Best Clarifying Shampoo In 2018

It seems like no matter what your hair concern might be, there's shampoo specifically made for it, whether you want volume or to protect your color. However, many people don't know exactly what purpose clarifying shampoo serves. Here's everything you need to know about clarifying shampoo, in addition to why you should add this product to your beauty regimen.

​Why Clarifying Shampoo Benefits Your Hair

​"Clarifying" is just a fancy way of saying "deep cleaning." A clarifying shampoo is designed to completely remove all product, dirt, debris and grime from your hair, especially at the root. An excess of oil and product can cause the hair to become weighed down, making it look less vibrant and voluminous.

Stylists refer to the gunk that accumulates at your scalp as "buildup." A little bit of buildup can be a good thing; indeed, a completely dry scalp would be dry, patchy and cause flakes. However, excess buildup weighs your hair down and makes it look greasy.

​A clarifying shampoo isn't meant to be something you should use every day. In fact, doing so would be erroneous. Remember, the goal here is not a scalp that's completely free of buildup, but rather one that has minimal buildup. For this reason, it's recommended that individuals use a clarifying shampoo once a week.

​You'll notice a great change in your hair after a few months of weekly clarifying shampoo use. First and foremost, you'll enjoy more volume. When there's excess build-up on the scalp, it causes the hair shaft to be weighed down at the base, which means that the hair falls flat instead of having some natural lift.

Your hair will also have a great natural shine, as it's no longer coated by an excess of oil and product. You'll also love the clean feeling you get with the regular use of a clarifying shampoo.

​How To Use A Clarifying Shampoo

​Unless specified otherwise on the bottle, most clarifying shampoos are used the same way you'd use any other shampoo. After saturating your hair, massage the clarifying shampoo into the roots using your fingers. If you have an excessively oily scalp, you can use an in-shower scalp brush to give your hair an even deeper cleansing.

After you've thoroughly massaged the shampoo into your scalp, rinse thoroughly until the product is completely gone from your hair. There's no need to repeat; clarifying shampoos are pretty thorough and a second application will accomplish nothing besides drying out your scalp.

​Remember, clarifying shampoos are meant to strip the scalp and hair of excess oil. For this reason, they can be pretty drying. It's a fabulous idea to make the day you wash with a clarifying shampoo the same day that you apply a deep conditioning or hot oil treatment. Here's YouTube beauty guru MegaElizabeth9 explaining how she keeps her hair gorgeous by using a clarifying shampoo in tandem with a hot oil treatment.

Clarifying shampoos are a good weekly treatment. However, they can also be a lifesaver if you've recently engaged in an activity that has your hair feeling a bit dirtier than usual. If you've run a marathon or partaken in a grueling physical fitness class, a clarifying shampoo will easily remove sweat and gunk from your scalp.

​A Word Of Caution Concerning Clarifying Shampoos

​Remember, the prime objective of a clarifying shampoo is to strip away excess oil, grime, and product from the scalp. While these shampoos are relatively gentle, those with sensitive scalp skin or those who are prone to flaking might want to consider only using a clarifying shampoo once a month.

If you're already using a medicated shampoo for dandruff, you might not need to use a clarifying shampoo at all. Dandruff shampoos are already meant to target build-up at the scalp, thus rendering a clarifying shampoo redundant.

​While it's okay to occasionally use a clarifying shampoo twice in the same week, avoid making a habit out of this, as it can cause your scalp to produce more oil.

It's the same logic behind why those who suffer from acne should still moisturize; when the skin thinks it's in a drought, it begins to produce sebum in excess to try to compensate for the lack of hydration. A healthy amount of sebum is good for the skin, but when it's produced in excess, it can cause acne on the skin and dandruff on the scalp.

​If you've recently had your hair professionally colored, avoid using a clarifying shampoo for the time being. Those who've had their hair lightened can return to using a clarifying shampoo after two weeks, but those who've had their hair dyed a darker shade, or a red should hold off for at least a month.

This is because its hair that's been bleached isn't at much risk of fading, but dye used to darken the hair can be stripped away comparatively easily.

​Now that you know all there is to know about why clarifying shampoo can be so beneficial, here are our five top picks for clarifying shampoos in 2017.


Kenra Clarifying Shampoo

Kenra Clarifying Shampoo

​This shampoo claims to not only deep clean the hair, but to keep hair that's washed in hard or well water free of mineral deposits that can reduce luster and shine. It contains sodium myreth sulfate, an ingredient that cleans the hair deeply while being mild enough not to damage the hair.

It also contains witch hazel, a natural astringent that keeps oil production at the scalp balanced. Grapefruit helps to give this shampoo a gorgeous scent and a refreshing, energizing feeling when used in the shower.

It lathers up beautifully and rinses away clean. Although Kenra maintains that this shampoo is safe for color-treated hair, some have reported that it caused their color to fade a bit.


