How Often to use a Clarifying Shampoo for Best Results

By Charlene Latreuille

How often to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo

A clarifying shampoo sweeps away every scrap of dirt, greasiness, and product buildup from your hair and scalp.

Unlike the bog-standard shampoo, it’s way more intense.

I call it the shampoo with superpowers that can instantly zap your greasy roots and break down everything nasty that clings onto your hair.

To put it simply:

It purifies your strands from root to tip.


Is it wise to use a clarifying shampoo as often as a regular shampoo?

Will it make your hair dry from its intense cleansing formula?

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But we don’t have a definite answer that fits all.



Because everyone’s head of hair is different.

To understand how frequently you need to use a clarifying shampoo, it’s important to figure out a few things about your hair and your scalp first.

For example:

  • Your hair type
  • Texture
  • Color
  • Scalp condition
  • Your hair styling routine
  • And how dry or oily your hair gets

So putting all these factors into context, we decided to make a useful chart to help you understand how often to use a clarifying shampoo based on YOUR hair type and scalp condition.

Without further ado, here it is:

Clarifying Shampoo Usage Frequency Chart

Hair and Scalp ConditionHow Often
Fine and Thin Hair2 Times Per Week
Medium HairOnce Per Week
Thick and Coarse Hair1-2 Times Per Week
Natural Hair1-2 Times Per Week
Kinky Hair1-2 Times Per Week
Relaxed Hair2 Times Per Month
Damaged HairOnce Per Week
Color-Treated HairOnce Per Week
Blonde HairAs Often As Needed
Grey HairOnce Per Week
Keratin-Treated Hair1-2 Times Per Month
Bleached hairOnce A Month
High Porosity Hair2 Times Per Week
Low Porosity HairOnce Per Week
Oily HairOnce Per Week
Dry HairOnce Per Week
Dry Scalp2 Times Per Week
Dandruff Problems2 Times Per Week
Sensitive Scalp1-2 Times Per Week
Oily Scalp1-2 Times Per Week
Active Gym lifestyleAs Often As Needed
Hard Water AreaOnce Per Week
You Swim Frequently2 Times Per Week
Please Note:

A clarifying shampoo does not replace your regular shampoo. It’s an extra step in your hair care routine.

Let me explain how it works …

Think of how you clean your face.

You wouldn’t exfoliate your skin every day! Would you?

Similarly, a clarifying shampoo works as an exfoliant. While your regular shampoo is more gentle and designed for everyday use, a deep-cleansing shampoo is not intended to boost moisture.

Having said that, it’s essential to make the right choice when using a day-to-day shampoo. Because not all shampoos are “moisturizing.”

In fact:

Most drugstore shampoos contain sulfates, and I always avoid them.


Because sulfates are detergents used in dishwashing liquid and household cleaning products. They scrub out the lipid layer of your skin to remove natural oils that keep a healthy moisture balance.

I recommend you always use a sulfate-free shampoo to preserve your hair’s natural oils and keep your scalp’s sebum balance in the right state.

Now let’s take a look at how different hair and scalp conditions make your hair washing routine unique, and where a clarifying shampoo fits in for you.

To find the right balance between regular washing and clarifying, I use this rule of thumb:

Use a clarifying shampoo once after every 4 washes.

In some cases, it may differ depending on how much buildup you have and how your hair and scalp react to it.

As long as you know how often you need to wash your hair based on type and texture, it is a simple process.

So let’s dive in and find out frequently you should be washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo.


How Often To Wash Fine Hair With A Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo for fine dry hair

Fine hair has the smallest diameter, and because of its small size, there are more hairs per square centimeter on your scalp.

The problem?

Each hair follicle has its oil gland. Therefore, more hair follicles mean more oil glands and more sebum.

That’s why people with fine hair experience greasiness within a few hours after washing.

To best way to stop your scalp from over-producing sebum is not to wash out the natural oils. When your scalp feels dry, it automatically triggers a new cycle of sebum production.

So how do you wash your hair without interrupting the oil glands?

It’s simple.

Use a light sulfate-free shampoo 2 times a week.

