As someone with curly hair, I have always struggled with product build-up, which weighs down my curls and leaves my scalp feeling itchy and uncomfortable. I tried many scalp cleansing shampoos over the years to remove the build-up, but they were either too harsh or ineffective. That is until I discovered the right clarifying shampoo.
After using a clarifying shampoo for curly hair for the first time, I was amazed at how well it could remove the excess build-up from my hair and scalp, leaving my curls looking and feeling clean and refreshed. This blog post will provide tips for getting the most out of this product and my picks for the best clarifying shampoos. Plus, I’ll tell you how often you should use clarifying shampoo.
What Is Clarifying Shampoo?
Clarifying shampoos (or purifying shampoos) are deep cleansing products designed to remove excess buildup and residue from the hair and deep clean your scalp, leaving your hair fresh and clean. Sounds great, right? The downside is that these shampoos often contain harsh sulfates and other cleansing agents to cleanse the hair (too) effectively. The good news is there are also gentler alternatives available that use natural ingredients (more on that later). Labels on clarifying shampoos may use words like clarifying, purifying, deep cleansing, and detoxing to indicate their stronger cleansing properties.
Is Clarifying Shampoo Good For Your Hair?
There are both pros and cons to using clarifying shampoos.
1. Removes Build-Up
One of the main benefits of purifying shampoo is that it effectively removes build-up and residue from the hair and deep cleanses your scalp. This can help improve the hair's overall health and appearance, as excess build-up can weigh down the hair and make it look dull.
2. Clears Away Dandruff and Grease
Clarifying shampoos can also be helpful for people with oily hair or scalps, as they can effectively remove excess oil and leave the hair looking and feeling clean and fresh.
3. Adds More Volume and Shine
Purifying shampoos promote more volume and shine by removing build-up from products, oil, and dirt. This is excellent news if you have fine or thinning hair, which is weighed down more quickly than other hair types.
4. Brings Out Your Natural Hair Texture
I’ve noticed that a good clarifying shampoo for curly hair helps improve my natural hair texture since build-up tends to weigh down my curls. This effect will be even more noticeable if you use products with silicones because silicone-based products are especially prone to building up on strands.
1. Can Dry Out Your Hair
These products can be harsh on the hair and may strip it of its natural oils, leading to dryness and damage. To avoid that, I recommend looking for a gentler, sulfate-free clarifying shampoo.
2. Can Irritate Your Scalp
They may also be drying to the scalp, which can lead to irritation and flakiness.
3. Can Cause Breakage, Frizz, and Static Electricity
4. Can Cause Color Fade
Potent shampoo formulas can make your hair color fade. (Hint: If you have colored hair, check out this article on the best shampoo for colored hair).
The good news is that you can mitigate most of these cons by finding the right clarifying shampoo for your hair type and using it with the correct frequency (more on that later). If you are worried about these potential negative effects, a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo is usually the best option.
Who Can Benefit from a Clarifying Shampoo?
Everybody can benefit from using a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo! But especially:
1. People Who Use a Lot of Styling Products
Hair styling products, especially those formulated with silicone, can leave behind a residue that can build up over time. This can weigh down the hair and make it look dull and lifeless. Thus, people who use many styling products can benefit from a good clarifying shampoo because these products can help remove build-up from the hair and deep clean the scalp.
2. People Who Have Hard Water
Hard water contains more minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which can leave a residue on the hair and scalp. This residue can build up over time, making the hair feel heavy and dull as well as irritating the scalp. A purifying shampoo can help with hard water by removing minerals that build up on the hair.
3. People Who Swim a Lot
A good clarifying shampoo can help people who swim a lot because it can remove chlorine and salt from the hair and scalp. Both pool and ocean water can dry the hair and scalp. Chlorine, often used to sanitize pool water, can strip hair of its natural oils and lead to dryness and damage. Chlorine can also discolor your hair and make it green. To avoid that from happening, I recommend using a good clarifying shampoo frequently.
4. People Who Have Fine Hair
Fine hair is weighed down more easily and is prone to looking greasy because it has a smaller diameter. A scalp deep cleansing shampoo can help remove this build-up, leaving the hair looking and feeling clean and refreshed.
5. People Who Have Dandruff or Greasy Hair
Overproduction of sebum, the natural oil produced by the scalp, causes greasy hair. This excess oil can weigh down the hair and make it look slick and lifeless. A clarifying dandruff shampoo can help remove extra oil from the hair and deep clean the scalp, leaving it looking and feeling clean and refreshed. Purifying shampoos also effectively eliminate dandruff flakes caused by a buildup of dead skin cells on the scalp. These flakes can be unsightly and difficult to remove, but a good clarifying shampoo can help lift them away from the scalp, leaving it feeling clean and flake-free.
(Hint: If you have greasy hair, read this article on the best shampoo for greasy or oily hair).
What About Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair?
While it is true that most clarifying shampoos can be too harsh for curly hair, it is still possible for people with curly hair to use these products. You just need to make sure you choose a special clarifying shampoo for curly hair.
Curly hair is more prone to product build-up, which can weigh down curls and make the scalp itchy. Why? Because people with curls often go longer between washes and use more product, which can contribute to build-up. In these cases, a clarifying shampoo for curly hair can help remove excess build-up from the hair and deep cleanse the scalp.
