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The 15 Best Clarifying Shampoos to Beat Build-Up

A deep clean is just around the corner.

clarifying shampoo
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If you're anything like me, dry shampoos, hair oils, leave-in conditioners, and other hair products are saviors for keeping your hair style last longer. Hey, I didn't spend an hour blow-drying my hair only to have the style collapse on me a few days later. Here's the thing: there's nothing wrong with using these products–pry my dry shampoo out of my cold, dead hands, I dare you–but that's only if you're effectively cleaning those products out of your hair on wash days. If your shampoo isn't working super hard, then you might develop what's called "build-up."

How do you know if you have build-up in your hair? Let me introduce you to my nightmare of a symptom list: flakey scalp, excessive oiliness, dull-looking strands. Hair products aren't the only offenders. Sweat, pollution, products, and dirty water can all cause build-up overtime. If you're thinking, "Well then what the hell is my regular shampoo doing?", let me explain: It's not that your regular shampoo is terrible and should be thrown out. A standard shampoo is great...most of the time. However, if you start noticing build-up, a clarifying shampoo can be used once a week or once a month, depending on your individual hair type, as a deep-clean. If you're not sure which clarifying shampoo to reach for, don't worry, I did the work for you. From color-treated hair to excessively damaged ends, there's a clarifying shampoo that will suit your needs.

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The French Drugstore Gem
Purifying Shampoo with Citrus Pulp
Klorane dermstore.com

This French brand doesn't mess around—effectiveness comes first. This shampoo utilizes glycolic acid and citrus to cleanse the hair and remove built-up, while the amino acids works to not overly strip the hair of natural oils. Plus, it smells as fresh as a bike ride through the French countryside.

The Low-Porosity Pick
Clarifying Shampoo
PATTERN ulta.com

For hair that needs an extra shot of moisture, clarifying shampoos can seem excessively stripping. Tracee Ellis Ross's Pattern especially curated this shampoo for low-porosity hair (hair that craves hydration) without removing essential hair nutrients.

The Scalp-Treating Shampoo
Reset Clarifying Shampoo
Verb sephora.com

If your scalp is starting to feel itchy from excess product build-up, this shampoo removes those aggravating substances and soothes the scalp with calming aloe vera. It's perfect for all hair types that don't want to sacrifice moisture for cleanliness.

The Charcoal-Infused Product
On the Rocks Clarifying Charcoal Shampoo
DRYBAR nordstrom.com

Charcoal, commonly used to remove impurities and toxins, is the key ingredient in this shampoo. It absorbs left-over product residue in the hair and scalp. And if your hair has endured lots of heat and chemicals, this product strengthens damaged strands.

The Once-A-Week Treatment
Sunday Clarifying Shampoo
Bumble and Bumble sephora.com

If you love using style-protecting products like dry shampoo, incorporating this product into your hair routine once a week will allow you to remove any build-up or residue that's accumulating on the scalp. 

The Co-Wash Clarifying Shampoo
Miss Jessie's amazon.com
$8.00 (33% off)

For ladies who prefer to co-wash their hair instead of using traditional shampoos, it may seem like clarifying shampoos are out of the question. However, this product caters to co-washers who want a deep clean without compeltely stripping the hair. For curly-haired ladies, this co-wash might be your savior.

The Coconut-Infused Cleanser
OBLIVION Clarifying Shampoo
R+Co dermstore.com

With a host of active ingredients including coconut oil, witch hazel, tea tree oil, and vitamin C, this shampoo seeks to remove harmful build-up without removing your hair's key defenses. When washing, let the product sit in your hair for a minute or two before rinsing. 

The Everyday Shampoo
Curiously Clarifying Shampoo
Acure amazon.com

This gentle shampoo is infused with lemongrass and argan oil, which allows the hair to maintain its protection while still effectively cleansing the scalp. Unlike many clarifying shampoos, it is gentle enough to be used every day without excessively drying or stripping the hair. 

The Mousse Formula
The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo
Oribe dermstore.com

This unique shampoo sets itself apart from other clarifying shampoos. It comes out as a mousse that should be applied to the scalp and then rinsed out. With volcanism ash and herbal extracts, this cleanser cleans the hair while strengthening weak strands.

The Detoxifying Product
Detox Shampoo
OUAI sephora.com

Jen Atkin, queen of dry shampoos and style-maintaining products, knows the importance of cleansing the hair of build-up. Apple cider vinegar gently exfoliates the scalp while keratin softens and manages frizz. 

The Residue Remover
Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo
Neutrogena amazon.com

This shampoo should be used once a week to quickly and efficiently remove residue that remains in the hair from using hair styling products. After using this product, build-up is removed to reveal clean, shiny hair.

The Color-Safe Formula
Clarifying Shampoo
Moroccanoil sephora.com

If you're noticing excessive oiliness or dullness, this clarifying shampoo nips those concerns in the bud. With argan oil, natural extracts, and keratin, the hair is cleansed and primed for its next adventure. For people who are looking to chemically process their hair in the future—with a Keratin Treatment, Perm, or dye—using this shampoo prior will let you get even better results. 

The Dirty Hair Buster
Clarifying Detox Shampoo
Phyto dermstore.com

Eucalyptus oil and burdock extract work together to rid the hair and scalp of excess oil and pollution that could cause irritation and limp hair. This shampoo is gentle enough to use consistently if you're dealing with build-up every day. 

The Build-Up Warrior
Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo
Living Proof sephora.com

This shampoo targets build-up that comes from these three main causes: products, pollution, and hard water. Not only does this color-safe clarifier gentle cleanse away build-up, it also soothes the scalp from itchiness and irritation.

The Gel Shampoo
Reset Scalp Clarifying Gel Shampoo
amika sephora.com

This gel-textured shampoo actively works against build-up and excess oils. With the help of clay and charcoal, it absorbs oil while balancing the scalp. For women with oily hair, this product can replace your every day shampoo. Otherwise, this shampoo can be used once a week as a cleansing treatment. 

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