Do You Need to Use Clarifying Shampoo?

Woman shampooing her hair in the shower
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Have you ever noticed that sometimes your hair just feels weighed down, extra greasy, or just won't behave itself? Have you been in a pool lately, and do you notice that it’s tough to comb through your hair? Well, maybe it's time to clarify!

Stuff builds up on your hair, all kinds of stuff. Hairsprays, mousses, and gels; hard water and mineral deposits; chlorine and chemicals from swimming pools; even the waxes and moisturizers in some shampoos and conditioners can leave build up on your hair over time.

This build up can cause hair to appear dull, heavy, greasy, and limp. A clarifying shampoo can help remove those deposits, give your hair a fresh start, and restore shine.

How Often Should You Clarify?

The answer to this question depends on how much your hair goes through on a daily basis. If you use a lot of hair products or have very hard water you may find it helpful to clarify weekly or even twice per week. Swimmers that are in the pool every day may need to clarify even more often. But, if you use minimal hair products or have soft water you may only need to clarify as little as every other month. The average person should clarify their hair 1-2 times per month.

How Do You Clarify?

Using a clarifying shampoo is really no different than using any other shampoo, with just a few tweaks. Start with a nickel to quarter sized amount of clarifying shampoo and work it into your scalp only with light massage for a good 60 seconds.

Depending on the amount of build up and oils on your hair, the shampoo may not lather very much, but that's okay. Rinse very well.

Next, take a smaller amount of shampoo (the more hair you have, the more you'll need to use, but typically no more than a quarter sized amount) and work the shampoo through your hair.

You should notice lots of suds. Now, let the shampoo sit all sudsy on your head for a minute or two (now would be a good time to shave your legs). Letting the shampoo sit will help release the product build up. Then rinse really, really well. If your hair is in particular need of a clarifying treatment, this step can be repeated.

Condition your hair as you normally do. You may need to use a bit more conditioner than usual, as the clarifying shampoo does not have moisturizers that your regular shampoo may have.

Which Clarifiers Are the Best?

Most professional product lines have a clarifying shampoo as do many over the counter product lines. They all work very similarly. Your hair stylist may have a favorite brand or may be able to recommend a clarifying shampoo that will work best for your hair type and situation.

One recommendation is Redken’s Cleansing Cream Shampoo because it works best to remove product build-up while being gentle enough to use every day. Get Redken Cleansing Cream Shampoo on

Kenra also carries a great clarifying shampoo that is also safe for color-treated hair. it's already recommend it for swimmers and anyone who has hard water. Get Kenra Clarifying Shampoo on


Can I Clarify My Hair if I Color My Hair?

Yes. However, using a clarifying shampoo on colored hair too often can cause your hair color to fade faster. So, it's best to clarify colored hair no more than once a month and definitely do not clarify your hair within the first few weeks of a fresh color.

What if My Hair is Still Misbehaving?

If you notice that the clarifying shampoo just isn't working, especially if you're a regular swimmer or have a lot of hard water build-up, it may be time for a stronger treatment by your hair stylist.