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How To Clarify Hair

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

How To Clarify Hair At Home:

Clarifying your hair once every few weeks is extremely beneficial in your hair care routine to remove excess buildup and promote healthy hair.

Those with oily hair or curly hair benefit from this treatment.

Well, in reality, any hair type can benefit from a hair clarifying treatment, especially if you use hair products that contain waxes and oils. It helps to remove dead skin cells and even prevents bacterial and fungal growth.

How you clarify your hair is not much different from how you shampoo it normally, but there are a few tips and pointers to keep in mind for the best results from hair clarification.

Doing a hair clarifying treatment once a week is recommended for oily hair, once a month for curly hair, and once every two months for damaged curly hair doing the CGM.

In this article, I will be running through everything you need to know about clarifying treatments and why your hair and scalp will love you after them.

So let’s jump into the good bits.

clarifying shampoo 1

What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

What is clarifying shampoo, and what does clarifying shampoo do for your hair?

A clarifying does far more than any regular shampoo; it cuts through product buildup and oils, leaving hair looking and feeling super clean. If you’ve ever had a salon relaxer or keratin treatment, it may have been used.

This is because these treatments work wonders on extremely clean hair, so by doing a clarifying shampoo beforehand, you can reap the most benefits of these treatments as they can penetrate deeper into the hair cuticle and work most effectively.

But clarifying shampoos can be used by anyone. If you feel your hair is not cooperating or feels lifeless, then this is a sign of product buildup. Clarifying shampoo leaves a blank canvas for your products to work to their best ability.

Clarifying shampoo is often used as the reset shampoo before completing the Curly Girl Method. This is because sulfate-free shampoos won’t remove product buildups like silicones, waxes, and oils, so it is used as the first step and then once every month or two after.

For curly hair or dry hair, it is recommended that you do a deep conditioning treatment after you use a clarifying shampoo as it can be very drying, so restoring the moisture is key.

You can get a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo, but the key ingredient that cleanses and remove product buildup and excess oils is the sulfates. So for normal hair, the sulfate option is best.

For curly, dry, damaged, or color-treated hair, it is best you go for a sulfate-free option as it is far more gentle on your hair but may not work as well as the sulfate one.

How To Clarify Your Hair:

Using clarifying shampoo is really no different from using regular shampoo on your hair, but there are a couple of things to note when using clarifying shampoos.

For one, you should always do two clarifying shampoos and potentially a third if your hair still feels greasy. Then follow your shampoo with a deep conditioning treatment.

Step One: Pre-Treatment:

Before you clarify your hair, I always like to do a pre-treatment to help repair and protect hair from the clarifying treatment. I personally love Olaplex no three as a pre-treatment.

I start with wet hair; I will towel dry it with my microfiber towel until it is damp and then apply Olaplex No. 3 over the ends– I only use around a pea-sized amount.

I will then leave it on my hair for around an hour so the treatment can penetrate through the strands of my hair to repair and protect before going through a hair detox.

Step Two: Clarifying Shampoo:

I then rinse off the Olaplex (or any pre-treatment) and give my scalp a massage for a minute or two. I then apply the clarifying products to my hands and rub them in my hands for 10 seconds until the formula has doubled in size.

This will help apply the clarifying treatment evenly and work wonders for removing buildup. Once applied leave on for a minute to help break down all that gunk and build up.

Once you’ve left it on for a few minutes rinse thoroughly until there is no shampoo residue left. This should help to break down and remove the buildup of excess oil, excess dirt, and hair products.

So if you’re planning on shaving your legs, do it while it is on.

Avoid the ends of your hair when clarifying and only focus on the root, as scrubbing the ends can not only cause damage but cause ends to become dry and brittle.

Depending on the natural oil and product buildup on your hair, the shampoo may not lather up much for the first shampoo; this doesn’t mean it’s not working.

Then do the second shampoo and repeat once more if you still feel like there is excess oil in your scalp.

Step Three: Apply Deep Conditioner:

After washing, you’ll then want to apply a deep conditioning mask as when using a clarifying shampoo, the natural oils are stripped from the hair shaft, so the moisture needs to be put back into the hair.

