Clarifying is one of the biggest differences between my Curl Maven Method, and Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Method. So here’s why and when you should clarify your hair, with product recommendations too.
Most of the issues people experience with their hair products, routine and results is simply because they’re not clarifying correctly, often enough or worse still – at all! If you’re not sure if you should be clarifying, read this post on 35 Signs You Need To Clarify Your Hair.
So in this post, you’ll find out what a proper clarifying shampoo does. The key ingredient to look out for to effectively remove metal and mineral deposits from your hair. Why it’s important, when and how often you should clarify your hair and the best product recommendations.
If you avoid sulfates because you’ve got coloured or highlighted hair. Or you’re a strict follower of the curly girl method, clarifying is the game-changer you’re missing from your routine!
If your hair is dry, dull and frizzy, limp, lifeless and lacking definition. Unable to soak up hair products no matter how much you use, or how long you leave them in. This post will change everything!
Why You Should Clarify Your Hair
Clarifying shampoos are one of the most misunderstood hair products! They have a bad reputation for drying out the hair because they contain sulfates and don’t have many emollients or moisturising ingredients.
But that’s what you want in a product that’s designed to deep clean your hair! You just need to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask to restore the loss of moisture.
The whole reason why you should clarify your hair is to give it a deep clean and detox. So your hair can absorb all the other products you use, such as conditioners, hair masks and styling products. Resulting in better shine and hydration, retention of moisture and reduction in frizz.
Another huge reason why you should clarify your hair, is scalp issues and hair growth. Healthy hair (that grows) starts with a healthy scalp.
So many scalp issues are caused from not clarifying using the right product, or often enough. Which not only leads to dry, itchy, irritated scalps. Greasy, oily scalps or flaky dandruff, but also prevents healthy hair growth and shine.
What is a Clarifying Shampoo?
Think of a clarifying shampoo like a reset or refresh button for your hair. It’s a way to wipe the slate clean, and start over with a clean canvas.
Clarifying shampoos deeply cleanse and detox the hair and scalp by removing stubborn dirt, grease, oil, product build up and metal and mineral deposits.
It doesn’t matter what hair type, colour, density, pattern, texture or length – you need to clarify your hair! But it’s especially important if you live in a hard water area, or swim regularly.
If you have grey, coloured or highlighted hair rr if your hair that is dull, dry, frizzy, unable to soak up or absorb hydration and moisture.
Knowing why and when you should clarify your hair – and using the right product – will help remove all of the build up and deposits from the hair.
Not all clarifying shampoos are chelating. You need a chelating shampoo to remove metal and mineral deposits, such as chlorine, limescale and colour build up.
Clarifying vs Chelating
When I use the term “clarifying shampoo” I’m referring to a proper chelating, clarifying shampoo. Clarifying is just easier to say than chelating (pronounced key-lating). And it makes more sense to say you’re clarifying your hair, than chelating it.
Clarifying shampoo is like regular shampoo on steroids. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it contains sulfates or is drying on the hair. Bounce Curl Gentle Clarifying Shampoo is a perfect example of this. It’s sulfate-free, colour-safe, gentle enough for regular use and doesn’t dry out the hair.
Chelating shampoo is like a turbo-boosted clarifying shampoo on steroids – and does contain sulfates! As well as other key ingredients required to effectively remove metal and mineral deposits on the hair that clarifying shampoos don’t! I’ll list product recommendations further in the post, but those key, chelating ingredients are:
- Disodium EDTA
- Tetrasodium EDTA
- Sodium Citrate / Trisodium Citrate
When Should You Clarify Your Hair?
I recommend clarifying your hair with a proper chelating shampoo once/month – which is suitable for most hair types. If you live in relatively soft water, you can stretch that out to once every six weeks.
If you swim regularly, I recommend reading my Summer Haircare post. Where I give recommendations on how often you should clarify, depending on how often you swim. And how to minimise the drying effects regular swimming – and clarifying – can have on the hair.
If you haven’t clarified before or it’s been a long time since you did. Your hair is over-moisturised or you’re starting a new hair routine. If you’re just starting out with curly girl friendly hair products. Or you’ve been using products which contain silicones, waxes, rich emollients, moisturising ingredients, oils and butters.
You may need to clarify more than once to fully remove all of that build up from your hair. For example, use a clarifying shampoo for 2-3 washdays in a row. Then switch to your regular shampoo and clarify once/month going forward.
Should I Clarify if I Have Coloured or Highlighted Hair?
The short answer is yes, absolutely! Chelating shampoos are the only thing that will remove metal and mineral deposits from the hair. It’s these metal and mineral deposits that cause the grey, coloured and highlighted hair to look green or brassy, yellow, orange or copper.
