How to Use Clarifying Shampoo on Curly Hair: Step-By-Step

A young black lady with color-treated hair strands styled with natural oils and organic styling products.

Washing your hair with a traditional shampoo is relatively straightforward. You lather, rinse, and repeat if necessary. But when it comes to clarifying shampoo, it’s a little more complicated.

If you’re thinking about using clarifying shampoo but have no idea how to go about it, this is the article for you. In this article, we’ll tell you exactly how to use clarifying shampoo step-by-step. 

What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo (sometimes called a hair detox shampoo) isn’t used in the same way as traditional shampoo. And that’s because clarifying shampoo is fundamentally different from traditional shampoos.

The main difference is that clarifying shampoos are formulated to be much deeper cleaners than typical shampoos. They have a higher concentration of surfactants and are much more likely to contain sulfates or strong sulfate alternatives.

They can remove multiple layers of product and oil buildup in just one wash, and that’s why so many people use them as part of their hair care routine. 

A cute black girl with oily hair used a cleansing shampoo to remove excess buildup from essential oils.

How to Use Clarifying Shampoo

Though the hair clarifying process is a little different from traditional shampooing, virtually everyone can handle it without a problem. In this section, we’ll tell you how to use clarifying shampoo step-by-step.


  1. Get your hands on a quality clarifying shampoo. Good clarifying shampoos contain heavy-duty cleansers that can lift a substantial amount of dirt, debris, and remove buildup from the hair in one go. But the best-clarifying shampoos are those that can do the job without making your hair squeaky clean in the worst way. Look for shampoos that are sulfate-free and contain gentle, yet effective, surfactants that will leave your hair healthy after a deep cleaning. A couple of options include Morrocanoil Clarifying Shampoo and Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo.
  2. Hop in the shower and wet your hair down. Ensure that all of your hair is drenched. Any hair that isn’t wet won’t get as clean as the rest of your strands. So, take your time (a full minute or two). 
  3. Separate your hair into 4 sections. This step is incredibly important, as it will make your hair a lot easier to work with. You can use your fingers or a wide tooth comb to do the separating; either way, try your best to be gentle. Your hair is much more fragile when wet than it is when it’s dry. 
  4. Dispense some shampoo into your hands, rub it together, and apply it to your hair in sections. Focus the shampoo on the roots of your hair – not the ends. The ends of your hair are much more prone to damage than the rest of your hair. As a result, the cleansers in the clarifying shampoo are more likely to dry your ends out. So, get the shampoo on your roots. 
  5. Scrub your hair in sections. Use the pads of your fingers to do the scrubbing – not your nails. If you scratch your scalp with your nails, you could make superficial cuts on the surface of your scalp and cause a plethora of problems. If your nails are very long, you’ll need to clip them before the scrubbing step. The best way to scrub your hair without making it super tangled is to hold your hair taut with one hand and scrub the scalp in small circular motions with the other hand. Smooth the shampoo down the length of your hair a few seconds before rinsing. 
  6. Wait a few minutes for the shampoo to do its magic. The amount of time to wait will depend on the specific clarifying shampoo you use. But most of the time, you’ll wait for 5 to 30 minutes. Reference the product instructions to find out how long you should wait – every clarifying shampoo is different. 
  7. Rinse your hair. Use lukewarm water to rinse your hair. If you want to try the cold water rinsing method, you can, but experts are divided as to the technique’s effectiveness. 
  8. Repeat as necessary. Get into a mirror and look at your hair. Run your fingers through it as well. Does it still feel dirty? Do you see any more residue at your roots or along the hair shaft? If so, you’ll need to do another clarifying shampoo session. Simply repeat the steps above. 
A light-skinned black girl with a type 4 hair type and dark brown hair color with a greenish tint.

How Often Should You Use a Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is one of those products that should be used on an as-needed basis. Some say you should use it once a month or bimonthly, but the reality is that you may not be able to predict how often you need to use a clarifying shampoo.

Your hair, haircare routine, and styling habits may change here and there, requiring you to clarify your hair more or less often. So, the answer to the question, “When should you use a clarifying shampoo?” is that it depends.

Here are some signs that your hair could use a clarifying treatment:

  • Your hair looks or feels limp to the touch. 
  • Your curls don’t bounce back like they used to. 
  • Your hair looks dusty. 
  • When you run your fingers through your hair, you feel something coating your strands. 
  • After washing your hair with your regular shampoo, your strands just don’t feel clean. 
  • Your hair products don’t work like they used to. 
  • Your scalp is irritated, super oily, or otherwise bothered. 

As you can see, your hair and scalp will tell you when it needs to be clarified. So, you should give your hair what it needs when it needs it. But there is one thing that you should be careful of, and that’s clarifying your hair too often. 

Can Clarifying Hair Be Damaging?

Unfortunately, clarifying your hair can be damaging if you use a shampoo that’s too harsh, leave the shampoo on for too long, or clarify too often. Even when you use a clarifying shampoo that’s on the gentler side, your hair could become dried out and fragile. 

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your clarifying shampoo won’t damage your hair: 

  1. Only use clarifying shampoo when your hair is clearly dirty or when you suspect you have product or oil buildup. 
  2. Read the instructions on your clarifying shampoo to find out how to use it correctly. The manufacturer knows best. 
  3. Don’t focus the clarifying shampoo on your ends. 
  4. Never skip your deep conditioning session. Your hair will be thirsty after a deep cleaning – give it the nourishment it needs to thrive. 
A beautiful black girl with hair cuticle damage on her textured hair follicles styled with coconut oil.

Does Clarifying Shampoo Replace Regular Shampoo?

What many have found is that clarifying shampoo doesn’t replace regular shampoo. You need both. Clarifying shampoo is too harsh to use often, so you don’t want to use clarifying shampoo unless you absolutely have to. Whenever you’re not using your clarifying shampoo, you’ll use your regular shampoo to keep your hair clean. 

Do You Use Regular Shampoo After Clarifying Shampoo?

You should never use regular shampoo immediately after clarifying shampoo. The average clarifying shampoo works well enough to give your hair a super deep clean.

So, there’s no need to apply any more cleanser to your hair. In fact, doing so could dry your hair out and increase your risk of damage.

How Many Washes Does It Take For Clarifying Shampoo To Work?

As mentioned earlier, you may need to repeat your clarifying shampoo session to get your hair totally clean. But there’s no telling exactly how many washes you’ll need.

There are situations where the hair is very heavily soiled and needs more than 2 rounds of clarifying shampoo to get through all of the gunk. And there are other situations where just one wash is enough.

So, you’ll have to decide when your hair is clean enough to stop washing it. Just be sure to examine the state of your hair before repeating clarifying shampoo sessions, and give your hair a break if it’s getting too dry. 

Related Articles

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about using a clarifying shampoo. We hope that you found all the information you needed, and we wish you the best with your hair! 

Similar Posts