12 Best Clarifying Shampoos to Detox Your Hair and Scalp
By Shehnaz Shirazi
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A clarifying shampoo is seriously super-powered when it comes to sweeping every scrap of gunk that your hair styling products leave behind.
It breaks down stubborn dirt, explores every pore of your scalp with purifying agents, sloughs away dead skin cells, and draws out the grit and grime that makes your hair look dull and lifeless.
To put it simply: A clarifying shampoo works like a dirt magnet to leave your hair and scalp scrupulously clean.
Grab the right one, and it will transform your hair routine forever.
And to help you detox your head – here’s our curated list of the top 10 best clarifying shampoos that will revitalize your strands, unclog every pore on your scalp and add more Oooomph to your hairstyles.
1. Moroccanoil Clarify Shampoo
The Moroccanoil clarify is a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo designed to deeply cleanse and moisturize your strands at the same time. The shampoo combines nourishing argan and avocado oils, lavender, chamomile, jojoba plant extracts, vitamins, and essential fatty acids to deliver a gentle and non-stripping hair and scalp cleansing experience that will leave your hair feeling totally revitalized from root to tip.
2. OUAI Detox Shampoo
Notes of bergamot, lychee, cedarwood, and white musk enveloped in OUAI’s signature Melrose place fragrance makes this detox shampoo so intoxicating that you’ll want to douse your entire body in it.
Unlike other clarifying shampoos, the OUAI detox shampoo comes in a smaller bottle, but it has a highly concentrated formula that packs a serious punch!
It’s powerful enough to neutralize hard water deposits, unclog hair follicles, remove impurities, scalp buildup like excess oils, and dead skin cells to deliver a touch of follicular refreshment.
The OUAI deep cleansing shampoo is also formulated at lower pH, making it an excellent scalp moisturizing, color-preserving, and shine-enhancing shampoo.
3. Malibu C Hard Water Wellness
The Malibu C shampoo removes buildup from hard water with its highly potent vitamin C and chelating formula that works instantly to neutralize chlorine, calcium, magnesium, copper, and all other types of minerals that come through residential water supplies in hard water areas.
Mineral build-up can make your hair feel stiff, hard, and crunchy over time, contributing to a flaky scalp, irritation, breakouts, and dandruff if left untreated.
In the long run, hard water can also cause minor hair loss due to dry and brittle hair becoming increasingly vulnerable to breakage when styling.
The Malibu C hard water demineralizer range has excellent products that are far more superior to everyday shampoos for those who live in hard water areas. Their products literally cut through the grime and grit.
4. Acure Curiously Clarifying Shampoo
Acure Curiously clarifying shampoo is sulfate-free and loaded with clarifiers like lemongrass and argan to wash away buildup and gunk, unclog pores on your scalp, and invigorate your tresses.
Although it’s a gentle clarifying shampoo designed for daily use, it’s still more effective than a standard shampoo because of its ability to target and remove buildup that’s attached to the hair.
5. Nexxus Clean and Pure Shampoo
The Nexxus Clean and Pure is a custom-crafted salon-inspired lightweight and hydrating clarifying shampoo that works for all hair types.
Top marks for its elastin protein and marine minerals complex that combine brilliantly to fortify the hair whilst gently offsetting product resins and stubborn buildup.
For those with fragile and damaged hair that needs a keratin and elasticity boost, the Nexxus clean and pure is definitely worthy of a spot in your shower.
6. Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo
The Aveeno shampoo utilizes the science of low pH formulation to rebalance an oily and overactive scalp. By regulating pH balance, the Aveeno ACV shampoo stabilizes excess sebum production that can cause greasy roots, making your hair feel dirty and weighed down.
Calling upon apple cider vinegar as its star ingredient, this clarifying shampoo soothes the scalp and adds a healthy shine to your freshly-cleansed locks.
7. Vicious Curl Foaming Curl Cleanse
Deep cleanse. Lock in moisture. Unleash mega curl definition.
The Vicious Curl brand formulates all their hair products for people with curly hair. No wonder this clarifying shampoo ticks all the right boxes when it comes to cleansing curly and natural hair without leaving them dry and frizzy.
Most curlies will make a point or two about clarifying shampoos being bad on their hair, and I totally get it.
However, the Vicious Curls cleanser will make you change your mind. It lathers away every inch of dirt without putting a damper on your curls.
Loaded botanical ingredients, this foaming shampoo delivers clean, bouncy, and refreshed curls that defy gravity.
8. Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery
The Redken Bleach Recovery system provides a conditioning clarifying shampoo, a Lamellar water rinse out, and a Cica cream leave-in conditioner, all working together to help over-processed hair to rehydrate and recover.
