifying shampoos are used in much the same way as other shampoos, with just a couple of minor adjustments.
A good clarifying treatment is very strong and you don’t have to use a large quantity to get results. Start by using a nickel-sized amount and massaging it gently onto your scalp. Take about one or two minutes to do this. Don’t be surprised by the lack of lather – you won’t see much in the way of bubbles if your hair has collected a lot of buildup. The next step is to take another nickel-sized amount and to work it into your hair starting at the roots and working down to the ends. If your hair is very thick or long, use a bigger amount.
Clarifying shampoo has to sit in your hair to dissolve all of the buildup, and this takes a couple of minutes. You can accomplish this by applying the shampoo at the beginning of your shower, and leaving it in while you shave, wash, etc. Afterwards, rinse the shampoo out very thoroughly and follow up with your usual conditioner. If there is really no lather at all the first time, you can shampoo again before you rinse.
How Often Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo?
The answer to this question depends on your lifestyle, environment, and the kind of products you use on a day to day basis. If the tap water where you live is very hard, or if you generally use large quantities of gels or other hair products, then you should be clarifying every week. If you are a swimmer, twice every week may be even better.
Even if your environment and styling regimen are easier on your hair, you can still benefit from using clarifying shampoo from time to time. Most people should use a clarifying treatment monthly, but if you don’t really use much product, you can often get away with clarifying every two months. Trial and error is the only way to know for sure, as everyone’s situation is unique.
If your hair is color-treated, you should be very sparing in your use of clarifying shampoo. The clarifying treatment can have the side-effect of stripping away color along with all of the buildup. Most hair stylists recommend only clarifying once per month if your hair is color-treated. Also, wait two or three weeks after coloring before you clarify, as the color-stripping is most likely to happen when the color is still fresh.
How to Choose the BEST Clarifying Shampoo for You?
There are so many different options on the market to choose from. There are as many brands and varieties of clarifying shampoo as there are of other kinds of shampoo. You already may have a favorite hair product line that works well for you, in which case you should check to see if there is a clarifying treatment in this line. Most brands include a clarifying treatment, so this can be a great place to start.
Also, take your hair’s needs into account when choosing. Do you have hard tap water; do you swim in a chlorinated pool or use lots of styling products? If so, you’ll be clarifying more often so take extra care in choosing a good product. Some clarifying products are customized for ethnic hair or curly hair. You can also find extra-gentle products for chemically treated or color-treated hair that will not cause damage. There are even clarifying shampoos designed specifically for swimmers.
Maybe being environmentally friendly is a big priority for you when choosing products. You’ll be happy to hear that there are products available that are completely biodegradable and that are made using only eco-friendly ingredients and practices. Organic and natural products are healthier for both your hair and the environment, so you don’t have to choose between the planet and your hair!
When all is said and done, choosing the product that is best for your unique situation isn’t all that complicated. Still, it helps to have some knowledge of what you’re looking for, and how some of the different available options compare with each other.