10 Best Chelating Shampoos to Demineralize Your Hair from Hard Water

By Shehnaz Shirazi

best chelating shampoos

A chelating shampoo is a cleansing product that removes mineral and metal ions from the hair.

Unlike regular shampoos, a chelating shampoo uses a special type of ingredient, known as a chelating agent, to chelate the hair and scalp.

That’s why chelating shampoos are highly effective at treating hard water issues to restore the hair’s natural softness and rebalance the scalp.

If you live in a hard water area and your hair and scalp suffer from the harsh oxidizing effects of minerals buildup, you’ll want to try out one of these products below.

We’ve selected a few of the best chelating shampoos that are guaranteed to leave your hair and scalp squeaky clean!

1. Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

Malibu C is a beauty and cosmetics brand that specializes in products that can prevent the oxidizing effects of hard water on the hair and skin. Malibu C hair products use a patented formula consisting of L-Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), antioxidants, and Disodium EDTA to prevent free radicals from damaging the hair.

Its signature hard water wellness shampoo comes in a full treatment package that also includes a hard water conditioner and 3 packets of demineralizing crystal gel actives that can be used to instantly remove grime and dirty specks from the hair.

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 9 fl .oz / 266 ml.
  • Hair Type: All.
  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, antioxidants, Disodium EDTA.
  • Daily Use: Yes.
  • Colored Hair: No. Use the Malibu C Color Wellness range.
  • Scent: Fresh citrus.


  • Detoxifies hair and scalp.
  • Makes hair soft and manageable.
  • Sulfate-free and paraben-free.
  • Removes mineral deposits.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • Removes chlorine from hair after swimming.


  • Not for color-treated hair.
  • A little pricey.

Malibu C also features in our top-rated hard water shampoos list.

So what makes Malibu C’s patented formula work so well?

L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

L-Ascorbic acid, also commonly known as Vitamin C, is a naturally derived water-soluble vitamin found in fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit are abundant in vitamin C, which is what gives them their bright and tangy flavor. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that can be used as a dietary supplement, and in some cases, as a topical serum for the face to smooth away wrinkles and treat hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals, toxins, and pollutants.

Being a weak acid with a pH of less than 3.4, vitamin C is a highly effective neutralizer that can interact with free oxygen ions to prevent inflammation. Its reactive properties also make it an effective chelating agent that can neutralize hard water minerals through a process called complexation.

Vitamin C Complexation Process Explained:

Vitamin C has a negatively charged functional group.

Hard water minerals are positively charged ions.

When vitamin C interacts with hard water, it forms a complex with these positively charged ions to form ligands for binding them. The complexation process makes positively charged ions suspend in water, so they become water-soluble and can be easily washed away.


Antioxidants are chemical substances that can occur naturally or produced synthetically. Their main function is to reduce oxidation, the chemical reaction that creates unstable atoms to damage cells (free radicals).

Antioxidants do not directly neutralize hard water minerals in the same way chelating agents do. Instead, they work by inhibiting the oxidation of hair proteins and lipids, that can be damaged by the presence of hard water minerals.

Hard water minerals can cause hair fibers to become brittle, frizzy, and prone to breakage, compromising the overall health and appearance of the hair. Antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, can help protect hair fibers from damage caused by these minerals by scavenging free radicals and inhibiting oxidative stress. This can help maintain the integrity of hair fibers, making them less likely to break and ensuring that the hair remains healthy and strong.

Disodium EDTA

Disodium EDTA is a chelating agent commonly used in personal care products like shampoos and conditioners. It is used to stabilize the ingredients in these products and keep them from reacting with each other and changing the pH of the product. In addition, it helps prevent hard water minerals from depositing onto the hair when taking a shower.

Both the shampoo and the conditioner come in large 9 fluid ounces (266 ml) bottles that can last you a long time, depending on how often you wash and the length of your hair. The crystal gel actives come in 5g sachets that are meant to be used once in extreme cases of hard water buildup on the scalp.

