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How To Use Clarifying Shampoo To Refresh & Revive Curls

How To Use Clarifying Shampoo To Refresh & Revive Curls

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Is there anything more joyful than a full crown of exquisite coils & curls? 

As hairstyles go, curls of all shapes & sizes are fun & flirty, capable of projecting charm, whimsy or a demure sense of the coquettish. There are very few hairstyles that can match the whimsy, vibrancy, & bounce of a healthy set of natural curls.

But if you have a crown of magnificent curls, you know they’re often subject to their own whims & desires. Depending on the products you use for styling, washing & conditioning, your curls might be vibrantly textured one day, dull & flat the next, & a frenzy of frizz the day after that.

When that happens, the best thing you can do to bring lusciousness back to your curls is to wash them with a curl cleansing shampoo. Although keeping your curls in exquisite condition is a process that involves many steps, knowing how to use a clarifying shampoo for curly hair & adding it to your hair care regimen will help nurture your curls so that they flourish & flounce.

What is Clarifying Shampoo for Hair?

Clarifying shampoo is a special-use shampoo that is specially formulated to give your hair a deeper clean than regular-use shampoos. 

The regular shampoo you typically use for washing natural hair is ideal for removing small amounts of regular dirt & grime from your natural hair that accumulate over the course of a few days or a week. But every now & then you need a deeper clean that reinvigorates your hair & refreshes your curls. That’s when you need a clarifying shampoo, like PATTERN’s Cleansing Shampoo

What sets clarifying shampoos apart from regular shampoos? For starters, they’re packed with cleansing ingredients that dwarf regular shampoos with their power & might. Those ingredients are called surfactants.1 Surfactants are soap-like substances like:

  • Cetyl-fatty alcohols
  • Chlorides
  • Bromides
  • Ammonium-sodium lauryl sulfate

They’re powerful cleaning agents that are tremendously effective at stripping your hair of build-up from impurities such as:

  • Dirt
  • Oils
  • Grease
  • Residue from hair products
  • Hard water minerals 

How Often Should You Use Clarifying Shampoo?

How often can you use clarifying shampoo is a good question to ask, considering the strength of their active ingredients. Surfactants are a solid choice for occasional deep cleanings, but they’re not a replacement for your regular shampoo.

That said, integrating the best clarifying shampoo into your routine is perfectly safe, so long as you don’t overdo it. In addition to your regular wash schedule, you can use clarifying shampoo two to three times a month. This will help keep your every hair strand soft & springy no matter what other products you’ve been using. 

You can also use clarifying shampoo as-needed. In fact, there are a number of occasions, events & circumstances which should always be followed up by a deep clarifying rinse. These include:

  • After swimming – Whether you’re splashing around in a pool or relaxing at the beach, washing with the best clarifying shampoo should always come after a swim.2 This will help remove harmful pool chemicals like chlorine as well as beach dirt & sand.
  • After coloring – If you’ve recently used a temporary hair color or wax, a clarifying shampoo is definitely in order. Colorants & waxes leave behind residue that can depress your curls & dampen your shine. 
  • After wearing certain styles – If you’re a fan of hairstyles that require the use of additional curly hair products, a clarifying shampoo could be your new best friend. Clarifying shampoo can help remove product build-up, leaving you with luscious & refreshed coils. 

  • How often to use clarifying shampoo also depends on your individual hair & lifestyle. If your hair is naturally greasier or prone to getting dirtier faster, you’re safe to clarify hair a bit more frequently.

    On the other hand, you might be wondering, how often should I use clarifying shampoo if my curls tend to run on the dry side? 

    A good rule of thumb is the more naturally dry your hair is, the less frequently you should clarify it, definitely no more than once every two or three weeks. Although excess oil should be avoided, a certain amount is necessary for proper hair health. 

    What Are The Benefits of Using a Clarifying Shampoo?

    Aside from pampering your curls with the deep clean they deserve, there’s a lot to gain from using a clarifying shampoo. So, what are the benefits of clarifying shampoo? In general, its deep-cleaning capabilities result in an all-around cleaner crown, which is the main goal. 

    But using a clarifying shampoo also comes with some additional perks, like: 

  • Healthier scalp – The surfactants in clarifying shampoo are your best bet for busting up oils & residues that can accumulate on your scalp. That sort of scalp build up can lead to dryness, itchiness, & even dandruff. Clarifying helps keep your scalp hydrated & healthy. 
  • Healthier curls – When your curls aren’t weighed down by heavy residue, they’re fuller, bouncier, & more buoyant.
  • Softer, shinier hair – Surfactants like chlorides & bromides help promote softer hair texture & an overall healthier shine.  