The whole reason people apply toners, or use blue and purple shampoos between colour appointments is because of those metal and mineral deposits on the hair.
When what you actually need to do is remove the deposits from the hair, that’s causing that colour build up in the first place. And you do that by using a chelating clarifying shampoo.
Recommended Reading: Understanding Hair Products and How to Maintain Healthy Hair When Colouring
And here’s the other thing: blue and purple shampoos can build up on the hair too! All that build up leads to damage, breakage, uneven colour application and banding.
Due to the strong cleansing agents in the ingredients, chelating shampoos are labelled as not colour safe. They will cause your colour to fade if you use them too often.
However, that doesn’t apply to how I recommend you use them in the content on this website, and the advice I give in Curl Clinics.
They will brighten grey or highlighted hair, but fade darker coloured, dyed hair. It won’t fade naturally dark hair, just add shine.
Top Tip: always clarify before your colour appointment so the colour adheres to the hair better, applies evenly, is more vibrant and lasts longer.
If you have coloured or highlighted hair, here’s some good indications of how often you need to clarify. How often you get your colour done, how often you find yourself booking an appointment to get a toner applied. And/or how often you notice a brass/copper hue to your hair and reach for your blue or purple shampoo.
I’d still recommend clarifying once/month, and on the washday before you colour your hair. This is perfect if you only colour your hair a few times a year, or once every eight weeks. If you get your roots or colour done every six weeks, I’d recommend clarifying once every three weeks.
Clarifying Shampoos that are sulfate-free, colour-safe, non-drying and suitable for regular use:
- Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo – CURLMAVEN for 10% off the US site, Curl Warehouse in Canada, The Clean Beauty Edit in Ireland/EU (who ship worldwide) and Kiyo Beauty in the UK (who ship worldwide)
- MopTop Detox Shampoo – CURLMAVEN for 10% off, only available in the USA. Available in Canada if you shop through Amazon US.
- Act + Acre Hair Cleanse – CURLMAVEN for 20% off your first order
Chelating shampoos which contain sulfates, the necessary chelating ingredients, and not suitable for regular use, but suitable for monthly clarifying:
- Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo – CURLMAVEN for 20% off at LOOKFANTASTIC. My favourite, most loved, used and repurchased. It’s also available at Sephora and ULTA in the US, Amazon, ASOS and Beauty Bay (worldwide), Boots (UK and Ireland) and Mecca Beauty (AU & NZ)
- Ouai Detox Shampoo – CURLMAVEN for 20% off at LOOKFANTASTIC, very similar to BB Sunday Shampoo
- Sallys Ion Hard Water Shampoo – only available in the USA, budget-friendly and the least drying
- Malibu C Hard Water Shampoo
- Malibu C Undo Goo
There are natural alternatives to the harsher chelating ingredients. But in my opinion, through research and personal experience, as well as recommendations in Curl Clinics. They just aren’t as effective at removing metal and mineral deposits as EDTA ingredients.
However, if you want something stronger than a gentle clarifying shampoo, but not as drying (or effective) as a chelating shampoo. Then I recommend using a natural alternative, but no more than once a week or every two weeks.
ACV (apple cider vinegar), phytic acid and charcoal are a little less drying than a chelating shampoo, but not nearly as effective. Bentonite clay and baking soda are also natural chelating ingredients, but I find them very drying on my hair.
I had a really bad experience with baking soda a few years ago and caused so much damage to my hair, I had to cut 8-10 inches off! So if you’re going to use a natural alternative, I always recommend using a (tried, tested and safe) product. Here are some great options:
Natural Chelating Shampoos & Hair Masks:
- Innersense Detox Hair Mask – CURLMAVEN for 15% off and 10% off at Curl Warehouse in Canada, The Clean Beauty Edit in Ireland/EU and Kiyo Beauty in the UK – contains charcoal and vinegar
- Briogeo Scalp Revival Shampoo – available at Sephora, or Cult Beauty in the UK/Worldwide – contains charcoal
- Bounce Curl Hair Detox Mask – CURLMAVEN for 10% off at Bounce Curl, Curl Warehouse in Canada and Kiyo Beauty in the UK (who ship worldwide) – contains charcoal and ACV
- Flora & Curl Clay Wash – CURLMAVEN for 20% off – contains bentonite and rhassoul clay
- Kinky Curly Come Clean – contains phytic acid
- AG Hair Balance Shampoo – contains ACV
Was this post helpful? Did you know you should clarify your hair? Have you been using the right products and clarifying as regularly as you should? Comment below what your “ah-ha” moments were. Definitely check out my post on the 35 Signs You Need To Clarify Your Hair.