“Fine hair should be shampooed every other day using a volumizing shampoo and conditioner. Fine hair can easily get weighed down by oil and product buildup—so it requires washing a bit more often. The goal is to keep it clean so it can maintain volume but to also nourish the scalp with a volumizing conditioner that won’t weigh hair down.” – says Paul Cucinello, celebrity stylist and founder of Cucinello Studio NYC.

Supplement your hair washing routine with a clarifying shampoo once a week to clear out excess sebum, and use a boar bristle brush to distribute your scalp’s natural oils so that they don’t sit at the roots making your hair greasy.

The best products I recommend:


Medium Hair – How Often To Wash With A Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo for medium thick hair

Medium or normal texture is the best type of hair when it comes to washing.

Due to its low-maintenance and balanced sebum production, washing once a week is acceptable, and it doesn’t make your hair dry.

For this reason, you can stretch your hair detox routine for a bit longer.

Once a week is enough to clarify, and if you don’t use a lot of hair styling products that contain silicones, waxes, and gels, then go for twice a month.


Thick And Coarse Hair Clarifying Shampoo Schedule

clarifying shampoo for thick hair

You can get away with washing thick hair only once a week and trust me – no one will even notice.


Because thick hair takes longer to get greasy from the scalp.

Sebum from the follicles takes more time to travel down thick and dense hair, thus allowing you to stretch your hair wash for more extended periods.

“With thick hair, you can wait a few days between washes. I don’t recommend washing more than every other day.” – says Nick Stenson, Matrix Artistic Director.

On the downside, if you skip too many washes, excess sebum can clog the hair follicles to cause dandruff or infections.

Moreover, the denser your hair is, the more it’s likely to hold on to dirt particles and dust.

Use a clarifying shampoo up to twice a week to draw out the impurities, and purge the congested pores from the surplus of sebum.

Coarse hair is prone to drying.

To preserve moisture in your hair, I recommend washing twice a week with a deep-moisturizing shampoo.

“Coarse hair should be washed twice a week using a super-moisturizing, sulphate-free shampoo, like L’Oreal Paris Ever Creme Deep Nourish Shampoo, and followed with a deep conditioning masque, like L’Oréal Paris EverCrème Renourishing Butter, to keep it feeling soft and manageable.” – says Paul Cucinello, celebrity stylist and founder of Cucinello Studio NYC.


How Often To Use A Clarifying Shampoo On Curly Natural Hair

clarifying shampoo natural black hair

The problem with bodacious curves is that oil from your scalp has a hard time traveling down a curly strand of hair as it does on bone straight hair.

The twists and bends make it difficult for sebum to lubricate the hair shaft, thus, making each hair feel dryer from midway to the ends.

To prevent your hair from feeling dry, co-washing, wash-and-goes are your best friends because:

  • They keep your curls moisturized
  • They are low maintenance (don’t require heat and blow dry)
  • They are quick to do

And they help preserve the integrity and texture of your natural hair.

“I compare thick, curly hair to denim. Denim seems to feel best a couple of days after wearing, and this holds true for curly hair. I recommend twice a week with a shampoo heavy in moisturizing qualities. Or, opt for a cleansing conditioner like Living Proof’s Curl Conditioning Wash, which whisks away any dirt and unnecessary oils without stripping hydration from your hair. The priority for all curly girls is to protect the integrity of the curl by steering clear of sodium lauryl sulfate, the ingredient in traditional shampoos.” – Nick Stenson, Matrix Artistic Director

As long as your co-wash products don’t have silicones, and petroleum-based ingredients, buildup shouldn’t be a problem.

However, you still need to consider other elements like hard water, environmental pollution, and dust that can still cling onto your hair over time.

So here’s what your hair washing routine should be like:

Co-washes twice a week, followed by a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo twice a month.

This routine will keep your tendrils clean with a proper distribution of curly volume and definition.


Kinky Hair? Here’s How Often You Need To Clarify

clarifying shampoo curly hair

Kinky and coily hair have very sharp folds and plenty of twists.

Which means they create a favorable environment for dust and dirt to hide as you’ll hardly notice them.

The only time you’ll realize you have buildup is when your scalp starts to feel itchy and uncomfortable.

The other problem with tight curls is that sebum cannot reach the ends easily, because the curvature of your hair makes it difficult. Instead, natural oils sit closer to the scalp and dry up which can cause flakes and itchiness.