One thing to be careful about is that it may strip hair color. So if you have color-treated hair, consider Malibu C’s color wellness treatment instead. It has an advanced color-lock complex together with the base chelating agents to keep hair color vibrant.

2. Hairprint Chelating Shampoo

Hairprint is an eco-friendly and cruelty-free cosmetic brand that makes non-toxic and bioavailable hair products from pure plant-based botanical ingredients.

The brand’s natural chelating shampoo is formulated for all hair types, including color-treated hair. Known for its triple-effective hair wash formula, it detoxifies the hair from the buildup of styling products, environmental pollutants, and hard water minerals and metals.

Hairprint Chelating Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 8 fl. oz / 240 ml.
  • Hair Type: All.
  • Key Ingredients: Lactic acid, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate.
  • Daily Use: Yes.
  • Colored Hair: Yes. But do not overuse. Consider Hairprint Color restorer shampoo.
  • Scent: Fragrance-free.


  • Plant-based and vegan.
  • Paraben-free and sulfate-free.
  • Bioavailable.
  • Gentle enough for dry hair and sensitive scalps.
  • Exfoliates and stimulates the scalp.


  • Low suds.

The Hairprint shampoo uses 3 key ingredients that make it effective:

Deionized Water
Deionized (DI) water is water that has had its mineral ions removed, such as cations like sodium, calcium, iron, and copper, and anions like chloride and sulfate. The result is a pure form of water with a neutral pH that is often used in lab experiments, manufacturing processes, or personal care products like cosmetic sprays.
Lactic Acid
Lactic acid works by adjusting the pH of the formula of a cosmetic product to a more acidic level. By lowering the pH, lactic acid can help to neutralize the mineral ions and prevent them from interfering with the performance of the shampoo. Additionally, lactic acid can also help to smooth and soften the hair by sealing the hair cuticles and restoring its natural acidity.
Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate
Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate is a salt of glutamic acid that is commonly used as a conditioning agent in personal care products like shampoos. It functions as a chelating agent, helping to prevent the buildup of mineral ions and as a pH adjuster to maintain the desired acidic pH of the product. It is also known to boost moisture levels by attracting and retaining water molecules.

What I really like about this shampoo is its clean and clear formula. It looks simple, but it is seriously detoxifying. Made with 100% fermented plant-based ingredients, the Hairprint shampoo is also sulfate-free, which is noticeable with its low suds.

The Hairprint Shampoo is Also Bioavailable.

Another good thing about the Hairprint chelating shampoo is its bioavailability. This means that the ingredients have structure and molecular size that are easily processed by the skin’s physical and metabolic barriers. Bioavailability describes the degree of effective absorption of a nutrient or cosmetic ingredient on the hair or skin. High bioavailability = better and faster results.

Overall, the Hairprint chelating shampoo is an excellent shampoo for vegan and plant-based shampoo lovers. It is sulfate-free, cruelty-free, and organic. It also works great for sensitive skin. The only downside is that it doesn’t lather as much as other shampoos do.

3. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

The Bumble and Bumble Sunday shampoo is a deep cleansing weekly clarifying hair product.

Also commonly known as the BB Sunday shampoo, it harnesses the cleansing abilities of sage, rosemary, and EDTAs to detoxify the hair. The formula is also infused with Panax Ginseng root extract for its astringent properties that can clean and stimulate the scalp.

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 8.5 fl. oz / 250 ml.
  • Hair Type: Fine to medium. Non color-treated hair.
  • Key Ingredients: Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Sage Leaf Extract. Tetrasodium EDTA.
  • Daily Use: No. Use weekly.
  • Hair Color-Friendly: No.
  • Scent: Herbal.


  • Removes product residue, oils, and pollutants.
  • Contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
  • Soothes dry and itchy scalps.
  • Can be used to prime hair before coloring.


  • Contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
  • Can strip hair dye.

Here is the list of key ingredients in the Bumble and Bumble Sunday shampoo:

Sage Extract

Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is a perennial native to the Mediterranean.

