The 16 Best Clarifying Shampoos of 2022

Our best overall pick is Davines SOLU Shampoo

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
The 14 Best Clarifying Shampoos of 2022

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

No matter whether your hair and scalp are oily, you live somewhere with hard water, or you just love going five days in between washes and loading up on dry shampoo in the meantime, you can benefit from a clarifying shampoo. Formulated with higher levels of cleansing ingredients, think of these as shampoos on steroids, souped-up versions that are extra effective at de-gunking both your hair and scalp. The best clarifying shampoos will remove traces of hairspray, waxes, gels, and other styling products with just one wash, stylist John Mouzakis tells Byrdie.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is Davines SOLU Shampoo, which suds up to a lightweight foam that effectively removes all traces of residue and gunk. We love its subtle herbal scent and how shiny it leaves hair after just one wash. For a more affordable pick, consider Aveeno's Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo, a drugstore pick that's free from sulfates, parabens, and dyes, and addresses buildup at the scalp.

Clarifying shampoos used to be known for being harsh, drying, and stripping your tresses. After all, clarifying formulas are made with chelating agents, which form bonds with heavy metals in your water in order to remove excess residue.These formulas are softened with the addition of moisturizers to make them less abrasive on your hair. According to Mouzakis, you should consider a clarifying shampoo is you use styling or leave-in products often.

We conducted hours of research on the best clarifying shampoos, evaluating their formulas on active ingredients, as well as what their ingredient-lists lack, like sulfates, which can potentially add to excess residue. We also considered all hair types and textures, as well as lather level and type to find a clarifying shampoo that will work with most hair concerns.

Ahead, find the best clarifying shampoos for squeaky, clean hair.

Best Overall

Davines SOLU Shampoo

4.5
Davines SOLU Shampoo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Works for all hair types

  • Transforms into light foam

  • Adds plenty of shine

What We Don't Like
  • May strip color

Who else recommends it? Marie Claire also picked the Davines SOLU Shampoo.

What do buyers say? 89% of 600+ Amazon Reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This sudser is a go-for for Byrdie Senior Editor Karli Bendlin, and it's so clarifying that it’s meant to be used to deep clean hair before a perm. But trust us: Go ahead and use it whether or not you’re getting a perm. This shampoo quickly transforms into an airy foam that whisks away all kinds of excess residue, gunk, and grime, all while leaving hair with mega-watt shine.

Price at time of publish: $32

Size: 8.45 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo

Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo

 Courtesy of CVS

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Gentle formula

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

Not quite sold on the fact that you need a clarifying shampoo? Or just don’t want to shell out the big bucks for one? This guy will cost you a few dollars—a very small price to pay regardless, but even more so when you consider the efficacy. Gentle and pH-balanced, it still gets the job done and also has a very lovely, fresh scent.

Price at time of publish: $16

Size: 12 fluid ounces | Scent: Fresh | Sulfate-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge

ORIBE The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo

ORIBE The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Unique mousse consistency

  • Exfoliates scalp

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may be too intense for some

There’s no sugar-coating it—there’s something about the idea of a clarifying shampoo that just feels, well, kind of clinical. But trust us, there’s none of that with this luxurious shampoo, which has high-end hair treatment vibes. The whipped foam boasts a luscious texture and high-end scent (in true ORIBE fashion). But that doesn’t keep it from being a heavy-hitting treatment, using volcanic ash to exfoliate your scalp and hair, taking oil and product buildup with it.

Price at time of publish: $44

Size: 7.1 fluid ounces | Scent: Cote d’Azur | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge, Runner-Up

Ouai Detox Shampoo

Ouai Detox Shampoo

Ulta

What We Like
  • Combines clarifying and chelating benefits

  • Smells great

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

  • Should only be used weekly

“This is a lighter clarifying shampoo that leaves hair softer than many other formulas do,” says Mouzakis of another one of his picks. Lathering up nicely, it contains both apple cider vinegar for clarifying purposes and chelating agents to remove hard-water deposits. There’s also strengthening keratin in the mix, always a nice plus.

Price at time of publish: $30

Size: 10 fluid ounces | Scent: OUAI's Melrose Place scent | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Let it sit on your hair for a few minutes before rinsing to reap the best benefits.

Best Drugstore

Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo

5
Aveeno Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Adds plenty of shine

  • Volumizing

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

The namesake ingredient in this pick deep cleans both your scalp and hair. It also comes with soothing oats to help calm a stressed-out scalp. Free from sulfates, parabens, and dyes, it’s another great pick for colored hair and happens to add plenty of shine and volume, too.

Price at time of publish: $7

Size: 12 fluid ounces | Scent: Fruity | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Hair

Amika Reset Clarifying Gel Shampoo

Amika Reset Scalp Clarifying Gel Shampoo

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Contains effective oil-removing ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

If you have oily hair, you can benefit from incorporating a clarifying shampoo like this one into your routine. This touts two oil-absorbing ingredients more often found in skincare—pink clay and charcoal—to not only sop up excess grease but also remove all kinds of odors, residue, and other unwanted gunk and grime. The lightweight gel-to-foam texture that won’t weigh down your hair is another plus, given that those with oily hair also tend to have finer hair.

