When I first started my healthy hair journey, there were so many unanswered questions. Seeing the experts toss around terms like clarifying shampoo and chelating shampoo was confusing. I am sure some of you can relate. Hopefully, I can clear up some confusion about these two shampoos.
Clarifying Shampoo vs. Chelating Shampoo
In short, clarifying and chelating are deeper cleansing methods for shampooing the hair to remove all traces of product buildup, minerals, hard water, chlorine, etc.
A clarifying shampoo removes dirt, oils and every day product buildup from the hair. Silicones, hair butters and waxy feeling hair are examples of product buildup removed by a clarifying shampoo.
Some healthy hair enthusiasts believe any clear, sulfate rich shampoo will act as a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup from the hair. While this may be true for some, it is not true for me. Sulfate shampoos only remove SOME traces of product buildup but NOT all. Therefore, a clarifying shampoo works better for removing ALL traces of product buildup from my hair.
A chelating shampoo removes minerals, hard water deposits, medicine and chlorine from the hair.
Uses for Clarifying Shampoo and Chelating Shampoo
Prep Hair Before Using New Product. Some use a clarifying shampoo before adding a new product to their hair regimen. This ensures the hair is ready to absorb the new product without any barriers.
Chemical Service. A clarifying shampoo is typically used the wash day before a chemical service to remove product buildup. Hair responds best when it is free of product. Therefore, using a clarifying shampoo before a chemical service improves your hair’s responsiveness to that service.
A chelating shampoo is often used the first wash day after a chemical service to remove minerals deposited to the hair. Removing minerals will allow the hair to perform better, break less and have better product absorption ability.
No Lye Relaxer. A chelating shampoo is designed to remove the calcium buildup that is deposited on the hair by no lye relaxers. Calcium deposits are known to cause dryness and breakage if the hair is not chelated periodically.
A chelating shampoo is not required for lye relaxers because lye relaxers do not deposit calcium on the hair. However, I used a chelating shampoo when relaxed as precaution.
Hard Water Deposits. A chelating shampoo is necessary if you live in a hard water area. It works to remove all hard water deposits from the hair. Although my shower water is filtered, chelating remains a necessary step to remove ALL impurities that my water filter does not filter out.
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Read the label to make sure it lifts product and minerals from the hair! Below is example verbiage taken for a product that clarifies and chelates the hair:
“Removes Chlorine and Impurities. Removes dulling build-up from hair. Strengthens strands and minimizes future build-up. Helps prevent swimmers’ ‘chlorine green.’ Deep cleansers help remove chlorine, iron, minerals and medication from hair.”
The reason I know it clarifies, it talks about removing product buildup from the hair. The reason I know it chelates, it talks about removing chlorine and minerals.
Clarify, Chelate or Both:
Both! However, you must decide which is best for your hair. I clarify and chelate every 4 weeks or as needed. Typically, my hair becomes extremely dry, brittle and uncooperative for no reason when it’s time to remove buildup. When staples stop working, this is a sure sign! This indicates my hair is full of product and incapable of accepting moisture. Other hair symptoms may include lifeless, dull, frizzy, coarse, rough, greasy, tangly, not holding curls, product residue on hair and scalp, etc.
Rather than purchasing a clarifying shampoo AND a chelating shampoo, I use a cleanser that does both. My hair loves Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo.* It gently clarifies and chelates my hair so I get a 2 in 1 benefit without needing two different shampoos. While Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo works to remove all forms of buildup, it does not overly strip my hair to where its dry, breaking, brittle and tangled like some harsh shampoos tend to do to my hair.
Related Article: Redken Cleansing Cream Review
Don’t Forget to Condition!
Clarifying and chelating creates a clean, fresh canvas which is awesome but don’t forget to deep condition to replenish moisture!
Related Article: Silk Elements Kera Minerals Smoothing Deep Conditioner Review
All hair types and textures can benefit from a clarifying shampoo, especially those of us that use all natural products that are filled with oils and butters. All hair should be taken back to a blank canvas periodically to ensure product buildup is not blocking moisture to the hair.
Some, however, can get by without chelating. My hair is relaxed with a lye based relaxer so calcium deposits are not so much of a concern. However, I live in a hard water area, thus clarifying and chelating is a must for my hair and it may be a must for your hair as well.