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Thank for this article. Very helpful. I wanted to use baking soda but after reading this I won’t !
This is very helpful! I live in a hard water area and information about chelating shampoo…so good! I was thinking about to shop some products from Naturalistic…so I will use your links! Thank you so much!
Hello! This entire blog is helping me to build a new strategy for my hair! …anyway, I have recently moved to a hard water area. I was thinking about buying a chelating shampoo but I have coloured hair. Would it be still fine? I cannot decide which one is better to buy.
Hi Nadia, hard water is my arch enemy! I’m not aware of any chelating shampoos that are “colour safe” but they won’t strip the hair of colour, they may just fade it a little over time. But you only need to wash with a chelating shampoo every 4 – 6 weeks so it should be fine. Many of the “regular” shampoos we all used before discovering the curly girl method were chelating ones. So I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Hope that helps xoxo
I found one! Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo. You can use it as a general clarifying shampoo or leave it on longer to get the chelating benefits. It also comes with a little testing strip to test whether if you really do have hard water…no sense in going hard core with the shampoo if you don’t need to.
I am looking for a more budget friendly option for a chelating shampoo.
I found one at Sally’s called “hard water shampoo” – would that be a good option to remove product buildup AND hard water buildup? This is the list of ingredients:
WATER ,SODIUM C14-16 OLEFIN SULFONATE ,COCAMIDE DIPA ,SODIUM CHLORIDE ,BUTYLENE GLYCOL ,COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE ,GLYCERIN ,PHENOXYETHANOL ,DISODIUM LAURETH SULFOSUCCINATE ,DISODIUM EDTA ,FRAGRANCE ,SODIUM LAURYL SULFOACETATE ,SODIUM GLUCONATE ,PEG-120 METHYL GLUCOSE DIOLEATE ,POTASSIUM SORBATE ,PANTHENOL ,CITRIC ACID ,POLYQUATERNIUM-10 ,GLUCOSE ,LINUM USITATISSIMUM (LINSEED) SEED EXTRA ,BENZOIC ACID ,ASCORBIC ACID ,BLUE 1 ,BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL ,HEXYL CINNAMAL ,LIMONENE ,LINALOOL
That particular shampoo is only available in the States as far as I’m aware, but it’s the one a few of my curl friends use and they say it’s amazing. It’s not a CG-friendly shampoo, but okay for occasional use if you live in a hard water area, or swim often and need to clarify. Hope that helps xoxo
I was just wondering what the difference is between your final wash shampoo and the clarifying shampoo…can they be the same shampoo?
Hiya! Yes, they can be the same shampoo. There’s a debate that you don’t need to do a final wash, nor do you need to clarify, but I know personally I find both to be helpful for my curls. But yes, they can be the same shampoo. x
Hi Gabriella! Can I use a regular SLS shampoo as a clarifying shampoo? Or does it have to be labelled as a “clarifying shampoo”? Thanks for a great blog!!
Hi Sofia (that’s my middle name btw), a regular SLS shampoo will suffice as a clarifying shampoo only if you don’t live in a hard water area or swim in a pool or the sea. Otherwise you need a clarifying shampoo that contains an ingreident called Disodium EDTA. Hope that helps x
Thank you, I’ve been trying to find an answer to this for ages!! I have soft water in my area so my pre-cg silicone free sulfate laden shampoo should be enough! Yay! That’s cool your middle name is Sofia! Is it from your Italian side? I’m Swedish and it’s a common name here. 🙂
Adriana Flanary says
I just read most of your posts tonight and I found them very helpful. Thank you for writing about curly hair. Lots of information to take in so just to start somewhere because my hair is long and curly but all the curls are getting weighed down. What shampoo do you use every day, the co-wash shampoo that you recommend in this post? The Baby Johnson is a chelating shampoo or can I use it every time I wash my hair as a final wash? Thank you!
Hi Adriana, the length of your hair could be what’s weighing it down. I suggest at least a trim and some layers added, if not taking a few inches off. That will help it to spring up and give it more shape and definition. Do NOT use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo every wash, most certainly not. It is only for the final wash, and if you live in an area that has hard water aka mineral deposits. If you do, only use it once every 4 – 6 weeks and always follow with a deep condition, as per the advice in this post. I tend to use non-lathering cleansers such as the As I Am Co Wash, Deva Curl No Poo etc. Hope that helps xoxo
Hi Gabriella, have read lots of your posts tonight as I am trying to learn about the CGM… I am a bit cofused about ‘ the final shampoo’ could you explain this please ?
the final shampoo is a clarifying shampoo using sulfates to remove silicones, hard water, metals and mineral deposits from the hair, as well as rich, heavy emollients, oils and butters that are in many conditioners and styling products. Think of it as wiping the slate clean, cleaning the canvas so you can start afresh.
