Clarifying shampoos should strip all products without drying hair out and these 25 recommendations are perfect for this purpose.
These 25 clarifying shampoos work very well to cleanse natural hair without stripping hair.
As naturalistas, we apply many products to our natural hair for various reasons.
Some of these reasons include achieving long-lasting moisture, helping hair grow faster, strengthening hair, or eliminating other issues.
Over time, these products will start to clog up the scalp and coat the hair strands preventing products from working effectively.
It doesn’t really matter how light the products are either. Eventually, build up will factor into the equation.
This is where clarifying shampoos come in especially if you practice a no poo or low poo regimen.
What is Clarifying Shampoo?
Clarifying shampoos strip the hair of all products used previously and remove build-up on hair.
The build-up could be from either products or environmental factors such as hard water, chlorine in water, and seawater.
If you find a clarifying shampoo too strong, you can always dilute it a little bit to reduce potency.
7 Signs It’s Time to Use a Clarifying Shampoo
1. Hair Feels Sticky
If you run your hands through your hair and it leaves a sticky feel on your hands, it’s time to use a clarifying shampoo.
2. Heavy-handed Product Application
Are you heavy-handed with product application? Eventually, your hair will start to feel weighed down and lose fullness and bounce.
3. Hard Water
If you live in an area with hard water and you’re not mitigating the hardness with a shower filter, you will need to use a clarifying shampoo every few weeks.
4. Swimming Regularly
Do you swim regularly? A quick rinse after swimming is good hair care practice.
However, over time, there may be a buildup of chlorine and salt that will require a clarifying shampoo to remove.
5. Product Mishap
If you try out a new product that doesn’t turn out the way you expect and you need to start over, a clarifying shampoo will help.
6. Possible Damage
Do you suspect damage from treatments? This may not always be the case.
A good clarifying shampoo will remove products and allow you to examine if your hair is damaged or just really dried out from the treatments.
7. Products No Longer Working
Your staple and go-to products no longer working as effectively as before is a surefire sign that you have product buildup.
Irrespective of how your hair feels, you should aim to clarify at least once a month if you have type 1 – 3 hair and every 6 – 8 weeks with type 3 – 4 hair.
How Often Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo On Natural Hair?
Clarifying shampoo strip all the natural oils from your hair and leave it bare so to speak. You should only clarify if you’re trying to remove buildup.
Ideally, this shouldn’t be more than three times a month. If you have really dry hair, even less than that.
It’s hard to get moisture back into the hair after stripping it with a clarifying shampoo.
If you are faced with using a clarifying shampoo more than 2 – 3 times a month then you need to reexamine your product stash.
There are some products in there that likely have undesirable elements, which could be causing a quick buildup.
Related Content: 6 Ingredients to Avoid in Shampoos
How To Use Clarifying Shampoo
- Apply to wet hair. Lather up and massage thoroughly.
- Use your fingertips on your scalp. If you have a scalp exfoliator, you can use that as well.
- Rinse then deep condition. You shouldn’t shampoo more than once with a clarifying shampoo unless the product build-up is extreme.
Best Clarifying Shampoos for Natural Hair
Below are the top 25 clarifying shampoos that work well but gently at the same time. They are particularly suitable for dry hair.
I’ve scored the ones I’ve tried before and will upload individual reviews over the next few months.
As I Am Curly Clarity Shampoo gently removes product build-up without making hair rough or unmanageable.
As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo is sulfate-free and great for color-treated hair as well.
Avalon Organics Clarifying Shampoo revitalizes hair and removes excess oils and build-up with lemon.
The shampoo is formulated with a certified organic formula and plant-based botanicals and is sulfate-free.
Avalon Organics Clarifying Shampoo is vegan friendly and not tested on animals. More HERE.
Elucence Volume Clarifying Shampoo adds volume and body with the goodness of panthenol, biotin, hydrolyzed wheat proteins, and honey extract.
The shampoo also contains white willow bark, sage, green tea, chamomile, and wheat germ extract.
This shampoo is very good for fine and thinning hair. More HERE.
Living Proof Full Shampoo contains the patented Healthy Hair Molecule (OFPMA) which preps hair for maximum fullness and helps repel dirt and oil.
The shampoo is ideal for fine and flat hair and is safe for color-treated hair. More HERE.
Mixed Chicks Gentle Clarifying Shampoo soy protein and panthenol and strengthens follicles as it cleanses. More HERE.
OUAI Detox Shampoo is gentle on curls yet effectively cleanses.
It’s suitable for all hair types and made with ingredients that get the job done. More HERE.
Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo is one of those cheapie products that work just as well as the more expensive stuff.
It is formulated for normal to oily hair and is gentle enough for everyday use but don’t shampoo your hair every day. More HERE.
Giovanni is one of my favorite hair care brands and the Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo invigorates the scalp and promotes circulation.
It will leave your hair and scalp feeling refreshed and renewed. This shampoo also helps with eliminating dandruff. More HERE.
The tea tree triple treat shampoo has an equally invigorating Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner companion.
I’m usually indifferent to pairing shampoos with the companion conditioners in a regimen.
In this case, I’ll make an exception because the pairing is that good.
Previous Giovanni reviews on Healthy Natural Hair Products:-
- Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner Review
- Giovanni Vitapro Fusion Protective Leave-in Treatment Review
- Giovanni LA Natural Styling Gel Review
Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo boasts a blend of certified organics botanicals including peppermint and tea tree for a refreshing and tingling experience.
Its effects are similar to Giovanni’s Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo. It’s suitable for all hair types. More HERE.
N4 High-Performance Clarifying Shampoo is formulated with the exclusive Liquid Complex Culture for color protection, strength, anti-aging, and clarity.
Fragranced with a blend of white freesia, golden amber, and warm musk. More HERE.
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse is a low foam formula that removes impurities and softens hair.
Infused with argan oil. apple cider vinegar, lavender extract, and aloe vera for added softness and strength. More HERE.
GIRL+HAIR Super Moisturizing and Restorative Sulfate-Free Shampoo is a highly concentrated formula that’s moisturizing and nourishing.
Formulated shea butter, chamomile, tea tree oil, and neem oil to reduce itchy and flaky scalp. More HERE.
Bounce Curl Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo gently removes build-up and clarifies effectively.
It also lightly moisturizes hair. Formulated with black seed oil, enzymes, panthenol, biotin, and plant extracts. More HERE.
Clarifying Shampoo For Color Treated Hair
As mentioned earlier, clarifying shampoo strips the hair of everything on it so you can start all over. This is counterproductive for colored hair.
You want your color to last as long as possible but you also want your hair to be clean.
In this case, there are 5 clarifying shampoos created for colored hair I would recommend. Feel free to use it even if your hair isn’t colored:-
Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo is gentle and infused with plant extracts like green tea, bitter orange, and grape to keep color vibrant for longer.
John Frieda Color Preserving Shampoo is formulated with pomegranate and plum extracts for hair dyed red.
It preserves and magnifies the vibrant red color while providing intense shine. More HERE.
Redken Color Extend Shampoo contains UVA and UVB filters to provide anti-fade protection.
It also contains cranberry oil to maximize color and amino acids for a protective coating. More HERE.
There are more comprehensive colored hair shampoo recommendations at Top 10 Shampoos for Coloured Natural Hair.
Because clarifying shampoos tend to strip the moisture and oils from hair, you should follow up with a good deep conditioning session.
Recommended Healthy Hair Care Resources
A future article will examine the best moisturizing deep conditioners for natural hair. Have you tried any of these shampoos?
Share your experience in the comments section.
Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
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