To prevent these problems, use a clarifying shampoo 1-2 times per week at least.

Similar to natural hair, you need a curl cleanser that pumps in moisture and keeps the roots clean from excess sebum.


How Often To Wash Relaxed Hair With Clarifying Shampoos

clarifying shampoo relaxed hair

Using relaxers makes your hair porous over time, which leads to tangles, knots, and buildup.

Prevent buildup and residues by using a balanced pH clarifying shampoo that closes the cuticles to make the hair surface even.

I recommend washing relaxed hair with a clarifying shampoo at most twice a month.

Look for neutralizing clarifying shampoos which can also remove relaxer chemical deposits, because these chemicals can stay in your hair to cause itchiness.

Damaged Hair Clarifying Shampoo Routine

clarifying shampoo damaged hair

How do you wash your delicate garments like silk knickers or nightgowns with lace?

You wouldn’t just toss them into your washing machine mixed with denim.

Would you?

No. You would hand-wash them with gentle detergents to preserve their unique, intricate design and smoothness.

“Relaxed or chemically-treated hair tends to be more fragile, so give it some TLC when you shampoo. I put this in a delicate category, like lace or hand-washables. The least amount you have to alter its pH, the better, as it’s more vulnerable when wet. I recommend shampooing once a week with a gentle formula.” Abraham Sprinkle, Celebrity hairstylist and member of Keratin Complex

Think of damaged hair as delicate. You need to treat it as such.

Wash less (ideally once a week if needed) and use gentle repair shampoos.


Clarifying Shampoo For Color Treated Hair – When To Wash

clarifying shampoo color safe

There’s nothing more desolating than getting that perfect hair color at your hair salon, only to find that after two washes it starts to look dull and lackluster.

Truth is:

Water is the worst enemy for hair color.

If you want to preserve your vibrant hair color, the mantra is to wash it less.

And when you do wash, choose the right color-preserving shampoos that will keep the cuticles sealed to prevent color pigments from leaching out.

The best way to wash color-treated hair is to use low pH sulfate-free shampoos.

Low pH also means slightly acidic.

A lower pH shampoo has a sweet spot of 4 to 4.5. It doesn’t strip your hair from its natural moisture and keeps the cuticles sealed.

Look for:

  • Sulfate-free
  • Color preserving
  • Hydrating and moisturizing
  • Gentle formula

How Often To Wash Blonde Hair With A Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo blonde hair

Whether you are naturally blonde, or a bottled-blonde, there’s one thing you don’t want anywhere near your hair:


Brassiness in blonde hair happens when oxidizing elements in the air or water make your tones look warm.

To prevent this from happening:

Use a clarifying shampoo designed for blonde hair once a week or as often as needed. It prevents your hair from fading into dingy yellows, and washes out all color-damaging oxidizers.


Clarifying Shampoo On Grey Hair

best clarifying shampoo for grey hair

I know how much you hate that dirty yellow hue that keeps creeping into your grey or white hair from time to time.

The problem with grey hair is, it’s highly porous.

Therefore, it readily absorbs anything innocuous that causes discoloration and dullness.


Keratin Treated Hair – How Often To Use A Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo keratin treatment

Don’t use a clarifying shampoo for at least a month after your keratin treatment.

That’s the first rule.

Second: Regardless if your head feels itchy, greasy, and full of buildup, I will still advise you to stay away from it.

Because a clarifying shampoo will strip away keratin layers from your hair.

Clarifying shampoos work well before keratin treatments to prepare your hair, but I don’t recommend them for keratin treatment maintenance.

If you do feel the need for a hair detox and deep-cleansing, I will suggest to start using one just over a month after your treatment, or you can check in to your local hair salon for a quick chat with your stylist for a gentle alternative cleansing method.


Bleached Hair – How Often To Use Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo bleached hair

When your hair is bleached, you know moisture is in high demand.

Other than discarding your heat styling tools for a while, you need to abstain from washing your hair frequently to avoid the inevitable dryness and breakage.

Most important of all, avoid all products that contain Sulfates and Sodium Chloride. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a head of straw-looking yellow hair.

For bleached hair that looks on the edge, you’ll need a brass cool formulated shampoo that’s rich in antioxidants and ultra conditioning agents like the Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration Shampoo.

