Ever have the sneaking suspicion that your regular shampoo isn’t actually getting the job done? Thanks to a buildup of oils, styling products, and dry shampoo clinging to your scalp, it might not be. Fortunately there is a solution—and it’s as easy as swapping out your go-to shampoo for a clarifying version. Ahead, expert advice for adding a clarifying shampoo to your haircare routine.
WHAT ARE CLARIFYING SHAMPOOS?
Think of clarifying shampoos as shampoos on steroids—they cut through product buildup and oils to leave your hair super-clean. If you’ve ever had a salon relaxer or keratin treatment done, you’ve probably had one used on you (both treatments perform better on ruthlessly clean hair). They’re also popular among the lap-swimming crowd to fight off chlorine-green, but that doesn’t mean they need to be a specialty treatment.
“These shampoos can be used by anyone, especially if you feel your hair is not cooperating or if it seems a bit lifeless. Those are signs of product buildup,” says hairstylist Paul Labrecque of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa. “Think of clarifying your hair as preparing your canvas for something new.”
Below, a handful of the best clarifying shampoos, to help you take that first, deep-cleansing step.
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE A CLARIFYING SHAMPOO?
Like any serious hair product, there is a right time and a wrong time to break out the heavy-duty shampoo. “You shouldn’t use one more than once a month,” advises hairstylist Mara Roszak, who recommends not washing your hair more than every other day the rest of the time. This is because hardcore hair cleansing comes with a catch: since clarifying shampoos do such a good job of purging hair of any and every trace of buildup and gunk, your natural oils (which keep your hair shiny and your scalp happy) also can get whisked away.
HOW TO USE A CLARIFYING SHAMPOO
Think of your monthly clarifying session as a true beauty treatment. Set out a decent chunk of shower time to devote to the process. Start by focusing the shampoo on your roots, where buildup tends to be worse. Channel your inner salon shampoo station and really work those suds in (a little bonus scalp massage is never a bad thing), progressively spreading the shampoo through the length of your hair as you go. Rinse, then follow up with conditioner. Or, even better, a hair mask to restore all of that lost moisture and up your gloss game.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.