  • Are Clarifying Shampoos Safe to Use?

    As we mentioned above, clarifying shampoos are considered perfectly safe for curly hair when used in moderation, & even advisable for a deeper, healthier occasional clean.

    But as with most hair care products, improperly or overusing clarifying shampoo certainly poses certain risks. & there are other individual factors you should consider before using a clarifier. Here’s what to know: 

  • Do not overuse – Using a clarifying shampoo more than two or three times a month can extract essential moisture from your hair, leading to dryness, unintended frizziness, & even breakage. 
  • Be wary if you color your hair – If you’ve just spent a pretty penny having your hair colored to a hue you’ve always coveted, you should approach clarifying shampoo with caution. Surfactants can ruin or alter your hair color, so always choose a brand that’s color-safe.
  • Know your risk – If you have a history of dandruff, psoriasis, or other skin conditions, you shouldn’t trust any old clarifying shampoo. Look for a clarifier with ingredients that treat those conditions, like salicylic acid. 

  • How to Use Clarifying Shampoo 

    When you get down to it, you use clarifying shampoo just as you would any other shampoo and conditioner for curly hair. In fact, the look & feel of clarifying shampoo are barely distinguishable from regular shampoo, so you might forget you’re even using it—that is, until you see the end result.

    There are three steps to achieving a proper clarifying wash:

    Step 1: Lather

    Squeeze a small amount of the shampoo into your hands & begin working it into your hair. Begin at the scalp & work your way through your curls. If this is your first time clarifying to remove product buildup, the shampoo may not get as sudsy as you’re used to. This is nothing to worry about.

    Step 2: Rinse

    Once you’ve tackled your scalp & worked the shampoo through all of your curls, it’s time to rinse it. Rinsing thoroughly is massively important, so be diligent about this step. 

    Step 3: Condition

    Because of the strength of clarifying shampoos, you should always chase them with conditioner. Your regular conditioner is just fine, but you might also consider using an ultra-nourishing product like PATTERN’s Heavy Conditioner for truly luscious curls. While the conditioner works, run our Wide-Tooth Comb or Shower Brush gently through your curls to aid in detangling. 

    If you’re using a clarifying shampoo for the first time or you’re looking to clarify excessively dirty or oily hair, performing a double wash can be beneficial. After you’ve rinsed the initial wash, reapply the shampoo, or switch to our Hydration Shampoo for a lighter cleanse that will help lock in extra moisture. This time, let it sit in your hair for several minutes before thoroughly rinsing & conditioning.  

    @patternbeauty Discover more on our blog on patternbeauty.com ✨ #haircareblog #patternbeauty #washday ♬ original sound - PATTERN


    PATTERN Beauty, for Breathtakingly Beautiful Curls 

    Your curls are your crown, which means they ought to have all the shine & sparkle of royal jewels. Don’t get bogged down by buildup from products, hard water residue, or environmental factors like dirt & dust. 

    That’s why the right clarifying shampoo is imperative if you want perfect curls that steal the show every time. 

    At PATTERN Beauty, we believe that caring for your natural hair is an integral part of self-care. Our Clarifying Shampoo is infused with matcha green tea, aloe vera, & panthenol to help keep your hair strong & resilient, while essential oils like jasmine & sandalwood offer a softer texture & a clean, fresh scent. Plus, our formula is made especially with the curly hair type in mind so you know it’s safe for your curls. 

    No matter your hair care needs, PATTERN has the product for you, from intensive conditioners formulated with shea butter & olive oil that leave your hair hydrated & healthy to oils & serums that make your scalp a sacred space, check out our natural hair bundles to find the perfect combination for your hair type. 

    Ready to pamper your hair? Try PATTERN Beauty today! 


    1.  Cherney, Kristeen. "What Is Clarifying Shampoo?" Healthline. 8 March, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/clarifying-shampoo#benefits
    2. Sarai, Erika. "How to Clarify Curly Hair and a Huge Change it Makes." The Right Hairstyles. 1 May, 2021. https://therighthairstyles.com/how-to-clarify-curly-hair/ 
    3. Aarhus, Kendra et Block. "When and How to Use Clarifying Shampoo." Byrdie. 21 August, 2021. https://www.byrdie.com/what-is-clarifying-shampoo-3517767 
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    Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

    With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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