The Best Clarifying Shampoo

Finding the right shampoo can make or break your hair care regimen. Clarifying shampoo removes product build up and allows your products to work more effectively. This post will cover everything you need to know about clarifying your hair and scalp.

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clarifying shampoo tips


Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath

What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo removes any product residue left over from styling your curly hair. When you apply oils, butters, and moisturizing smoothies to your curls, sometimes you need a strong product to completely remove residue and “clarify” your hair. 

Product residue from styling your hair creates a barrier between the hair strand and the new product you’re applying. It also weighs down your strands, making it difficult to define your curls.

If your products can’t penetrate the hair shaft, they won’t be as effective.

If you have product build up, your products aren’t working, your hair feels greasy, or you’ve been using heavier products for seasonal changes, then you need a clarifying shampoo.

Who Is Clarifying Shampoo For?

Anyone in need of removing product residue can try clarifying shampoo. It’s perfect for natural hair, especially if you have naturally curly hair and you tend to use heavier styling products to define your curls. If you find yourself wondering, Do I need clarifying shampoo? use the chart below to determine whether or not you do.

clarifying shampoo for curly hair

If you have dry hair, you’ll want to think carefully about how you incorporate clarifying shampoo into your regimen. Your hair could be dry because heavy build up is preventing your moisturizing products from penetrating the hair shaft. If thats the case, a dose of clarifying shampoo will remove buildup (such as waxes or heavy oils) and allow your products to work more effectively.

However, if your hair is dry and you don’t feel any product build up it’s likely best to use a different product to prevent stripping away the moisture.

Clarifying Shampoo Products For Curly Hair

Best Organic Clarifying Shampoo

Curly hair tends to be very dry, and sometimes a moisturizing shampoo that will also remove buildup is best.

If you love organic products, you have probably searched far and wide for a clarifying shampoo that meets your standards. Avalon Organics offers a clarifying shampoo free of harsh chemicals. The product is EWG certified.

Universal Clarifying Shampoo For Curly Hair

Acure is a popular brand with many options for curly hair. The Curiously Clarifying Shampoo is EWG certified and is a great option for women with natural hair who want a chemical-free but effective formula to remove product build-up.

Natural Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair: Innersense Hydrating Cream Hairbath

Shampoo for Color Treated Hair

If you have color treated hair, it’s important to use shampoo that is not too harsh and that supports the vibrancy of your tresses. Everyone has a different definition of what a good clarifying shampoo for curly hair is. How you define the best clarifying shampoo will depend on your hair type and overall routine. Finding a color safe clarifying shampoo for curly hair is essential for maintaining healthy curls if you have dyed your hair recently.

Color Awakening Hair Bath

Innersense offers refillable and recyclable products for color treated hair. This blue beauty brand is perfect for anyone looking for a sustainable and organic hair care product.

The Best Blue Beauty Products: Complete Guide

Best shampoo for glowing hair: unicorn shimmer color wellness shampoo

The Unicorn Shimmer Color Wellness Shampoo from Acure is a paraben free, sulfate free formula with rose quartz and sunflower seed extract to make your hair glow this season. The formula does not include mineral oil, formaldehyde, or petrolatum and is certified cruelty-free (via Leaping Bunny).

Best Earth-Friendly Shampoo: Everist Waterless Shampoo Concentrate

The Everist Waterless Shampoo Concentrate is a powder shampoo designed to minimize waste. The shampoo comes in a recyclable zero-waste tube and the concentrated powder provides up to 30 washes worth of product. According to Everist, “Most shampoos are more than 70% water, made from petrochemicals and packed in single-use plastic. We had a better idea. Introducing the first waterless shampoo concentrate. A 100% plant-based paste-textured concentrate that is activated by the water in your shower.”

Best Everyday Clarifying Shampoo: Acure Curiously Clarifying Shampoo

If you’re a swimmer or athlete who needs to clarify your more often, look no further than the gentle Curiously Clarifying Shampoo from Acure. This gentle Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free formula is gentle enough for everyday use so you don’t have to worry about drying out your hair, especially if you workout several times a week and need to wash your hair more often.

Best Budget-Friendly Moisturizing Shampoo: Acure Ultra Hydrating Shampoo

The Ultra Hydrating Shampoo from Acure is the perfect budget-friendly option. Pumpkin and argan oil make for the perfect balance of clarifying properties without losing out on moisturizing benefits.

Best Gentle Shampoo for Families: Calendula 2 in 1 Gentle Shampoo and Bath Wash

Weleda’s calendula-infused shampoo and body wash makes bath time faster and irritation-free for kids and adults with sensitive skin.

Best 2-in-1: Zoe Organics Bath Wash

This small foaming 2-in-1 bath wash is perfect for a minimalistic routine or for traveling. If you’re looking for an all in one product with an easy lather this is the perfect option for you.

Suna Exfoliating Shampoo

Suna Exfoliating Shampoo does not include salt. Instead, a gentle mixture of clay and minerals does the heavy lifting to remove buildup from the scalp and hair. If you are sensitive to salt or prefer clay formulas this is a great option for you.

Griffin Remedy Restorative Shampoo For Dry Hair

Griffin Remedy is a fruit-based shampoo with natural ingredients. The product has a score of 2 on the EWG, and is clean but it isn’t certified. The product contains essential oils that often affect product scores. For more information, check out the EWG product page for Griffin Remedy. This is a very affordable option as the product is under $10. If you don’t have any sensitivities to essential oils, the product is worth a look.

