clarifying shampoo what it contains and 8 reasons why you need it

Clarifying Shampoo: What It Contains & 8 Reasons Why You Need It!

The Importance of a Good Detox

Being a natural haired girl obsessed with length retention can be a bit of a curse. I am constantly and consistently coating my hair with DIY hair masks composed of mayonnaise, avocado, or peppermint oil. Dry shampoos are my BFF and co-washing is a way of life. My hairdresser is always complaining about a waxy buildup on my hair that never seems to get 100% clean, and that is a problem. When the hair strand has too much product coating it, water cannot penetrate the hair shaft to moisturize it and promote length retention. This situation is where a quality clarifying shampoo comes in. These days many shampoos are using their moisturizing properties as their selling points. While created to cleanse your hair gently, a moisturizing or volumizing shampoo contains an ingredients list that boasts everything under the sun to make your hair look soft and feel shiny. Not completely clean it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a clarifying shampoo with purify, strip and provide your hair with a deep cleaning. Reflect on your product buildup caused by mousse, gel, or other styling products. Now consider your go-to shampoo not being equipt to cut through all of that entirely! A clarifying shampoo can do that and much more.

Inside A Clarifying Shampoo

The clarifying shampoo contains less conditioning agents than the average shampoo. Instead, it is composed of more surfactants and acids to aid in the cleansing process. Take heed of the three ingredients that show up in the best clarifying shampoos:

Acetic Acid

If you ever hear someone rave about the cleaning properties of vinegar, this is why. Acetic acid is one of the primary ingredients in vinegar; and as we all know vinegar can be used to clean a Keurig machine, glass windows, pots and pans, and your scalp. Its cleaning ability is why a lot of stylists will suggest you cleansing your scalp with apple cider vinegar.

It helps to remove forms of product buildup in various circumstances. Check the ingredients label of your clarifying shampoo and ensure that acetic acid is one of the first ingredients on the list.


The simplest way to describe this word: cleaning agent. Surfactants are in the best clarifying shampoos, and it will probably serve as the primary ingredient. An example of an everyday surfactant is sodium laureth sulfate; it is the surfactant used in your detergent to rid your clothes of stains. Surfactants attract water molecules and attach to dirt and oil molecules at the same time. The surfactant is then able to connect the dirt to the water so that the dirt can leave the hair when the water does. If you did not have a surfactant in the clarifying shampoo, you would be rinsing out the shampoo, and the dirt would stay behind on your hair follicle.

Citric Acid

If you’ve ever used lemon to clean the hard water stains in your bathroom, you know citric acid it is the greatest natural cleaning agent of all time. Citric acid is technically considered mild in the acid world, but on a macro level, it can help to break down chemical build up. When used in your hair it can facilitate the breakdown of your styling product residue.

Why We Clarify

As mentioned above, every once in a while your hair needs a deep cleansing, and by that, we typically mean once a month depending on your wash routine. However, you still may be on the fence as to why! I have eight reasons why you need to clarify, and if one reason doesn’t apply, I am sure another one will.

1. Solve Your “Oily Hair” Problems

Who doesn't love a new styling product if you haven't raised your hand I am side-eyeing you because we all love trying new things on our hair. Nevertheless, after a while, all of that stuff starts to build up, and your hair can honestly stop reacting to it. By investing in a clarifying shampoo, you can make sure that you're getting your money's worth from all of these products. They work better on squeaky clean hair which is precisely what the clarifying shampoo will give you. If you don't need products in your hair is just naturally oily then the clarifying shampoo works in the same manner. It'll give you a deep cleanse with less conditioning and help you cut down on a lot of the oil that you are experiencing. Personally, I would then scale back on deep conditioning and if you need a little bit of conditioner just put it on the ends of your hair since that's the most fragile part.

2. Your Hair Needs a Reboot

I think we all go through this stage with our hair just is not cooperating, and it consistently looks like crap. If this is you, you may want to try a clarifying shampoo. At the very least it'll rid you of all the product build-up that you have in your hair, and you can start from square one. Square one will give you an idea of how your hair reacts when there's nothing in it, and it's in its natural state. That information could be something valuable if you are considering a new cut or color. You may want to see where your hair is at organically and then make your styling decisions based on that.

3. Get Your Strands Ready For Hair Color

Have you ever wondered why your hair color would take differently on different parts of your hair follicle? It could honestly be because of product buildup. I learned this tidbit from a few different stylists: it is so much better to color your hair when it is squeaky clean! The color deposits evenly on your hair when it is free of conditioner or product to build up along the hair shaft. If you use a clarifying shampoo to remove all of that gunk from your hair, you'll be able to see one color shine straight through from root to tip. I will advise you not to use a clarifying shampoo the day of your color appointment. Clarifying shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils and you want those oils to protect your scalp from any irritation. Especially if your stylist doesn't believe in basing your scalp with something before chemical treatments. Use your clarifying shampoo a couple of days before your color appointment. If you're going to get a touch-up on your roots, you can also use the clarifying shampoo the day before. Pro Tip: Remember the consistent use of a clarifying shampoo can also fade your color, so you can always use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo in between touch up times if you need a deep cleansing of your hair.