Price at time of publish: $12

Size: 1.0 fluid ounces | Scent: Cote d’Azur | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Colored Hair

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo

Courtesy of Space NK

What We Like
  • Safe for color-treated hair

  • Combines clarifying and chelating benefits

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

If you color your hair, proceed with caution when using a clarifying shampoo. After all, by definition, they made of formulas that are more stripping than traditional. This can spell disaster when it comes to unwanted color fading. That being said, there are plenty of options out there that are safe for colored hair, which can also benefit from a deep clean every once in a while.

Take this option, for example, which boasts a litany of ingredients to get the job done. These include an anionic polymer that removes product residue, chelating agents that attach to dulling minerals in hard water, charcoal to absorb excess oil, and sulfate-free surfactants to clean without removing your color.

Price at time of publish: $29

Size: 5.4 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Curly Hair

Pattern Beauty Clarifying Shampoo

Pattern Clarifying Shampoo

Ulta

What We Like
  • Moisturizes and hydrates

  • Contains antioxidants

  • Recyclable packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

Does curly hair ever need a clarifying shampoo? The short answer is yes. Not only do people with curly hair tend to go longer in between washes, but they also tend to use more product. Both of factors raise the need for reaching for a clarifying formula occasionally.

Make it this pick, from the brand created by Tracee Ellis Ross to specially address the (unique) needs of curly girls everywhere. In this case, that means purifying your hair and scalp—but also making sure your curls aren’t stripped of their natural moisture, thanks to ingredients such as aloe vera and pantheon.

Price at time of publish: $20

Size: 7.8 fluid ounces | Scent: Jasmine, bergamot, sandalwood | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for All Hair Types

Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

Bright turquoise blue bottle of shampoo on a white background.
What We Like
  • Works for all hair types

  • Safe for color-treated hair

  • Moisturizes and hydrates

  • Strengthening

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Have fine, straight hair? This is a great option for you. Blessed with thick curls? Yep, still a great option. For any and every hair type and texture, this formula gets the clarifying job done while also delivering plenty of moisturizing argan, avocado oils, and strengthening keratin in the process. It’s safe for colored hair, too.

Price at time of publish: $20

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Sensitive Scalps

GIRL+HAIR CLEAR+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse

Girl and Hair Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Amazon

What We Like
  • Tingly, refreshing feeling

  • Balances scalp pH

  • Targeted nozzle for easy application

What We Don't Like
  • Small bottle

For those whose scalp is on the sensitive side, the last thing you want to do is use an intense or overly harsh shampoo that can cause further dryness and possible irritation. Instead, reach for this rinse. While you use it as a shampoo, it relies on apple cider vinegar rather than detergents to remove residue and help balance your scalp’s pH, and there are hydrating shea butter and oil-absorbing tea tree oil in the mix, too. Plus, the targeted nozzle makes it easy to apply directly to your scalp.

Price at time of publish: $12

Size: 10.1 fluid ounces | Scent: Apple | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Heavy Duty Buildup

UNITE Hair Weekender Shampoo

Unite Weekender Shampoo

Walmart

What We Like
  • Safe for color-treated hair

  • Smells great

What We Don’t Like
  • Should only be used weekly

This is a top pick for Mouzakis. The caveat? Use it just once a week; it will help clarify your scalp and hair without stripping natural oils or color. It’s safe for chemically treated hair and extensions, too, and the refreshing, mandarin-lemon scent is a nice bonus.

Price at time of publish: $23

Size: 8 fluid ounces | Scent: Citrus | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for City Dwellers

Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Adds plenty of shine

  • Combines clarifying and chelating benefits

What We Don’t Like
  • May strip color

Stash this in your shower if you live in a city. Mouzakis says it helps remove not only product buildup but also pollution residue and minerals found in hard water (like copper, iron, magnesium, and calcium) that can change both the texture and color of your hair. Plus, the formula is pH balanced to help keep hair looking and feeling healthy and shiny.

Price at time of publish: $46

Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Scent: Citrus | Sulfate-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Flaky Scalps

AMELIORATE Clarifying Shampoo

Ameliorate Clarifying Shampoo

Ameliorate

What We Like
  • Can be used daily

  • Trichologist approved

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Clarifying shampoos can be a good way to help remove dead skin on the scalp—so long as the formula isn’t too stripping, which can end up exacerbating the situation. Enter this option. The mild shampoo clarifies but contains prebiotics and a unique hydration complex to help soothe your scalp while still getting rid of flakes. Plus, it can be used daily.

