The 8 Best Sulfate Free Clarifying Shampoos

If you want healthy hair and healthy hair growth, there’s a imperative steps you should take in your hair routine. Adding hydration with a weekly hair mask and lowering the heat on your hot tools are high up on the list. 

While some may choose to skip steps and products in expert-recommended hair routines,one that should never be skipped to ensure long-term health and healthy hair growth is a clarifying shampoo.

What is a clarifying shampoo?

Unlike regular daily shampoos, a clarifying shampoo is a deep cleanser for the hair and scalp. It is specifically formulated to remove excess buildup from hard water, hair products, pollution, sweat oil and dirt beyond what a regular shampoo does.

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Chelating or Detox Shampoo

Other terms associated with deeper hair cleaners include chelating shampoo or detox shampoo. Detox shampoo is used interchangeably with clarifying shampoo in the clean, sustainable beauty world, so don’t let yourself get confused by the different terms. Always choose sulfate-free clarifying shampoo as well as those free of parabens and silicones as these ingredients cause build-up and are therefore counterintuitive. Other ingredients that cause build-up include petroleum, waxes, heavy oils, and A chelating shampoo uses specific chelating agents to remove minerals, metals, and chlorine (often from hard water) that cause damage. If you have hard water, swim in chlorinated pools, or have excessive amounts of synthetic buildup compacted onto your hair, using a chelating shampoo will be much more effective at detoxing your hair.

Kavella’s Clarifying Shampoo contains gentle chelators suitable for regular use for controlling or correcting moderate amounts of buildup and some swimmers' hair.

What does clarifying shampoo do?

Clarifying shampoos are primarily used for the following: 

  • Removing product build up and residue
  • Removing sweat, oil, and dirt
  • Removes odor from excess build up
  • Helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections caused by build up and clogged follicles
  • May remove dead skin
  • Helps regulate sebum production to minimize greasy hair
  • Allows hair masks to optimally penetrate the hair shaft

Do I need a clarifying shampoo?

The straight answer is yes. Even if you avoid hair products with silicones, petroleum, sulfates, and parabens, your hair and scalp can accumulate build-up from pollution in the air, oil, sweat, and dirt. As clarifying shampoos are deep cleansers, they have the strength to remove unwanted debris that a regular daily shampoo simply is not formulated to attack.

Build-up can lead to a multitude of issues including:

Greasy hair: Build-up can cause the hair shaft to start to look and feel oily making you feel like your hair is greasy or dirty within a day of shampooing

Dryness, frizz, and breakage: As moisture cannot penetrate the hair strand as the build-up is blocking access, your hair can begin to feel dry over time. As hair dries it is more prone to frizz and breakage.

Scalp irritation or infections: The accumulation of sebum, sweat, dirt and dead skin on the scalp can lead to an itchy scalp and flaking or worse — bacteria, fungus, and yeast accumulation.

Hair Loss: As build-up accumulates around the skin’s surface it can begin to clog or strangle the hair follicle causing the hair to fall out and impede further growth.

How often should I clarify?

The rule is once per week. Especially if you wash every 3 or more days. When you shampoo less often, there is greater opportunity for the accumulation of build up to need a deep cleansing. Once per week, start your hair routine with a clarifying shampoo or scalp exfoliator and clarifying shampoo, then follow it up with your regular goal-oriented shampoo. If you wash once per week, a third shampoo may be necessary. Wash the third time again with your goal-oriented shampoo then follow with conditioner on the mid-length and ends only. Your scalp produces enough sebum to hydrate your scalp and root area, so you never should apply conditioners or hair masks to your root area.

Scalp Cleansing

While clarifying shampoos and detox treatments are great for removing build up, you may need a exfoliating product that helps remove dead skin and excessive buld up from the scalp. Use a scalp exfoliating product like Innersense Scalp Scrub or Tangle Teezer Scalp Exfoliating Brush.

Do I need a special clarifying shampoo for colored hair?

If you are choosing clean sulfate free clarifying shampoos, the formulation is likely delicate enough to prevent color fadage. 


Top 8 Best Clarifying Shampoos

North Authentic only carries high-performing, clean hair products, so we have the list of the top performing clarifying shampoos or detox treatments on the market.

Clarifying Shampoos

O&M Original Detox Shampoo


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Davines solu Clarifying shampoo


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Jack59 Reset Clarifying Shampoo Bar


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Clarifying Shampoo with scalp Exfoliators

JuliArt Exfoliating Liquid Shampoo


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Rahua scalp exfoliating shampoo


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Davines Solu with Sea Salt scrub


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davines detoxifying shampoo scrub


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Briogeo Scalp Revival Exfoliating Shampoo


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All North Authentic products are free of: Sulfates, parabens, EDTA, 1,4 Dioxian, and many more all provided in our Hair Crimes List. While we work with our brands to become even more conscious, we identify additional "Free Of" ingredients on every product page.

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