Clarify Your Position

Sticky silicones, thick waxes, conditioner buildup, hard water mineral deposits and damaging chlorine—the list of elements sticking to your clients’ hair is endless. And without properly removing these coatings, the results of your hard work can be negatively affected. Here’s a peek at the best professional clarifying shampoos on the market, along with pro tips on what to look for and how to use it best.

Clean Up Your Act

Today’s top stylists share their thoughts on clarifying shampoos.


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“When using a clarifying shampoo, I apply it from the scalp to mid-shaft, totally avoiding the ends. This allows the shampoo to focus were the buildup lives. Also, in the salon I like to mix a bit of clarifying shampoo with 5 volume developer and lightener when color-balancing the hair.”—Angelina Panelli, John Paul Mitchell Systems National Trainer

“I like using clarifying shampoos fortified with natural cleansers that help the scalp too—such as tea tree, eucalyptus and peppermint. Why? They have the added benefit of being antibacterial.” —Gary Baker, UNITE Creative Director

“Clarifying shampoos are really important for curly haired clients, who use a lot of products to keep their curls under control. My favorite curly hair tip: Apply Nioxin Clarifying Cleanser to the scalp area and massage in before using water. This truly cleanses away sebum built up on the scalp.”
—Diane Stevens, Nioxin Top Artist

“In the warmer months, clients go swimming and perspire more, causing hair color and texture to shift. A deep-cleansing shampoo restores hair’s balance. I always suggest Biolage CleanReset to my clients that swim a lot. It removes chlorine buildup and saves their hair from discoloration.”
—Nick Stenson, Matrix Celebrity Stylist & Artistic Director

“For a clarifying shampoo to really work, it has to have a high pH, which raises the cuticle of the hair and removes resins effectively without overdrying or stripping the hair of natural oils.”
—Anthony Barnhill, Malibu C Professional Lead Platform Artist and Educator

“A great clarifying shampoo should give your client’s hair that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of the hair’s health. A great clarifying shampoo balances clarifying benefits without stripping away vital nutrients or disturbing the hair’s natural moisture balance.”
—Kevin Hughes, Moroccanoil Artistic Director