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Clarifying vs. Regular Shampoo: What Are The Differences?

All shampoos are the same. Right? They aren’t the same! The only similarity between clarifying and regular shampoos is that they clean your hair using surfactants and other ingredients. However, they have very different applications for treating your hair.

Regular shampoo is for people who do not require special treatment, whereas clarifying shampoo is best for people who regularly use different hair products.

So what are the differences? Let’s get down to the hairy clarifying shampoo vs. regular shampoo details!

Highlights

  • Clarifying shampoo provides a deep clean for the scalp, while regular shampoo provides a surface-level clean.
  • Regular shampoo maintains natural oils while clarifying shampoo strips them.
  • Clarifying shampoo should be left in the hair for 30 to 60 seconds. Regular shampoo should be left in for 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Use clarifying shampoo if you frequently use hair products. If not, use regular shampoo.
  • After using a clarifying shampoo, it’s recommended to use regular shampoo to restore moisture.
  • Use clarifying shampoo once a week. On the contrary, you can use regular shampoo 2-3 times a week.

Clarifying vs. Regular Shampoo: What Are The Differences?

Clarifying Shampoo vs. Regular Shampoo

Clarifying shampoo gives your scalp a deep clean, while regular shampoo provides a surface-level clean. A regular shampoo contains more conditioning agents for cleaning the hair’s surface, while clarifying shampoo has more surfactants that deeply clean the scalp.

Surfactants are cleansing agents inside shampoo responsible for cleaning your scalp. These chemical compounds lessen the tension on your hair during the application process.

Hence, these shampoos should comfortably neutralize the dirt and oils without much irritation, thanks to the surfactants.

Clarifying ShampooRegular Shampoo
Hair TypeDry hair or it may be curly or fine.Normal hair, or it may be dry or oily.
Cost$7 to $25$2 to $10
DurabilityLast up to 7 days. Made to be applied one or two times weekly.Lasts three days before you have to apply shampoo again.
Side EffectsIf you overuse clarifying shampoo, it can cause dry & dull hair, flyaways, frizziness.Washing your hair too often with regular shampoo can cause Natural or dyed color to fade, altered hair texture, dry scalp, split ends, dandruff accumulation, hair breakage.
IngredientsMore effective surfactants such as SLS, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium stearate, or ammonium laureth sulfate. Other surfactants may be bromides, cetyl-fatty alcohols, or chlorides.Two surfactants that surface clean your hair, a pH adjuster, conditioning ingredients, and usually water as a solvent.
Clarifying vs. Regular Shampoo

Regular Shampoo Maintains Natural Oils and Clarifying Shampoo Strips Them

Regular shampoo neutralizes sebum production on your scalp. Surfactants are cleansing agents inside shampoo responsible for cleaning your scalp. These chemical compounds lessen the tension on your hair during the application process.

Hence, these shampoos should comfortably neutralize the dirt and oils without much irritation, thanks to the surfactants. This type contains more conditioning abilities than the clarifying alternative.

A daily shampoo removes accumulated natural oils and dirt that surfaced since your last wash. However, it will not entirely remove the scalp’s natural oils. Regular shampoo treatments reassure you to keep your natural shine and hydration levels.

Because of clarifying shampoo’s deep cleaning properties, they can strip your hair of its natural oils rather than maintain them like the regular variety. This is why you should utilize clarifying shampoo on a limited basis versus regular shampoo.

Clarifying Shampoo Deep Cleans While Regular Shampoo Surface Cleans

Difference Between Clarifying Shampoo and Regular Shampoo

Clarifying shampoo’s job is to thoroughly clean your scalp. While it does not have as many conditioning ingredients as regular shampoo, it does not have more effective surfactants as the regular alternative.

Washing with regular shampoo gives you a surface-level clean, whereas a clarifying shampoo’s ingredients give you a deeper clean on your scalp and its hair follicles. The deeper clean is thanks to the more enterprising surfactants within a clarifying shampoo’s formula.

