Should You Occasionally Use a Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Buildup?

Should You Occasionally Use a Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Buildup?

Aug 20th 2023

You Woman with Healthy Hair Sipping a Green Detox Smoothie

Even if you rarely have bad hair days, or you’re just blessed with really healthy, perfectly textured (and behaving) hair, there are always going to be times when your hair goes through a misbehave phase. Everyone’s hair occasionally needs a little TLC. Or you can call it a sort of "Detox" for your hair.  A detox protocol or TLC can mean a couple different things when it comes to your hair.

Changing Your Products Occasionally

It can mean changing up your routine so you can ensure certain ingredients that can end up changing the texture and behavior of your hair don’t build up to counterproductive levels (Related: Panthenol is Great, But Beware Buildup). TLC can also mean that your hair is overprocessed and needs a lot of added moisture and mending.

Overprocessed is just a blanket name for any type of chemical processing. It is especially applicable for those that both color their hair and get some sort of other chemical processing in combination or back to back. Other than hair coloring and bleaching, examples of processing are chemical straightening, smoothing and curling procedures. While these treatments often make the hair APPEAR healthier, they often take a big toll on the overall health and integrity of the hair.

Styling Product Buildup

Styling products are one of the biggest sellers in the haircare market. There are literally thousands, if not millions of these products available in the US alone. And they sell! Styling products are any topical hair product that promises to make your hair look and/or feel a certain way. 

Some of the most popular now are beach and wave sprays, straightening gels, serums and creams, and defrizzing or volumizing products. Every product you use on your hair topically can build up over time. A mixture of products can build up. Even your shampoo and conditioners that you rinse out can deposit some ingredients into the shaft.

Buildup of styling products can have an effect on the appearance and even the feel of your hair over time. It can have a dulling effect on the color of your hair. It can leave the hair flat and difficult to maneuver into any sort of increased volume. Some product buildup can also lead to straight and/or lifeless hair that is difficult to curl. Related: Sweating and Its Importance for Detoxification

What Does a Clarifying Shampoo Do?

Clarifying shampoos are designed to do two things (at least this is what they are traditionally marketed for). One is to remove chlorine. Chlorine ins the main chemical that is used to keep pools free of algae and clear of other invasive organisms. However, chlorine can not only be toxic when absorbed through the skin or consumed orally, but it really does a number on your hair.

It is very drying to the hair and scalp, and can even bleach the color out of hair or make hair color fade more quickly. Clarifying shampoos are the typical type of cleanser that is recommended for successful chlorine removal.

The second thing Clarifying shampoos are designed for is to remove product buildup. They help deep clean the hair shaft to help get out deposited leftovers of leave-in hair products. This deep clean and lifting capability also can contribute to helping revitalize the scalp and to restore volume and vitality to the hair.

Mineral Buildup from Hard Water

But product residue isn’t the only thing they can remove – this family of shampoos can also remove mineral buildup. For those washing their hair with ‘hard’ water, this can be a Godsend since minerals do tend to build up over time.

When deposited residual products are gone, this typically means better volume due to the clean slate it provides for your conditioners to go in and penetrate the shaft effectively. Related: NAC for Detoxification?

Because of this ability to really lift out residues, clarifying shampoo types can have an unfortunate side effect. They can sometimes dry out the hair or even dull hair color if you have color treated hair. However, used correctly and only occasionally, they can really help to give your hair that deep clean that helps act as a sort of ‘reset’ for your hairstyle.

Some even refer to these types of shampoos as the equivalent of a ‘detox’ protocol, for your hair. Whatever you may call it, be sure to look up the best ways to use clarifying shampoos based on your hair type. Be mindful if you have naturally dry hair already, you may want to use clarifiers only when necessary.

And clarifying shampoos aren't something that should be used on a regular basis as a replacement for an everyday shampoo product. They are only meant to be used occasionally or intermittently to help clean the slate and detox your hair for a healthy reset.