At first glance, a clarifying shampoo may seem like an unnecessary addition to your hair-washing routine, but the reality is, you can do so much more with it.
A clarifying shampoo offers benefits that go far beyond simply deep cleansing the hair. It can detox your scalp, neutralize hard water minerals, fight dandruff, correct color, reduce dullness, stimulate the scalp, and the list goes on …
Let me show you how you can use a clarifying shampoo to get the maximum out of your hair routine.
Clarifying Shampoo Benefits and Uses
It Gives Your Hair a Fresh Start
When nothing seems to be working in your hair care routine, sometimes a clean canvas is all you need.
Your hair may be overwhelmed by product buildup, hard water minerals, and environmental pollutants, causing it to look dull, lifeless, and challenging to style. A clarifying shampoo can help to strip away the bad stuff, enabling you to kickstart your hair care routine again.
It Removes Buildup and Impurities
Buildup weighs your strands down and creates stubborn layers that obstruct moisture and nourishment from penetrating into the hair shaft. As a result, the hair becomes weak, brittle, and lifeless.
A clarifying shampoo is formulated with strong ingredients like chelating, micro exfoliators, and sulfates that can break down and strip anything that clings to the hair, freeing up the cuticle layer for maximum nutrients and moisture absorption from hair products.
It Improves Scalp Health
Clarifying shampoos contain purifiers that work like dirt magnets to draw out toxins, oxidizers, dead skin cells, and oils that often sit on the scalp to clog the pores.
If not cleaned regularly, this buildup can manifest in bacterial growth, leading to fungal infections on the scalp like seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Clarifying shampoo removes the bad elements before they can develop into more severe problems.
In addition, many clarifying shampoos contain ingredients that can stimulate the scalp for improved blood circulation and hair growth.
It Can Remove Hard Water Mineral Deposits
Some clarifying shampoos are formulated with chelating agents and anti-oxidizers designed to demineralize the hair and scalp from hard water minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and salts that accumulate over time if you live in a hard water residential area.
Most regular shampoos cannot cut through the minerals. In fact, hard water minerals are known to reduce the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. That is why you see soap scum dry out around your taps and faucets.
Clarifying shampoos formulated for hard water use chelating agents that trap the minerals instead of fighting them. Once the minerals are trapped inside water-soluble molecules, they become rinseable, making them easy to flush out of the hair without leaving any soapy scum residues.
It Can Help Restore Healthy pH Balance
The scalp has an ideal pH balance of around 5.5, and anything higher or lower than that can cause a range of issues, including dandruff, itchy scalp, and dryness.
Using shampoos and conditioners containing alkaline chemicals can disturb the scalp’s natural pH balance and disrupt its homeostasis.
Clarifying shampoos can eliminate alkalizing leftover chemicals that keep the scalp’s pH high. Some of them even have pH balancing or low pH formulas designed to counteract alkaline chemicals on the scalp to restore balance.
When the hair and scalp are in their ideal pH range, there is less risk of developing bacterial infections, and the hair remains optimally hydrated with sealed cuticles that make the surface smooth and shiny.
It Can Remove Chlorine from the Hair
Chlorine from swimming pools is bad for the hair. It can eat away the protective cuticle layer, making the hair rough, damaged, and prone to knots and tangles. Chlorine can also lighten hair color by opening up the cuticles and stripping the underlying pigments.
Regular shampoos are not designed to fight and remove chlorine from the hair because the formula required to do so can be too harsh to use on normal hair on a daily basis. To neutralize and remove chlorine from the hair, you need a cleansing shampoo that contains EDTAs, vitamin C, sodium thiosulfate, fruit-based acids, apple cider vinegar, and other chlorine-dissolving molecules – says Andrea Hans, a master hairstylist, and colorist from NYC.
It Prevents Fungal Infections on The Scalp
Fungal infections on the scalp can be caused by bacteria and fungi present in your everyday environment. These microorganisms love to feed off of oils, sweat, and dirt on the scalp’s surface.
If left for too long without a proper deep cleanse, they can grow and multiply quickly, leading to bad bacterial growth that causes scalp inflammation, redness, itching, and even minor hair loss.
A clarifying shampoo helps to break down the bad bacteria before they can cause any type of infection or irritation on the scalp. With antibacterial agents like tea tree oil, ketoconazole, salicylic acids, and zinc pyrithione, certain clarifying shampoos are designed to fight bacteria that are the primary causes of many underlying scalp conditions.
It Helps Prevent Dandruff
Dandruff and flaky scalp conditions can be caused by many factors, including an imbalanced pH, fungal infections, weather changes, and unusually high sebum levels.
A clarifying shampoo can help restore order and prevent such conditions from deteriorating by disinfecting the scalp from the elements that invite malevolent bacteria to feast on. Ingredients like zinc pyrithione and salicylic acids are highly effective in clarifying shampoos such as Head and Shoulders and Nioxin to prevent bacterial activities on the scalp.
However, due to their strength and potential to dry out the scalp, it’s essential to follow their instructions carefully to avoid excessive usage.
It Can Regulate Oily Hair and Scalp
Oily hair and scalp can be caused by an increase in sebum production, hormonal imbalances, or overactive oil glands.
While hormonal imbalances require medical supervision, many other cases of oily hair can be regulated with the help of a clarifying shampoo. The cleansing agents in this product help break up excess sebum and dirt lodged on top of the scalp, which keeps oil levels at bay.
