Does Black Hair Need a Clarifying Shampoo?

If you use hair products, clarifying shampoo is a good idea.

By Del Sandeen

You've probably heard of clarifying shampoos, but maybe you thought those kind of cleansers were only for certain hair types—primarily those that suffer from oily buildup. Black hair is usually dry by nature, so perhaps you might have steered clear of a clarifying cleanser, because, who wants to cleanse just to end up with drier hair? It's a rational thought process, but if you use hair products, clarifying shampoo is a good idea. It'll help a great deal in freshening up your tresses, and do well in readying them for styling.

Clarifying shampoos remove product buildup, presenting you with a "clean slate." If your hair is limp and lifeless, looks dull, or doesn't want to hold a style, then it may be weighed down with old product residue, and clarifying should help. To get the details on why adding a clarifying shampoo to your routine could be valuable, we chatting with celebrity hairstylist and salon owner, Annagjid "Kee" Taylor and Ebony Clark-Bomani, master cosmetologist and product educator for The Mane Choice.

What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do For The Hair?

"I like to think of a clarifying shampoo as boss-level shampoo," says Taylor. "It's designed to strip your hair of product build-up, oils, and grease that won't necessarily come out with your regular, everyday shampoo." You're more likely to need one if you use a lot of product each day, or if you use heavy products. Oil-based products, particularly those containing an ingredient like petroleum (which you shouldn't use in your hair ever, but we forgive you) will quickly adhere themselves to the hair. 

Because of this, they can be difficult to get rid of completely, even with the most diligent shampooing. Clarifiers are designed to remove the buildup that regular cleansers don't, but because clarifying shampoos are so good at removing buildup, they also tend to be extremely drying.

"Most clarifying shampoos will have fewer conditioning agents to cleanse as thoroughly as possible," Clark-Bomani says. However, she adds that botanicals like aloe vera, Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract, and rosemary leaf are ideal for thoroughly cleansing natural hair without stripping it. Taylor gives us one more pro-tip. "It's helpful to make sure that the shampoo indicates that it's safe for chemically-treated or colored hair. Even if that doesn't apply to you, it indicates that the formula is gentler and won't be too harsh on the hair." Noted. 

How Often Should Your Clarify?

"If you use a ton of products in your hair care regimen, it is highly beneficial to use a clarifying shampoo," says Clark-Bomani. "Since butters, oils, waxes, and other ingredients tend to build up over time; they can keep moisture and essential nutrients from absorbing into the hair, leading to dull looking hair that's more prone to breakage." None of us want that. Clark-Bomani recommends implementing a clarifying shampoo into your routine no more than once per week or every two to four weeks depending on your product usage. 

Use them as we've recommended, and your hair shouldn't ever feel weighed down by build-up from old products. Here are our top clarifying shampoo picks worth trying:

Most Versatile Shampoo: dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse 


A color-friendly ACV rinse, that will keep your hair and scalp looking and feeling its best.

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