  • Beneficial to those who've lost luster due to hard or well water
  • Deep cleans the scalp without overly stripping it of oils
  • A pleasant grapefruit scent makes this product the perfect choice for a Sunday DIY spa day


  • Contains sulfates, which many have sworn off altogether in their hair products
  • Some users report that it stripped their hair color, even when used sparingly

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

​When it comes to skincare, there's no drugstore brand more trusted than Neutrogena. Since a clarifying shampoo is essentially more of a skincare product than a haircare product - remember, it's meant to be concentrated on the scalp - it makes sense that Neutrogena would produce a great clarifying shampoo.

Their Anti-Residue shampoo removes 90% of oil and buildup after just one use, leaving users with lots of volumes and a squeaky clean scalp. Unlike other shampoos on this list, Neutrogena specifically advises that this shampoo is only used once a week and claims that the Anti-Residue Shampoo enhances the benefits of your regular shampoo.


  • Cult classic product
  • Does a phenomenal job of removing dirt and oil
  • Leaves hair voluminous and squeaky clean


  • The no-frills scent, feel and packaging will disappoint those who prefer their hair products to feel luxurious
  • Those with very dry or sensitive scalps might find this shampoo to be a bit too deep cleaning
  • Contains sodium Laureth sulfate, a detergent that many natural beauty lovers have banished from their beauty regimens

Fekkai Apple Cider Shampoo

Fekkai Apple Cider Shampoo

​This prestige product is touted as a "weekend purifier, " and it's the perfect way to bring a little salon luxury into your Sunday morning routine. The key ingredient in this shampoo is apple cider vinegar, a natural astringent that eradicates dirt, oil and product buildup while leaving the scalp feeling hydrated and healthy.

It's free of silicones, which is perfect for anyone who prefers their products to be on the natural side. It's fresh pear and apple scent is utterly heavenly, making it stand out against other clarifying shampoos, which tend to have a more boring, unisex and sometimes even medicinal scent. It lathers up gorgeously and leaves the hair with lots of volume and shine.


  • Does a great job of removing buildup without drying out the scalp
  • Lathers beautiful and smells luxurious
  • Those who dye their hair report that it doesn't alter their color


  • For those with excessively oily scalps, this shampoo might not be heavy-duty enough to meet their needs
  • While most love the scent, some find the vague apple cider vinegar note to be off-putting

Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo

Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo

​This simple, affordable shampoo has been a drugstore and grocery store staple for years. If you looked up "no frills" in the dictionary, you'd probably see a photo of the Suave Daily Clarifying shampoo.

Devotees to this simple product swear that it does the best job of removing oil and build-up. It suds up quite nicely and has a subtle, inoffensive scent.

Although the name suggests that it's designed for daily use, most use it the same way they'd use any other clarifying shampoo, as a once a week treatment. Indeed, as with any clarifying product, daily use would most likely over-strip the scalp and hair.


  • Simple but effective
  • Does a great job of really cleaning the scalp
  • Its subtle unisex scent makes it a good choice for just about everyone in your household


  • Those with sensitive scalps might find this a bit irritating
  • The bottle suggests that it should be used daily, but this would be extremely drying for most people

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

​The Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo is a favorite amongst stylists, bloggers, and fashionistas. It's specifically designed for, like Bumble and Bumble state, "product junkies." This is a stylists' product; it's meant to specifically target the type of buildup that accumulates from styling products.

If you're addicted to daily applications of dry shampoo, you'll love what Sunday does for your hair. Bumble and Bumble also claim that this shampoo is perfect to use before dying your hair, as it "resets" the hair so to speak, leaving it clean and ready to be treated.

It contains ginseng, rosemary, and sage, giving it that distinct herbal scent that so many of us associate with upscale salons. It creates a silky lather and preps the hair beautifully for a deep conditioning treatment.


  • Won't strip or fade hair color
  • Has a gorgeous herbal scent
  • Perfect for anyone who styles their hair daily and needs something that will specifically target product buildup


  • Like all Bumble and Bumble products, Sunday comes in a very small bottle
  • Might not be potent enough for those with very oily hair

In Conclusion

Different hair types might respond better to different clarifying shampoos. Those with excess oil might adore the Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo, while those who are susceptible to dandruff or flakiness might just find it too drying on their scalps.

Conversely, those who are a bit on the dryer side might adore the Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo, while oilier scalp types might just plain not see what the big deal is.

Ultimately, we have to declare the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo to be the clear winner here. There's a reason why it's become such a cult favorite. Just about every hair and scalp type fall in love with its effective yet gentle results.

When used regularly once a week, hair is left voluminous, silky and clean, which is essentially what we're all looking for when it comes to our locks.​

Alyssa S.

Main Editor For Beauty Ambition, I'm very passionate about the latest and newest beauty products on the market.

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