It’s important to note, however, that excessive washing may backfire and cause the scalp to produce even more oil than before. It’s best to find a balanced routine that will help regulate your scalp’s sebum production without drying it out or causing further irritation.
It Can Prevent Minor Hair Loss
Many factors, including genetics, age, hormonal imbalances, and lifestyle factors, can cause hair loss. But one factor that is often overlooked is scalp health. In many cases, hair loss can be directly caused by poor scalp conditions where excess sebum and bacterial activities can hinder growth and accelerate the shedding of hairs.
In these cases, a clarifying shampoo can be helpful as it helps to break down and remove these impurities from the scalp, thus freeing up clogged pores and eliminating bacteria that can adversely affect the hair’s growth cycles.
Regular use of a clarifying shampoo can also help improve blood circulation on the scalp, which is essential for healthy hair growth.
It Can Help Your Hair Lock In Moisture
If your hair continues to feel dry despite moisturizing it regularly, it could be a sign that your hair needs to be cleansed.
Nutrients from hair products penetrate the hair through the cuticles. If the cuticles are coated, it prevents moisture and nutrients, like essential fatty acids, from entering the hair shaft, which leads to dull and dry hair.
A clarifying shampoo can help remove these impurities so that your hair cuticles can open up, allowing moisture and nutrition to be absorbed into the fiber of the hair.
This will not only give you softer and smoother-looking locks but also help restore moisture.
It Helps Maintain Hair Color and Shine
Hair color treatments and artificial dyes can look great when first applied, but over time the buildup of products, oxidizers, and pollutants can dull the vibrant hues and make them appear faded and brassy.
To make your hair color look vibrant again, a clarifying shampoo can help strip the hair of the buildup that causes the color to look dull and lifeless. This will also help restore shine, making your locks look more glossy.
Note: A clarifying shampoo should not be used too often on color-treated hair as it can have the adverse effect of stripping color. For best results, use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo.
It Can Help Remove Hair Color That’s Gone Wrong
A clarifying shampoo can fade or remove hair color without damaging the hair.
Instead of using bleach, baking soda, and other DIY methods that can affect the hair’s pH, causing damage, a clarifying shampoo provides a balanced and safe formulation that can be used at home without the assistance of a hairstylist.
It Can Help Correct Overtoned Hair
You can use a clarifying shampoo to remove excess toner in your hair if you’ve over deposited or used the wrong toning or toner dye.
Read: How to use a clarifying shampoo on toned hair.
It Can be Used to Prime the Hair Before Chemical Treatments
Clarifying shampoo can also be used to prime hair before chemical treatments.
This will help ensure that your color or other treatment penetrates the hair properly, thus reducing damage.
Most professional hairstylists also use clarifying shampoos as a precursor or primer before keratin treatments to ensure the hair is deeply cleansed for maximum effectiveness and successful results.
It also makes it easier for you to style your hair, so if you want volume and texture, this is an excellent way of making sure that it stays put.
It Makes Hair Easier to Style
Clean hair is easier to detangle, easier to brush through, and easier to blow dry.
Washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo removes hair product residue, oils, and dirt that can weigh down strands and cause them to stick together. This makes styling much easier and helps prevent breakage from tugging on knots or tangles.
It Prevents Heat Damage
When your hair is coated with buildup and residues, it can make heat styling harder, often requiring more heat to break through the layers to create the shape and styles you want.
Always clean your hair thoroughly before applying heat. It will make styling faster and require less heat to achieve the style you want without burning your hair.
It Increases The Effectiveness of Hair Products
One of the biggest benefits of using a clarifying shampoo is that it improves the effectiveness of your moisturizers and conditioners.
Your hair needs some moisture on a daily basis, but when you wash too often, this can cause dryness and even split ends. When you use clarifying shampoo instead once every few weeks (or once every other week), it will also help remove buildup from styling products that might be weighing down your strands – meaning that each step in the process goes smoothly by using a clarifying shampoo first to ensure that all the products used after it penetrates properly in order to get optimal results.
It Boosts Hair Volume
A clarifying shampoo makes your hair lighter and bouncier from the roots, unlocking volume. This is because it removes the excess oils from your scalp that can weigh down your hair and prevent it from getting a lot of body.
It also helps to ensure that any styling products used afterward are able to penetrate more deeply into each strand, adding the necessary hydration and nutrients for extra fullness and thickness.
It Neutralizes And Prevents Brassiness
Blonde hair can be prone to brassy tones over time. This is due to numerous environmental factors and oxidizers, such as chlorine from pools, hard water, air pollution, heat-styling tools, and shampoos. All these can give the hair an orangey-yellow brassy tone that looks trashy.
A clarifying shampoo will help strip away the unwanted brassy tones and prevent them from accumulating. A clarifying treatment can also double the effectiveness of your toner, boosting its ability to tone down brassiness faster with excellent first-time results.
To Wrap Up
Besides a good lather and squeaky clean hair, a clarifying shampoo offers many benefits that contribute to the overall health of your hair and scalp.
Highly recommended by professional hairstylists, a clarifying shampoo is a non-negotiable product that fits into anyone’s hair care routine. So if you’re not using one yet, it’s time to get yours now.
Recommended: Best clarifying shampoos for every hair type.
Shehnaz is the co-founder and the chief editor for Salon-Worthy Hair.
She combines an interesting background in cosmetics and copywriting, which fires her passion for this blog.
When she’s not busy trying out new hair treatments or editing, you can find her curled up with a good book or taking long walks with her cute dog.