Price at time of publish: $18

Size: 8.4 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Natural

Alodia Nourish & Heal Organic Black Soap Wash

Alodia Nourish and Heal Organic Black Soap Hair Wash

Amazon

What We Like
  • Natural and organic

  • Works for all hair types

  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • Watery texture can take getting used to

The ingredient list of this deep-cleansing formula is super minimal—and entirely natural and organic. Think of things such as tea tree oil and cocoa seed powder to help break down gunk and residue that can clog the hair follicles. It’s safe and effective for all hair types and a great option for those sporting styles such as locs and weaves, too.

Price at time of publish: $14

Size: 8 fluid ounces | Scent: Minty | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Unknown | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Daily Use

Kevin Murphy Balancing Wash

Bottle of shampoo

Kevin Murphy

What We Like
  • Adds shine

  • Hydrating formula

  • Pleasant scent

What We Don't Like
  • May weigh down fine hair


Packed with nourishing and hydrating ingredients like amino acids and antioxidants, this formula is ideal for those who want to wash daily. The protein-rich formula will helps fortify the cuticle without causing build up on the scalp or shaft, making it a great clarifying choice. Worth noting is the amazing scent, which makes washing a luxe experience.

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Botanical | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $35

Best Post-Workout

Acure Daily Workout Watermelon & Blood Orange Shampoo

Daily Workout Watermelon & Blood Orange Shampoo

Acure

What We Like
  • pH balanced

  • Removes residue

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a bit drying

After the gym, a good clarifying shampoo can help remove residue from sweat and oil that can accumulate when you perspire. We love this natural, clean formula that's free-from any sulfates, parabens, mineral, or petroleum oil which can weigh hair down and build up on your scalp. The formula is gentle enough for daily use and smells sweet and fresh.

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Watermelon and orange | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $10

Final Verdict

When your hair and/or scalp needs a deep clean, reach for a clarifying shampoo. The Davines SOLU Shampoo is our top choice, for a formula that's super-effective yet non-stripping. When it comes to affordable drugstore faves, we love Aveeno's Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo, which goes to work on your scalp as well as hair shaft.

Meet the Expert

John Mouzakis is a stylist and co-owner of 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago. He has over a decade of experience in the industry, working as both a hairstylist and educator across the globe.

What to Look for in a Clarifying Shampoo

Sulfate-Free Formula

Ideally, you want a sulfate-free formula so that the shampoo won’t over-dry your hair; clarifying formulas can already innately be a bit more drying. Sulfate-free formulas are also ideal for preventing build-up on hair shafts, and in the roots.

Hydrating and Strengthening Ingredients

Consider choosing a formula that contains moisturizing ingredients like oils and butters to hydrate hair. Also look for strengthening ingredients such as keratin or biotin, which help contribute to hair growth and strength.

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of clarifying shampoos?

    "Clarifying shampoos help remove buildup on your hair and scalp and can be especially beneficial if you regularly use styling products as hairsprays and waxes," says Mouzakis.

  • How often should you use clarifying shampoos?

    Mouzakis recommends using a clarifying shampoo no more than once a week. “Overuse can end up stripping out color and drying out the scalp,” he cautions.

  • How long do clarifying shampoos take to work?

    According to Mouzakis, they’ll work in just one use. For the best results, let the shampoo sit on your hair for a few minutes before rinsing. And if you feel like you have a lot of buildup on your hair, you can even shampoo twice in a row, he says.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She colors her hair and is judicious about using clarifying shampoos. She tends to use them at least once a month—or whenever she feels like her hair is feeling especially oily and/or generally weighed down.

Updated by Jill DiDonato
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Draelos ZD. Essentials of Hair Care often Neglected: Hair CleansingInt J Trichology. 2010;2(1):24-29. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.66909

  2. The 21 best clarifying shampoos to banish build-up. Marie Claire. https://www.marieclaire.com/beauty/g33436644/best-clarifying-shampoo

  3. Ikarashi Y, Uchino T, Nishimura T. [Analysis of volcanic-ash-based insoluble ingredients of facial cleansers]. Kokuritsu Iyakuhin Shokuhin Eisei Kenkyusho Hokoku — Bulletin of National Institute of Health Sciences. 2011:(129):93-99.

  4. Johnston CS, Gaas CA. Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. MedGenMed. 2006;8(2):61.

  5. Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, Chon S, Kaur S, Mahmood K, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(1):43-48.

  6. Doghaim NN, El-Tatawy RA, El-Hamd Neinaa YM, El-Samd MMA. Study of the efficacy of carboxytherapy in alopecia. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018;17(6):1275-1285. doi:10.1111/jocd.12501

  7. Valenti DMZ, Silva J, Teodoro WR, Velosa AP, Mello SBV. Effect of topical clay application on the synthesis of collagen in skin: an experimental study. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2012;37(2):164-168. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2230.2011.04216.x

  8. ClinicalTrials.gov. Efficacy and safety of keratin hair therapy on the health of hair and scalp.

  9. Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006;19(1):50-62. doi:10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006

  10. D'Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know?Indian J Dermatol. 2015;60(3):248-254. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.156355

  11. Patel DP, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair LossSkin Appendage Disord. 2017;3(3):166-169. doi:10.1159/000462981

Related Stories