Best Clarifying Shampoos Reviewed And Ranked

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Have you noticed how sometimes, no matter how diligently you care for your hair, it just seems a little lifeless? The use of styling products and heat appliances can leave your hair in a state with much to be desired. Even for those of us who try not to use ‘those chemicals’ on our hair know that the natural buildup of oils and even excessive washing can leave your hair in need of some real TLC. Regular washing does not remove all of the residue left in your hair, even if it is unnoticeable to the naked eye.  If you think your hair is as clean as it gets, it’s probably not.

I took a closer look into the most efficient way to rid my hair of those unwanted substances. It didn’t take me long to get an answer.  Everywhere I looked seemed to offer the same solution: clarifying shampoo. There are numerous approaches you might take to give your hair the well-deserved, thorough cleanse it needs.

There are deep cleansing hair masks, leave in conditioners, clay masks and a never-ending list of at home remedies. Having said that, clarifying shampoo is arguably the easiest and most instantly effective. Let’s have a look at what regular shampoos totally-out-of-our-league older brother can do.

What Is Clarifying Shampoo? 

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If your hair needs a detox, a clarifying shampoo is what you’ll need.

Clarifying shampoo is like a detox for your hair, leaving it fresh and free of residue. It’s understood to be an ‘intensified shampoo.’ Clarifying shampoo, unlike regular shampoo, targets the stubborn dirt in your hair. It removes the unwanted oils and what hair experts would call ‘waste’ such as chlorine from swimming pools, hard water deposits and plastic-based polymers found in hairsprays and gels. This is all done without removing your hairs own essential oils, maintaining your locks natural shine.

 It is important to note that some argue that due to the almost aggressive, deep-cleansing nature of clarifying shampoo it can have some negative effects. To ensure you already-fragile hair isn’t stripped of its natural oils make sure you don’t overuse the cleanser.

However, specialists recommend using the product as little as once a month so as not to ‘attack’ your hair and rid it of its own oils. Overuse leaves your hair brittle and dry, as well as leading to other possible side effects like an itchy scalp. Remember- this isn’t a replacement for your daily shampoo. Just like deep -cleaning your house too often can leave your immune system more susceptible to infections, doing the same for your hair reduces your body’s natural resilience.

What Kind Of Hair Requires Clarifying Shampoo?

Girl smiling with curly hair

If you have curly hair, you should only use a clarifying shampoo once a month.

The type of hair you have plays a big part in how often you should use clarifying shampoo. The product itself is aimed to cleanse every hair type but due to its strength, the balance is more about quality than quantity. Dry hair and curly hair shouldn’t need clarifying more than once a month. All other hair types require a ‘detox’ around once a week to keep your tresses looking light and well-cared for.

If you have fine or thin hair, you might be nervous that clarifying shampoo will be too aggressive on your delicate mane. Similarly, if you have dyed hair you don’t want a cleanse to strip your hair of its color. If you’re nervously nodding your vividly colored head, then rest assured there are also ‘gentle’ clarifying shampoo’s suited just for you!

Due to the popularity and success of clarifying shampoo, there is a wider variety of products now available. Ranging between gentle clarifiers for fragile or colored hair and deep cleaners for those thicker, more stubborn locks, there’s a hair detox waiting for everyone.  Don’t be scared to give your hair that overdue affection it deserves. Just make sure you establish which category your hair falls into so you can cleanse it as recommended.

Top 5 Clarifying Shampoos Reviewed 2018

The question now becomes “how do I know which clarifying shampoo is the best for me?”. Let us help you with that.

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

Bumble And Bumble Sunday Shampoo

Clarifying Shampoo by Bumble and Bumble

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo is a weekly cleanser suitable for curly hair. This clarifying shampoo promotes detoxification and clears the hair of that weekly buildup. The active ingredients Rosemary and Sage leaf extracts are scalp stimulants that have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Being a cruelty-free brand is a bonus to this great shampoo. Note: not to be used on dry or colored hair.

Bumble and bumble Company + Products Review: No Bumbling Here!

When I first started using this clarifier I didn’t really appreciate it – just part of my weekend routine. I usually did a rinse and repeat with my usual shampoo meaning that the results could not be solely attributed to my clarifying shampoo. It was only when my Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo finally ran out and I didn’t replace it for a while that I started to notice the difference in my hair. My hair was limper than usual and noticeably less fresh than it usually did. As soon as I started using it again my hair was fresher and my curls bouncier.

