How to Clarify Curly Hair & Restore Your Curls

Megan Dominion

Clarifying curly hair is as simple as switching out your regular shampoo you usually use for a clarifying shampoo. I’ve found this to be really helpful with the concoction of products I use in my 2C hair, and one of the top secrets to happy, healthy hair and scalp. So how exactly does this work, and when should you be using a clarifying shampoo?

What is a clarifying shampoo?

A clarifying shampoo is a shampoo designed to rid the hair of build up and residue left behind from hair products.

Related: Get Crystal Clear on What a Clarifying Shampoo is

Ideally, wavy, curly and coily girls should be using two shampoos:

  • a gentle, moisturising shampoo for most washes
  • a clarifying or chekating shampoo every couple of weeks (as needed) to rid your hair of build-up

When should you use a clarifying shampoo?

First and foremost, you should only be using a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month maximum. This is because clarifing shampoos are usually quite drying and harsh on your hair if used too frequently. Curly and coily hair tends to usually be on the drier side so it’s not meant to be your every wash day shampoo.

The best times to use a clarifying shampoo is when you have any heavy buildup or residue on your hair, find that your hair isn’t responding to your normal routine, or if you find your curls aren’t as bouncy and defined as usual.

How to use a clarifying shampoo for curly hair:

1. (Optional) Start by pre-pooing your hair using a light oil or conditioner. This will help to protect your hair from over-drying.

2. Follow up with your clarifying shampoo, focusing on you scalp and massaging it firmly to remove any residue or buildup. You can also use a scalp brush to hel you with this.

3. Wait a few minutes and then rinse the shampoo out.

4. Follow up with a lightweight conditioner. This will help to restore any lost moisture to your hair.

How to identify a clarfiying shampoo?

Usually the shampoo will be called a ‘clarifying shampoo’ on the label. It could also be ‘purifying’ or ‘deep-cleansing.’ They will have ingredients such as:

  • Ammonium-sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Chlorides or bromides
  • Cetyl-fatty alcohols

These ingredients are surfectants, which are soap-like, stronger detergents than what’s found in an everyday shampoo.

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.