Clarifying shampoos, also sometimes called chelating or detoxifying, are shampoos that are made to remove product buildup on the hair. These toxins collect on the hair shaft to create dull, lifeless-looking hair with no shine or bounce. These terms are not always interchangeable, however. If you want the healthiest looking hair, it’s important to start with the best clarifying shampoo or chelating shampoo for your hair.
When to use chelating shampoo
Chelating shampoo is similar to clarifying shampoo as they are both designed to remove build up in the hair. A chelating shampoo is designed to remove minerals (usually caused by hard water), but clarifying shampoos are designed more toward removal of dirt and oil.
Chelating shampoo will remove iron and copper mineral deposits left in the hair by using hard water, often the case if you live in an older house with copper pipes. These minerals tend to build up in the hair over time, making it feel dry and heavy and difficult to style. You can check your water by using pH strips that you can purchase at any drugstore.
We use these shampoos in the salon before some chemical services to ensure even deposit of the chemical being used, especially if the client is a heavy product user. They need to be followed by a good conditioner or mask, because clarifying and chelating shampoos tend to strip natural oils off the hair along with the unwanted build up and toxins, leaving the hair feeling parched.
These shampoos are NOT meant for treating dandruff. Shampoos containing tea tree are better for this problem.
When to use clarifying shampoo
Many clarifying shampoos can be purchased for use at home. They are especially useful for heavy product users who like hairspray or waxes and dry finishing products such as volumizing powders on a daily basis. I would refrain from daily use and recommend switching off with your regular shampoo and conditioner regime. They are best when applied to wet hair, lathered as much as possible and left on for 5 minutes before being rinsed off very well. Remember that you are trying to remove residue so rinsing thoroughly will help.
Alternatively, if you have the time, wrapping the hair with a hot wet towel (you can do this right in the sink with hot tap water and wring out the excess water) while the clarifying treatment is in the hair for 5-10 minutes is a relaxing spa-like treat that your hair will love.
Some of the high-end salon brands may not be very wallet friendly, but don’t despair. There are many drugstore brands that will do the job beautifully. Here are some of my favorites.
Best Clarifying Shampoo
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo, 91/100, $5 for 6 oz.
Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo, Viewpoints Score TBD, $12 for 10.14 oz.
This one is great for swimmers, too!
Best Chelating Shampoo
Redken Hair Cleansing Cream, 93/100, $20 for 10.1 oz.
Formulated with fruit acids to add shine.
Kenra, Viewpoints Score TBD, $16.50 for 10.1 oz.
Gentle enough for everyday use.