The best clarifying shampoo for the cleanest hair of your life

Time to hit the reset button on your locks

Although the best clarifying shampoo is an important haircare step, you may not even be aware of what this magical potion does. Bag the right one, though, and it could change your hair routine forever.

Everyone should use a clarifying shampoo from time to time – they work to remove product build-up, hard water minerals, excess oil and grease and environmental pollutants from hair (to name but a few uses).

Intrigued? Keep reading to your guide to the best clarifying shampoo, from uses to the top buys on the market.

What is a clarifying shampoo? How does it work?

‘Clarifying shampoos are designed to remove stubborn build-up from your hair – think the usual offenders like excess oils, environmental irritants, mineral deposits from hard water, pollutants, chlorine and other chemicals that stick to hair,’ explains Debby Vellozzi, Product Development Expert at Vitrue. ‘We recommend a clarifying shampoo that doesn’t strip your hair of moisture.

‘Virtue’s Refresh Purify Shampoo is formulated to gently whisk away the impurities that can weigh down hair and make it lifeless; it removes excess sebum, build-up and impurities without stripping the scalp or hair of natural essential oils. We look at it as a “weekly reset” for your hair.’

Virtue Refresh Purifying Shampoo, £26, Cult Beauty

best clarifying shampoo

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How often should you use clarifying shampoo?

‘The great thing about clarifying shampoos is that you can use these pre-chemical treatments to start with a fresh base, or when your hair is just not behaving and you need a reset,’ explains Debby. ‘At Virtue we recommend using our Refresh Purify Shampoo once a week, or more as needed.’

Clarfying shampoo can be used in the following scenarios:

  • Before you colour you hair: If the colour is going to penetrate into the hair shaft, nothing can stand in its way, like dirt and product build up, after using a clarifying shampoo.
  • Before using the best hair mask: Same as above – if you want the super nourishing ingredients to get to work, you need to rid the area of grime and build-up.
  • If you live in a city: Much like your skin, your hair is unfortunately subject to pollution particles, which means your locks will look lifeless and dull. The best clarifying shampoo will rectify that.

Can you use clarifying shampoo on coloured hair?

‘Yes, a clarifying shampoo will benefit your hair as long as you don’t overdo it,’ Debby confirms. ‘Virtue’s Refresh Purify Shampoo is great to use pre-colour to clear your hair of any impurities – but don’t purify your hair within the first week of a fresh colour.’

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the best buys.

Best clarifying shampoo for coloured hair

Pureology Purify Colour Care Shampoo, £19.95, Lookfantastic

best clarifying shampoo for coloured hair

The eternal struggle with coloured hair is that you want to give your hair a good, deep clean, but equally you don’t want to strip any of the colour from your locks. What’s a girl to do?

About 75% of the time, clarifying shampoo shouldn’t be used on colour hair as it will strip some of the colour. No doubt you want to prolong your colour for as long as possible rather than wash it down the drain. But there are some formulas that are gentle enough to be used on dyed hair.

Even better, some have been specifically designed to balance the needs of clarifying needs and coloured hair. Pureology’s Purify Shampoo strikes that balance perfectly, with a sulphate-free and tee-tree and witch hazel blend that helps to reset your roots – without putting your colour in jeopardy. Because the last thing you want is to undo all the hard work of your colourist…

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Best clarifying shampoo for curly hair

Oribe The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo, £40, Net-A-Porter

best clarifying shampoo Oribe

Loved by supermodels and stylists alike, Orbie is a brand with hella hair authority. Their clarifying shampoo is packed with naturally detoxing ingredients such as eucalyptus, green tea and sea kelp extract to cleanse the hair and leave it feeling fresh.

What makes it one of the greatest curly hair products is that it won’t strip the natural essential oils of your locks, meaning your curls will keep their shape and bounce post-washing. Nobody ever dreamed of having limp and lifeless looking curls. Curlies should also try out the best sulphate-free shampoo, too.

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Best clarifying shampoo for dry hair

Moroccanoil CLARIFY Clarifying Shampoo, £18.95, Lookfantastic

best clarifying shampoo

If you suffer with very dry hair, we wouldn’t blame you for worrying that a clarifying shampoo would only make the situation worse, but limiting your clarifying washes to a couple of times a month will give your hair enough of a deep clean, without leaving it looking and feeling like a haystack.

Never fear, because nourishing heroes Moroccanoil are on hand with a clarifying formula specifically for your hair type. Their CLARIFY Shampoo not only gives hair a thorough clean, removing all sorts of impurities, but it also contains Argan and avocado oils to keep the hair soft and smooth.

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Scroll through our round up below to find the perfect clarifying shampoo for your hair type. Product build-up, be gone…

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