Clarifying Shampoo: What Is It & How to Use It?

Clarifying Shampoo: What Is It & How to Use It?

Clarifying shampoo is a deep cleanser formulated to remove excess residue, dirt, and product built up on the scalp. It is likely that you are here because you’ve only just discovered it! Understanding the differences between what clarifying shampoo is and regular shampoo will help your hair to thrive.

Table of Contents:

What is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is used to restore your curly hair to its most natural state. Clarifying is the process of removing unwanted product buildup and residues on your hair. To give your hair this detox, you will need to know what a clarifying shampoo is.

Clarifying shampoo is a deep cleanser which can be used on all curly hair types. More than just a regular shampoo, a clarifying shampoo will cut through oils and product build up easily, leaving you with fresh and clean tresses. However, it should not be used in the same manner as a more regular or daily shampoo.

Why Do You Need Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is used to restore and reset your hair, allowing moisture to re-enter the curls. 

Maybe you’ve looked at your hair recently and questioned why it’s stopped absorbing all the hydrating hair products that used to make your locks so soft. Well it could be time to give your hair a detox with clarifying shampoo and leave it feeling cleaner than ever.

  • When you clarify your hair, you are allowing it to breathe. Many people use multiple curly hair products on their hair on a daily or weekly basis and overtime these will start to build up. 
  • This build up can be caused by emollients in products which act as a sealant. Sealants are really good for locking moisture into the hair, but overusing them can have the opposite effect. 
  • The hair will stop being able to absorb moisture into the shaft. This can lead to locks becoming dry and brittle, which can ultimately lead to hair breakage
  • What clarifying shampoo is doing, is helping to remove this build up, allowing moisture to enter the hair, and letting your curls thrive.

Clarifying your curls regularly is totally safe and necessary to maintain your hair and maintain a healthy scalp. For those with curly hair or coily hair, it may seem strange to want to remove scalp oils because we’re always being told how important they are for our hair. However, if we don’t clarify, product and scalp sebum build-up can risk weighing down the hair. Ultimately, this suffocates hair follicles which can even have an impact on hair growth.

How Do You Use Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is a great addition to your curly haircare routine, but should be used sparingly. 

Follow these steps for how to use clarifying shampoo:

  1. Work a small amount of our Wash & Scrub Detox Shampoo into your hands.
  2. Apply to your wet scalp, massaging in to get right to the root.
  3. Leave in your hair for up to 30 seconds.
  4. Rinse the clarifying shampoo completely from your locks.
  5. Apply your curly hair conditioner.

Clarifying Shampoo vs Regular Shampoo

With a range of clarifying shampoo options on the market, it can be difficult to distinguish which one is best for our hair type and its needs. The common mistake curly hair beginners make is that they treat it like a regular shampoo. Knowing what a clarifying shampoo really is could help you achieve your hair goals:

What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do?

As with generic shampoos, you will want to apply a clarifying shampoo to wet hair. For best results, understanding what a clarifying shampoo is and how often you should wash your hair using one can help manage product expectations.

  • It’s a deep cleanser.
  • Removes impurities & unwanted residues.
  • Removes build caused by hard water minerals.
  • Depending on hair condition, use every 3-5 washes.
  • Clarifying shampoo can be used on any hair type.

An example of a clarifying shampoo is our Wash & Scrub Detox Pro-Biotic. This tough action cleaner cuts through build up easily, which is what you want when your hair needs a deep clean.

Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair

What Does Regular Shampoo Do?

Comparing a regular shampoo to a clarifying shampoo is the best and only way to see the real differences. After all, they are used to treat our hair in very different ways, despite sharing similar names.

  • Regular shampoos are a mild cleanser.
  • Gently washes your scalp & tresses.
  • Day to day hair wash product.
  • May have a lower proportion of surfactants (cleaning agents).
  • Regular shampoo can be used by any hair type.

This, along with its clarifying counterpart also exist in the form of a sulfate free shampoo, which people with dry hair, curly hair, or sensitive scalps may benefit from.

Clarifying Shampoo vs Chelating Shampoo

Chelating shampoos aren’t too far from clarifying shampoo. Clarifiers are perfect to remove product build up, but chelating products tend to have a stronger detoxifying ability.

Chelating may require an experienced hair specialist or salon to complete. This is because chelating products tend to be more acidic, and actually remove minerals from inside the hair shaft. Clarifying your hair before this chelating treatment does help to prepare your scalp, and can help to reduce how often you need a chelating treatment. 

When Should You Clarify Your Curls?

Depending on the condition of your locks and what products you use, the best place to look when questioning when to use clarifying shampoo is your own head of hair. By feeling and looking at your scalp, you can determine for yourself when it’s best for you to use this hair treatment. Other signs to look for are:

  • Greasy feeling - Can you physically feel the buildup of products on your hair? Or if you feel like you need a deep clean to get your hair to shine again, you may want to reach for the clarifying shampoo.
  • Itchy scalp - If you have an itchy scalp or dry scalp, it could be caused by product build up. You will want to reset your hair, and this is what clarifying shampoo can do.
  • Weighed down hair - If your hair feels weighed down or your curls don’t have their usual bounce, and you find yourself refreshing your curls more often, it might be time to clarify.
  • Dry Hair - Dry hair can be a sign of product build up, as moisture isn’t able to penetrate through. You will notice this if your hair feels very dry even after using deep conditioners, so you may want to clarify.
  • Products don’t work the same - If even the best curly hair products don’t give you your desired results anymore, you may need to clarify.
  • Hair still feels dirty once washed - If your hair still feels dirty once you have washed it, you may need to clarify to help remove build up.
  • Limp, lifeless curls lacking definition - A sign you need to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo is if you have dull curls that are limp and lacking definition. This is because build up could be weighing your curls down and not letting them thrive.

How Often Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo?

Our recommendation, to start you off, would be to:

  • Use a clarifying shampoo every 4-5 washes.

Clarifying Curly Hair

This way you are removing buildup from products and letting your hair breathe.

What To Use Alongside Clarifying?

  • Before clarifying: Use a pre-shampoo treatment first, like our Pre-Biotic Primer. Ensure your ends are well covered to make sure your hair is well moisturised.
  • After clarifying: Our Post-Biotic Calming Conditioner is perfect to refresh and rebalance the scalp.

Why Your Curls will Love Curlsmith

At Curlsmith, we only use clean ingredients in our curly, wavy hair products, and coily hair products. We don’t use any Sulphates, Parabens, Silicones, Mineral Oils, Phthalates, or DEA’s. We also know what nourishment curls need because we developed our cruelty-free and vegan hair products with curly hair stylists, trichologists, and beauty experts.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.