In a bid to achieve healthy hair, we pile on hair masks, argan oil, and nutrient-rich conditioners – even subjecting ourselves to cold showers no matter the season. While all of these haircare products absolutely have merit, they can cause a build up on our scalp, along with sweat, dead skin and natural oils. The result is a dry, itchy, flaky, and dare I say, unhealthy scalp. Enter, the clarifying shampoo.
Ask any trichologist or hairstylist and they’ll tell you that a healthy scalp will ultimately provide strong, healthy hair. Letting product and dead skin build up on your scalp can lead to a variety of different issues, from a lack of shine or greasiness, to more serious cases of dandruff and hair loss if left untreated.
Fortunately it’s relatively easy to solve. Just as you would your face, it’s good to regularly deep cleanse and gently exfoliate your scalp; AKA use the best clarifying shampoo for your hair.
What is a clarifying shampoo?
Clarifying shampoo works just as any regular shampoo does, cleansing your hair from pollution, dirt, sweat and anything else that may get trapped in our locks day-to-day. But, where clarifying shampoos differ is their tailored ingredient list which cuts through product, skin, oil and mineral build up on the scalp, even those left behind by your regular shampoo and conditioner.
The best clarifying shampoo will often include ingredients such as sage leaf extract, ammonium lauryl sulfate, PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate, tea tree oil and zizyphus joazeiro extract, as well as hydrating oils to moisturise and nourish the scalp at the same time.
Should everyone use a clarifying shampoo?
Everyone can benefit from using a clarifying shampoo once in a while. But hair type, routine and skin conditions such as psoriasis, dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis must all be considered when choosing which one to use and how often to use it. More on this later…
How often should you use one?
Clarifying shampoos shouldn’t be used in place of your regular formula, but rather alongside it for a weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly deep clean. While they are safe to use, overusing even the best clarifying shampoo can strip your hair of its natural oils, resulting in dry and frizzy strands.
If you colour your hair or it naturally requires a lot of moisture (i.e. curly or textured hair), look to use a clarifying shampoo once a month. On the other hand, if you’re someone who uses a lot of products, specifically dry shampoo, you might want to consider swapping in your clarifying shampoo once a week to shed the build up.
Anyone with conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis should check with a doctor or hair expert before investing in a clarifying shampoo. A good general rule of thumb however is to choose a clarifying shampoo that includes salicylic acid, as this is often used as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis because it can help to soften keratin and loosen dry, scaly skin.
What are the best clarifying shampoos?
There are so many to choose from these days, but these six are a great place to start.
Best clarifying shampoo for product build-up: Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo
This shampoo explicitly says it’s not to be used on colour-treated hair, so any faux blondes, brunettes or red-heads may want to scroll on. Packed with panax ginseng root extract to help cleanse and tightens pores, rosemary leaf extract to soothe, and sage leaf extract to stimulate the scalp, this clarifying shampoo has quite the ingredient list to lift away build up. And, it’s gentle enough to be used on a weekly basis if you can’t live without your styling products.
Best clarifying shampoo for monthly use: Centred En Root Scalp Treatment
Combining wellness with haircare, Centred is the new kid on the beauty block and should be on your radar if your scalp is on the dry or sensitive side. Add this scalp treatment to your daily clarifying shampoo whenever you need to transform it into a deeply clarifying treatment. With ingredients such as tea tree leaf oil, jojoba seed oil and the all important salicylic acid, it’s suitable for everyone to use.
Best budget clarifying shampoo: Head & Shoulders Deep Cleanse Scalp Detox Shampoo
Head and Shoulders is one of the UK’s most renowned haircare lines and this particular formula is easily the best affordable clarifying shampoo on the market. Formulated with citric acid, piroctone olamine (an antifungal miracle worker) and sea minerals, this detox shampoo helps to stimulate hair follicles, remove excess oil and reduce fungal infections that lead to dandruff.
Best eco-friendly clarifying shampoo: We Are Paradoxx Detox Clarifying Shampoo
Made from 99% natural ingredients, this is the best clarifying shampoo for anyone looking for a sustainable option. Zizyphus Joazeiro and grapefruit work together to help eliminate dandruff and slough away product build up without stripping moisture. Vegan keratin is a bonus addition to help repair and strengthen strands. My top tip is to massage in the formula with a silicone shampoo brush (I use Brushworks Massaging Shampoo Brush, £7.95, Beautybay) to get an extra deep clean.
Best clarifying shampoo for thick hair: Chāmpo Kapha Balancing Shampoo
Specifically tailored to thick, oily hair, this clarifying shampoo ensures you won’t lose necessary moisture in the process of removing build-up. While turmeric root cleanses your scalp, coconut oil hydrates and soothes itchiness. The brand has also included essential oils such as bergamot, juniper berry, eucalyptus and frankincense to create a dreamy, spa-like aroma with added benefits such as stimulating hair growth and nourishing strands.
The best clarifying shampoo for travel: Ouai Detox Shampoo
There are two reasons a travel-friendly clarifying shampoo can come in useful. Firstly, if you only need a deep cleanse every now and again, this is economical and will save you space in your bathroom cabinet. Secondly, if you’re jetting off on a beach holiday, a clarifying formula, such as Ouai’s apple cider vinegar-infused one, will ensure any sea salt, sand and chlorine are rinsed away. Don’t worry, the hydrolysed keratin will help to soften, smooth and add shine to your hair.