I’m looking for advice about what I should clarify with. I am totally the person in your post who has been trying to treat my hair with more and more protein. I use Shea Moisture and Cantu. I’ve also gone swimming a few times and my hair has gone limp and straight. I don’t have hard water.
Is the Carina Organics shampoo going to be enough to clarify with? (Ingredients listed below) or will Johnson baby shampoo be a better choice? Suggestions?
Filtered Aqua, Potassium Cocoate (saponified Cocos nucifera / coconut oil), Glycerin (vegetable), Pinus banksiana (pine) extract, Magnesium Chloride (Magnesium Oil), Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile) flower extract, Urtica dioca (nettle) leaf extract, Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) leaf extract, Trifolium pratense (clover) flower extract, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Oil, Pyrus malus (green apple) extract, Ananas sativus (pineapple) extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil.
Hi Rochelle, treating your hair with protein isn’t a bad thing. My hair loves protein and needs lots of it. Shea Moisture and Cantu aren’t brands I would recommend using, they contain a lot of cheap and low quality heavy oils and butters that weigh the hair down and cause damage. The ingredients you’ve included (for the Carina Organics shampoo, I’m presuming) is not suitable for clarifying as there are no clarifying ingredients in it. I’ve made some suggestions in this post on clarifying, but for me the Bounce Curl Clarifing Shampoo (use code CURLYCAILIN10 for $$ off) and Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo are my favourites for clarifying.
Hello! I was wondering if I can use rassoul clay as a clarifying mask/wash once a month? I cowash twice or so a week and I use a sulfates free shampoo once a week.
I’m not aware of rhassoul clay for the hair, so I’m not sure to be honest. Sorry.
Donna Hynes says
Hey Gabriella, My hair looks very similar to yours and I am using the devacurl low poo and conditioner, volumizing gel and ultra deining gel.
I need to dye my hair just roots every three weeks as I have a lot of grey but it grows fast. Not interested in going completely grey yet. Wondering if this would be a good monthly routine:
Week 1. Low poo, Deep condition (sun)
* Few days before dying clarifying shampoo & deep condition (wed)
Week 3. Dye hair &
* Deep condition (sun)
Week 4: low poo & Protien treatment (sun).
Im have been doing cg dor a while but looing to be a little more strict and would appreciate your input.
Hi Donna, you need to colour your hair with the least amount of damage as possible. So I suggest you ask your colourist to use Olaplex during the colouring process, and take home a bottle of Olaplex No. 3 for after care home use, as this really helps to keep the hair in healthy shape after colouring. Deep conditioning is a must! So deep condition every week, alternating between the Olaplex, and a protein/moisture DC depending on how your hair feels and what it needs. Apart from Olaplex, bring your own CG products to the salon for them to use, to minimise the use of sulfates and silicones. And make sure you’re using a clarfying shampoo that won’t strip the colour from your hair. Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo is my favourite, as their shampoo’s are colour-safe, and I have a 10% discount code, CURLYCAILIN10. Hope all of that helps. xoxo
Eva C. says
Hiya Gabrielle! I swim once a week with my dive squad, I wouldn’t spend that much time in the pool because I would mostly be up on the boards, but I still would be in the pool enough for the chlorine to actually get into my hair. So would I use a chelating shampoo or clarifying shampoo? I currently use the Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo, but I’ve only used it twice cause I just started the CG Method like 3 weeks ago.
