What is Clarifying Shampoo?

Plastic shampoo bottles.

Clarifying shampoo is any of a variety of shampoo products formulated to deeply cleanse the hair, removing product buildup from the hair shafts. Styling products such as hair mousse, hair gel, hair spray, conditioners, and even daily shampoos can cause buildup in the hair over time. This buildup can add weight to the hair, making it look flat and lifeless, as well as preventing light reflection, which makes the hair look dull and grimy. Periodic use of a clarifying shampoo will help remove buildup and give your hair a clean start.

Clarifying shampoo can remove styling products from hair.

Most clarifying shampoos contain acetic acid. A chemical compound, while mild when it comes to acid, it is known for its descaling abilities. Acetic acid is found in vinegar, which everyone knows is good for removing scale buildup on coffee pots, tea kettles, and other household items. Likewise, the acetic acid found in clarifying hair products in removing build-up found in the hair.

Vinegar works as a clarifier, helping to remove product buildup in the hair.

Clarifying shampoo is not known for its conditioning abilities. In fact, while it’s great for helping to remove unwanted build-up of oil, styling products, and other grime, it can dry out your hair if overused. Most stylists recommend cleaning oily hair with this type of shampoo once a week and drying your hair once every two to three weeks.

A product doesn’t necessarily need to be labeled a clarifying shampoo to do the trick. Check the ingredient label on the back of any shampoo for the presence and location of acetic acid. The closer to the top of the list, the more it contains. Any shampoo that contains acetic acid will break down. The key to keeping the buildup under control is using a different shampoo than your daily product at periodic intervals.

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Using a clarifying shampoo can help reduce the appearance of dandruff.

People who swim frequently should consider using a shampoo formulated to remove chlorine, which can dry out hair and, in some cases, leave it with a blotchy color. Lightening shampoo is good for swimmers’ hair, but it should always be followed by a conditioner to keep hair soft.

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