9 Best Clarifying Shampoos for Natural Hair

By Kassidy Ward

best clarifying shampoo for natural hair

A good clarifying shampoo for natural hair should deep cleanse to remove buildup and impurities without compromising the hair’s texture and natural oils.

This is particularly important because people with natural hair tend to follow strict hair care routines to maintain their god-given textures. Any new product added to such routines must be a good fit, and a clarifying shampoo is no exception.

To pass the Afro-textured hair test, the product must satisfy the following conditions:

  • No sulfates.
  • No silicone.
  • No parabens.
  • No drying alcohols.
  • No mineral oils and wax (like petroleum jelly).
  • Must be able to cleanse without stripping moisture.

In short: It must be Curly Girl Method approved.

If you’re still searching for a clarifying shampoo that meets all of these criteria, we’ve handpicked a list of options for you to consider.

1. Mizani Moisture Fusion Clarifying Shampoo

The Mizani Moisture Fusion shampoo is formulated for curls, afros, and relaxed hair. What I like about this shampoo is its excellent combination of deep cleansing and hydration. Mizani calls it the quencher for thirsty strands, and I couldn’t agree more. From the very first wash, you can feel the softness and bounce in your curls.

Mizani Moisture Fusion Clarifying Shampoo

Mizani is a haircare brand owned by L’Oreal, a global leader in the beauty industry known for its high-quality, professional-grade hair care products. Mizani’s products are formulated to meet the unique needs of African American hair textures by using natural and organic ingredients such as cupuacu butter, argan oil, and honey, which are known for their nourishing and hydrating properties.

Most importantly, it is a sulfate-free shampoo, making it a gentle cleanser for daily use. But given how effectively it works, it is reasonable to use it once a week.

The only thing you may not like about this product is that the coconut fragrance is overwhelming. Maybe it’s just me. But having said that, the smell is okay per se. It’s just that it lingers. So those who are sensitive to strong smells, there may be other suitable products.

2. Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap deep cleansing shampoo is formulated for Afro hair textures (type 2A – 4C). As the name implies, it contains African black soap and shea butter, a deep cleanser combined with a rich moisturizer.

Shea Moisture's African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Highly rated as the best clarifying shampoo for black people, according to reviewers on Amazon, Walmart, and Sephora, it’s made from quality ingredients that are safe for both virgin and transitioned hair. It will leave your scalp feeling clean and refreshed.

3. As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo

The As I Am Curl Clarity shampoo is a sulfate-free cleanser for curls. It does not contain silicone and parabens.

As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo

The key ingredients in this shampoo are coconut oil, amla oil, and tangerine extracts.

Combining these 3 ingredients and using no sulphates, phthalates, silicones, or parabens, the Curl Clarity clarifying shampoo helps enormously in keeping afro-textured hair clean and optimally hydrated without compromizing on the hair’s natural and virgin texture.

4. Aunt Jackie’s Curls and Coils Oh So Clean Shampoo

Aunt Jackie’s Curls and Coils is a hair care company founded by Dwan Vine White.

Her mission was to create products that could help black people transition from relaxed hair to their natural god-given texture. After going through the struggle to find products for her dense, low porosity, 4c hair during her transition from relaxed hair, Dwan quickly realized that there was a big gap in the market for people with hard-to-manage hair textures. So she created Aunt Jackie’s as a small company to make products that can help people on their natural hair journey.

Aunt Jackie’s Oh So Clean deep moisturizing and softening shampoo is designed for black hair. It’s also highly recommended for people who have transitioned from relaxed to natural hair.

It combines shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil to quench extremely dry hair textures and transform them into softly hydrated and easy-to-comb-out afros without caking or flaking.

As one of the best clarifying shampoos for black hair, its organic earth-sourced ingredients are designed to nourish, hydrate, and add vitality to natural curl textures.

Aunt Jackie's Curls and Coils Oh So Clean Shampoo

5. Alaffia EveryDay Coconut Shampoo

Alaffia hair products are highly effective for African American hair because of their base ingredients, which include shea butter, coconut oil, and African black soap. Plus, their products don’t contain sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, silicone, parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, petrolatum, and synthetic colors. They are the purest hair products around that are also vegan and 100% biodegradable.

5. Alaffia EveryDay Coconut Shampoo

Alaffia’s EveryDay Coconut shampoo cleanses the hair of impurities by using natural ingredients to create an invigorating lather that leaves the hair feeling refreshed and revitalized. The Alaffia conditioner can be bought separately to give the hair more slip if it tangles a lot after washing.

6. Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo

The Kinky Curly Come Clean shampoo is a sulfate-free product that helps to clean the hair and scalp while maintaining the integrity of various curl patterns. This shampoo cleanses gently without stripping and drying out the hair.