Sage extract has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe and calm an irritated scalp, reducing itching, redness, and other symptoms associated with scalp conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis. It can also improve the overall condition of the scalp, helping to moisturize and prevent dryness, which is a common problem when showering in hard water.

Rosemary Extract
Rosemary extract (Rosmarinus Officinalis) is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. It can ward off free radicals damage and soothe an irritated scalp.
Panax Ginseng Root
Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng), also known as “True Ginseng,” is an herb with a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used to treat symptoms of stress and fatigue, stimulate circulation, and improve cognitive function. The root of Ginseng holds its true powers. It has pharmacological effects such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and vasorelaxant effects. In the context of this shampoo, it improves the scalp condition and has a stimulating effect on the hair follicle.

The Bumble Sunday shampoo is a good option for people who wants to incorporate a weekly chelating shampoo into their haircare routine.

The only downside is that it can strip hair color.

4. OUAI Detox Shampoo

OUAI Detox is a clarifying cleanse for hair that feels oily and weighed down.

Founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, OUAI is a cosmetic brand that makes high-end yet affordable hair and body care products.

OUAI Detox Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 10 fl .oz / 300 ml.
  • Hair Type: All.
  • Key Ingredients: Apple cider vinegar.
  • Daily Use: No. 1 – 2 times a week.
  • Dyed Hair: Yes.
  • Scent: Melrose place.


  • No parabens.
  • Contains hydrolyzed keratin.
  • Cleanses without stripping the hair.
  • Curl-friendly.
  • Hair nourishing and softening.
  • Smells amazing.


  • Contains mild sulfates.

The hero ingredient in the OUAI detox shampoo is apple cider vinegar, a gentle yet effective natural chelator that can draw out impurities from the hair and relieve an oily scalp. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acids that can break down minerals, rust, and other hardened deposits on the hair that comes from hard water. The result is clean, flourishing, and voluminous hair that’s easy to manage and style.

The added bonus of this product is its delicious scent. OUAI calls it Melrose place, a fresh, citrusy combination of bergamot and lemon with notes of apple cider vinegar. The shampoo lathers up nicely and leaves the hair feeling clean but also soft and shiny.

To summarise: It’s an excellent scalp cleansing and moisturizing shampoo with chelating ingredients.

I have thick long hair that gets oily on the scalp by day two. This product works well for me. If you have a similar problem, it’s a product worth considering.

5. Ion Hard Water Shampoo

The Ion Purifying Solutions hard water shampoo is a 100% vegan hair chelating product that also works well for colored and chemically-treated hair.

It uses ascorbic acid, EDTA, and sodium gluconate to neutralize iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and rust from the hair. It’s also been tested against well water, and the results are pretty good.

People who use domestic wells know all too well how the water can turn their sinks, tubs, and toilets orange due to high levels of iron and rust. Plus, well water makes the hair feel like straw with an ugly brassy orange tone!

Ion Hard Water Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 33.8 fl .oz / 1000 ml.
  • Hair Type: All + Chemically-treated.
  • Key Ingredients: Ascorbic acid, sodium gluconate, EDTA.
  • Daily Use: No.
  • Colored Hair: Yes.
  • Scent: Light floral like camellias.


  • Big bottle.
  • Works well on natural hair textures.
  • Nourishing formula.
  • Removes iron, rust, copper minerals.
  • Works for well water.
  • Good for chemically-treated hair.


  • Contains mild sulfates. Sodium C14-C16 Olefin Sulfonate.

The Ion chelating shampoo has lots of good reviews from people who struggle with well water. Also, being one of the mildest shampoos amongst the lot, it has a rich-foaming lather that deep cleanses while infusing moisture into the hair.

It leaves your hair feeling soft and smooth with a touch of light floral scent of camellias.

It doesn’t ship with the conditioner, though. You have to buy one separately.

6. Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

The Aveeno ACV shampoo combines the natural chelating benefits of apple cider vinegar together with nourishing ingredients like farm-fresh oats and milk to provide a luxurious rich hair-cleansing experience.

The shampoo is also sulfate-free and pH balanced. It helps enormously for people with fine and oily hair who struggle to maintain the right balance between volume and cleanliness.

Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 12 fl. oz / 354 ml.
  • Hair Type: Fine hair.
  • Key Ingredients: Apple cider vinegar (ACV).
  • Daily Use: Yes.
  • Colored Hair: Yes.
  • Scent: Apple.


  • Clean-rinsing.
  • Boosts volume in fine hair.
  • Regulates oily scalps.
  • Restores hair’s natural pH balance.
  • Clinically proven results.
  • No sulfates, dyes, and parabens.


  • Only for fine hair.

It’s clinically proven to soothe itchy scalps and leave hair feeling soft and manageable. It is also suitable for people with sensitive skin that may react to some traditional shampoos and dandruff-prone scalps. The shampoo contains no sulfates, dyes, or parabens.

And don’t worry about smelling like vinegar. The shampoo has a light and pleasant apple scent.

7. Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo

The Kinky Curly Come Clean shampoo is one of the best natural hair cleanser.

It removes all the grimy stuff, silicones, waxes, and hard water residues without stripping and drying out the hair. This is especially good for people with curly hair, as it can be hard to find a shampoo that cleanses without leaving curly hair feeling dry and crispy. The Kinky Curly Come Clean shampoo is sulfate-free, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and contains no harsh chemicals.

More: Best natural hair and curl cleansers.

Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 8 fl. oz / 236 ml.
  • Hair Type: Natural curly hair.
  • Key Ingredients: Phytic acid.
  • Daily Use: Yes.
  • Colored Hair: Yes.
  • Scent: Orange.


  • Excellent for low porosity hair.
  • Enhances curl definition.
  • Removes silicones from the hair.
  • Lathers and distributes well.
  • 2-in-1 clarifying and moisturizing formula.


  • Hard to find in stock.

The ingredients are all-natural, including mandarin fruit extracts, marigold flowers, white willow bark, sea kelp, phytic acid, and citric acid. It’s the perfect cocktail of nourishing botanicals and natural chelators that can soften hard water for washing your delicate curls.

Perfect curl definitions. No gunk!

8. Living Proof Triple Detox Shampoo

The Living Proof Triple Detox shampoo is an innovative product designed to effectively remove hard water minerals and chelate the hair. This shampoo uses a combination of three powerful detoxifiers to leave the hair feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Living Proof Triple Detox Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 5.4 fl. oz / 160 ml.
  • Hair Type: All. Damaged hair.
  • Key Ingredients: Activated charcoal, Anionic Polymer, Disodium EDTA.
  • Daily Use: No. Once per week.
  • Color-Safe: Yes.
  • Scent: Light citrus.


  • Phthalate-free.
  • Paraben-free.
  • Sulfate-free.
  • Silicone-free.
  • Prevents frizz.
  • Deeply detoxes the hair.
  • Protects hair color.
  • Scalp soothing complex.


  • Small size.
  • Expensive.

Here are the key benefits of using the Living Proof Triple Detox Shampoo:

Healthy Hair Molecule
A patented technology pioneered by Living Proof. Also known as (Octafluoropentyl Methacrylate), the Healthy Hair Molecule is a weightless, invisible shield that wraps each hair to protect it from oxidizers, environmental stressors, and styling damage. The Healthy Hair Molecule also smooths down the cuticle layer to prevent frizz, making detangling effortless and the hair easier to style.
Activated Charcoal
Living proof uses charcoal treated with oxygen at high heat to increase its surface area, reducing its form into fine black powder that is microporous. The high microporosity of activated charcoal and its negative electric charge enables it to attract positively charged particles like minerals, toxins, and gases.
Anionic polymers:
These are negatively charged polymers that attract positively charged ions, such as mineral ions, from hard water. The polymers effectively cancel out the ability of these minerals to attach to any surface, like the hair or skin.