4. Volume Booster

If you have super fine hair, a clarifying shampoo can help you out in the volume department. While I don't recommend this all of the time, if you have a particular event or something that calls for voluminous locks, you can use your clarifying shampoo to rid yourself of all the oils on your hair and scalp to make your hair light and airy. Then take a little oil sheen and spray it on the ends of your hair if you need an extra boost to make your hair look healthy and shiny. The next time you wash your hair be sure to deep condition it because you don't want to go around using a clarifying shampoo if you don't need it. It is so drying.

5. Cleanse Your Hair Extensions (Tape-In Fans This is For You!)

Clarifying shampoo is perfect for extensions! If you are reusing them, you're getting rid of all the bacteria and products that may have gotten caught in the weft of the hair during your prior use. Using a clarifying shampoo can give your hair extensions a new life! I will say that using a clarifying shampoo is essential when you are applying tape in extensions. Be sure to purify your natural hair with it because the clarifying shampoo gets rid of all the conditioning agents you may be using. You do not want moisture on your hair when installing tape-ins in because you could risk slippage and that is no good. No one wants to see your tape-ins on the floor, especially you!

6. Before a Deep Condition

This reason is self-explanatory if your deep conditioner does not have to fight through a lot of product to penetrate your hair shaft it will work better for your hair. Clarify your hair before applying your deep conditioner, and the deep conditioner can help return your hair to a moisturized state.

7. To Keep Blonde From Getting Too Brassy

It's almost summer, so I know everyone is racing to the hair salon to throw some blonde highlights in their dark winter hair. Everyone wants to get a new look for the new season. I get it! But what a lot of people don't realize is that blonde hair can be very porous. Your blonde tones can get yellow very quickly. The mineral deposits in your shower, your styling products, things in the air, can make your blonde hair very brassy. Use a clarifying shampoo to rid your blonde color of all of that random yellow and then follow it up with the infamous purple shampoo to tone it.

8. Keep You Hair Safe From Chlorine

This point is crucial, so I'm going to reiterate it. All hair types are susceptible to a greenish hue when it's been sitting in chlorine water for hours on end. Whether you are a swimmer or your water composition is slightly off, chlorine can damage your hair by drying it out and changing its color. Let a clarifying shampoo will be your best friend this summer and help you get rid of all the chemicals sitting on your hair. If you're already going to wash your hair anyway (which we all suggest you do when you get out of the pool). You should grab a clarifying shampoo and make sure that you're getting all of that chlorine out. Do not wait and go the whole summer thinking that you've been washing your hair and ridding yourself of those harsh pools chemicals and it's been damaging your stands.

How To Use A Clarifying Shampoo

Do not rush the process when using a clarifying shampoo. Ladies, I know a lot of us tend to trend wash day. It shows. We throw some shampoo in our hair, scrub mercilessly, and then rinse it out to go on about our styling process. However, with a clarifying shampoo, you want to make sure that you treat it almost like a salon service. Use your clarifying shampoo the right way and be sure to concentrate the product distribution on your roots. Massage the clarifying shampoo into your scalp because that's where a lot of product buildup originates. Then work the lather through to the ends of your hair to clean it. Because the clarifying shampoo can be so drying, I do suggest that you use a hair mask afterward to restore some shine and luster to your hair. A bonus in applying the mask is your hair is now so clean the products of the hair mask can penetrate the hair follicle which gives your hair moisture.

Cautions with Clarifying

Clarify shampoos were made to strip, not coat and sometimes this is needed! However, if I have not made this clear, a clarifying shampoo should not be used on the daily or even weekly basis. It is incredibly harsh on hair if there is nothing to cleanse! If you don't have naturally oily hair, it will not only strip your hair of its natural oils, but create a catastrophic drying effect. The same ingredients that we mentioned working as pros in the clarifying shampoo can work against you. Surfactants work to strip away all of the dirt, oil, chemicals, and product buildup in your hair and then attack what is left. Take my advice and stick to using this tool once a month on an as-needed basis.

Are You Ready to Clarify?

Clean hair is the shortest path to long, healthy locks and clarifying shampoo is the shortest path to clean hair. Although you may wash your hair with its moisturizing shampoo on a regular basis, it may not be getting your hair clean enough. With its purposeful blend of surfactants and acids, a clarifying shampoo is sure to give you buildup-free hair ready to shine! When done in moderation cleansing with a clarifying shampoo can give your hair the new life it needs and complete a healthy hair care regime. Comment below on ways you will incorporate a clarifying shampoo into your arsenal of hair care products!
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