Designed for overprocessed, broken, and crunchy bleached-damaged hair, this shampoo contains lotus flower derived lipids and ceramides to heal your hair from the inside out.

Supplement this with an equally good clarifying shampoo that is:

  • Moisture infusing
  • Rich in anti-oxidants

High Porosity Hair

clarifying shampoo high porosity hair

High porosity means your hair has raised cuticles with gaps and holes most likely due to heat damage or chemical processing.

The problem with washing high porosity hair is that it gets rough, and tangles badly due to its rugged surface.

Fact is:

High porosity hair takes longer to wash, condition, detangle, and blow-dry altogether.

Plus you will always end up with frizz, split ends, and extra shedding.

The key to washing high porosity hair is to use sulfate-free shampoos that also have moisture and cuticle sealing properties.


Low Porosity Hair

diy clarifying shampoo for low porosity hair

Low porosity hair, on the other hand, has tightly packed cuticles that stay flat and smooth, thus preventing moisture from setting in.

As a result, your moisturizing and conditioning products struggle to absorb into the hair strands. Instead, they stay on top of the hair to become sticky residues.

While most people with low porosity hair prefer to wash only once a week, conditioner-only washing is a big favorite amongst them.

To prevent conditioner residues, mainly in the form of silicones from clinging onto your hair, supplement your co-wash routines with anti-residue clarifying shampoos.

A clarifying shampoo designed for low porosity hair will also help lift the hair’s cuticles to a safe level for proper moisture absorption. Combine that with a hair steamer – you’ll have the best of both worlds.


How Often To Use Clarifying Shampoo On Oily And Greasy Hair

clarifying shampoo oily hair

The most common cause of greasy hair is over-washing and over-stimulating the scalp which produces more oil.

Yes I know this sounds ironic, but the only reason you need to wash your hair more is because you wash too frequently.

To prevent your scalp from getting greasy, lay off the shampoos and train your scalp to adjust to a period of transition where you will space out at least 4-5 days in between each wash.

“If you suffer from greasy hair, it is more likely down to an oily scalp than oily hair. You should consider using a purifying shampoo as this is a deep cleanser and will help remove any excess oil build-up.”Mark Woolley, Founder of Electric Hair

Then use a clarifying shampoo after each second cycle i.e. once every 2 months.

Notice how your scalp will feel much better, less greasy, and less irritated.

Start with this shampoo once per week and then start to allow more time in between your washes.


Dry hair – Best Time To Use Clarifying Shampoo

Is clarifying shampoo good for dry hair

Dry hair needs shampoos that contain ultra-hydrating ingredients.

That’s because your hair hardly gets any lubrication from sebum to keep the lengths moisturized and looking lustrous.

Another reason for parched and dry hair is the frequent use of sulfate-based shampoos combined with hot water.

Change your hair washing routine to incorporate a nutritive shampoo with ingredients like Minerals, Aminos, and Argan oil.

Recommend once per week.


Dry Scalp Conditions – When To Clarifying

best clarifying shampoo for dry scalp

Dry and flaky scalp conditions are tell-tale signs of dead skins cells and other impurities accumulating on your scalp.

It’s also a sign that your regular shampoo is not doing enough to sweep them away.

This is where you need a clarifying shampoo that can slough away those dead skin cells that encourage bacteria and fungus to breed.

Considering the dryness factor, you’ll need a clarifying shampoo that’s enriched with Aloe Vera to heal the lipid layer of your scalp too.

So get into a weekly routine of clarifying your hair. This will help to clear everything from the roots and soothe your scalp.

A good clarifying shampoo with Aloe Vera extracts will seep into every pore of your scalp, with its antibacterial agents to give your scalp that therapeutic treat it desperately needs.

I will also recommend you use a boar bristle brush from time to time. It helps stimulate your scalp and distribute sebum to keep your scalp naturally moist.

Recommended twice a week.


Dandruff Problems – Clarifying Wash Schedule

clarifying or anti dandruff shampoo

Dandruff is a condition that happens from dry scalp or oily scalp causing excess cells to clump and fall off from your scalp.