How to Choose the Best Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair
- Look for a sulfate-free formula: Sulfates are foaming agents added to many types of cleansers and shampoos. Unfortunately, sulfates can be harsh and drying on curly hair, so choosing a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo is essential. The best clarifying shampoos for curly hair are sulfate-free.
- Choose a product that is suitable for your hair type: If you have dry, damaged, or chemically treated hair, the best clarifying shampoo for curly hair for you will be formulated with nourishing ingredients to help protect the hair.
- Consider the ingredients: The best clarifying shampoos for curly hair are made with natural and nourishing ingredients, such as aloe vera, strengthening proteins, or antioxidants. These ingredients can help to nourish the hair, minimizing dryness and damage.
For further information, read “The Best Products for Curly Hair”.
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How Often Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo?
So, how often should you use a clarifying shampoo? The frequency with which you should use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo depends on your hair type and needs.
I recommend using a purifying shampoo once a week or every other week to remove excess buildup and residue from the hair and deep clean the scalp. However, if you have very dry or damaged hair, you may want to use a clarifying shampoo even less frequently, as these types of products can be drying to the hair. On the other hand, if you have very oily hair or live in a region with hard water, you may need to use a purifying shampoo more frequently to remove excess oil and mineral buildup.
It is also important to consider the products you are using on your hair, as certain types of products, such as those formulated with silicone, can leave behind a build-up that may need to be removed more frequently. Ultimately, how often you should use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo will depend on your hair type and needs.
My Picks for the Best Clarifying Shampoos
Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you of the merits of adding a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo to your routine, these are my picks for the best clarifying shampoos.
Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub
Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub is a clarifying product suitable for all hair types, including curly, damaged, and colored hair. It has a sulfate-free, scalp deep cleansing formula approved by those following the Curly Girl Method.
Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub is made with natural and organic ingredients, including strengthening microproteins from rice, soothing oat, and aloe vera. These ingredients help to keep the hair and scalp hydrated and protected during the scalp cleansing process. For the best results, you can use Scalp Delight™ Detox Scrub in conjunction with the Scalp Delight™ Scalp Massage Brush, which can help to promote a healthy scalp and boost circulation.
Are you wondering how often you should use this clarifying shampoo? Thanks to its gentle but effective formula, you can use it weekly to remove excess buildup and residue from the hair and deep cleanse the scalp, leaving it clean and refreshed.
Instant Relief™ Dandruff Shampoo
Instant Relief™ Dandruff Shampoo is a product specifically formulated for those suffering from dandruff or an itchy or greasy scalp. While it is not precisely a clarifying shampoo, this product can be an excellent alternative for those looking for a scalp cleansing product suitable for continuous use. Instant Relief™ Dandruff Shampoo purifies, balances, and removes flakes and oils from the hair and scalp without stripping natural oils. This makes it a gentler option for those with sensitive scalps or dry, damaged hair. If you are dealing with dandruff or an itchy or greasy scalp, this product may be a good option to help keep your scalp healthy and flake-free.
How To Avoid Drying Out Your Hair
As we mentioned before, purifying shampoos can dry out your hair and scalp, causing irritation and even breakage. Besides using the right product and figuring out how often you should use your clarifying shampoo, follow these tips to keep your hair and scalp healthy:
1. Focus the Product on the Roots and Scalp
I recommend focusing clarifying shampoo on the roots or scalp only because this is where excess build-up and residue accumulate. Unless you use many hair styling products, it’s not necessary to use a clarifying shampoo on the lengths of your hair.
2. Stay Away from Harsh Sulfates
Sulfates are surfactants commonly found in many cleansing products, including shampoos, body washes, and facial cleansers. These chemicals effectively remove dirt and oil from the hair and skin, but they can also be too harsh. People with dry or damaged hair may want to avoid sulfates because they can strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to further dryness and damage.
3. Protect Your Hair Before Washing
Using a hair mask or pre-shampoo balm before shampooing can help to protect the hair and keep it nourished and moisturized during the cleansing process. These products can help to create a barrier around the hair, sealing in moisture and helping to prevent the harsh cleansing agents in the shampoo from stripping the hair of its natural oils. I recommend:
- Moisture Hero™ Pre-Shampoo Balm - Apply this deep moisturizing balm to your lengths prior to deep cleansing your scalp, to keep your hair protected and hydrated.
- Split Fix™ Hair Mask - If you have dry hair prone to breakage and split ends, this hair mask is a great option to mitigate the drying effect of clarifying shampoos.
- Curl Crush™ Hair Mask - Keep your curls hydrated, soft and defined with this treatment while working in your choice of clarifying shampoo for curly hair.
4. Use Hair Oil Before or After Washing
Using a hair oil before or after shampooing can help to restore moisture to the hair and scalp and can help to protect the hair from the harsh scalp cleansing agents in the shampoo. I recommend:
5. Always Use a Conditioner
Conditioners contain ingredients that can help to nourish and moisturize the hair and can help to make it feel softer, smoother, and more manageable. It is generally recommended to use a conditioner every time you shampoo your hair, but it is especially important to use one after a clarifying shampoo.
In conclusion, clarifying shampoos are a helpful product for removing excess build-up and residue from the hair and scalp. These scalp deep cleansing products can be particularly beneficial for those who use many hair styling products, live in an area with hard water, or swim frequently. How often you should use a clarifying shampoo depends on your hair type, condition, and hair styling routine. Regardless of how often you use a clarifying shampoo, it is essential to use clarifying shampoos sparingly and to follow up with a good conditioner to help restore moisture to the hair.