Besides its powerful detoxing formula, this EDTA shampoo also revitalizes the hair and maintains a healthy scalp with a good mix of moisturizing ingredients that restore balance.

The only thing you won’t like about this product is its high price and small size.

9. Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo

Ouidad is a professional hair salon business that specializes in cutting curly hair. Founded in 1984, Ouidad expanded its curl-specific care into a full line of hair care products.

Their main focus has always been to “Let curls be curls.”

And their products definitely reflect their ambition and dedication to satisfying the needs of every curl type.

The Water Works Clarifying shampoo is their best shampoo designed for cleansing curls without stripping their natural oils. It also does not contain the main culprits that usually create buildup in curl textures, such as silicone, mineral oils, and petroleum.

Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 8.5 fl. oz / 250 ml.
  • Hair Type: Curly hair.
  • Key Ingredients: Grapefruit, lemon, orange.
  • Daily Use: No. Use once a week.
  • Color-Safe: Yes.
  • Scent: Orange.


  • No silicones, parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, petroleum, and gluten.
  • Protects hair from chlorine.
  • Makes hair soft.
  • Removes residue from styling products.
  • Improves curl moisture retention.


  • Contains Ammonium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
  • Not Curly Girl Method approved.

Instead of synthetic chelators, it uses natural chelating agents in the form of citric acids extracted from grapefruits, lemons, and oranges to provide a similar deep cleansing effect.

Although this product is not strictly curly-girl-approved due to some mild sulfates, it’s still one of the best chelating shampoos for curls around compared to the strength of the other shampoos in this category.

10. L’Oreal Professionnel Metal Detox Shampoo

Metal particles and ions from hard water, mainly copper, can coat the hair strands and cause discoloration, according to research conducted by L’Oreal in 2014.

Metal absorption in the hair can also weaken the hair structure, leading to brittleness, fraying, and color fade.

Depending on where you live and how old the residential water pipes structure is, hard water can carry metals from pipe erosion. The metal particles in hard water can attach to the hair over time, causing hair color to shift.

L’oreal’s Metal Detox shampoo is formulated to address this problem by removing the metal ions from the hair using an innovative patented formula that contains high concentrations of Glicoamine.

Glicoamine: L’Oréal color specialist Roz Orr describes Glicoamine as a particle small enough to enter the hair fibers and target metal particles to chelate them. According to Charlotte Feltin, head of L’Oréal Haircare Laboratories, Glicoamine is the only active agent that is small enough to bind to metal particles in the hair and neutralize them without damaging the hair’s integrity.

So if your hair color is starting to shift to an unwanted coppery hue due to hard water deposits, try the metal detox shampoo. Not only it removes metal ions, but it’s also an effective anti-deposit protector.

L'Oreal Professionnel Metal Detox Shampoo

Product Summary

  • Capacity: 10.1 fl. oz / 300 ml.
  • Hair Type: All, bleached, highlights, color-treated.
  • Key Ingredients: Glicoamine.
  • Daily Use: No. Use once a week.
  • Color-Safe: Yes.
  • Scent: Light and sweet floral tones.


  • Prolongs hair color.
  • Prevents metal ions absorption in hair.
  • Removes brassiness.
  • 97% less breakage.
  • 2X color vibrancy and shine.
  • Perfect for after lightening, balayages, and bleaching.


  • Pricey.
  • Small bottle.

What Is a Chelating Shampoo?

A chelating shampoo is a strong hair cleanser that breaks down and removes mineral and metal ions from the hair. It uses a process called chelation whereby chelators (negative ion carriers like EDTA) are deployed to seize, bind, and neutralize the positively charged ion particles.

effective at removing mineral build up from well water and tap water

A chelating shampoo is also known as a shampoo with EDTA.

To chelate means: To remove positively charged ions and other elements by binding them with negative ions so they become neutral molecules that can’t attach to their targets.

