Does Black Hair Need a Clarifying Shampoo?

Today's Clarifying Cleansers Can Work for Our Hair

Clarifying shampoos remove buildup and let you start with a clean slate.
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You've probably heard of clarifying shampoos, but maybe you thought these cleansers were only for certain hair types, primarily those that suffer from oily buildup. Black hair is usually dry by its very nature, so perhaps you steered clear of a clarifying cleanser, but is that wise?

If you use hair products, an occasional shampoo with a clarifying agent will help a great deal in freshening up your tresses and readying them for styling.

Clarifying shampoos remove product buildup and present you with a "clean slate" for future styling. If your hair:

  • Is limp and lifeless
  • Looks dull
  • Doesn't want to hold a style

Then it may be weighed down with old product residue, and clarifying should help.

Who Needs a Clarifier?

Some people need clarifying cleansers more than others. You're more likely to need one if you use a lot of product each day and/or heavy products. Oil-based products, especially those containing an ingredient like petroleum (a real no-no when it comes to good hair ingredients), will quickly adhere themselves to the hair and they can be difficult get rid of completely, even with the most diligent shampoo. Clarifiers are designed to remove this buildup that regular cleansers often don't. Since black hair requires moisturizing shampoo, chances are your usual cleanser is leaving some residue behind.

You'll also need clarifiers if you swim often, whether or not you use a lot of products.

Pool chlorine and other chemicals need to be thoroughly removed in order for your tresses to remain healthy. However, even the most frequent swimmers shouldn't overdo it when it comes to these cleansers.

It's good for women with natural hair to use a clarifier before they get ready to use a lot of direct heat on their tresses, i.e. the occasional flat ironing session.

The cleanser removes any buildup that can prevent you from getting optimal results. However, always follow your clarifying session with a deep conditioner before using direct heat.

How Often Should You Use One?

Because clarifying shampoos are so good at removing buildup, they also tend to be drying, which is why anyone with black hair should use these products very sparingly. If you're a heavy product user, once or twice a month (maximum) is acceptable. If you rarely use heavy products, you can use one even less, perhaps every other month or so. No matter how much you put in your hair, don't risk excessive dryness or breakage by overusing a clarifying cleanser.​

After clarifying, your hair should feel light, clean and refreshed. It will probably not feel as smooth as it does after using a quality moisturizing shampoo, so follow up with a conditioner. Although not a product for every day, having a quality clarifying cleanser in your hair care collection is a good idea for anyone.

Clarifying Cleansers for Black Hair

Brands that target curly and coily hair care often make clarifying shampoos designed specifically for this market. Instead of harsh, detergent-like cleansers that will leave your tresses feeling stripped, these products gently remove buildup without leaving behind a mane that feels like straw.

Use these about once or twice per month, and your hair shouldn't ever feel weighed down by buildup from old products.

Good clarifying shampoos worth trying (all available on Amazon):