Redken recognizes the fact that bleached-processed hair is too fragile to deep cleanse, therefore supplementing the shampoo with follow up products that are rich in reparative ingredients like Lamellar water and Centella Asiatica (Cica), is essential to restore the hair’s strength and ability to withstand breakage and damage after washing.
With gentle nourishing complex and porosity-filling technology, the Extreme Bleach Recovery is an excellent hair washing system for people with bleached hair. Highly Recommend.
9. Redken Frizz Dismiss Shampoo
Redken Frizz Dismiss is the de-facto superstar shampoo for frizzy hair formulated to deep cleanse while keeping frizz and flyaways under control.
Widely used in professional hair salons all over the world, this shampoo is a hairstylist-favorite for priming the hair before color and keratin treatments because of its excellent ability to prep the hair as a clean canvas.
This Redken shampoo is pH-balanced and provides all-day humidity protection against frizz.
10. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo
If you’re an infrequent hair washer or a product junkie who needs a hair reset once in a while, then the Bumble is an excellent addition to your bathroom shelf.
Although it doesn’t provide all the moisturizing goodness and scalp exfoliating benefits, it still gets the job done by leaving your tresses squeaky clean.
11. Kristin Ess Scalp Purifying Micellar Shampoo
The Kristine Ess Purifying scalp Micellar cleanser is an ideal solution to alternate with your wash days when you only want to reset a grimy feeling scalp without enduring all the tedious tasks that come with a full-on wash.
This micellar scalp cleanser lathers amazingly to leave your head feeling like a sudsy paradise. It also hydrates and rinses out well.
The nozzle makes it easy and convenient to distribute along the roots to get deep into the scalp and do all the dirt lifting.
Ideal for people with psoriasis and sensitive scalp conditions who cannot use shampoos frequently due to their drying effects.
12. Design Essentials Shampoo For Wigs & Extensions
The Design Essentials shampoo extends the wearability of your weaves and extensions by keeping them looking fresh for up to 15 wearings.
Unlike regular shampoos that cause matting and tangling due to harsh chemicals and oils, the Design Essentials shampoo has a delicately-crafted water-based formula that complies with most wig manufacturers’ care instructions.
Let’s just say it adds new life to your artificial chevelure to make it look like it was bought yesterday!
Clarifying Shampoo Buying Guide
Here are some things to consider before buying a clarifying shampoo:
Avoid Sulfates Where Possible
Sulfate-based clarifying shampoos can give you squeaky clean hair, but it comes with the price of stripping your tresses dry.
Ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate can be harsh as they strip natural oils, potentially leaving your hair feeling brittle and prone to frizziness and breakage.
Look For A Moisturizing and Hydrating Formula
The is the key difference between a clarifying shampoo and a regular shampoo is that the latter does more moisturizing than cleansing. Yes, clarifying shampoos can be more intense when it comes to cleansing, but there are premium brands that develop their formulas with a good balance of low pH, sulfate-free, and moisturizing ingredients that make them better than the cheaper drugstore alternatives.
Consider Your Hair Type
Some clarifying shampoos are better suited for straight hair than curly hair. So if you have curly hair, make sure you get one that’s designed for curls. We’ve carefully categorized all the shampoos above by hair type and condition. So use it to narrow down to the one that works for you.
Consider Your Hair Color
If you have color-treated hair or keratin-treated hair, it’s best to avoid clarifying shampoos that are strong and contain sulfates and chlorides. These ingredients can fade your treatments and also cause reversal.
Be Careful If You Have Sensitive Scalp Conditions
If you have scalp conditions like dryness, eczema, breakouts, dandruff, check with a Dermatologist before buying any type of cleansing hair products you haven’t tried before.
Ideally, shampoos with aloe vera or green tea will help but always consult with a Derm first before you try.
How To Use A Clarifying Shampoo
Do Not Use Every Day
Unless it’s specified for daily use, there is no need to use a clarifying shampoo every day. Due to its strong cleansing formula, it can leave the hair dry.
Follow Up With A Conditioner
Clarifying shampoos are intense cleansers that work by exfoliating and elevating the pH of the hair slightly. It’s essential to rebalance the moisture level back into the hair immediately by following up with a good conditioner or a hair mask.
Don’t Use On Fresh Chemically-Treated Hair
Avoid using clarifying shampoos on freshly colored or keratin-treated hair as it may strip the color or keratin coating from your hair.
A good clarifying shampoo is a non-negotiable product in your hair care routine.
Just like you need an exfoliating face wash to renew your skin for a clearer complexion, you need a deep cleanse clarifying shampoo to reset your hair and let it flourish without being burdened by all the crap that accumulates on your scalp and hair strands.