In relation to hard water, positively charged ions are called cations. They are calcium (Ca2+), sodium (Na+), and magnesium (Mg2+) particles that dissolve in water, affecting the water’s properties such as pH, conductivity, and ability to clean.

Cations also affect shampoo’s ability to lather and clean rinse. Shampoo cleanses the hair with anionic surfactants, which are negatively charged. The negatively charged surfactants attract positively charged impurities for easy removal through emulsification. Cations can interfere with shampoo’s cleansing function by overwhelming its negatively charged ingredients.

how hard water affects shampoo demonstration
Credit: Gordon Water Systems. YouTube.

A chelating shampoo contains chelating agents that can bind to and remove mineral ions and other metallic impurities from the hair.

Chelating Agents In Shampoo

Chelating agents are molecules that can form multiple bonds with positively charged ions and sequester them, making them unavailable for reactions. They are also known as sequestering agents.

chelating in action

Chelating agents can be either naturally derived or synthetically created.

Chelating agent examples:

Natural chelating agents:

  • Citric acid.
  • Humic acid.
  • Lactic acid.
  • Sodium gluconate.
  • Phytic acid.
  • Chitosan.
  • Sodium phytate.

Synthetic agents:

  • EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid).
  • Tetrasodium EDTA.
  • Disodium EDTA.
  • Trisodium EDTA.
  • Trisodium HEDTA.
  • Sodium Citrate or Trisodium Citrate.
  • Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine.
  • Diisopropyl Oxalate.
  • Sodium Oxalate.
  • Pentasodium Pentetate (Pentetic acid).
  • DTPA (Diethylene Triamine Pentaacetic acid).
  • NTA (Nitrilotriacetic Acid).
  • HEDTA (Hydroxyethylenediaminetriacetic Acid).
  • PG (Propylene Glycol).

In the context of shampoos and cosmetic products, chelating agents remove heavy metal toxicity, mineral ions, and other impurities that regular cleansing products cannot eliminate.

Are Chelating Shampoos Good for Hair?

Chelating shampoos can be beneficial for people who live in hard water areas or those who are frequent swimmers. That’s because hard water and pool water are both rich in minerals and metals that can pile up as gunk, slime, copper residues, chlorine, and salts onto the hair.

Over time they can cause the hair to become brittle, dry, and lifeless. Chelating shampoos remove these impurities from the hair, leaving it looking healthier and feeling softer.

However, it’s important not to overuse a chelating shampoo as it can strip the hair of moisture due to its highly potent cleansing properties.

Benefits of Chelating Shampoo

A chelating treatment for hair, like shampoo, can provide multiple benefits that can goes beyond simply deep-cleansing.

If you’re a believer in clean hair = healthy hair, then a chelating shampoo must be the next step in your hair care routine.

Here are the reasoms why …

Hard Water Minerals Detox.

A chelating shampoo can help detoxify the hair from hard water minerals, which can cause it to become dry and brittle. This is especially beneficial for swimmers who often find their hair limp, lifeless, and extremely dehydrated. The shampoo also makes the hair feel softer as it leaves a silky, healthy shine behind.

Vibrant Hair Color.

By removing oxidizers from the hair, a chelating shampoo makes hair color more vibrant and less likely to fade.

Prevents Brassiness.

It eliminates the root causes of brassiness and can save you money by spending less time at the hairdressers for touch ups.

Prevents White Hair from Becoming Yellow.

Hard water and environmental pollutants can cause white and gray hair to pick up a visible yellowish tint that makes it look dirty. A good cleansing shampoo can strip those layers of filth to reveal a clean, bright shade of white.

Can Help Balance pH of the Scalp.

Hard water can increase the pH level of the hair and scalp, as it is typically alkaline because of the mineral salts. A chelating shampoo may contain pH adjusters that can help to restore balance. Still, it is not limited to just pH adjusters. The main function of chelating shampoo is to remove minerals from the hair and scalp, which can disrupt the natural pH balance. Doing so maintains the natural homeostasis that keeps the scalp healthy.

