Curly Haircare 101: What Is Clarifying Shampoo and Other FAQs Answered
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Clarifying shampoos are super cleaners for your hair and scalp. That superstrength, however, means there are some points you must keep in mind before opting to use one. Chances are you have already used a clarifier, or rather, one has been used on your hair at a salon – even if you weren’t aware of it. If you are considering using one on your own, get all the answers to the most frequently asked questions about clarifying shampoos in this article.
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Frequently asked questions about clarifiers
Here are the ten FAQs answered in this article. Feel free to click and jump to each one.
- What is a clarifying shampoo?
- What are the benefits of a clarifying shampoo?
- Who should use a clarifying shampoo?
- How often should you use clarifying shampoo?
- How is clarifying shampoo used?
- Does clarifying shampoo make hair dry?
- Is clarifying shampoo safe for textured hair?
- Are there risks with using clarifying shampoo?
- What are chelating agents?
- What are some of the best clarifying shampoos for natural hair?
Answers to Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Clarifying Shampoo
Find the answers to the most popular questions about clarifying shampoo. Our hope is to help you decide if this deep cleaning product is right for you and your hair.
1. What is a clarifying shampoo?
A clarifying shampoo is a hair cleanser that is formulated to trap minerals, product buildup, and excess oils that have accumulated on your hair and scalp over time. It deep cleans your hair and scalp, leaving them extremely clean.
2. What are the benefits of a clarifying shampoo?
Revives hair. Clarifiers help to revive hair that is dull, limp, and heavy due to built-up residue. It makes your hair shinier as well as increases the volume and bounce of your curls.
Makes other products more effective. Hair grows healthier from a clean scalp. Plus, products that nourish your scalp will be more effective once the buildup has been removed from your scalp.
Preps hair for salon treatments. Salons often use clarifiers prior to certain treatments, such as a relaxer or keratin treatment. These work much better and show much more pleasing results when used on hair that has been deep cleaned with a clarifier.
3. Who should use a clarifying shampoo?
Clarifiers may be a good option for you if:
- You use a lot of products in your hair.
- You don’t wash your hair often.
- You have naturally oily hair and scalp.
- Your hair feels dull, limp, and heavy.
- You use hard tap water to wash your hair.
- Your regular hair products don’t seem to be giving the same awesome results as they used to.
- You are going in for a salon treatment and clarifying beforehand has been recommended to you.
- You swim often and chlorine from pool water has left a greenish tint on your hair.
- Your scalp is in need of a refresh.
4. How often should you use clarifying shampoo?
It depends on how quickly minerals, product residue, and oils build up on your hair. If these aren’t an issue for you, then clarifying once a month or even once every other month may be quite fine.
At the other end of the spectrum, using a clarifier every other week or as often as weekly may be fine, too, if you experience lots of buildup on your hair, for whatever reason, in a short period of time.
5. How is clarifying shampoo used?
Buildup is usually greater on your scalp than on the hair itself, so focus on your scalp first.
- Start by working a bit of the shampoo between your hands and then applying it to your roots. Give yourself a good scalp massage to help the shampoo get to all the residue it needs to remove.
- You can move on to working the shampoo through the rest of your hair.
- Rinse and repeat if necessary.
- Follow up your clarifying shampoo (and every other kind of shampoo) with a conditioner, deep conditioner, or hair mask to restore moisture.
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6. Does clarifying shampoo make hair dry
Clarifying shampoos can be drying. It is possible for some of them to strip away sebum (your scalp’s natural oils) as they strip away gunk, etc. from your hair. This is why it is so very important to use a conditioner after using a clarifier.
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7. Is clarifying shampoo safe for textured hair?
The natural curls, coils, and kinks of textured hair slow down the progression of sebum along the hair shaft, causing curly, coily, and kinky hair to be naturally drier than other types of hair. So, waiting for longer intervals between uses of a clarifier would be best. Also, you should opt for a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo when you do feel the need for a deep clean.
8. Are there risks with using clarifying shampoo?
While clarifying shampoos give your hair a clean slate feeling, they do have some disadvantages. These include:
- Clarifiers can be drying for your hair and scalp, depending on how often you use them, your hair type, and the ingredients in the shampoo.
- Conversely, clarifying shampoo can make oily scalp worse. While clarifying is good for removing excess oil from an oily scalp, it may do the job a bit too well and leave your scalp dry. Your scalp may overcompensate for this and ramp up oil production, making your initial problem worse.
- Clarifiers might dull your color in the process of removing buildup from your hair (especially if you used a color rinse as opposed to a permanent color). Be sure to look for clarifying shampoo that says it is color-safe if you have dyed your hair and want to use a clarifier.
- Frizziness may result from clarifying too often or from clarifying with a shampoo that is too harsh on your hair.
- Some skin conditions may be worsened by clarifiers. These include eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff.
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9. What are chelating agents?
Chelating agents are salts used in many clarifiers to bond to metal ions so these can be easily removed from the hair. They also help to remove minerals from hard water (making it softer) and can remove chlorine deposited on hair from pool water.
EDTA is a common chelating agent used in many clarifying shampoos. Forms of this chelating agent that you might see in the ingredients list on your shampoo are disodium EDTA and tetrasodium EDTA.
10. What are some of the best clarifying shampoos for natural hair?
Here’s a selection of clarifiers that will not only leave your hair and scalp well-cleaned but are also formulated to moisturize and nourish them in the process.
Specifically formulated for curls, coils, and tight textures. Made with extracts of aloe vera, coconut, rosemary, and cucumber. Contains disodium EDTA as a chelating agent and shea butter to moisturize your hair.
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Designed for curly and damaged hair. Made with phytic acid as a natural chelating agent derived from soy and corn to deep clean your strands.
Kinky-Curly also made our list of the best Black-owned hair care brands to shop. Find out about them, here!
Made to clean, reset, rehydrate, and nourish your hair. Its color-safe formula includes extracts from lavender, chamomile, and jojoba along with argan and avocado oils. Also contain tetrasodium EDTA and disodium EDTA as chelating agents.
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Made with Australian pepperberry and mosa mint. Also has tetrasodium EDTA for chelating away impurities and leaving your hair and scalp “clean slate” clean.
Do you use a clarifying shampoo as a part of your natural haircare routine? Tell us about it!