How to Properly Use a Clarifying Shampoo

Last Updated on December 17, 2022 by Gaga

There is a time when your hair feels lifeless and weighed down even if you’ve washed it. No matter what you do, it still looks untidy. Well, then it’s probably time to clarify.

All of the mousses, gels, hairsprays, and even your regular shampoo and conditioner can leave residue on your hair and scalp over time. Some hair products contain silicone that isn’t water-soluble. This type of silicone can’t be washed away by regular shampoo and tend to coat your strands.

Clarifying shampoo is formulated to remove dulling residues that can cause bad hair days. Clarifying shampoo dissolves the layers of products sitting on the surface of hair strands and gives your hair a healthy-looking fresh start.

a woman with buildup in her hair

Hard water in your area and the chlorine in swimming pools can deposit hard water minerals and chlorine residue in your hair. To remove buildup from minerals and chlorine, you need to use a chelating shampoo, which is a bit stronger than conventional clarifying shampoos. Chelating shampoos are formulated to remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium that can build up on your hair

How Do Clarifying Shampoos Work?

Clarifying shampoo contains a higher proportion of cleansing agents than your regular shampoo and doesn’t contain conditioning agents. The majority of clarifying shampoos on the market contain acetic acid, a mild, acidic chemical compound that is known for its descaling capabilities. Acetic acid is also contained in vinegar, which is used to de-scale household appliances, etc. In the same manner, the acetic acid in clarifying shampoo helps remove the buildup in hair that makes it feel oily, heavy, and unmanageable.

When to Clarify Hair?

young pretty woman massages her hair with a clarifying shampoo

If you use a lot of hair care products, your hair will benefit from using a clarifying shampoo. The following are the four most obvious signs that you have lots of buildups:

  1. Your favorite shampoo doesn’t seem to be cleaning your hair as well as it used to. Your hair doesn’t look fresh and bouncy after washing.
  2. Your strands are breaking/splitting more than normal. Your strands lose elasticity because the water/moisture can’t penetrate inside.
  3. Your hair is hard to style no matter which styling product you use.
  4. Your hair has turned green after swimming in chlorinated water.
Woman after washing the hair with a clarifying shampoo

How Often Should You Clarify your Hair?

The optimal frequency of clarifying depends on how many styling products you use, the quality of water in your area, and how often you go swimming.

If you use a lot of styling products, go swimming regularly, and/or live in a hard water area, you should clarify your hair more than twice a month.

If your hair gets oily fast, (in addition to the previously mentioned reasons) you should consider using a gentle clarifying shampoo on a weekly basis.

If you live in an area with soft water and use hair products in small quantities, you only need to clarify when your hair starts to show signs of product build-up. The majority of people only need to use a clarifying shampoo once a month. 

How to Clarify Color-Treated Hair?

beautiful woman with clean color-treated hair

If you color your hair you shouldn’t use a clarifying shampoo more than once a month and never within the first few weeks of coloring. Clarifying color-treated hair too often will make your hair color fade faster. Also, make sure to use a clarifying shampoo that is safe for colored hair

However, if you want to get rid of a bed hair dye job, a harsh clarifying shampoo can help you fade unwanted hair color in a few washes.

Always use a rinse-out conditioner after washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to restore lost moisture and make detangling easier. However, if you clarify your hair prior to receiving a chemical treatment you may need to skip the conditioning step, depending on the treatment you are going to receive.

beautiful smiling woman with long color-treated hair

Use Appropriate Clarifying Shampoo

Ordinary clarifying shampoos contain strong sulfate surfactants that can strip away the natural oils, that keep your hair and scalp well-moisturized. If your hair is fine, dry, or chemically treated, make sure to use a gentle sulfate-free formula that is appropriate for your hair type.

Gently massage the shampoo into your scalp by doing circular motions of your fingertips to avoid damaging the skin.

Scalp Clarifying Shampoos

Using a deep cleansing shampoo is a good method for clarifying your scalp. By removing dead skin cells and residue from dry shampoos, scalp-purifying shampoos unclog the pores, renew hair follicles, and create a healthy environment for hair growth. Scalp cleansing shampoos in common contain antiseptic and soothing ingredients to calm itchiness and skin inflammation.

Scalp clarifying shampoo should cleanse without redness or irritation, so make sure to get quality formula and use it per instruction. Consider formulas developed by trichologists and gentle sulfate-free clarifying shampoos.

beautiful young woman in white dress with long colored hair

About the author

Website | + posts

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.


Leave a Comment