Types of Clarifying Shampoos

When you do the Curly Girl Method and use gentle sulfate-free shampoos, the buildup can happen quickly, and clarifying, for most of us, becomes necessary to continue having healthy, beautiful curls. Here's how I do it gently and effectively!

What are Clarifying Shampoos?

Clarifying shampoos are used to get rid of build-up in the hair. They can often get rid of stubborn dirt that water alone cannot remove. For this reason, it is essential to introduce a clarifying shampoo into your hair routine.

However, most of the clarifying shampoos on the market contain chemicals that really dry out the hair and scalp. Ingredients like harsh sulfates can dry out your hair and make curly hair frizzy and unmanageable.

Clarifying Makes My Curls Happy!

For the first few months of the curly girl method, I worked on restoring the health of my hair with protein treatments, OlaPlex treatments, and deep conditioning, and it WORKED. My hair got so much healthier! However, I noticed that my hair was still frizzy, dull, and weighed down. I was so frustrated and thought it must be my styling products, but changing them didn't help. So I tried clarifying, and VOILA! I began clarifying more regularly, and it took care of the problem. Now that my hair is much healthier, I only have to deep condition 1-2 times a month and clarify 2-3 times a month.

Homemade or Store Bought?

I have used both homemade and store-bought clarifying shampoos, and both work well!

If you're on a tight budget or like to use really natural ingredients, you can easily make a homemade clarifying shampoo. This guide gives you the most common ingredients people use.

My Fav Store Bought Clarifying Shampoos

My Favorites are:

The one I get the best results with and use the most is the Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo. Their product line uses essential oils to scent the products, and I LOVE that, plus, it works the best and never dries out my hair. I'm able to finger comb my hair with the shampoo in! 

Homemade Options 

Here are some natural options that also work well, and I use them to clarify when my hair needs some extra shine or cleansing.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Essential Oils as a Hair Tonic and Clarifying Shampoo

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I've been singing the praises of Apple Cider Vinegar for years! It is effective because ACV is acidic so it helps to balance which means that it helps to balance the pH of the scalp.

Also, ACV has antimicrobial properties, which can kill bacteria and fungi on the scalp. The vitamins and minerals in ACV keep hair healthy and exfoliate the skin, helping to heal dandruff and other skin issues. For more help with a flaky scalp, visit this post

To see all that ACV can do for your health, visit this post on my blog.

You'll Need:

Combine all the ingredients in the bottle and gently shake to mix. To use: shampoo your hair first, then flip your head upside down and pour this over your scalp and hair. It's also super nourishing and healing for the scalp and can help with flakes and itchiness.

Cedarwood essential oil helps to grow hair, and lavender and rosemary are known for their therapeutic properties for healthy skin.


Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo

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A completely natural, gentle and nourishing clarifying shampoo using Apple Cider Vinegar and essential oils.

  • Author: Sara McFall




  • Place soap nuts in the small muslin bag. Or wrap the soap nuts in cheesecloth and tie together with a piece of kitchen twine.
  • Place the soap nuts in a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and, without removing the soap nuts, let cool completely.
  • Squeeze out the bag until you see suds. Rinse the bag with cold water and squeeze in to the pan again.
  • Add apple cider vinegar and essential oils. Stir to combine.
  • This does make for a very runny, watery shampoo, which is why I also suggest using a glass spray bottle instead.
  • To use, spray your hair and scalp and gently massage in. Let sit for five minutes, then rinse out and condition.
  • Store in the fridge and use within a month.

Baking Soda

For this homemade shampoo, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one and a half cups of warm to hot water. Add melted soap into the mixture and put the whole combination in a bottle. Pour it on wet hair and massage it in.

Baking soda helps get rid of build-up from hair without scraping off natural oils from the hair. Use this shampoo if you are washing your hair with hard water, as it helps soften the scalp. You can add your favorite essential oil to the mixture for even better results.

This is a recipe that works well for busy moms who do not have the whole day in the salon. Use homemade perfume if you want to add fragrance to the mixture. The perfume will also ensure that your hair smells nice the whole day.


Another natural ingredient that is used to make a homemade clarifying shampoo is rosemary. Boil your desired amount of rosemary, filter it through a fine mesh strainer rid of larger rosemary parts, and let it cool. Add melted soap nuts and your favorite essential oil into the rosemary solution.

Rosemary is known for detoxifying the scalp, leaving it clean with no dandruff. Use this homemade clarifying shampoo two to three times a week.

Homemade clarifying shampoos are effective and they don't have chemicals, meaning that your hair will be undamaged after treatment. Use this guide to create a homemade clarifying shampoo that works for you.

How to Gently Clarify Curly Hair

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