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What Is Clarifying Shampoo & How Do You Use It

Whether you have curly or straight hair, you may have heard of using clarifying shampoos to remove product buildup and refresh hair. But what is clarifying shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is slightly more intense than your regular shampoo as it works to penetrate deeply into the hair to remove excess natural oils and hair products.

It is highly recommended to be used once or twice a month if you have oily hair and once every month or two if you have curly hair to deeply cleanse and restore the hair.

Many people on the CGM will do a monthly clarifying “reset” wash to remove any product buildup, as with curly hair, you will use a lot of products that buildup.

So using a clarifying shampoo is worth it!

In this guide, I am going to be running through everything you need to know about clarifying shampoos and why you should clarify your hair; if you have oily hair, then a clarifying shampoo will change your life.

Let’s jump in!

clarifying curly hair

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 Often Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo?

It really depends on your hair and the products you use. For normal, straight hair, you can get away with using it once a week, especially if you use silicones on your hair.

There are some benefits of silicones, except for the buildup. They tend to buildup on hair as they create a plastic coating over the outside; this also makes it difficult for products to penetrate through this barrier. So while your hair is protected from the damage, it can become very dry.

So for straight, oily hair, it is recommended once or twice a week if you have a formula that is not too stripping. Clarifying shampoos can dry the hair out, so using it with a deep conditioner or hydrating treatment is recommended to restore moisture.

For curly hair, dry or damaged hair, you should aim to use clarifying shampoo once every month or two. If you use silicones and have damaged hair, then once every few weeks or month is recommended.

For those doing the Curly Girl Method, you should try to limit how often you use clarifying shampoo as if you’re avoiding silicones, waxes, and mineral oils products shouldn’t build up.

So for those strictly following the CGM, you can get away with using clarifying shampoos once every month or two as your hair will not need it regularly. But if you are a curly girl using Olaplex, which contains “amodimethicone,” then once a month will be good.

There are benefits of using some silicones on curly hair, such as damage protection and improving manageability and overall feel of the curl, so with a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup, you can use products like Olaplex in your haircare routine.

clarifying shampoo

How To Use Clarifying Shampoo

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.

Top Tips For Clarifying Hair:

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.

Rinse very well after massaging into your scalp, and then do the second shampoo. Emulsify the shampoo in your hands for 10 seconds and apply as this will help apply evenly.

I like to let the shampoo sit on my hair for a minute or two, so it can really penetrate into the scalp and work its magic. So if you’re planning on shaving your legs, do it while it is on.

Before I use clarifying shampoos, I tend to do a pre-wash treatment beforehand. I love to use Olaplex No. 3 on damp hair and leave it for an hour before washing.

This allows the treatment to penetrate more deeply into the hair and helps protect strands and promote hair health when doing a clarifying shampoo.

After washing, I will then drain the excess water from my hair and use a deep conditioning hair mask to help restore moisture and hydration back into the hair.

curly hair type 4

Why Use Clarifying Shampoo On Curly Hair?

Clarifying shampoos deliver a deeper cleanse than a regular shampoo or co-wash. Many curly girl-friendly clarifying shampoos use ingredients like fruit acids to wash away residue and product buildup.

But for real deep clean, you can use a “reset” shampoo which is a sulfate clarifying shampoo that will help remove excess oils and product buildup from the hair and scalp.

Clarifying shampoo is beneficial for curly hair, despite not being recommended to be used regularly. It can help create a fresh canvas and restore curls bounce and shine.

When products build up on curls, it can cause them to become limp, heavy, and dull; your hair products also won’t work as well as they used to as they cannot penetrate through the buildup.

So, your curls may need a little refresh, and a clarifying shampoo can do just that.

What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do To Colored Hair?

If you have color-treated hair and use a clarifying shampoo, it can actually damage the color. It can cause it to become dull and fade. Clarifying shampoo can slowly life hair dye.

However, if this is what you want, then clarifying shampoos can not only reduce flaky scalp and offer hair detox shampoo but can gently remove hair color without causing damage.

You can buy clarifying shampoo, which is safe to use on colored hair; you should look for the color-safe label when looking for clarifying shampoo so your color is protected.

Clarifying shampoo is especially beneficial for blonde hair in the haircare routine as it prevents brassiness. So using clarifying shampoo alongside purple shampoo, you won’t have an issue with brassiness.

So if you have blonde hair and love to use styling products that leave residue, then a clarifying shampoo is specifically formulated to remove buildup and prevent brassiness.

Who knew that a clarifying shampoo is the best shampoo for blondes?

claifying shampoo for curly


So there you have it, the benefits and how to use a clarifying shampoo. It is the one shampoo that is suitable for all hair types; it should be a staple in your hair care routine.

The best clarifying shampoos help to remove all stubborn residue and buildup from hair products without stripping the natural oils from the hair, no matter your hair type.

A clarifying shampoo promises to give your hair a fresh start by removing buildup and restoring shine, leaving hair feeling fresh and hair shiny.

How often you use it depends on your hair type and condition; for normal, healthy, straight, oily hair, you can get away with using it once a week, but for curly, dry, damaged hair, you might want to use it once a month to prevent your hair from drying out.

Clarifying shampoos are brilliant at removing product buildup, removing dirt, removing hard water, and more.

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