Attitude is another popular clean beauty brand. The Super Leaves Volume and Shine Shampoo is full of health ingredients designed to thicken hair. It is perfect for curly hair because it is free of harsh alcohol. This is a protein-based product, so for those of you who need more protein, this is the perfect product. If you’re not sure about your protein moisture balance, see Protein Moisture Balance: A Complete Curly Girl Guide.

Other Types of Clarifying Products to Try

If you already have a clarifying shampoo or you’re interested in other options, you have plenty of alternatives. Scrubs and masks are also great clarifying options.

Best Clarifying Mask for Product Build Up

You’ll want to consider a product such as the Innersense Detox Hair mask. It offers a gentle detox mask that is moisturizing and gently lifts buildup from the hair. I love this mask because it doesn’t have a heavy fragrance and feels very lightweight on my curls. It’s very concentrated so it’s best to apply it to wet hair and work it into your curls. A little goes a long way so you don’t need to coat your hair with a thick layer of this mask for it to work.

Goop G. Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo

Himalayan salts have numerous benefits for your skin, and Goop’s Himalayan Salt Scrub Shampoo is the perfect way to incorporate purifying salts into your routine.

Innersense True Enlightenment Scalp Scrub

Unearth Yourself Balancing Clay Hair Cleanser

Clarifying Shampoo and Conditioner

For those of you who need a little extra clarifying, consider using a clarifying conditioner with your shampoo. If you have extremely oily hair, you will benefit from this. Clarifying conditioner is designed to cleanse and moisturize your hair. It will not leave a residue on your hair like most conditioners will, and will rinse out more easily.

Avalon Organics and Griffin Remedy both offer some of the best affordable clarifying shampoos if you are interested in this or need a little extra clarifying in your life. This is perfect for those of you who live in hot climates, use heavy products, or naturally have oily hair.

Acure Curiously Clarifying Conditioner

Curly Hair Checklist

You’ve tried a million products and you still can’t get the curl definition you want. This simple checklist will help you build a routine that actually works even if you have no idea where to start.

How Use Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying shampoo should be applied to your scalp and any sections of hair that have excessive product build up.

Shop natural and organic beauty hair products at

Since the ends of your hair tend to be driest, try to avoid putting shampoo directly on the ends of your hair. When you rinse your hair, the clarifying shampoo will naturally pass over the ends of your hair.

Clarifying shampoo is not bad for your hair when used in moderation. Any time you overuse a cleansing product, you are at risk of stripping your hair of oils it needs to be healthy. You do not want to strip your hair of too many oils, because the oil keeps your hair healthy.

How often you need to clarify your hair will depend on your hair routine, the season, and the types of products you use.

Experimentation is worth the time because clarifying shampoo is a powerful product that will leave you feeling refreshed.

Clarifying Shampoo Tips

curly girl clarifying shampoo

The best clarifying shampoo for your hair type will depend on your scalp care routine, and the types of products you use weekly. Discover the best clarifying shampoo for product build up based on your hair type.

Before you incorporate a new clarifying shampoo into your routine, there are a few things you need to know.

Don’t Over Clarify

You don’t want to over cleanse your hair. If you use shampoo too often, you remove all of the natural oils from your hair that keep your strands healthy. Your hair could also become excessively dry, leading you to search for other products to correct over cleansing. 

You can download the free curly hair guide below for tips to follow if you’re still working on developing a hair care routine. These are the steps I use for defined curls every time (click below to access the guide).

Clarifying Shampoo Ingredients

Parabens, sulfites, and sulfates are controversial ingredients for clarifying shampoo. Sulfates coat the hair to prevent frizz, but over time having na coating on the hair can be difficult to remove and detrimental. If you’re looking for a product that removes product buildup, it’s best to avoid ingredients such as sulfates.

Sulfates in products are one of the reasons people need clarifying shampoo. The buildup on the hair prevents frizz, but it’s neccessary to remove this build up to allow the hair to absorb moisturizing treatments.

Parabens are harsh preservatives that aren’t recommended by the EWG, and sulfites can cause sensitivity. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, “Some people, especially people with asthma, are sensitive to sulfites and can experience severe allergic reactions.”

Clarifying Shampoo For Dyed Hair

Will clarifying shampoo remove color?

Using a clarifying shampoo on color treated hair can be risky depending on the formulation of the products you use. Not all clarifying shampoo products are safe for color treated hair.

One popular option is the herbal clarifying shampoo by Healing Scents. It’s a light, gentle formula with a surfactant called decyl-polyglucoside. This shampoo will leave your hair clean and moisturized without causing damage to your color. It’s a win-win.

Can I use clarifying shampoo to lighten hair?

If you want to lighten your hair, it’s best to speak to your hair stylist. Color can adjust to the tiniest environmental changes. A hair mask, exposure to the sun, or saltwater can easily result in undesirable changes to your hair color. It is always best to consult a professional for your desired look so you don’t end up with any unwanted surprises.

Curly Hair Checklist

You’ve tried a million products and you still can’t get the curl definition you want. This simple checklist will help you build a routine that actually works even if you have no idea where to start.

Clarifying Shampoo Results

Finding a n effective clarifying shampoo that gets rid of product build up is important for maintaining healthy curls. There are many different clarifying shampoos for different purposes. The best way to choose a clarifying shampoo is to find the one that targets your needs. If you have oily hair, or need a stronger shampoo you will need a product that addresses this. If you color your hair, check to make sure the product is safe for that.

How to Save Money on Beauty Products

Easy tips you’ll wish you’d known earlier.

The strength of shampoo you need will depend on what your scalp needs. There isn’t a perfect answer to the strongest, or the best clarifying shampoo because everyone’s hair responds differently to ingredients.

clarifying shampoo for curly hair
clarifying shampoo shoppers

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