clarifying wash

The Beginners Guide To A Clarifying Shampoo For Curly Or Wavy Hair

No matter what type of hair you have or how long you have been embracing your natural hair pattern, a clarifying shampoo is something that EVERYONE can benefit from. 

Not to be confused with your regular shampoo, a clarifying shampoo (or clarifying cleanser) is designed to strip buildup from your hair, and allow it to get squeaky clean. 

Everyone will need to use a clarifying wash from time to time because it is a deep cleaning for your hair.

Today we are talking about….

The Beginners Guide To A Clarifying Shampoo

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…and by the end of this post, you will be well on your way to understanding exactly how to do a clarifying wash properly. 

But first, have you taken the mistake finder quiz?

When it comes to caring for curly hair and choosing the right products, there are 3 classic mistakes people make that destroy their hair and cause frizz. 

Take this FREE 60-second quiz to see which mistake you are making.

mistake finder

Take The Mistake Finder Quiz!

What is a clarifying shampoo?

A final wash or clarifying shampoo is simply using a clarifying wash/shampoo to deep clean your hair.

Think of a clarifying wash like shampoo on steroids.

They cut through product build up and leave your hair feeling squeaky clean

What sets clarifying shampoo apart from other cleansers is its level of heavy surfactants.

Surfactants are soap-like ingredients that get rid of residue, grease, and impurities in your hair. These are much stronger than traditional cleansers.

Examples of surfactants and their specific benefits include:

  • Ammonium-sodium lauryl sulfate. This ingredient provides the deepest cleanse. These may be best for extreme hair care product buildup or very oily hair.
  • Chlorides or bromides. These are milder cleanser but can help make your hair soft.
  • Cetyl-fatty alcohols. These have milder cleansing effects.

Signs you need to clarify 

  • Unexplained frizz
  • Not getting the results you use to even using the same products
  • Hair feels weighed down
  • You have fine hair
  • Hair is no longer absorbing your products
  • Dry, itchy, flaky scalp and/or dandruff
  • Oily or greasy roots
  • Dull hair
  • You only co-wash
  • Loses moisture quickly
  • You’re losing more hair than usual ( this can be caused by product build-up can clog the hair follicles, preventing growth and causing hair loss)
  • Breakage
  • You use oils or butters
  • You use heavy deep conditioners 
  • Limp, lifeless curls lacking bounce and definition
  • You have hard water
  • You’ve got low porosity hair: More prone to product buildup

How to clarify curly or wavy hair without drying it out 

Always choose a curl friendly clarifying cleanser. These tend to be more gentle on your hair and always follow up with a deep conditioning treatment. 

Even gentle clarifying wash tends to strip your hair clean, it’s important that you replenish  moisture by using a deep conditioning treatment. 

I like to use roping and the bowl method to to layer moisture and really hydrate my hair shaft. 

How often should you clarify 

This totally depends on the person and your hair’s specific needs. A good baseline is to start with one a month and adjust accordingly.

If you start noticing signs of needing to clarify shortly after, then bump it up to every other week.

There are times during the year that I clarify once a week. Specifically in the summer months when I am outside a lot and being exposed to all of the elements in the air. 

Do you ever wonder why some people have effortlessly soft shiny hair while others struggle with unmanageable frizz? 

mistake finder quiz

Take THIS 60 Second Quiz to find out which mistake you are making that is causing your hair to become frizzy.

My Favorite Clarifying Shampoo

ACV = Best DIY

This is a gentle clarifying wash. Depending on what products you’re using it may not be strong enough to remove build up 

Kinky Curly Come Clean = Best drugstore product

Super affordable and works well

Bounce Curl = High end

This is one of my favorites. It’s gentle but does a great job cleansing. 

Bumble & Bumble = Best for hard water

This is the best clarifying wash for hard water

Important note: Because even the most gentle clarifying shampoo can dry your hair out, I always recommend follow up with a deep conditioning treatment.

In conclusion:

Using a clarifying wash from time to time is crucial to having healthy hair. 

It’s the best way to give your hair a deep cleaning and start with a clean slate. 

I always recommend testing and experimenting with different brands to find the perfect one for your hair. 



P.S. Take The Mistake Finder Quiz!

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