What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do to Colored Hair? Lighten?

Cute young African American female with dark brown hair with highlights styled with natural oils.

Clarifying shampoos can help keep your hair and scalp healthy and residue-free, but what if your hair is colored? What does clarifying shampoo do to colored hair? Does clarifying shampoo remove hair dye?

If you want to know more about the effects of clarifying shampoo on colored hair, you’re in luck! In this article, we’re going to tell you exactly what clarifying shampoo does to colored hair.

We’ll also fill you in on how to clarify your hair without fading your color, as well as how to fade your hair color with clarifying shampoo. Let’s get into it!

A young black woman with multi-colored curls after trying to use dandruff shampoo to fade hair dye.

What Does Clarifying Shampoo Do to Colored Hair?

Clarifying shampoos are more potent than regular shampoos. They’re specifically formulated to cut through stubborn product buildup and reveal the squeaky-clean strands underneath. Though this keeps your hair voluminous and weightless and aids in certain hair treatments, it can also fade the color from your dyed hair. Clarifying shampoo can fully strip semi-permanent dye in as few as five washes and dull permanent dye over time.

How To Use Clarifying Shampoo To Remove Hair Dye

Clarifying shampoo can remove color more gently than a traditional color stripper. It will, however, take multiple clarifying treatments before your color is completely removed.

The sooner you clarify your hair after dyeing it, the more color you’ll be able to remove. If you want to remove hair dye using a clarifying shampoo, follow the steps below. 

You’ll need:

  • A clarifying shampoo (that’s not color-safe)
  • Shower cap
  • Hooded or blow dryer (optional)

Clarifying Shampoo Color Removal Steps

  1. Wet your hair with warm water. Warm water lifts your cuticle, which will make the dye easier to wash out. 
  2. Dispense some clarifying shampoo into your hands and massage it into your scalp and hair. Be generous with the shampoo.
  3. Put on a shower cap once your hair is saturated and sufficiently lathered.  
  4. To remove even more color, sit under a hooded dryer. If you don’t have one, you can use a blow dryer. Just keep the blow dryer moving so the heat will be evenly dispersed. The added warmth allows the shampoo to penetrate your hair more deeply. 
  5. Wait for 10 minutes. For stubborn color, you can wait for up to 20 minutes. 
  6. Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water until all the shampoo is removed.
  7. Follow up with a moisturizing hair mask or deep conditioner to help combat dryness. 
  8. Repeat as needed. You can do this treatment once or twice a week until your color has faded enough. Just make sure to always follow up with plenty of moisturizing treatments. 
African American female with subtle highlights after washing her curls with a DIY baking soda rinse.

How To Use a Clarifying Shampoo Without Fading Color

Your hair dye will inevitably fade over time. However, making small changes can help keep your color vibrant for longer. Here’s how to use clarifying shampoo without fading your colored hair. 

Use a Color-Safe Clarifying Shampoo

Using a color-safe clarifying shampoo is the single best thing you can do to preserve your color. While regular shampoos can quickly strip dye from your hair, color-safe shampoos are designed to keep your dye vibrant.

Here, we’ve highlighted some of the best clarifying shampoos that promise to give you a refreshing clean without stripping the color from your curls: 

Black girl with 3B fine hair is many shades lighter after removing hair dye with normal shampoo with harsh chemicals.

Wash Your Hair with Cold Water

Cold water closes your hair’s cuticles while warm water opens them. Washing your hair in cold water helps keep the cuticles shut, so the color isn’t as likely to bleed.

As a bonus, sealed cuticles reflect more light. So, do yourself and your hair a favor and turn the water temp down when washing your hair.

Use Clarifying Shampoo Less Often

People who have naturally oily hair, hard water, or use a ton of different products, might benefit from a clarifying treatment as often as once a week. However, if you’re trying to preserve your color (and your hair’s natural oils), you should only use it once or twice a month as needed.

Don’t Let the Shampoo Sit for As Long

Typically, when you use clarifying shampoo, you want to let it sit for up to a few minutes. This gives it time to break down tough styling product residue. But, if you’re trying to preserve your color, rinse out your clarifying shampoo immediately after lathering.

A lady laughed after using a purple shampoo and Vitamin C tablets to tone her own hair.

When to Clarify Colored Hair After Dyeing

During the dyeing process, ammonia lifts your hair cuticles so the dye can penetrate your hair shafts. However, open cuticles have a harder time holding onto dye.

If you want to preserve your color, you should wait for at least a week after dyeing before using a clarifying shampoo. Doing so gives your cuticles time to close and lock the color inside.

Do You Need a Clarifying Shampoo?

While it might not be an absolute necessity, clarifying shampoo can be a great addition to your hair care routine. If you have hard water or use styling products often, you’ll benefit from a periodic deep clean. Some clarifying shampoos can even help you manage scalp conditions like psoriasis and dandruff. 

A beautiful black lady with dry hair fibers just used a generous amount of leave-in conditioner on her curls.

If you’re still trying to decide, here are some signs your hair could use a clarifying treatment: 

  • Your hair is dull and stiff. Dull, stiff hair can be a sign of buildup. Product residue coats your hair and prevents water from reaching your strands. If you don’t remove the residue, your hair will dry out and become more prone to breakage
  • You use a lot of silicones, oils, or heavy styling products. Even if your hair feels fine, these products can lead to a residue issue. So, we encourage you to clarify your hair every month or so as a preventative measure. It will eliminate the residue before it starts to cause problems.
  • Hair products aren’t working as well as they used to. If you notice that your moisturizing and styling products aren’t as effective as they should be, product buildup might be to blame. The residue acts as a barrier and prevents other products from penetrating your hair.
  • You have hard water. As many as 90% of American homes have hard water. Hard water contains high levels of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals settle on your hair and can leave behind a film that builds up over time. Hard water can also fade color-treated hair or cause it to take on a greenish hue.
  • Your hair still feels dirty after washing. If your hair feels sticky or greasy even after washing, this might be a sign that product residue is left behind. Clarifying shampoo can cut through oils and residue that regular shampoo can’t. 

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We hope this article has helped you understand that clarifying shampoo can fade your hair color if you don’t take the proper precautions. If you want to fade your color, go for a non-color-safe clarifying shampoo – if you want to preserve your color, reach for a color-safe one. Good luck with your color-treated tresses!

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