How Clarifying Shampoo Can Damage Your Hair

The days that your hair just won't cooperate — it's limp and greasy, and feels too heavy — are the days you're likely to reach for a clarifying shampoo. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, if you use it right. But be careful — with clarifying shampoo, it's definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.

For many of us, our hair is exposed to large amounts of stuff. Styling products like hairspray, mousse, and dry shampoo, along with chlorine from swimming pools, minerals from hard water, and even environmental pollutants all do their part to build up residue on hair over time. Even your favorite shampoo and conditioner can eventually conspire against you, depositing traces of residue and leaving even freshly washed hair looking lifeless.

That is where breaking the normal routine up with a clarifying shampoo can really make a big difference. Celebrity hairstylist and salon owner Annagid "Kee" Taylor says, "I like to think of a clarifying shampoo as boss-level shampoo. It's designed to strip your hair of product build-up, oils, and grease that won't necessarily come out with your regular, everyday shampoo" (via Byrdie). That gives hair a seriously au natural, fresh start.

Clarifying shampoo can refresh hair, when used correctly

The problem is that if clarifying shampoo is used too much, it can do its job too well, stripping hair of essential oils and moisture, and leaving it dry, dull, and frizzy. Since its purpose is to strip the hair of what's sticking to it, it can also cause hair color to fade faster than it should. And for those with dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, or eczema, or who have an oily scalp normally, using a clarifying shampoo can make the problems worse. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the dryness caused by clarifying shampoo can actually cause oil glands to go into overdrive, leading to even more oil production (via Healthline).

The thing to remember is that clarifying shampoo is meant for occasional — not daily — use. Dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin suggests using it between once a week and once per month for best results, depending on how often hair is exposed to pool chemicals and styling products. And, always follow up with a deep conditioner to restore lost moisture (via Byrdie). All in all, clarifying shampoo really can give new life to dull, heavy hair — but only if it's used correctly.