If your hair is dull or greasy and you’re finding it incredibly hard to style it – you may need to clarify your hair.
As a fellow natural hair girly, I felt it would be best to break down this process entirely in this post.
Now, hair typically needs clarifying when it becomes weighed down by product build-up or it’s exposed to too much hard water and chlorine.
So, in this post, I’m going to also talk about my favorite clarifying shampoos especially crafted for natural hair.
Grab your favorite cup of tea (or coffee if that’s you), sit back, and let’s dive in!
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What is a clarifying shampoo?
A clarifying shampoo is a specialized type of shampoo designed to specifically:
- Deep clean and remove product buildup
- Excess oil and sebum (naturally produced in your scalp)
- Impurities and pollutants (that you pick up from the environment)
While regular shampoos cleanse the hair, clarifying shampoos go a step further and provide a more intense and thorough cleanse.
Clarifying shampoos have stronger cleansing agents that break down very stubborn residue. So they contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate which are very strong cleansing agents.
This is why you need to be careful when you have colored/dyed hair – these shampoos will even break the dye down.
Also, please note that clarifying shampoos are more drying than regular shampoos – so please don’t overuse them.
When can I use a clarifying shampoo?
Clarifying shampoo is very useful:
- If you use a lot of products: If you regularly use creams, gels, mousses, etc. like me, these can accumulate over time leaving behind residue on the hair. So, a clarifying shampoo will help remove this buildup.
- If you have oily hair: If your hair is prone to accumulating a lot of oil and product buildup and it tends to become greasy, then a clarifying shampoo will help you remove this excess oil and residue and you’ll get that nice clean-hair feel.
- If you are going to get a chemical treatment: If you’re planning to undergo any chemical treatment like perming, or relaxing, a clarifying shampoo right before the treatment will help prepare your hair by removing any residue or buildup. But please check with your hairstylist first!
- If you swim regularly and are constantly exposed to chlorine must use clarifying shampoos. This will help remove chlorine residue and ensure that your hair stays healthy and free from damage.
How often can I use a clarifying shampoo?
Curly/natural hair tends to get drier quickly – our hair needs more moisture.
This means you can use a clarifying shampoo once every few weeks or once a month at most.
I don’t recommend using it every week or every other day – it will cause your hair to become super dry and lead to hair fall and breakage.
Use a clarifying shampoo only when you feel your hair is really bogged down with dirt or product buildup and you feel like you cannot style your hair because the strands are too limp and heavy.
Best clarifying shampoo for natural hair: My top 5 recommendations
I’m going to specifically cover shampoos that work only for natural hair like mine and yours, are extremely gentle, and cleanse the hair properly.
I’ve heard so much about this brand and when I finally decided to give it a shot – I was floored.
Some of the things I genuinely like about this shampoo:
- It works for all hair types – straight, wavy, curly, or coily. It’s very versatile and has a lovely smell.
- Because it contains apple cider vinegar, it cleanses the hair beautifully. It gives a nice lather and doesn’t contain a strong scent.
- If you have a dry flaky scalp because of hard water, it is very gentle and will only remove the hard water residue – so you don’t need to worry about frizz or your hair getting drier. But use it once in 2-3 weeks.
- It cleans the hair well if you have a lot of products like gels, hairspray, or mousses – so it removes all the product buildup.
One major con is that if you have colored your hair with a box dye, I suggest not using this shampoo because it can strip off some of the color from your hair.
It is also a tad bit expensive but I honestly found it worth the price.
I have used this shampoo after my hair got exposed to hard water and it cleansed my curls leaving them soft and squeaky clean.
I actually got that nice-clean feeling after washing my hair with this shampoo and it didn’t dry it out too much either! It cleans hair beautifully.
A little bit goes a long way – so use very little and make sure your hair is wet – this will ensure a good, strong lather.
I think this brand became so popular in the USA that by the time it came out in Sephora in India, it was a bestseller.
I absolutely love most Moroccanoil products – I am a big fan because the smell is to die for and their products are cruelty-free.
