Clarifying shampoos are not known for their moisturising properties, which is probably why they get a lot of stick in the natural hair community. However, occasional use (once every 4-6 weeks) of a clarifying shampoo is beneficial because it helps remove the stubborn build-up that your regular cleansing routine cannot completely remove alone. Clarifying shampoos also gives your natural hair a clean start.
Although there are specific shampoos designed to solely clarify the hair, any regular shampoo that contains Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate / Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALS) or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) can work just as well. The main purpose of these shampoos is to clean the hair instead of moisturising it, so it will leave your kinks with that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling. To bring that much needed moisture back into your hair, always follow up your clarifying shampoo with a moisturising conditioner (a deep conditioner preferably).
Below are the four key signs to look out for if your hair is calling for a clarifying shampoo:
1. Your hair feels flat and greasy.
It’s a known fact that when you have natural hair – be it curly or coily – moisture is key. However, the collection of hair products you use to achieve this (leave in conditioners, moisturisers, pomades, mousses, oils etc.) naturally builds up on your hair over time. Gentle cleansing by co-washing or using a moisturising shampoo cannot remove this stubborn build-up, so a monthly clarifying shampoo is essential.
2. Your products don’t work on your hair in the same way.
Often times, naturalistas say their hair hasn’t gotten used to a product (e.g. their shampoo doesn’t lather, their conditioner doesn’t moisturize their hair as well, hard to style etc) so they need to regularly change what they use (product junkie alert!). But most likely, the products they’ve been using have simply built up on their hair, so they need to clarify it to give it a fresh start.
3. Unexplainable breakage.
If you have a balanced protein and moisture regimen and your natural hair is still breaking, it may be the result of product build-up on the hair shaft. This is known to lead to breakage because the residue doesn’t allow the much needed moisture, oil and other nutrients to penetrate the hair.
4. You’re an active swimmer.
If you’re sometimes or oftentimes found doing laps at your local pool, you should consider using a shampoo that is designed to remove chlorine. Chlorine usually dries out the hair and can turn colour treated hair a weird colour. Remember; always follow up a clarifying shampoo with a moisturising conditioner to keep your hair soft. Normally, a result of not washing out chlorine with an effective cleanser is seeing an unwanted colour tint on your hair e.g. green or sometimes blue.