Wow that sounds like so much fun! I’m always too much of a chicken to go up on those diving boards! The Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo should be fine to keep the harsh effects of the chlorine from damaging your hair. Just make sure you do lots of regular deep conditioning. xoxo
I have type 3 long curly hair that is highlighted every 10 weeks. I have just started my curly journey but my biggest problem is my job!!! I work as a nurse so my hair has to be tied up for up to 10 hours a day and the atmosphere is generally warm and humid so by the end of the day, frizz is a huge problem. What can I do to help my poor hair and the best way to keep it up? Thanks
Hi Tracey, well firstly thank you for all you do! I think nurses are the unsung heroes of healthcare! Okay, so. If you could put it up in a pineapple, as loose as possible, while still keeping it up out of your face that will help. Try not to put it in the exact same position every day, so you don’t damage the hair from hair ties etc. Then regularly deep condition your hair every week, preferably with a heat cap for maximum benefits. I know that it’s super warm in hospitals, but to avoid frizz, make sure you’re using styling products, maybe try ones that don’t have glycerin in them. Hope that helps xoxo
Yes it does thankyou. My first purchase has been a microfibres hair wrap, no more towels for my hair! Unfortunately as I live in the UK, we don’t have access to a number of products you recommend but have just clarified for the first time ever and followed up with an intense conditioner. Glad to report the frizz has gone down by half already, thanks for all the tips and your fab webpage xx
Hi Tracey, I’m in Ireland, all the products I mentioned in this post are available in the post, if you click on the highlighted products, it’ll take you to the websites where I buy the in the UK/EU and Ireland. The only American brands we can’t get in the UK are MopTop, AG Hair and Not Your Mother’s Naturals. Hope that helps xoxo
My curly girl journey has begun!! Thanks for all the tips, probably read too much and got a little confused, us nurses can’t help but research to the maximum. I clarified using trees me deep cleansing shampoo and deep moisturising conditioner followed by Pantene intense mask and then used my ever faithful Pantene defining mousse. I wish I could upload my photos to show the difference in just one procedure. I am now moving onto Gianni sulphate free shampoo and curl booster conditioner (3 for 2 in boots at the mo). The hardest thing is not to touch and play with it as it feels so soft but aware my dreaded frizz will return if I do xx
Yes, it’s so hard not to touch it when it looks and feels amazing. I’m not entirely sure the products you’ve mentioned are curly girl friendly though, so you may need to double check them. xoxo
Kate Welling says
You said we should clarify our hair if our hair feels weighed down. This is how my hair feels currently. I’m going to look for a hair salon to help me with this.
You can go to a salon for help, but it’s not necessary. Just make sure they don’t use products that have silicones in them.
I’m just starting my journey and I’m not sure if I need to do a final wash as I have been “No poo” for about two years, only using Trader Joe’s Tea Tree shampoo (no sulfates). Would this work as a clarifying shampoo? I just ordered the As I Am to co-wash, but I’m wondering if I can continue using the Tea Tree as my clarifying or if I should try the Sunday Shampoo.
Or do I use the tea tree a couple times a week, and use the Sunday once a month? I’m a little confused between clarifying and regular washing. How often do you use the Sunday Shampoo, and do you co wash every time you wet your hair?
I have this same question!! A bit confused…
Hello Gabriella, I wish to ask for your help. I recently bought a supposedly natural conditioner for colour treated hair, that passed the “isitcg.com” test. I co-wash with it. However as I read your post I went back to the ingredients and found Disodium EDTA. Does it sound ok that a conditioner for colour treated hair should have this? Should I stop using it? (I’m from Argentina and there aren’t a lot of natural products yet, so I am still trying to find what’s right for me). Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.
Hello again, may I ask if you think this shampoo would be good for clarifying? (the one you recommend is not sold in Argentina, and the link provided says it is out of stock)
water, Salvia officinalis leaf extract, sodium laureth sulfate, cocoamidopropyl betaine, coco-glucoside (and) glyceryl oleate, decyl-glucoside, Aloe barbadensis leaf extract, PEG-8 cocoate, Melaleuca alternifolia leaf essential oil, bencyl alcohol, sodium chloride, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, potassium sorbate, citric acid, limonene (*), linalool (*). (*) from pure essential oils.
Okay, so let me tell you something.
I moved to a new town with hard water and my hair began falling out, my scalp became itchy with clumps of flakes stuck to it, and I ended up cutting my hair (and keeping it around shoulder length).
I came up with my own version of the curly girl PHILOSOPHY: NO heat, NO tight hair-dos, NO over-washing, ONLY brushed with a wide tooth comb AND I ended up switching to an Amazon based “all natural, sulphate free” shampoo. I never came across clarifying/chelating shampoos. I had no clue about moisture and protein. I wasn’t guided in this and it was just what I felt might work. But what I did actually did work – the scalp problem and hair loss went away and I was left with dull, lifeless hair but heck, it was better than it falling out and needing to itch my scalp all day! I left all alone for a long time.
Years later, at 4 months PPT, I began losing my hair all over again. It had grown long and thick throughout my pregnancy.
I’m now almost 8 months PPT. The symptoms from years ago are back but worse: my entire head of hair has split ends all the way up to the roots! It looks just like I let a hair dresser take a razor blade all over it because the breakage is so bad. I have near bald spots from the hair loss when I put my hair up that I have to hide it by styling my hair over the spots of hair loss. My hair is so stringy, it looks like I have random pieces of thread in the ends of my pony tails. The natural highlights from my dirty blonde hair are completely faded and my hair color is 100% brown. Not to mention, my scalp: months of burning, itching, and hard flakes. and I tried everything: All the T-Gels, 4 different “all natural, sulphate free” AMAZON store brands shampoos and conditioners, and nothing.