Some of the pros of this clarifying shampoo are:
- It works very well for greasy hair – if you have oily hair or you use a lot of hair products, then this shampoo will remove all the stickiness. And it won’t dry out your hair too much either.
- It leaves your hair feeling light and fresh – I as a curly girl, love this about a clarifying shampoo.
- If you have very dry hair, do not use this more than 1 time a week. It will dry out your hair.
- It works really well if you have hard water just like the previous shampoo – just use it once a week to clarify and you’ll notice that the sticky residue is gone! Your hair will be soft, smooth, and really, really shiny!
After reading some of the reviews, I’ve noticed that some people do complain that the shampoo is quite drying.
But you’ll notice that on their page, they clearly state that you should use this shampoo only 1-2 times a month or once a week max.
So please do not use this shampoo daily or every other day.
As I mentioned earlier, clarifying shampoos must only be used 2-3 times a month max. Do not use this frequently – it will end up drying your hair.
Everyone knows Carol’s Daughter makes some of the best hair products for curly and textured hair.
What I love about this shampoo and conditioner duo is that it’s infused with aloe vera and is completely silicone, sulfate, and paraben free.
It also contains a lot of natural ingredients – and it’s completely vegan.
Some things I genuinely liked about this shampoo and conditioner
- The combination works. The conditioner actually goes with the shampoo and while the shampoo clarifies and cleans your hair completely, the conditioner softens, smooths, and detangles your hair beautifully. This works amazingly well for 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B, and 4C hair.
- The scent is pleasant, it’s sort of citrusy which I like because I don’t like overpowering floral scents.
- My hair felt amazing after the shampoo and conditioner duo. It felt hydrated, soft and so moisturized.
- It’s very cost-effective – so it’s easy on the pocket.
Some of the cons I’ve found are that the shampoo is a little runny and watery (so be careful that you don’t use too much) and it doesn’t later a lot.
I wouldn’t buy this shampoo without the conditioner.
So, if you’re looking for a clarifying shampoo and conditioner set for natural hair – this is the only one you need.
If you tend to have very oily, greasy, or waxy hair, then you definitely can use this clarifying shampoo.
Paul Mitchell is a good brand and the creator usually focuses on color-safe shampoos and conditioners.
But this shampoo works like it promises. It lathers extremely well!
If you have an oily scalp or greasy hair, then use this to clean your hair. You’ll have soft, manageable hair and your scalp won’t be itchy or dry afterward. It has a nice lemony scent.
It restores that perfect balance to your hair and I have not felt the need to use a conditioner afterward especially if you’re using it only 2-3 times a month.
I also like that it has a nice scent and doesn’t weigh down your hair.
The only con is, that if you have dry or textured hair, please only do 1 light wash and use it once or twice a month. Since our hair tends to be sensitive, I don’t recommend using it frequently.
You will have to experiment and see how it works for your hair, based on that, you can decide on the frequency.
I thought I’d save the best for last.
This shampoo contains tea tree oil and aloe vera and is designed to remove residue from synthetic and natural hair. You can not only use it for natural hair, but you can also use it if you wear wigs or wigs because it targets the adhesive glue on the hairline so it’s perfect!
And yes, you can use this on your wigs and weaves too. This shampoo will not damage it.
I love the scent honestly, and I’ve read a lot of reviews from people who soaked their wigs in this shampoo, rinsed and combed it and their wigs came back to life.
It also leaves your hair soft and shiny – but then again, all the shampoos I’ve mentioned in this list do that. =)
It lathers nicely and it’s perfect for anyone with natural hair, scalp issues, or people who use a lot of products.
I love how soft my hair felt after using it.
You can pair this with a conditioner.
Because clarifying shampoos are drying, I highly recommend trying them out once in two weeks and seeing how your hair feels.
If you find that your hair is not too dry and you’re able to moisturize it often with deep conditioner and hot-oil treatments – then you can use it 2-3 times a month.
I don’t recommend using it more than that, but then again, I am talking about what works for me.
Everyone’s hair is different – so go into it very slowly.
Wishing you all the best!
Let me know if you have tried any clarifying shampoos that you like.
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