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The 18 Best Clarifying Shampoos to Beat Build-Up

Because nobody has time for an itchy, irritated scalp.

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 making your hairstyle last longer. (Look, 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 with a clarifying shampoo. If your regular shampoo isn't working super hard, you might develop what's called "build-up."

What does a clarifying shampoo do for your hair?

Let me introduce you to my nightmare of a symptom list: flaky scalp, excessive oiliness, dull-looking strands. Hair products aren't the only offenders, either: Sweat, pollution, products, and dirty water can all cause build-up over time. 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. But if you start noticing build-up, a clarifying shampoo should 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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1
The Charcoal-Infused Product
On the Rocks Clarifying Charcoal Shampoo
Courtesy
DRYBAR nordstrom.com
$19.50

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

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2
The Flake-Free Formula
Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo
courtesy of brand
Sachajuan Dermstore
$29.00

Nourishing your scalp means clearing it of any congestion first. The salicylic acid in this formula helps to loosen any stubborn gunk, while wheat protein strengthens your hair follicles to promote healthy growth.  

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3
The Coconut-Infused Cleanser
OBLIVION Clarifying Shampoo
R+Co dermstore.com
$27.00

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. 

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4
The Residue Remover
Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo
Neutrogena amazon.com
$9.25
$6.79 (27% off)

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.

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5
The Once-A-Week Treatment
Sunday Clarifying Shampoo
Bumble and Bumble sephora.com
$27.00

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. 

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6
The Color-Safe Formula
Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo
Moroccanoil amazon.com
$26.00

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. 

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7
The Root-to-Tip Repair
Balancing Shampoo
courtesy of brand
Leonor Greyl Paris nordstrom.com
$47.00

Just because you're going to town on your scalp doesn't mean your ends should suffer. This Parisian gem will cleanse your scalp thoroughly, but will nourish the rest of your length, too. 

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8
The Shine Enhancer
Solu Shampoo
Courtesy of Davines
Davines amazon.com
$30.00

If you're a dry shampoo devotee, chances are your scalp is junked up with residue you just couldn't shake out. Enter this buckwheat extract-infused formula, which will break up that nasty layer of dust and add shine back to your strands.

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9
The French Drugstore Gem
Purifying Shampoo with Citrus Pulp
Klorane dermstore.com
$20.00

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.

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10
The Low-Porosity Pick
Clarifying Shampoo
PATTERN ulta.com
$20.00

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

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11
The Scalp-Treating Shampoo
Reset Clarifying Shampoo
Verb sephora.com
$13.50

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.

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12
The Co-Wash Clarifying Shampoo
Co-Wash
Miss Jessie's amazon.com
$8.00

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.

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13
The Everyday Shampoo
Curiously Clarifying Shampoo
Acure amazon.com
$9.99
$7.99 (20% off)

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. 

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14
The Mousse Formula
The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo
Oribe dermstore.com
$44.00

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.

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15
The Detoxifying Product
Detox Shampoo
OUAI sephora.com
$30.00

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. 

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16
The Dirty Hair Buster
Clarifying Detox Shampoo
Phyto dermstore.com
$19.00

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. 

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17
The Build-Up Warrior
Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo
Living Proof sephora.com
$29.00

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.

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18
The Gel Shampoo
Reset Scalp Clarifying Gel Shampoo
amika sephora.com
$25.00

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 people 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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