For some reason, YouTube recommended a curly hair video and that led me on a rabbit hole to where I found your blog.
Hair porosity? Hair type? Clarifying and Chelating shampoos? Dehyrdated skin? If I had just grabbed Bumble’s clarifying shampoo right when I made that move years ago, my hair and scalp wouldn’t have suffered. Now I know that my hair is a 2a-2b type and that I have high porosity hair (I have Irish/Polish/German/English blood). Which makes me realize one thing that I’ve I’ve tried hard to avoid but I desperately needed: moisture. It’s okay to moisturize your hair just like it’s okay to moisturize your face! And yes, all natural sulphate free shampoos are great but they NEED TO HAVE OTHER INGREDIENTS THAT HELP WITH MOISTURE and PROTEIN. ALL of this I’ve never heard in any video or article or blog post that I’ve been searching through for years which would have prevented so much damage to my hair, so much embarrassment, so much headache…
Anyhow, yesterday was my first deep cleanse of my hair. Today is the hair cut. I am hoping this is the revolution that I’ve been searching for for so long. I have suffered long enough.
Oh Wow, Chay, you’ve really been through it. I’m so sorry, but so glad that you’ve found so much help and more importantly hope, in my content. Thanks for taking the time to read, comment and share your story. x
Love your website! I’ve been on my CG journey for about 1 1/2 years but still feel I have so much to learn. Lately, my hair has been limp and going straighter and I ended up at your blog. So helpful! I’ve figured out that I need a no protein conditioner (I have one on order that you suggested) and to wash with a clarifying shampoo. I washed with Johnson’s baby shampoo since I could get that easily and I noticed a positive improvement. I’m interested in the Sunday Shampoo. Elsewhere in one of your comments you mentioned that it isn’t CG friendly. Should I use it anyway every 4 – weeks since it does such a great job. Should I use a sulfate shampoo to remove anything that it left behind or is that not necessary? and then wash with my usual stuff on subsequent wash days?
Hi Linda, if your hair is going limp and losing it’s curl definition (going straighter) that sounds to me like you need to clarify (which you’e done) but that you also need protein, which is contrary to what you’ve said. Curls need protein aka strength, to hold their curl pattern and shape, without it, curls fall limp and lack definition – which is what you described. To answer your other question, no – the Sunday Shampoo, and Johnson Baby Shampoo are not CG Friendly as they contain sulfates, however, used every 4 – 6 weeks I think they are a necessary must for curly hair to rid it of various build up from products, ingredients and hard water – all of which weigh the hair down and cause frizz. On the other wash days, you can use a co-wash or lo poo, whichever you prefer. x
Lexi Bounds says
Just stumbled across your blog and honestly loving it so much! A lot of the products you recommend are also available online in australia which is great! This isn’t related to clarifying, but how do you know when you need protein? I have a very similar hair type (mix of 2c and 3a curls) and i’m not sure if i need protein or not? I have very soft hair that doesn’t hold a curl very well on it’s own and was wondering if that was due to lack of protein?
Hi Lexi, thanks so much! And great to hear so many of my product recommendations are available where you live! I actually have a post on protein and moisture and how to tell what your hair needs, or if it’s got too much of each etc. Here’s the link, you should find all the answers to your questions and queries there: https://curlmaven.ie/protein-moisture-balance/
Can I use Paul Mitchell Shampoo 3 as a clarifying shampoo? I use it on my children’s blonde hair when it turns green from the pool.
I’m not familiar with that product range I’m afraid. You’d have to look up the ingredients and check.
Raylene Lacaman says
Hi! i am very new to CG method, and i’m looking into it more for my daughter who is 4. She also has cradle cap and I can’t seem to find any research or recommendations for curlies! any ideas? Will clarifying help?
Hi. My daughter who has curly hair also used to suffer with cradle cap when she was a baby. I found gently rubbing olive oil into her scalp each morning, and then shampooing it out that night in the bath always helped and got rid of it. As she’s only 4, you only need a shampoo and conditioner for her curls at this age, and just leave some conditioner in and let it air dry naturally.
Hi! I am new to CG and purchased a few products to help along the way after reading your blog. I purchased the Johnson’s baby shampoo to start as my final wash (and to also hold onto since I live in hard water areas and go swimming often), however I noticed that the baby shampoo’s ingredients have changed. I checked online and it seems CG approved because there are no sulfates, however it still contains Disodium EDTA, does this mean it is still chelating?