Phillip B Peppermint and Avocado Clarifying Shampoo

Phillip B shampoo

Phillip B Shampoo

A great cleanser for fine hair the Phillip B shampoo lifts the dirt from your hair with its minty fresh aromatherapy mix. The use of 16 purified plant extracts regulates the cell production on the scalp, enhances hair volume and adds shine to your hair. It leaves your hair feeling tingly and fresh without stripping it of its natural oils.

The first thing I noticed when I used this shampoo was the invigorating peppermint scent. The peppermint extract helps to stimulate the circulation in your scalp. The instructions of use recommend leaving it in your hair for 1-3 minutes – which is longer than I would usually leave shampoo in. This lets the minty freshness really soak into your hair and calls all those plants extracts to action.

The avocado extract is a great natural moisturizer so combining that with the peppermint is fool-proof. The results did not disappoint. My hair looked fuller and cleaner, not attacked at all. But I would definitely not use it frequently – maybe bi-weekly – to minimize the damage to my already fragile hair.

Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo

Bottle of Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo.

Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo.

The Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo is recommended for dry hair types. The use of moisturizing argan and avocado oil extracts means this shampoo is deeply soothing and strengthening for your hairs roots. It leaves your hair feeling clean and adds volume.

After using this shampoo, I would advise less product, more water. Water activates the ingredients in this shampoo to formulate it into a lather so you’re able to use less formula. A shampoo that doesn’t run out in 2 weeks is honestly every girl’s dream. This is even more relevant when it comes to dry hair as my instinct is to apply around 4 times the recommended amount in order to give my hair a feeble, short-lived shine.

The Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo left my hair feeling noticeably more weightless, with less of the dry frizz. I wouldn’t say my hair was shiny, but it definitely looked healthier.

Phytoneutre Clarifying Shampoo

Bottle of Phytoneutre Clarifying Shampoo.

Phytoneutre Clarifying Shampoo

This detoxifying formula is suitable for straight hair. It contains essential oils such as eucalyptus to stimulate the scalp, and witch hazel to purify the roots without stripping the hair of its own oils. Anthony Cristiano, brand ambassador of the Phytoneutre hair line, claims it’s “designed to suit all hair types” but we recommend it for straight hair specifically due to its chamomile extract which softens the hair.

After using the Phytoneutre Clarifying Shampoo I could tell almost immediately after use that my hair was cleaner. The Eucalyptus gave my scalp a nice tingle – honestly, it’s just nice to feel that the products you’re using are actually doing something to you. You feel like it’s working. And it is! My hair felt lighter. I could tell that it hadn’t been stripped but had lost a lot of that added weight you get from buildup.

Ion Defense Clarifying Shampoo

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Clarifying shampoo for colored hair is hard to come by as the main objective of the cleanser is to rid your hair strands of any unwanted chemicals. If you can tell you hair needs that deep clean but you’re nervous to strip it of its color, then this is the best clarifying shampoo for you.

Around 75% of the time it is true that clarifying shampoo should not be used on colored hair. However, this formula is gentle enough to be used on the dye. Ion Defense’ sulfate-free formula works to retain the richness of color while giving your hair the detox it needs. If you thought it couldn’t get better then the shampoo is also vegan makes this a guilt-free purchase.

The directions on the bottle say to leave it on for 5 minutes, so after working up a lather I just left it to set. I know some people get impatient when having to time a deep conditioner or hair mask, but I personally prefer it because it gives me the feeling that something is really happening to my hair. I wasn’t disappointed.

Although it didn’t add dramatic shine to my hair as I expected, it did manage to keep all the dye in my hair while leaving it feeling refreshed. It was gentle while still getting rid of all the grubby buildup.


When I first learned about the need for clarifying shampoo my immediate thought was “Really? Another treatment to add to my already hefty hair routine?” But after doing thorough research and trying out different options to find out which suited my hair best, I have to admit that using this deep cleansing shampoo has my hair looking more loved and healthy. The fact that it’s not intended to be used regularly is an added bonus – better hair with less upkeep? That’s the dream.

It seems that whether your hair is thin, dry, oily, curly, straight or even dyed everyone should use a clarifying shampoo from time to time. Our hair benefits from the attention it receives. Just as we would visit the spa to cleanse our body, we should similarly take the time to give our scalp and hair a real cleanse.  

Not sure where to start? Use these Top 5 reviews as you’re spring-board and go from there. Caring for your hair should be a priority just as much as the rest of your body. Don’t overlook the grimy residue in your hair just because you can’t see it with the naked eye. Just remember that the clarifying shampoo is meant to be used as a supplement to your current hair regime, so use it in accordance with your hair type!