For example, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a type of anionic surfactant that helps to foam up as you apply the clarifying shampoo to your hair. It actively removes built-up dirt, oils, and extra hair flakes.

How Long To Let Clarifying and Regular Shampoo Set In Your Hair

Clarifying shampoo only needs to sit in your hair for 30 to 60 seconds, while you can have regular shampoo in your hair for as little as one minute and as long as three minutes. Follow the directions on the back of the shampoo bottle for the best results.

Some clarifying shampoos ask you to rinse out the product within two minutes or less. Other brands have you leave it in your hair for 10 to 15 minutes.

Depending on a clarifying shampoo brand’s ingredients, it may irritate your scalp upon application. In this case, rinse your hair thoroughly right away. Remember that clarifying shampoo can dry out your hair faster than regular shampoo.

When Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo?

when to use clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoo is best used if you repeatedly apply any type of hair product to your hair other than shampoo and conditioner. Perhaps you have a lot of natural buildups on your hair and want to get your hair colored.

A clarifying shampoo can remove that so the color can stick better to your hair. If you do not wash your hair once or twice a week but do so once or twice a month, a clarifying shampoo can remove that extra dirt and oil buildup on your hair before conditioning it.

Individuals enduring a scalp condition or regularly exercising daily could benefit from using a clarifying shampoo so that not much sweat, oil, and dirt create unsightly hair flakes on the scalp.

When Should You Use Regular Shampoo?

Use a regular shampoo if you normally do not utilize hair products constantly outside of just washing your hair. If you wash your hair once or twice a week without putting in hair dye, relaxers, hair wax, or hair mousse, then it’s best to use your favorite brand of regular shampoo.

Your hair may be dry. Perhaps you have a regularly itchy scalp. Using a regular shampoo can give it the moisturizing agents it needs to give you that relief from those dry and itchy symptoms.

Should You Use Regular Shampoo After Clarifying Shampoo?

Since clarifying shampoo causes dryness, it’s best to use regular shampoo to restore moisture. It is a nice balance using both shampoo types in conjunction with one another.

The clarifying shampoo acts to deep clean your hair, while the regular shampoo regulates and protects your hair’s natural oils while further cleaning the surface of your hair.

using clarifying shampoo for curly hair

If you have naturally curly hair or want to maintain a new curly hairdo, follow this hair care routine regularly:

  • Apply a clarifying shampoo based on the bottle’s instructions. Some ask you to remove it in a couple of minutes, while others ask you to remove it within a quarter of an hour.
  • Rinse the clarifying shampoo and apply a moisturizing regular shampoo. Let it set for at least three minutes.
  • Rinse the shampoo and apply the hydrating conditioner or hair mask. Let it set for at least five minutes before doing a thorough rinse.

So, What’s the Difference Between Clarifying Shampoo and Regular Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo offers a deeper clean to your hair, but it tends to remove natural oils that keep your hair healthy. Alternatively, regular shampoo maintains your standard sebum production while giving your hair a surface-level clean.

Regular shampoo is best for people who do not regularly use hair care products and wash their hair once a week while clarifying shampoo is best for those who regularly use hair products and may not wash their hair as often. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now you know when to choose a clarifying shampoo vs regular shampoo. Here are answers to some questions about incorporating clarifying or regular shampoo into your hair care routine. Learn the order to use the different hair care products and if any of them affect hair color.

Does clarifying shampoo remove hair color?

Clarifying shampoo cannot completely remove hair color. However, once-a-week applications can lighten the hair color over time.

How often should I use clarifying shampoo?

It’s best to use a clarifying shampoo once a week because the hard-hitting surfactants can irritate your hair more than the surfactants in regular shampoo.

Should I use conditioner after clarifying shampoo?

Yes. Clarifying shampoo tends to dry out hair even with regular use. Experts recommend applying conditioner after clarifying shampoo to prevent dryness and scalp irritation. 

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