I would go for a restorative hair mask; I have created a full guide of my favorite deep conditioners on the market, so be sure to check that out.

So first things first, you’ll want to squeeze the excess water out of the ends of your hair, then apply the treatment to your mid-lengths and ends of your hair.

Use a wide-tooth comb and comb your ends through to ensure even coverage, and then leave the treatment on for 10-30 minutes. This should help strengthen the ends, restore moisture, help with detangling and prevent hair breakage.

clarifying your hair

How To Clarify Curly Hair:

So how do you clarify hair on the Curly Girl Method? We all know the best way to clarify hair is using a shampoo with olefin sulfonate or sulfate, which is not CGM approved.

And no, apple cider vinegar is not clarifying for all kinds of buildup, so it’s not recommended on curly hair. It works to balance pH and helps with hard water.

There are many “Curly Girl Friendly Clarifying Shampoos” on the market, but without

And many of the curly girl-approved shampoos that are labeled as clarifying are not either. So go check your bottle and see if it has a sulfate or olefin sulfonate as an ingredient it is not clarifying.

How Often Should You Clarify Curly Hair?

So while clarifying shampoo is not curly girl friendly, it is a necessity for removing buildup. It does state in the CGM that you can do one clarifying “reset” shampoo every month.

For flaky scalp, you can try a more natural clarifying treatment like bentonite clay mask or apple cider vinegar rinse.

Bentonite clay mask:

A bentonite clay mask works wonders for removing buildup on curly hair around the scalp area—mix one tablespoon of bentonite clay with water or apple cider vinegar to form a paste.

Please apply directly to your scalp on damp hair, cover it with a cap to prevent it from drying out, or spray your scalp with water in a spray bottle every few minutes.

Leave it on for 30 minutes and then wash and style like usual. This is ideal for curly hair as it can deeply cleanse the hair and scalp without using sulfates.

How To Clarify Hair With An Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse :

Doing an apple cider vinegar rinse is a great alternative to removing buildup caused by flaking. If you want a natural alternative to using a clarifying shampoo.

Just apply the apple cider vinegar to your scalp in the shower, massage it through your tresses and then rinse. I like to do this once a week to help prevent product buildup.

However, it won’t work wonders; your hair may need a clarifying treatment from time to time with sulfates.

how to clarify your hair

How To Naturally Clarify Your Hair

So let’s talk more about the natural ways to clarify your hair. For some of us, using a clarifying shampoo is far too harsh, especially for curly hair, so there are a few natural methods you can try.

How To Clarify Hair With Baking Soda:

Baking soda is a brilliant gentle exfoliant; it can give a gentle detox to the hair and scalp. It removes oils and dirt and even some hair care products for an intense clean.

It is perfect for those with an oily scalp. It is free of all worrying chemicals and additives that you would find in a store-bought clarifying treatment.

While there are some brilliant store-bought clarifying shampoos, sometimes they are just too harsh, especially if you have damaged or curly hair.

Plus, for this recipe, you only need a few ingredients, which you will most likely have around the house!

  • – 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • – 1/4 cup warm water
  • – 2 tablespoons of shampoo
  • – Apple cider vinegar to rinse

Create a paste with the water, shampoo, and baking soda and apply directly to the scalp and massage it in. Don’t be too vigorous rubbing it in, as it can hurt your scalp.

Use a wide-tooth comb and brush the baking soda shampoo down the hair length to coat everything evenly; you’ll want even coverage all over. Leave it on for 3-5 mins.

Rinse and wash the baking soda. If your hair is fairly clean, then a rinse and condition will be enough, but if it’s a little greasy, follow with a wash and condition.

Do an apple cider vinegar rinse after using baking soda, as this will help to pH balance of your scalp again.

claifying shampoo for curly


So there you have it how to clarify your hair. There are lots of benefits of doing a clarifying shampoo for removing hair products like hair spray, heat protectants, and more.

The clarifying properties of the shampoo are specifically formulated to give your hair a deep clean and remove buildup. So you’re left with a blank canvas to work with.

So if you’re not using clarifying shampoo in your hair care routine, then you should be; it’s time to reap the benefits that clarifying has to offer and break down those styling products in your hair.

Every day should be a good hair day, my friends.

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