What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

by Escaping Gravity Ltd.

Clarifying shampoo is one type of the overall shampoo category. It is likely that you are here because you’ve only just discovered it! Understanding the differences between what clarifying shampoo and regular shampoo is will help your hair to thrive.

What is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying is the process of removing unwanted buildup and residues on your 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 what a clarifying shampoo is. 

Clarifying shampoo is a deep cleanser which can be used on every type of hair. Unlike regular shampoo, a clarifier will cut through hair 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 due to its detoxing nature. 

Clarifying Shampoo vs Regular Shampoo

Lather, rinse and repeat. We all know the routine 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. The common mistake most people make when using a clarifying shampoo is that they treat it like a regular shampoo. Knowing what a clarifying shampoo really does could help you achieve your gorgeous hair goals.

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. 

  • It’s a deep cleanser. 
  • Removes impurities & unwanted residues.  
  • Removes build up 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. After us, you'll be left with locks that feel fresh and ready for the day ahead!

clarify your curls with curlsmith wash and scrub

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. 

  • 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. Sulfate free shampoos are more gentle on your locks whilst still giving your hair a thorough cleanse.

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 moisturizers 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 and allow your products to truly work their magic.

When you clarify your hair, you are allowing it to breathe. Many people use multiple 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. Your hair will stop being able to absorb moisture into the shaft. This can lead to tresses 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 scalp health. For those with curly hair, it may seem strange to want to remove 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. 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

How to Tell When To Clarify Your Curls

Giving your hair a refresh is always good, but how do you know when you need to clarify? 

Depending on the condition of your locks and what products you use, the best place to look when questioning when to clarify is your own head of hair. 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 shine again, you may want to reach for the clarifying shampoo.
  • Itchy scalp - If you have an itchy 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 curl pattern, 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 deep conditioning, so you may want to clarify.
  • Products don’t work the same - If your favourite 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 buildup from products and letting your hair breathe, whilst not over-cleansing it also. 

How Do You Clarify Hair?

Clarifying shampoo is a great addition to your haircare routine, but should be used sparingly. To get the best results from your new product, you will want to use the shampoo every 3-5 washes. You can apply it the same way you would use your normal shampoo, but we recommend pre-treating first. Using a pre-poo, like our Pre-Biotic Primer, ensuring your ends are well covered, 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.

It's really important to follow up your wash with a conditioner to add 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.

What Makes Curls Love Curlsmith?

Curly hair types love Curlsmith because we only use clean ingredients. This means we don’t use any Sulfates, Parabens, Silicones, Mineral Oils, Phthalates, or DEA’s. We also know what nourishment curls need because we developed our products with curly hair stylists, trichologists, and beauty experts. We have crafted hair stylers for all needs, including our moisture line, scalp line, colour line, and strength line. All of which are cruelty free!