“If you don’t wash your hair for a while, oils that your scalp produces naturally accumulate around your hair shaft, promoting the overgrowth of yeast on your scalp.”Joshua Zeichner M.D., A New York City-based board-certified dermatologist

But having said that, dandruff is not 100% directly related to how often you cleanse your scalp. It can happen to anyone.

Some of the factors that contribute to dandruff are:

  • Hereditary
  • Hormonal changes
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Eating excess sugar
  • Weather conditions

While it takes more than a topical application to cure the problem, you can start by making small changes to stop the problem.

First you need to see a doctor to understand what’s causing the problem, and second, it’s good to start using a clarifying shampoo twice per week to clear up the excess dead skin cells to stop the white flaky stuff from falling off your scalp.


Sensitive Scalp

clarifying shampoo for sensitive scalp

Your scalp feels sensitive because of inflammations on the skin.

This is due to an over-accumulation of dead skin cells and dirt that have encouraged yeast and fungus bacteria to breed, congest the pores, and feed on your skin.

In this case, you will immediately need a clarifying and antibacterial shampoo that can cleanse, but most importantly kill all the bacteria.

Use it 1-2 times per week and make sure you keep up with the routine for at least a month to heal your scalp.


Oily Scalp – How Many Times To Use A Clarifying Shampoo

best clarifying shampoo oily scalp

An oily scalp can literally give you a ‘bad hair day’ due to over-reactive sebaceous glands that are out of control.

And when a surplus of sebum collects over a few days, it clogs the pores and even hardens over time which can cause inflammation, and negatively affect hair growth.

While washing 1-2 times a week is recommended to soak up the oiliness and keep your hair feeling fresh, it’s also important to use mild chemical-free shampoos preferably containing:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Neroli extract
  • Willow bark extract
  • Nettle leaf
  • Chamomile extract
  • Birch extract

These ingredients control blood circulation on the scalp and work as antibacterial and sedative tonics to balance pH and sebum production on your scalp.

Also use a boar bristle brush to stimulate your scalp, and help spread the natural oils along the lengths of your hair to prevent greasiness at the roots.


What If You Sweat Too Much? (Gym And Workouts)

clarifying shampoos for workout

If you maintain an active lifestyle and you sweat a lot every day, then washing your hair after every workout seems inevitable.

However, this will make your scalp and hair dry.

I recommend you use a dry shampoo to soak up your roots before and after a workout.

Then it’s up to you to make the call on when your hair needs a good scrubbing.


Using A Clarifying Shampoo When You Live In Hard Water Areas

clarifying shampoo for hard water areas

Clarifying shampoos with chelating agents are the best product to use to fight hard water buildup.

Also known as chelating shampoos, these products contain special ingredients that bind to hard water minerals to neutralize their effects.

A chelating shampoo breaks down all the stubborn hard water minerals that deposit onto your scalp and hair.

Use it regularly, and you will feel like you’ve been using soft water all along.

It’s that good.

To double up the effectiveness, and help your skin from the effects of hard water, you can also use a hard water shower filter or a vitamin C shower.

Clarifying Shampoo For Frequent Swimmers

clarifying shampoo swimming

Chlorine is a complete hair killer.

It is a chemical disinfectant and a corrosive agent that eats away any tissue it comes in contact with.

Moreover, it leaves your hair severely dry, with salt-like crystals building up and forcing their way under your hair’s cuticles.

To protect your hair from chlorine damage, you need more than just a chlorine-battling shampoo.

You need to protect your hair to limit chlorine damage.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Saturate your hair with pure water before swimming
  • Use a swim cap
  • Add conditioner to your hair before
  • Use a chlorine protection spray

Now It’s Your Turn To Add A Clarifying Shampoo To Your Routine

A clarifying shampoo is the most important part of your hair care routine you’re probably missing right now.

Use our detailed chart on how often to use a clarifying shampoo for your hair type and see how it makes your hair care rewarding and effortless.

Bag the right one, and you’re in for a total hair refresh!

Charlene Latreuille

Charlene Latreuille
Writer and Editor

Charlene has been blogging for over 10 years and has a background in digital marketing. She's also a certified yoga teacher and loves to travel.

When she's not working on her next article, she can be found spending time with her two young daughters or planning her next big travel adventure.