Helps to Improve Scalp Health.

A chelating shampoo can unclog blocked pores on the scalp. Calcium deposits on the scalp from hard water can cause a condition known as scalp calcification. This condition can exacerbate more serious problems like scalp psoriasis, dandruff, eczema, and even the shrinking of hair follicles. A chelating shampoo frizzes away the calcium to unblock the pores.

Reduces Split Ends and Breakage.

The main symptoms of hard water hair are split ends, breakage, and potential hair loss. By reducing the impact of hard water, a chelating-based shampoo helps the hair to rediscover its soft texture and maintain its resilience to damage.

Reduces Frizz.

Hard water chips away the hair fiber’s cuticle layer, which is the main cause of frizziness. Chelating shampoo prevents the minerals from attaching to the hair, shielding the cuticle layer from assault.

Improves Hair Health.

Overall, by reducing frizz, minimizing split ends and breakage, rebalancing the pH, improving the condition of the scalp, and preserving hair color, a chelating shampoo improves the overall health of the entire follicular ecosystem for optimal hair growth and manageability.

Buying Guide for Chelating Shampoo

When buying a chelating shampoo, you must consider your hair type, frequency of hair washing, ingredients in the product, allergic sensitivities, hair color, and the condition of your scalp.

Hair Type

Hair type and texture matter as chelating shampoos can be harsh on certain hair types that are naturally dryer than others. For example, people with curly hair tend to be more cautious about their shampoos for fear of sufates and surfactants that can strip too much moisture, leaving their curls difficult to manage.

It’s important to check the hair type compatibility on the product description.

Frequency of Hair Washing

How often you wash your hair can also be a determining factor in what chelating shampoo to buy. If you wash your hair often with hard water, you will need a chelating cleanser more often as you may have more mineral buildup. It’s essential to pick a product that is formulated for daily use. Otherwise, buying the wrong product intended for weekly or fortnightly use can dry out your hair if you don’t follow the usage frequency guideline.

Chelating Shampoo Ingredients

The typical list of ingredients in a chelating shampoo include:

  • EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid).
  • Citric Acid.
  • Sodium Gluconate.
  • Disodium EDTA.
  • Sodium citrate.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLES).
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS).
  • Potassium Chloride.
  • Magnesium Chloride.
  • Calcium Chloride.

You must check if you have any sensitivites to such ingredients. For example, peopl with curly hair would usually stay away from products that contain SLS (Sulfates).

Make sure you check the product’s labels and narrow down on the ones that will work for you.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Cosmetic products contain many chemical ingredients and it’s not easy to always decipher what the ingredients mean. If you have a particular allergy, check the ingredients properly and use an online tool like INCI Decoder to get more details. Once you picked the right one, proceed with caution by doing a patch test before use.

Hair Color

Chelating shampoos may not always work for colored hair. Due to their intense cleansing formula, they can fade hair color. So if your hair is dyed, bleached, or highlighted, choose one that says color-safe.

Scalp Condition

Do you have any dermatological problems that affect your scalp? Seborrheic eczema, dermatitis, dandruff, or any inflammation that needs to be checked first?

Check with a Dermatologist before considering a chelating shampoo.

How to Use a Chelating Shampoo

Here are the step-by-step instructions you can follow:

  1. Wet hair thoroughly
    Wet and saturate your hair with warm water.
  2. Apply shampoo
    Apply a small amount of shampoo and lather it into your hair.
  3. Roots first
    Start at the roots and work towards the tips.
  4. Massage into the scalp
    Using your fingertips, gently massage the shampoo into your scalp in circular motions for about three minutes.
  5. Rinse thoroughly
    Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water until all shampoo is removed and no suds remain.
  6. Repeat if necessary
    Depending on the degree of build-up in your hair, you may need to repeat the process for a more thorough cleanse.
  7. Follow with conditioner
    After using a chelating shampoo, it’s important to follow up with a deep conditioner to help restore balance and prevent dryness and breakage.
  8. Rinse again
    Rinse your hair thoroughly with cool water to help close the cuticle and seal moisture.