It contains mandarin fruit, Marigold flower, white willow bark, sea kelp, phytic acid, and citric acid as its main ingredients. The all-new and improved formula is excellent at softening hard water and removing minerals such as calcium and magnesium from depositing onto the hair.

Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo

Although the shampoo does contain mild sulfates, there are no paraben, artificial colors, and synthetic fragrances.

Overall, the Kinky Curly come clean shampoo is best for naturals who struggle with hard water buildup in their hair. It is the only clarifying shampoo for natural hair we’ve found that has chelating agents.

7. Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Carol’s Daughter, a black-owned haircare brand born in Brooklyn in 1993, makes hair products for all curl types. They call their products “The Cupid for Curls.”

Their products are specifically made for 2A to 4C hair types, and they even have a curl guide to help you pick the correct shampoo that will work for your hair texture. If you’re not sure which clarifying shampoo to use on your afro-textured hair, use their curl guide to get recommendations.

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture and Shine shampoo is good for its ability to soften, moisturize, and revive dry, brittle hair.

Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Sulfate-Free Shampoo

The shampoo contains black vanilla, aloe vera, sweet clover, calendula, rose extracts, and shea butter, amongst its main ingredients. There are no sulfates, no parabens, no petrolatum, and no mineral oils in its formula, which makes it a product worth considering if you’re practicing a natural hair care regimen.

Carol’s Daughter moisture and shine is an excellent clarifying shampoo for black hair that deep cleanses, moisturizes, and softens the hair with high-grade natural and organic ingredients that won’t compromise the hair texture.

When we tested the Black Vanilla shampoo, its luxuriously rich texture and consistency made it stand out. The pleasant, indulgent scents of black vanilla and other aromatic ingredients made the washing experience soothing, invigorating, and a pleasure to use on every wash day.

Without any sulfates or irritants, this gentle moisturizing hair cleanser is safe to use on natural hair and color-treated hair alike.

8. Alikay Naturals Moist Black Soap Shampoo

Alikay naturals is a unique shampoo made with raw black soap, plantain skins, and tea tree oil to cleanse the hair while maintaining moisture levels.

Plantain skin or plantain peel contains many beneficial compounds such as tannins, saponins, flavonoids, vitamins, zinc, and natural enzymes that exfoliate the scalp to remove dead skin cells. Plantain skin is a highly effective purifying cleanser for the skin and hair.

Alikay Naturals Moist Black Soap Shampoo

Due to the lack of sulfates, the Alikay naturals shampoo doesn’t lather well. It has a very thin and watery consistency, which you may have to get used to. But it does leave the hair squeaky clean, and moisturized.

9. Avlon Affirm Moistur Right Clarifying Shampoo

The Avlon affirm shampoo is a rich-foaming sulfate-free clarifying shampoo designed for black hair to eliminate dirt and residues without stripping.

The shampoo contains essential nutrients in the form of argan oil, royal jelly Pequi, Buriti oil, and keratin as its core ingredients to maintain optimal moisture balance while strengthening the overall hair fiber elasticity.

Avlon Affirm Moistur Right Clarifying Shampoo

The Avlon affirm shampoo can help people with curly hair who struggle with breakage and damaged hair due to previous chemical treatments.

The only downside is that the shampoo does not strictly pass the Curly Girl Method test due to some mild surfactants present in the formula. So use it sparingly only to give your curls a thorough detox and strength boost when needed.

Afro-Textured Hair Care and Its Unique Product Needs

natural and afro hair products needs

Afro-textured hair, common among people of African descent, is naturally curly or kinky and characterized by tight curls, coils, or zig-zag patterns, and is often thicker and denser than other hair types.

Historically, many women with Afro-textured hair have resorted to relaxing treatments to straighten their hair due to societal beauty standards and difficulty in styling and maintaining it.

But when the natural hair movement emerged in the 1970s and 80s, encouraging women to embrace their natural god-given texture, many women began to transition away from relaxers and towards products that were designed specifically for their hair type. Afro-textured hair is typically more porous than other types of hair, which makes it prone to dryness and breakage. It also tends to be more fragile than other types of hair because its structure is not as densely packed together. Because of this, finding the right products to care for them can be quite challenging.

Popular natural hair care methods like the Curly Girl Method, the No Poo Method, and co-washing have helped many, but it is important to note that these methods don’t provide the deep cleansing capabilities of a traditional clarifying shampoo, which is often avoided by natural hair people due to its sulfates and strong ingredients that may strip natural oils from the hair.

Is Clarifying Shampoo Good for Natural Hair?

best clarifying shampoo for natural hair

Clarifying shampoo can be beneficial for natural hair as it helps to remove product buildup and impurities, which is a common problem for people with afro-textured hair.

