The Best Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Buildup from Your Hair and Scalp

Dry shampoo addicts, it's time to add a clarifying shampoo to your weekly regimen.

best clarifying shampoo tout
Photo: Moyo Studio/Getty Images

Raise your hand if your hair is a little dirty right now (guilty). Between sweat-dripping workouts, reliance on dry shampoo, and two—er, three or four days—of styling between washes, it's really no surprise that you probably have a bit of dirt, grease, and gunk in there. But the secret to cleaner and overall better looking hair lies in your shampoo. While there's no need to wash your hair more, just need to add one product into your routine: clarifying shampoo.

What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

Your styling products, the type of water you have, and even not rinsing your conditioner out thoroughly can all be culprits when it comes to buildup in hair. So think of a clarifying shampoo like a more intense version of your regular shampoo, says Gina Rivera, founder of Phenix Salon Suites. It has extra ingredients, such as vinegar, charcoal, or an exfoliator, for example, that are powerful enough to remove dirt and residue from your tresses.

How Often to Use Clarifying Shampoo

As a good rule of thumb, you can use a clarifying shampoo every other week, says Penelope Love, hairstylist at Sam Brocato Salon in New York City. "If hair is limp, isn't holding a style, or starts to look dull, it's time to use a clarifying shampoo," she adds. And those who have hard water, often swim in chlorine pools, or use styling products daily may need to increase how often they use clarifying shampoos, notes Rivera.

However, don't enlist a clarifying shampoo as an every day cleanser. These shampoos are so powerful that they can also strip your hair of its natural oils. To avoid damage or drying out strands from clarifying shampoo, it's important to condition or use a mask from mid-shaft to ends to add moisture back after you shampoo, says Love. Try incorporating a mask into your shower routine every week or every other week depending on your hair needs. (

The Best Clarifying Shampoos

Convinced you need a detox? Here, the best clarifying shampoos for shiny, healthy, grease-free hair.

Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo moroccanoil

This clarifying shampoo contains a variety of nourishing and strengthening ingredients, including argan oil and keratin, to help keep hair in great shape, says Rivera. "I love this clarifying shampoo, especially for those that want to maintain moisture in their hair," she adds.

Buy It: Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo, $26,

Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo

clarifying shampoo aveeno

Infused with oat and apple cider vinegar, this clarifying shampoo gently purifies, adds shine, and soothes your scalp. Also great? It's made without sulfates, dyes, or parabens, so it's safe for all hair types—even color-treated locks.

Buy It: Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo, $7,

Aveda Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo aveda

A mix of micelles (which gently whisk away dirt and oil) and white vinegar, a naturally-derived clarifier, this shampoo cleans hair without stripping it dry. Morning showerers will love the invigorating rosemary, spearmint, and peppermint scent.

Buy It: Aveda Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo, from $17,

Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo ouidad

The formula of this clarifying shampoo boasts exfoliating fruit acids, a blend of lemon, grapefruit, and orange flower extracts, and vitamins to remove gunk without drying out your hair and scalp. Plus, it's totally gentle enough to use on dyed hair.

Buy It: Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo, $18,

IGK Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub

clarifying shampoo IGK

If you have layers of dry shampoo in your hair from trying to stretch your blowout just one more day, you need to bring in the big guns. This shampoo-exfoliator hybrid combines apple cider vinegar and walnut shell powder into a scalp scrub to act as a detox from the accumulated products.

Buy It: IGK Low Key Cleansing Walnut Scalp Scrub, $36,

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

clarifying shampoo neutrogena

Want a budget-friendly option that works just as well as pricier clarifying shampoos out there? This under-$10 product is perfect for those times you want hair to be squeaky clean. It not only makes hair appear shinier and healthier, but it also boosts hair volume as it removes buildup.

Buy It: Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo, $9,

Together Beauty Vx Volumizing Shampoo

clarifying shampoo vx

When you want shiny, fuller-looking hair, reach for this almost all-natural shampoo. Made with tilia bud, chamomile, and sage extract and peppermint oil, it moisturizes, soothes, and adds volume. "It's great for people who need to keep moisture in their hair like curly or coarse hair textures," notes Love.

Buy It: Together Beauty Vx Volumizing Shampoo, $29,

Kenra Clarifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo kenra

For those about to hit up the salon for a color service, use this gentle clarifying shampoo to remove residue and product buildup prior to your treatment. Bonus: Not only is it safe for colored tresses, but it's also great for swimmers and those with hard water since it contains mica to boost shine and restore moisture.

Buy It: Kenra Clarifying Shampoo, $12,

Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Fruit acids are the superstars of this clarifying shampoo, which act as a gentle peel to break up the "glue" of skin cells and dry shampoo residue on your scalp. This shampoo was also formulated to remove copper and iron minerals, perfect for anyone who uses hard water to shower.

Buy It: Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo, $23,

OGX Purifying Charcoal Detox Shampoo

clarifying shampoo ogx

Can't get through the day without a biiiig spray of dry shampoo before styling and then a spritz of hairspray after? Yup, it's time to add a clarifying shampoo. The mighty purifying powers of charcoal and kaolin clay draw out pollution or daily grime from your hair in this cleanser. (

Buy It: OGX Purifying Charcoal Detox Shampoo, $7,

Virtue Purifying Shampoo

clarifying shampoo virtue

If you're looking to protect your highlights, make sure your shampoo is formulated without harsh surfactants, says Rivera. This clarifying shampoo is sulfate-free and infused with keratin to strengthen locks while zapping impurities that can weigh hair down and cause it to be limp.

Buy It: Virtue Purifying Shampoo, $28,

Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo Two

clarifying shampoo paul mitchell

If you've got fine hair strands, this clarifying shampoo actually helps to minimize oil production, so hair becomes less oily over time. The color-safe formula gives your hair and scalp a deep cleanse while restoring shine and volume.

Buy It: Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo Two, $13,

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