I have also purchased Kinky Curly Come Clean to clarify my hair about every 3 weeks. Just to confirm- this is a clarifying shampoo and not a chelating shampoo? Since I live in a hard water area, should I rotate between clarifying and chelating? Or only stick to one?
Hi Shelly, this is why I prefer to recommend and use the Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo, because all formulations and ingredients are the same with that product. Whereas the Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo varies for no reason. You don’t need to do the Baby Shampoo AND the Kinky Curly Come Clean. That is a natural chelating shampoo, as it contains phytic acid as explained in the post. However, I don’t feel like it’s as effective as the B&B Sunday Shampoo. You only need to clarify once a month with a chelating shampoo. You don’t need to double up or alternate etc. However, if you swim often, then you’ll need to use the clarifying/chelating shampoo more often too. Ideally once a fortnight, but certainly no more than once a week.
Hello. Thanks so much for all the information.
I’m going to purchase the B&B Sunday Shampoo because I live in a hard water area and also swim once/twice a week, but I’m a little confused about when to use it. Would this need to be every wash day, or is that too much? I use low poo at the moment for every wash (every 3-4 days) because I have fine, wavy hair that’s easily weighed down at the roots (although having read your website I might try to mix this routine up a bit and occasionally do a protein treatment and use the As I Am co-wash – that stuff is recommended by everyone!).
Also, if the B&B can be used for every wash day, will I still need to clarify once a month? (At the moment I clarify about once a month with a Tresemme shampoo which was recommended as a cheap option for on a UK curly girls forum, it works well imo.)
Thanks a lot for any guidance you can offer 🙂
Absolutely not for the B&B every wash day. At the very most use it once a week! And make sure you’re using a really good quality conditioner afterwards. The B&B Sunday Shampoo is a chelating, clarifying shampoo, you don’t need the Tresemme one as well.
Hi Gabrielle, I live in a hard water area and use a low-poo that has Disodium EDTA as the final ingredient. Does this mean I don’t need to do a “big” chelating wash every month (or at all)? Thanks.
Hi Polina, if it also contains sulfates, then yes.
Sonya Rose says
I’ve been doing CGM for just over 2 years. All was going well. During Covid I’ve decided to embrace my natural salt and pepper grey.
On Saturday I had foils put into my hair, going from blonde highlights to ‘silver’. I was told to use a purple shampoo to help with the toners.
I purchased what I thought was okay. Amika Bust Your Brass shampoo. Purple shampoo. I’ve obviously not used shampoos for two years +. But thought I need the purple.
I’ve washed with it once. Now see it has dimethicone in it. I KNOW!.
My hairs dry and lost its curl. Could be part the foils as well. My questions are: is it worth me going back to the beginning… Johnson baby shampoo.
Will it strip my new silver foils and toner.
AND PLEASE… what’s a good CGM purple shampoo that works. My silvers already faded back to blonde after one wash.
Hi Sonya, most likely it was the foils that did the damage rather than the shampoo, however silicones aren’t good for the hair so that won’t be helping matters either. Personally I don’t think the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is efficient, I’d recommend getting the Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo to clarify your hair, and do that monthly. That will also help against your hair turning brassy or copper-like. Lorraine Massey’s own brand of products has a CG friendly purple shampoo, called with or without hue – maybe check that out. But I’ve not used it before.
Thank you for a very informative and helpful article. While I was searching for an answer of how to deal with the product build up, I have researched lots of articles. My first language is Russian and I have also looked at some of the Russian language sources. And so I came across the post on one of the Russian websites dedicated to curl talk that made me feel like I have definitely read it somewhere and realised that article uses your material word to word – literally 80% of your post translated without every mentioning the original source. I understand how much time and effort such work involves and find it disrespectful, especially in curly community, where so many women share their journey and experience and support each other . I have left a comment on that page asking them to quote the original source, but it was deleted shortly after. Here is the link if this information is of any use to you: http://curlygirl.ru/gluboko-ochishhat-volosy/
Liza, thank you so so so much for this! Unfortunately this isn’t the first time this has happened, someone in India did the same thing to my entire website and every single blog post and it’s soul-destroying! They refused to take it down and in the end I got Google to remove the site. It’s disappointing that they deleted your comment questioning their source, but I’ve got my manager onto it and if they don’t remove the content I’ll go down the same route of requesting Google to shut it down too. Thank you so so much once again! You’re so kind, thoughtful and considerate. I hope you have a wonderful day and a blessed week! Gabriella x
Thank you so much for the content you’ve created, I really appreciate what a comprehensive take you have on CG care! Your advice and recommendations have been working very well for me so far. However, I live in NYC and am not aware of having any hard water issues in my building, but the Bounce Curls clarifying shampoo doesn’t seem to be working well for me. I discontinued using DevaCurl products over the past few months and the last time I used their micellar water cleansing serum my hair seemed to VERY happy about it. However, I now know that it was causing me to have excessive and unnecessary hair loss (luckily nothing too drastic!) and am not interested in continuing to use their products. Do you have any recommendations for other clarifying shampoos which are CG friendly? I am only washing my hair a maximum of 3 times a week at this point, so I’m not sure whether it would be worthwhile to try using it 2x/week.
