Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoos

Last Updated on December 17, 2022 by Gaga

Frequent use of styling products can create buildup on the hair over time and make your strands feel heavy, dull, and unmanageable.

Clarifying shampoos are designed to deeply cleanse hair and scalp to remove product build-up and residue from regular shampoos and conditioners.

Ordinary shampoos are a mixture of surfactants, conditioning agents, and special care ingredients that should treat specific hair and scalp issues. Due to the high content of conditioning ingredients, ordinary shampoos can’t effectively eliminate mineral buildup, chlorine deposits, and polymer film created by styling products.

Clarifying shampoos contain a higher concentration of detergents than standard shampoos. They can thoroughly remove product buildup, without leaving any residues. To refresh your scalp and keep your hair shiny and healthy-looking, you need to use these deep cleansing shampoos.

How often you need to clarify depends on your hair care regime, the frequency of swimming, and the quality of water in your home.

Happy woman after clarifying hair hair

Advantages of Sulfate-Free Cleansing Shampoos

Commonly used primary cleaning agents in hair shampoos are sulfate-based surfactants. Sulfates are excellent cleansers that produce abundant foam. However, if you overuse them, sulfates in hair shampoos can irritate your scalp and strip your hair of its protective natural oils.

Sulfate detergents in hair shampoos also may cause hair color to fade.

Sulfate-free clarifying shampoos have a formula that balances the cleaning ability and other factors that include scalp irritation and overall product toxicity. The “Sulfate-Free” label means that your shampoo is formulated without harsh sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, or ammonium laureth sulfate.

Sulfate-free deep cleansing shampoos do not foam as much as sulfate-containing shampoos, but this does not mean that they are less efficient. The foam does not have cleaning properties, although it helps in spreading the shampoo over the scalp and hair. Knowing customer preferences, shampoo manufacturers often add foam boosters to their products to make them more commercially successful.

Is Clarifying Shampoo Safe for Color-Treated Hair?

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People with color-treated hair should clarify less often and they should only use a clarifying shampoo specified for colored hair. Color-safe clarifying shampoos are designed to remove product residue and other impurities without stripping hair color. They remove product buildup and color-dulling residue while preventing excessive dryness and color stripping.

Pureology Purify Shampoo for Color Treated Hair (available at Walmart) is a sulfate-free formula that uses a purifying blend of natural oils and organic botanicals to gently yet thoroughly cleanse and detoxify scalp and hair.

Verb Reset Renouveau Clarifying Shampoo gently removes the build-up from styling products and adds a glossy shine to your hair. The product doesn’t contain harmful sulfates, parabens, or gluten. It clarifies and soothes the scalp and doesn’t strip natural moisture or color out of the hair.

If your hair is color-treated, use a clarifying shampoo no more than once a week. Even the most gentle formulas shouldn’t be used regularly on colored hair. Also, make sure to use a moisturizing conditioner after each shampooing.

Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoos for Natural Hair

If you are looking for an alternative to chemical-laden clarifying shampoos, you will be impressed with Shea Moisture Sacha Inchi Oil Omega-3-6-9 Rescue & Repair Clarifying Shampoo (available at Walmart). This shampoo uses natural ingredients to remove the buildup of styling products, leaving your locks clean, soft, and supple. It gently cleanses hair without stealing its natural moisture or being aggressive on your scalp.

Unlike most sulfate-free shampoos this shampoo creates a rich lather and easily spreads all over the hair. It also refreshes the scalp and helps with the dandruff issue.

This shampoo works great on dry curly hair and is suitable for daily use.

Scalp Cleansing Shampoos

Styling products you apply to the hair, as well as excess sebum and pollutants, can build up on your scalp. Such accumulated deposits can clog hair follicles causing inflammation and irritation to this sensitive skin area. Scalp cleansing shampoos are designed to thoroughly cleanse the scalp and keep it feeling refreshed and healthy.

Activated Charcoal Shampoo by Saragan is formulated with pure natural ingredients to thoroughly cleanse the hair and leave it soft and moisturized. It also de-greases the scalp, removes buildup from products and hard water, and relieves itching. The possible downsides of this shampoo are its intense black color and masculine scent.

Use your fingers to massage the scalp or use a shampoo brush to work the shampoo into your scalp. Such massage helps to remove the build-up and boosts blood circulation in the scalp area.

Clarifying Shampoos for Oily Hair and Scalp

Degrease Shampoo for Oily Hair and Scalp by Maple Holistics helps alleviate grease and hair buildup, and restores the pH balance of the scalp.

This natural clarifying formula uses a blend of essential oils to clean hair follicles and lift the roots of the hair prone to getting oily and flat. It also contains Jojoba oil which is known for its ability to control the production of sebum and keep the pores clean.

Cypress, lemon, and rosemary essential oils have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. These oils help fight infections and keep the scalp healthy and each-free. They also support blood circulation to the follicles, stimulating hair growth.

Hairdresser washes client's hair with sulfate-free clarifying shampoos

What is Chelating Shampoo?

While most clarifying shampoos are formulated to remove styling product residue that leaves a film on the surface of the hair, chelating shampoos are preferably meant to remove minerals, metals, and swimming pool chemicals from the hair.

Chelating shampoos are more potent than ordinary clarifying shampoos and can efficiently eliminate deposits from hard water and chlorine as well as product buildup.

When used as a post-swimming shampoo, a chelating shampoo prevents the build-up of chlorine and other pool chemicals and protects your hair from damage, dryness, and discoloration.

Chelating shampoos are also must-have products for people who struggle with hard water in their areas. If the water in your area is very hard and you don’t have a whole house water filtration system, you should use a chelating shampoo as a part of your hair care routine.

Sulfate-Free Chelating Shampoos

If you live in an area with hard water, Ion Hard Water Shampoo can help reduce the negative impacts of hard water minerals on your hair and scalp. This shampoo prevents hard water minerals and iron from coating your strands. It also reverses existing damage and discoloration and increases hair manageability and shine. Ion Hard Water Shampoo helps reduce hair loss caused by extremely hard water.

Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Shampoo is designed to prevent the build-up of pool chemicals in the swimmer’s hair. This gentle, sulfate-free shampoo is formulated with botanicals, antioxidants, and vitamins to get rid of chlorine and keep hair from becoming heavy, tangled, or discolored. It also helps get rid of the chlorine smell that tends to linger in the hair after swimming. Malibu swimmers shampoo is safe for all hair types, including color-treated and permed hair.

Smiling girl using a mild clarifying shampoo

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


2 thoughts on “Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoos”

  1. Your “good clarifying shampoo for color-treated hair” is a kink that takes us to a shampoo listing on amazon. As you look through the pictures the last one is a close up of the ingredients.
    And guess what? Security and ingredient is a sulfate.
    So your only option for colored hair isn’t really sulfate-free

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