What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is one type of the overall shampoo category. You may be asking ‘what is clarifying shampoo?’ - the answer is a shampoo which cleanses the hair and removes excess products building up at the scalp. Understanding the differences between clarifying shampoo and regular one, and how to clarify your curls, can help your hair to thrive.

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Clarifying Shampoo Resets & Restores the Hair

Clarifying is the process of removing unwanted scalp build-up and residues on your curly hair. You can think of it as hitting the reset button, and restoring your hair to its most natural state. To give your hair this detox, you will need to understand the answer to the question: what is a clarifying shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is a deep cleanser which can be used on every type of hair. Unlike regular shampoo, a clarifier will cut through oils and built-up products easily, which could be leaving you with oily hair. The clarifying shampoo will clean these away, leaving you with fresh and healthy tresses. However, it should not be used in the same manner as a more regular or shampoo or co-wash due to its detoxing nature.

What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do?

As with generic shampoos, you will want to apply this to wet hair. For best results, understanding what a clarifying shampoo is and how it works can help manage product expectations. What clarifying shampoo does, includes:

  • Cleansing deeply.
  • Removing impurities & unwanted residues.
  • Removing build up caused by hard water minerals.

For the best way to use clarifying shampoo:

  • 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 cleanser cuts through build up easily. This is exactly what you want when your hair needs a deep clean. After us, you'll be left with locks that feel fresh and beautiful, shiny hair, ready for the day ahead!

clarify your curls with curlsmith wash and scrub

Why Do We Need to Clarify Our Curls?

Maybe you’ve looked at your hair recently and questioned why it’s stopped absorbing all the moisturizing hair products that used to make your locks so soft. Well it could be time to give your hair a detox and leave it feeling cleaner than ever. Using a clarifying shampoo can help to remove build up. In turn, this allows your products to truly work their magic.

Removing scalp build-up - When you clarify your hair with a clarifying shampoo, you allow it to breathe. Many people use multiple products on their hair on a daily or weekly basis. Over time, these will start to build up. This build up can be caused by emollients, which act as a sealant. Sealants are really good for locking moisture into the hair. However, overusing them can have the opposite effect.

Allow moisture into the hair - Your hair will stop being able to absorb moisture into the shaft. This can lead to tresses becoming dry and brittle. This can ultimately lead to hair breakage and dull hair. What clarifying shampoo does is it helps to remove this build up. Therefore, allowing moisture and hydrating hair products to re-enter the hair, and let your curls thrive.

Boost scalp health - Clarifying your curls regularly is totally safe and necessary to maintain your hair and scalp health. For those with curly hair, it may seem strange to want to remove oils. This is because we’re always being told how important penetrating hair oils are for our hair. However, if we don’t clarify, product and scalp sebum build-up can risk weighing down the hair. This can lead to hair becoming oily and limp - something none of us want. Ultimately, this suffocates hair follicles which can even have an impact on hair growth.

When to Use Clarifying Shampoo

Giving your hair a refresh is always good, but how do you know when you need to clarify? If questioning when to use a clarifying shampoo, the best place to look is your own tresses. By feeling and looking at the 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 your hair needs a deep clean to transform it to strong curls once more, you may want to reach for the clarifying shampoo.
  • Itchy scalp - If you have a dry or itchy scalp, it could be caused by product build up. You will want to reset your hair, and this is what clarifying shampoo can do.
  • Dry Hair - Dryness 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 deep conditioning, so you may want to clarify.
  • Weighed down hair - If your hair feels weighed down, leaving you to reach for volumizing hair products. If your curls don’t have their usual bounce and curl pattern, it might be time to clarify.
  • Products don’t work the same - If your favorite 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 use a clarifying shampoo to help remove build up.
  • Limp, lifeless curls lacking definition - A sign you need to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo is if your curls are limp and lacking definition. This is because build up could be weighing your curls down and not letting them thrive.

Our recommendation, to start you off, would be to use a clarifying shampoo every 3-5 washes. This way you are removing build-up from formulas and styling products and letting your hair breathe, whilst not over-cleansing it also.

How to Use Clarifying Shampoo

What clarifying shampoo is, is a great addition to your haircare routine. You should ensure you use them sparingly. To get the best results from your new product, use it every 3-5 washes. You can apply it the same way you would use your normal shampoo. We recommend pre-treating first. Use a pre-poo, like our Pre-Biotic Primer, ensuring your ends are well covered. This will make sure your hair is well moisturized before clarifying.

how to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo

Here are some easy steps to get you started with your new routine:

  1. Work a small amount of product in your hands and apply to your wet scalp, massaging in to get right to the root.
  2. Leave in your hair for up to 30 seconds.
  3. Rinse the clarifying shampoo completely from your locks.
  4. Apply your conditioner.

Follow these steps to see the benefits of clarifying shampoos, now that you know what clarifying shampoos do. It's really important to follow up your wash with a conditioner. This adds essential moisture into your hair shaft. This is because what clarifying shampoo does is act as a reset button to your hair, so it will need a fresh dose of hair hydration. Our Post-Biotic Calming Conditioner is perfect to refresh and rebalance the scalp after clarifying.

Clarifying Shampoo vs Regular Shampoo

We all know the routine of washing your curly hair, but what shampoo should you be using? With a range of choices on the market, it can be tricky to distinguish which one is best for your hair type and its needs. A great way to identify which are the best products for your hair, is to take our curl quiz. Once you’ve found which your hair type is, you’ll discover a dedicated product plan to treat your curls to the products they need.

The common mistake most people make when using a clarifying shampoo is that they treat it like a regular shampoo.

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 treat our hair in very different ways, despite sharing similar names. When it comes to regular shampoos, here’s what they do:

  • Cleanse mildly
  • Gently wash your scalp & tresses.
  • Used as a 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 curly, or dry hair, or sensitive scalps may benefit from. Sulfate free shampoos are more gentle on your locks whilst still giving your hair a thorough cleanse.

Why Curls Love Curlsmith

At Curlsmith, we developed our products with curly hair stylists, trichologists, and beauty experts. From temporary hair color to experiment without the damage, to damage repair products, our vegan and cruelty-free formulas help you transform your locks.

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.