While ordinary shampoos do a fairly good job at removing the day’s dirt and oil, sometimes something a little more aggressive is needed to remove excess buildup from your hair. A product that will remove excess styling product or toxins that have built up in your hair over time. In this instance, you need a good clarifying shampoo to get the job done and help restore your hair to its natural balance.

Finding a shampoo that cleans and clarifies the hair and scalp thoroughly, while still being gentle, is not as easy as you think. Some brands market themselves as this type of shampoo but aren’t powerful enough, and other products don’t market themselves as a clarifier. Which is why we’re presenting this list of the top ten shampoos currently available.

Our Top Picks for the Best Clarifying Shampoos

#1 Maple Holistics White Blend

This hypoallergenic shampoo not only helps to clarify the scalp but also to refresh the hair. It’s made with a unique formulation of ingredients which can help reduce scalp itching, irritation, and flaking, and is ideal for just about any hair type. This shampoo is also paraben-free and cruelty-free, so its impact on the environment is minimal. Made with five different essential mint oils, this product can restore hair’s natural PH balance and stimulate hair follicles. The five mint oils which can be found in this product include eucalyptus, bergamot, wild mint, peppermint, and spearmint. All of which come together to make an antimicrobial shampoo that cleans away toxins and helps boost blood circulation around the scalp.

#2 Matrix Biolage Normalizing Clean Reset

This clarifying shampoo allows users to “reset” their hair so they can return their hair to its natural condition before they weighed it down with styling products. This paraben-free formula is strong enough to strip away a variety of toxins and excess oil buildup from the hair but is safe enough for people to use on color-treated hair. Just some of the ingredients which can be found in this formulation include Chamomilla Recutita extract, citrus acid, cucumber fruit extract, Matricaria flower extract and sage leaf extract. It also contains Salicylic Acid and Salvia Officinalis extract, too. All of which makes this shampoo quite a powerful tool in the fight against styling product buildup.

#3 Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo

This high-quality product is ideal for anyone who needs to remove styling products that have built-up on their hair over time or for swimmers who want to remove chlorine and mineral deposits from their hair. This shampoo is formulated with a variety of fruit acids which not only strip away excess oils but also help to strengthen hair cuticles and add moisture to the hair. And because this product helps the hair to keep moisture, it leaves hair soft and shiny. It’s shampoo that will leave just about anyone’s hair looking not only cleaner but also refreshed as well.

#4 Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon

It doesn’t matter if you want to restore brightness and shine to your hair, want to remove toxins that have built up over the week or restore natural highlights, then this shampoo is probably for you. This shampoo is GMO-free, is completely vegan and is also completely biodegradable, so it’s as easy on the environment as it is on your hair. It also doesn’t contain sulfates, parabens, preservatives or phthalates. This product uses the power of lemon essential oils, Aloe Vera, chamomile extracts and vitamins to gently cleanse your hair and remove excess oils. It quickly does away with dulling residues and leaves the hair looking better and healthier.

#5 Design Essentials Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Suitable for all hair types, this deep cleansing shampoo can remove impurities from a person’s hair without stripping out the hair and scalp’s natural oils. It’s formulated with Henna and oat protein, which increases the hair’s hydration level, acts as natural humectants and adds volume to the hair. It’s also capable of strengthening the hair and increasing its level of shine. And unlike other clarifying shampoos, this product can be used on a weekly basis without causing the user any problems. Anyone looking for a shampoo product that will deep clean their hair but do it without being extremely harsh may want to check out this shampoo.

#6 Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

While this product is marketed as an anti-dandruff shampoo, it also works quite well as a clarifying shampoo. It’s capable of removing toxins and excess oils from the hair and helps to control itching and scalp flaking. It can be used to treat dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and other scalp conditions. And best of all, it’s safe enough for daily use and for use on color-treated hair. Although it doesn’t smell as good as other shampoos, mainly due to the fact that coal tar is one of its main ingredients, it does do an amazing job at clarifying hair and stripping excess styling products.

#7 Kenra Clarifying Shampoo

Witch hazel extract and grapefruit extract are two of the ingredients which are used in this powerful shampoo formulation. This product can quickly and easily remove excess oils, toxins and styling products from the user’s hair and does it without being extremely harsh. It’s a shampoo that can brighten bleached, grey or highlighted hair and helps to keep hair looking healthy, even after it’s been exposed to hard water. With the ability to strip chlorine from the hair, this product is also quite suitable for swimmers. And yet, it’s always safe to use on color-treated hair. It’s a clarifying product that’s powerful but gentle at the same time.

#8 Fekkai Apple Cider Shampoo

While most people would think of apple cider, and pear extracts as being able to remove buildup from the hair, it evidently has the power to do so because it’s the main ingredients in this shampoo. This formulation is silicone-free, so it won’t clog the scalp and helps to clarify the hair quickly and efficiently. It’s capable of deeply cleaning overworked hair so the user can start fresh again. This essentially means that it can remove just about any styling product from the hair or remove the excess oil from oily hair. And it also has a nice smell to it that’s backed by notes of pear and fresh apple.

#9 Lifeguard Sun & Swim

Lifeguard believes that a clarifying shampoo can do its job without damaging a person’s hair, and this product of theirs has been created to illustrate that point. It’s recommended for people with normal hair and also for people who spend a lot of time swimming. It’s capable of removing green sea salts and minerals from the hair and scalp, as well as any built-up chlorine. This product is made with orange flower, grapefruit and lemon extracts and is capable of restoring softness to a person’s hair. And since it uses these citrus ingredients to clarify hair, it’s also safe for women to use on color-treated hair.

