Clarifying basically means getting rid of all the build up in your hair. This could be from hair products and/or mineral deposits. It is also stripping hair of its natural oils.
To do this, you use a clarifying shampoo. Some people prefer using natural products like baking soda or ayurvedic powders to clarify. Your choice.
Clarifying shampoos have sodium laureth sulfate listed as one of the ingredients. They are usually a clear liquid and tend to leave the hair feeling dry and rough to the touch. (Rough because they are very alkaline/have very high pH which opens the hair cuticle) They are harsh on hair and as such should not be used frequently. Once a month is enough for most people (but swimmers that are in the pool everyday may need to clarify more often). Make sure you follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioning treatment. If you like to shampoo your hair weekly, i would suggest using a sulfate-free shampoo which is milder.
You know you need to clarify your hair if your hair feels weighed down, you have been applying products to your hair daily/every other day (e.g moisturizing & sealing, hairspray), your hair products contain silicone-based ingredients or heavy oils, you are a swimmer or if you hang around the beach a lot, if you have gone for a while without clarifying or if find that your hair products are not working anymore.
Build up coats the hair strand preventing anything from penetrating it (this is when you find that your favourite products don’t seem to ‘work’ anymore – the shampoo might not lather properly, and your hair might feel weighed down after deep conditioning or just a regular wash. The problem is simply product build-up.). No matter what you do, your hair appears dull and even breaks off because its not getting the nourishment and conditioning it needs. A clarifying wash can help remove those deposits and give your hair a fresh start…and restore natural shine to it.
For those with coloured hair, please note that clarifying often will cause your hair color to fade faster. Once a month is okay but do not clarify your hair within the first few weeks of getting a fresh color.
The goal of a clarifying shampoo is to help prepare the hair to better receive moisture and all the benefits of natural oils and protein treatments. This consequently restores shine, bounce and the general good health of your hair.