Last Updated: Jun 5, 2023 @ 4:59 pm.

What is the best clarifying shampoo? We tried out a dozen brands to find the best bets. Then we interviewed three expert hair stylists with a combined 41 years of experience to get their insights. Which is best for curly hair? For oily hair? Here are the ones we though were best.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Clarifying Shampoo 411: Tips & Tricks

Let’s talk clarifying shampoo—what is it? And how to do you use it?

After spending 7 hours researching this topic by interviewing hair stylist experts and trying several brands ourselves, here is a quick 411 on clarifying shampoo. Here’s what it does:

• Removes build-up. Clarifying shampoo removes build-up on your hair from hairsprays, mousses, gels. Yes, these products are great . . . but over time, they can weigh down and dull your hair. Clarifying shampoo strips away the built-up.

• Have hard water? Clarifying shampoo is also great for removing the minerals left in your hair from hard water—as well as chlorine and other pool chemicals if you spend much time in the pool.

• Use it sparingly. Clarifying shampoo should not be used every day, said the experts we interviewed. Think of it as more like an occasional rescue. 

Take home tip: consider using a deep conditioner after using clarifying shampoo. Also be careful with color-treated hair: clarifying shampoos may cause hair dye to fade.

We asked our parent readers for their real-world experiences with clarifying shampoo. Then we tried several brands ourselves. Here are the ones that got the highest marks . . . from our readers and testers:

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Best for Coarse Hair

Good for once a week use
We like this unscented shampoo, where a little goes a long way. The results were impressive and so soft, even for coarse hair.
$30.00 ($3.55 / Fl Oz)

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Best for Curly Hair

Game changer
Love the scent of this shampoo, which is great at getting rid of build-up on the scalp. Best for thick hair—the results were soft and smooth.
$28.99 ($2.90 / Fl Oz)

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Best For Oily Air

Easy on the wallet
You don't have to spend a fortune to find a good clarifying shampoo—this brand is a reader favorite and performed well in our tests. Nice scent.
$14.00 ($1.38 / Fl Oz)

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Best For Color-Treated Hair

A small amount goes a long way
So soft! The cleaning results are impressive and it has a pleasant scent. Good for clarifying before a re-color.
$26.00 ($3.06 / Ounce)

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About the Authors

Denise & Alan Fields are consumer advocates and best-selling authors. The Fields have authored 12 books with three million copies in print, including the best-selling guide to baby gear, Baby Bargains.

The Fields have been featured and quoted in the New York TimesWall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

As consumer products experts, the Fields have been guests on the NBC Today Show, Good Morning America and ABC’s 20/20.

How We Pick Products To Recommend

We often turn to our readers (3 million strong!) to find products to recommend. We ask our parent readers for their favorites and consider their real-world experiences in our recommendations.

When we test a product, we always purchase it with our own monies. We do not take free samples, as we believe that compromises our independence.

We also fact check manufacturer information with our own measurements. If a maker claims a product weighs X pounds, we will weigh it to make sure. If the battery life is supposed to be six hours, we will see how it stands up in the real world.

In some cases, we will do interviews with experts in the field to get additional feedback on products.

To get hands-on time with products, we regularly meet one-on-one with gear companies and even tour manufacturing facilities. (When we do this, we pay our own travel expenses).

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

We make our living from affiliate commissions, but we always recommend what we think are the best bets for our readers (not the ones that are the most expensive). We are always looking for products that offer the best bang for the buck.

Our independence is a key reason why we have been doing this so long. As we mentioned above, when we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its related sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.