Buildup in hair can include styling products, excess oils, hard water minerals, and environmental pollutants that get trapped in dense layers and intricate textures. Removing these impurities can help to restore the hair’s natural balance and improve its overall ability to work well with styling products as well as absorb optimum moisture.

But not all clarifying shampoos are created equal. Some contain harsh ingredients that can make the hair more dry and brittle. That’s why you must avoid clarifying shampoos that contain sulfates and those that are too alkaline.

Luckily, there are many brands now that focus on products for textured hair, and many of those brands are making clarifying shampoos that address the specific moisture and protein balance of curly hair.

Benefits of Clarifying Shampoo for Natural Hair

benefits of a sunday shampoo routine and a clean hair reset

A clarifying shampoo can serve multiple needs for natural hair. Besides a thorough wash and detox for the hair, it can also prime any curl texture for better product absorption, which is one of the reasons curly hair remains dry and dehydrated.

Product buildup often creates an impermeable layer on the hair’s surface (the cuticle layer) to prevent other products from penetrating the hair. This can happen from your creams, deep conditioners, waxes, and hairsprays. If you’re not using a clarifying shampoo every now and then to flush them out, chances are they are the reason why your hair is not responding well to your favorite products.

So here’s how a clarifying shampoo can help: Benefits of clarifying shampoo.

Buying guide – How to Pick a Cleansing Shampoo for Natural Hair

When shopping for a natural hair-clarifying shampoo, look for these qualities:

  • Sulfate-free: Sulfates are harsh chemicals that strip the hair and dry it out. They’re found in many shampoos and can also be labeled as sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or even simply “SLES.” Look for a shampoo that doesn’t include these ingredients on the label.
  • Moisturizing: Look for ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil, argan oil, and essential oils that provide deep moisturizing capabilities to make the hair soft.
  • pH-balanced: You may hear this referred to as “pH balanced” or just “ph.” It refers to how acidic or basic the shampoo is—and if you have natural hair, you want something that’s not too alkaline. Just keep in mind that most cleansers aren’t going to be extremely basic or acidic; they are somewhere in between those two extremes. If possible, try to avoid clarifying shampoos that are high in pH. A lower pH shampoo will promote a more natural shine and lock in moisture in the hair by sealing the cuticles.
  • Color-Safe: It must be good for color-treated hair (if you have colored hair).

How to Use Clarifying Shampoo on Black Hair

  1. Wet the hair thoroughly: Before applying the clarifying shampoo, saturate your hair with water. This will help the shampoo distribute evenly throughout the hair.
  2. Use a small amount of shampoo: Start small and work it into a lather. Avoid using too much shampoo, as this can dry out the hair and cause breakage.
  3. Massage the scalp: Gently massage the shampoo into the scalp, using your fingers to work it through the hair.
  4. Rinse thoroughly: Rinse the hair thoroughly, making sure to remove all of the shampoo.
  5. Deep condition after: After using a clarifying shampoo, it’s essential to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment or a leave-in conditioner to restore moisture to the hair strands. This can help to keep the hair healthy and hydrated.
  6. Follow the usage frequency instructions: Although it’s recommended to use it once or twice a month, read the product’s instructions to make sure you’re not overdoing it.

How Often to Use Clarifying Shampoo on Natural Hair

For natural hair, use a clarifying shampoo once a month or every 4-6 weeks. This frequency helps remove product buildup and impurities without overly stripping the hair of its natural oils.

The exact frequency can vary based on the individual’s hair type, the products they use, and their daily hair routines. Some may find the need to clarify more often, while others might do so less frequently. Always paying attention to how the hair feels and reacts is crucial, and it’s a good idea to follow up with a deep conditioner after using a clarifying shampoo to restore moisture.

Are You Deep Cleansing Your Hair?

Clarifying shampoos may sound harsh and often the first thing that comes to mind is sulfates.

But not all clarifying shampoos are designed to strip the hair. There are many alternative options created by brands that care for people with afro-textured hair and their unique needs.

If you’re not deep cleansing your curls regularly for the fear of dryness or damage, you may be comprimising them with product buildup overload, which can impact growth in the long term.

Try one of the clarifying shampoos we recommend and see the difference it makes!

Kassidy Ward

Kassidy Ward
Writer and Curly Girl Method Devotee

Kassidy is our curly girl expert and has been following the CG method for over 3 years. She's tried just about every product and technique out there to get her curls to cooperate and is always on the lookout for new products to try.

She's also a sucker for free products, which is why she's relentlessly reaching out to manufacturers with her unique persuasive skills. 9 out of 10 times, she wins!