Monday, July 15, 2024
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What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do to Colored Hair?

Let’s think long and hard about this one. Okay, not really. But for all your hair color-obsessed crazies out there (hey, I’m right there with you), coloring can look and feel pretty satisfying. It’s vibrant, it makes your hair shiny and it eliminates the dull, drab that sets in after using so many styling products and from being exposed to the elements.

When I was in high school, I worked as a receptionist at a hair salon – and I was also on the swim team! I was probably getting my hair colored or bleached every two weeks, and spending about 6-8 hours in the pool everyday with practice, teaching swim lessons, and lifeguarding. 

You can only imagine the havoc that wreaks on your hair! The chlorine both strips and deposits in your hair, much like hard water, certain products, and sometimes the color itself.  

And back in the olden days, we weren’t as privy to all the scientific hair advancements of today – the answer then, was to use a clarifying shampoo.

Now, I’m no expert – but usually, when someone gives me advice about how to remedy a situation, I not only take that advice, but I apply it full force (another thing I wouldn’t recommend). If you are using too much-clarifying shampoo, regardless of whether you have color-treated hair or not, you are not doing yourself any favors. 

Clarifying shampoo is meant to eliminate the buildup and gunk that sits on your strands, but when you use too much, it is literally sucking all the moisture and nutrients out of your hair. Do you know when your colored hair starts to feel a little crispy at the ends? Too much clarifying shampoo will shift that into overdrive. 

And the once shiny, soft, artificially hued hair you enjoyed has now gone to garbage.

If it tells you anything, we’ve actually recommended using a clarifying shampoo to get rid of demi-permanent hair color. If you didn’t like the color, want to change it fairly quickly, etc. Clarifying shampoo will help lift and eliminate those deposits.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use it on colored hair. Clarifying shampoo literally means deep cleansing, and depending on your hair’s porosity, how many products you use, the heat styling you subject it too and so forth, you may need a good de-gunker once in a while. 

You can usually tell because your hair starts to feel super limp, dirty, greasy, lifeless – no matter how many times you wash it or what you put on it.

Most clarifying shampoos use chelating chemicals such as EDTAs in their formulas. These chemicals latch on to the metal ions in your water, making it softer, therefore being more gentle on your hair. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any drying side effects.

Thankfully, there are a few clarifying shampoos out there that don’t use EDTAs, but there is usually some other surfactant involved that’s going to wipe your moisture out. So, what are you to do? I know, I know, I said you could use clarifying shampoo on colored hair – and I meant it! Just don’t use it every day. 

A general rule of thumb is to use it every two weeks if it is really needed, just know you are going to lose some color deposit each time you cleanse. 

And for my bleach-haired besties out there, our hair is already drier than the Sahara, so really use this stuff sparingly. Quite frankly, I mix mine with my purple shampoo, but it took ages and just the right mix to get it working for me.

If you absolutely must use a clarifying shampoo, or if you are just now completely curious and feeling like testing it (without killing your strands), here are a few I would recommend.

Top 3 Clarifying Shampoos

  1. Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo – $26

I mean honestly, what can’t this brand do? Every product is like gold. These guys have figured out the science to deep cleanse while also hydrate with Moroccan and avocado oils. 

And holy moly does it smell good! If you’re coloring your hair a lot, you should already be using this brand, especially the actual oil itself. Yes, it’s $26, but you won’t look like you just put a box color on your head in a gas station bathroom.

  1. Nexxus Clean and Pure Nourishing Detox Shampoo – $13.99

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – Nexxus is a brand for the ages. I still have Nexxus products in my shower because their products always do what they will say (plus their stuff always smells amazing, which is clearly going to be a theme here). 

This product has a protein fusion blend and marine botanicals to cleanse as it restores. And, it’s only $13 – whoop whoop!

  1. Camille Rose Clean Rinse Moisturizing and Clarifying Shampoo – $11.99

Look, I hate to let the cat out of the bag so soon – but it literally smells like roses. Aniseed, cassia, and castor cleanse your follicles while ginger’s antiseptic properties promote growth. It’s also supernatural, so curly-haired girls are going to love this stuff. 

No more dryness, no more buildup, and your hair will smell like a heavenly garden. This will not be a disappointing Target (possibly impulse) purchase. It’s only $11.99, so hook yourself up!


Now that you know a bit more about clarifying shampoos and how it will they will affect your probably very costly color-treated hair, you may want to be a little more cautious about using one. If you feel like the gunk is impenetrable, start out using a tiny bit with your regular shampoo and no more than twice per week. You’ll have a better idea of the impact on your texture and color.

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