#10 Acure Curiously Clarifying

Designed to be safe to use on hair that’s been dyed, this product is a safe clarifying shampoo that really strips out toxins and oil out of the user’s hair. It’s a product that’s vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free, and also doesn’t have other nasty ingredients such as paraben, silicone, sulfate or sodium chloride. This shampoo also doesn’t contain synthetic fragrances or phthalates and is 100% biodegradable. Although is scent is a bit strong but is underpinned by notes of lemongrass. Some of the ingredients which can be found in this product include rosehips, blackberry juice extract, and chamomile flower extract.

How to Use a Clarifying Shampoo

While selecting and buying a clarifying shampoo is half the battle to restoring your hair back to its former glory, it’s still only halfway to the goal. That’s because if you don’t properly use this product, then it’s not going to do what you want it to do. That’s why we’re taking a few moments out of our busy schedule to give you a quick lesson on how to use this product properly. Let’s get started.

Don’t Use Everyday

Don’t use this shampoo every single day. This particular point is so important we decided to list this as the first step of this guide. Why? Because it’s very important that you don’t use a clarifying shampoo every single day. You only want to this type of product once or twice a week at the most. And that’s if you use styling products.

If you don’t use styling products, then you probably only need to use this type of shampoo every two weeks. Even if your shampoo is self-described as being “gentle,” please don’t use it as a daily shampoo. If you do, you’ll end up stripping too many of the natural oils from your hair. If you have color-treated hair, then you may want to only use this product once a month to avoid damaging your hair. This type of shampoo can cause your hair to become fragile and may affect your hair’s color.

Determine Your Hair Needs

Before using this type of shampoo, make sure that you have determined the needs of your hair. Do you have dry hair? If you do, choose a product that addresses that concern. The same goes if you have oily, color-treated, thick or fine hair. No matter what your hair type, you can probably find a particular shampoo that addresses it and still clarifies your hair and scalp.

Another thing to consider is that your hair may have special needs if you’re a swimmer or if your water is particularly hard. Hard water and chlorinated water are hard on the hair, and you may need a clarifying shampoo with a chelating agent in it. If you can’t find a specific chelating shampoo, then choose one that contains EDTA. This ingredient can deal with calcium deposits that may form on the hair and scalp due to hard water.

It’s particularly important if you have dry hair that you choose a shampoo product that clarifies your hair but doesn’t excessively dry it out. Several products available are capable of doing this, and they usually contain oils such as Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil, or Argan Oil to keep the hair from drying out.

Use High-Quality Water

If it’s at all possible, try installing a water filter on your shower faucet. There are a number of them out there which will remove minerals from hard water or chlorine from municipal water supplies. This prevents these ingredients from causing havoc to your hair.

Washing Your Hair With Clarifying Shampoo

Start With Warm Water – Make sure that you never use hot water to wash your hair. Hot water can damage the hair’s follicles and dry out the hair. Instead, make sure that you use warm water to wash your hair. This will allow you to get the best results. Just make sure that you thoroughly wet your hair.

Apply The Correct Amount – Be sure that you don’t add too much or too little shampoo. You only need about a quarter-size amount of shampoo. If you have a lot of hair, you may need to use a little bit more, but this amount of shampoo is generally sufficient for most people.

Massage It Into Your Hair – Make sure that you really work this product into your hair. This means working it down right to the scalp where it can begin to work its magic. This will allow the shampoo to remove dirt and oils from your scalp and your roots, as well as the tips of your hair.

Leave It On a Few Seconds – Unless the label specifically says to immediately rinse the product from your hair, you should leave it on your hair an additional 30-seconds to allow it to thoroughly do its job. Just make sure that you don’t leave it on much longer than those 30-seconds because you don’t want to end up over clarifying your hair and scalp.

Rinse Your Hair Thoroughly – Once you have washed your hair, it’s time to use warm water to gently rinse your hair. Be sure that you scrub your scalp as you rinse it to help facilitate the removal of the shampoo from your hair. Make sure your hair is completely rinsed before proceeding.

Repeat For Oily Hair – If your hair is extremely oily or contains a lot of styling product in it, then you may need to wash it with the clarifying shampoo a second time. As is the case with the initial washing, be sure to only use warm water and that you thoroughly rinse the shampoo from your hair.

Use Conditioner – Clarifying shampoo pulls out all of the oils from your hair; not only the artificial ones but your hair’s natural oils, too. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you use a conditioner to help restore some of those oils. Some people use a clarifying conditioner, but other people decide to just use their favorite regular shampoo. If you tend to have dry hair, then you may want to use a conditioner which provides extra moisture to your hair. On the other hand, if you normally have oily hair, then you may want to just condition the ends of the hair and avoid conditioning your scalp or the roots of your hair.

Clarifying Shampoo Tips

Here are a few additional tips to get the most out of your clarifying shampoo routine.

Use clarifying shampoo a day or two before getting your hair dyed.
Use this product before doing a deep conditioner treatment.
Use it to help blonde hair from becoming brassy.
Use it to remove hard water minerals from your hair.
Use it to remove chlorine from your hair.