Follow the instructions on the shampoo bottle, as the recommended frequency and amount of usage may vary depending on the specific product.

How Often to Use a Chelating Shampoo

It is recommended to use chelating shampoo every 7 – 10 days if you have hard water. If you have soft water, you can use it every two weeks or more.

The frequency of usage also depends on the degree of buildup in your hair, the product itself, and your individual hair type and needs.

Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

  • For moderate build-upUse once every 7 – 10 days, depending on your hair type.
  • For heavy build-upUse every 3-4 days until the build-up is removed.
  • For delicate hairUse sparingly, once in a fortnight, and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner.
  • For colored hairFollow the specific product’s instructions – 2 x per month maximum.

Follow the product’s instructions.

Always follow the instructions on the shampoo bottle, as the recommended frequency and amount of usage may vary depending on the specific brand.

It’s important to remember that chelating shampoos can be harsh, so be careful not to overuse them, as this can lead to dryness, breakage, and other hair damage. If you’re unsure of the right frequency, consult a stylist or dermatologist for advice.

Using Chelating Shampoo on Color-Treated Hair

Chelating shampoo can be good for colored hair as it removes dulling deposits that can diminish the vibrancy and longevity of the hair color. This type of shampoo helps maintain the dye pigments’ brightness and intensity by removing oxidizing elements that break them down to cause color fade.

You must choose a gentle chelating shampoo formulated specifically for colored hair. If a shampoo doesn’t state it’s color-safe, it will most likely strip color.

A chelating shampoo can also be used to remove oxidizing chemicals left behind after bleaching the hair. But you must do so with caution. It’s best to consult a hairdresser for a professional-grade shampoo that can cleanse without depleting moisture in already fragile and processed hair.

Does Chelating Shampoo Remove Toner?

It depends on the product and toner used on the hair. If the shampoo states its color-safe, and you use it as per its instructions, it won’t remove toner from the hair.

But suppose you intend to use it to correct a toning job. In that case, you can buy the strongest chelating shampoo that is not color-safe and use it a few times to remove toner. But of course, make sure that you boost your hair with a highly moisturizing deep conditioning treatment after every session.

Can You Use Chelating Shampoo on Hair Extensions?

Yes. Chelating is safe to use on hair extensions, tape-ins, weaves, fake hair, faux locs, and any type of artificial hair integrations.

You must follow the hair extensions guide on how to wash it, though, as different products have different care manuals.

Chelating Conditioners for Co-Washers

If you prefer conditioner washing (Co-wash) instead of shampooing, here are some chelating conditioners you can try:

Chelating Shampoo Vs. Clarifying Shampoo

Chelating shampoo is not the same as clarifying shampoo. Chelating shampoo has a more specific function of removing mineral and metal ions from the hair on top of removing the common impurities that a clarifying shampoo can remove.

A chelating shampoo can be referred as a hard water clarifying shampoo because of its extra function.

Are You Chelating Your Hair?

If you’re not doing it yet, there are plenty of reasons and benefits for incorporating a good chelating shampoo in your hair routine.

References & Citations

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    Retrieved on February 01, 2023.

  2. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid. Wikipedia.
    Retrieved on February 01, 2023.

  3. Lactic acid. Wikipedia
    Retrieved on February 01, 2023.

  4. Ghorbani A, Esmaeilizadeh M. Pharmacological properties of Salvia officinalis and its components. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017 Jan 13;7(4):433-440. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.12.014. PMID: 29034191; PMCID: PMC5634728.
    Retrieved on February 01, 2023.

  5. Ahn MK, Chilakala R, Han C, Thenepalli T. Removal of Hardness from Water Samples by a Carbonation Process with a Closed Pressure Reactor. Water. 2018; 10(1):54.
    Retrieved on February 01, 2023.

Shehnaz Shirazi

Shehnaz Shirazi
Chief Editor

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.