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How to Clarify Hair at Home (and Why Your Scalp Desperately Needs It)

how to clarify hair

You shampoo and condition your hair on the regular, but when’s the last time you offered up a deep clean to your strands? Styling products—like hair spray, dry shampoo, and heat protectants—build up in your scalp over time, causing your hair to look dull, dry, and weighed down.

Adding a clarifying shampoo to your routine is a simple and useful way to make your hair look and feel healthier.

After a few washes, you’ll start to see noticeable differences in the overall quality and texture of your hair. (Plus, it’s a great way to fight frizz!) Did I get you hooked? Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

What is a clarifying shampoo?

Clarifying shampoos break down product build-up in your hair. They’re essentially harder working versions of ordinary shampoo. They also get rid of pesky dandruff flakes, remove mineral deposits left from hard water or chlorine, and eliminate grease and oil.

Over time, they can even help you can go longer in between washes—without giving you a need to reach for dry shampoo!

how to clarify hair

Who should use a clarifying shampoo?

The short answer is that everyone with hair can benefit from a clarifying shampoo—but those who use a lot of different products or do hair treatments are especially in need.

When it comes to how often you should suds up, some people only need to use a clarifying shampoo a couple times a month while others should aim for once a week.

There are clarifying shampoos that can be used even more frequently, but you definitely don’t want to overdo it. Using one too often can strip your scalp of the essential oils it needs to stay healthy.

how to clarify hair

So how do you know what’s right for you? If your hair is oily or if you use lots of styling products, you likely need to clarify each week. It’s also a great habit for anyone who has hair extensions like me.

If your hair can go days without needing a wash or if you don’t use products that often, start by incorporating one into your routine every other week.

Just remember that the most important thing is to use it regularly, which will help reduce product build-up in the first place.

How do you clarify at home?

Clarifying your hair at home is super simple—and quick! It’s also a great way to squeeze in some self-care (and get away with a few extra minutes in the shower).

After you get your hair wet, dab a small amount of the shampoo in your hands and lather it up.

Massage it through your hair and scalp and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Rinse thoroughly, then finish with a hydrating shampoo.

I put together a comprehensive list of the best clarifying shampoos, but to help you kickstart your routine, here are three popular picks:

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

I’m a huge fan of Bumble & Bumble products. In fact, they make a heat protectant that I have on hand at all times (I use it every time I wash my hair!)

This Sunday Shampoo is no exception to my love affair with the brand. It’s best for fine to medium hair and works just as well on curly strands as it does straight.

Amika Reset Clarifying Gel Shampoo

If you’re stuck showering with hard water try using this shampoo, which will offer up a deep clean without drying your hair out.

This shampoo is ideal for those with extra oily hair since it can be used every day—without stripping.

Otherwise, just it once weekly in place of your ordinary shampoo and follow up with a lightweight yet moisturizing conditioner, like the Amika Reset Scalp Cooling Gel Conditioner.


R+Co Acid Wash

The hardworking R+CO Acid Wash is made with apple cider vinegar, a natural exfoliant that sweeps away excess product and dandruff flakes.

ACV also helps restore and maintain the pH balance of your hair and scalp, leaving you with shiny and strong strands.

A little bit of product goes a long way with this pick, so the bottle should last you quite some time if you just use it once a week.

Another added bonus: the squirt bottle design allows you to squeeze the product directly to your roots with ease.

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