Hi Melissa, from what I understand, NYC has really hard water. So you would need to use a chelating, clarifying shampoo once a month, such as the Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo. And then you can use the Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo as your regular cleanser/shampoo that you use 2/3 times/week.
Big thank you! Your blog is a wealth of info that helped me make sense of my curly journey. Everything is clear and explains a lot of missing pieces to make routines work! Your last blog post on the CG journey 3 years in is a welcome relief. It’s hard to find balanced opinions in the curly community!
I’ve got 3a/b low porosity curls like yourself and live in an area with hard water too.
It seemed like a lot of CG just didn’t make sense (my hair was better with chelating shampoo and rotating protein treatment with deep conditioning instead of the moisture laden advice for low porosity).
To the point I gave up, chopped it to a pixie and blowdryed to not have the Russian roullete of “how will my hair look today”.
Now that I’m growing my hair out I’ve got myself in a bad situation so got a few questions for you:
How do you fix weighed down moisture overload hair thats to the point of it falling out?
Should I clarify/chelate a few times first then worry about protein or slowly chelate/clarify while doing protein treatments between?
For some background when I put down the blowdryer and decided to slowly transition to CG, I used protein to build it then switched to moisture products when that got too dry. I also cut back on shampooing. My conditioner I never gave up although it has silicones and looks like it’s meant for 4a hair (that’s going out the door now!). The kicker that got me here is when I actually tried doing more cowashing in the hopes of getting rid of the build up without reaching for the chelating shampoo more often. So now any low porosity fine 3b strands are falling and you can start see my scalp in those areas
Hi Clara, if you’ve got severe over moisturized hair, possibly hygral fatigue by the sounds of it, you will need to do weekly protein treatments. You can clarify your hair using a chelating shampoo more often than once a month to bring down the moisture levels. But I suggest booking in for a 1:1 Curl Clinic. They’re a 30 min consultation via video where we go through all the products you’re using and the issues you’re experiencing. I then put together a routine and recommend products to suit your hair’s needs, your budget and any other requirements you have. If that’s something you’re interested in, please fill out this form, and I’ll get back to you via email with all of the details. http://www.curlycailin.ie/contact
rojda akdag says
I live in Sweden, from what I understand it’s not an hard water area, so I guess I only need a clarifying shampoo, is Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo enough and what can I moistures with, what kind of deep conditioning treatment? And also, how do I best “clean” my scalp, with my fingers or is it better with a special kind of comb?
If you don’t have hard water, metal or mineral deposits in the water, then yes the Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo is sufficient. However, it’s gentle enough that you can use it 2/3 times a week, every week, without drying out the hair or causing any damage. I’ve been using it almost exclusively as my cleanser for almost three years. I have several posts listing my favourite products, including deep conditioning treatments and hair masks, as well as listing several different options for protein and/or moisture on my Protein Moisture Balance blog post if you want to check that out.
I have been following your blog for the last week and instantly ordered the as I am cowash and the giovanni gel and foam! Literal the co wash helped my hair to be curly and bouncy once again. I also tried the alikay black soap shampoo and didn’t feel that made much of a difference. Do you think johnsons no more tangles shampoo is good for clarifying? I only intend to do this once a month. Is there anything else I should try? I bleached and dyed my hair 3 months ago but since then I’ve started the cg method and my curls seem to have a better definition. I also sleep with a silk cap to prevent breakage.
Your blog Is super easy to read and not overly complicated so I just want to say thanks for making it simple for people like me who have dyspraxia and struggle to keep focused! Xxxx
Hi Kat, thank you so much for such lovely words. I suggest booking in for a 1:1 Curl Clinic, you can find more information here: http://www.curlmaven.ie/services to build you a tailored routine specific to your hair.
I have been using the Boucleme 30 days to curls range; Cleanser; Conditioner; Curl cream (a little :)) and defining gel.
Have seen good results in the past 7/8 weeks, I have now added in your modified rice water treatment every 2 weeks and it is definitely making a difference,
I have ordered from Bounce Curl (thank you for the code) and am waiting for the clarifying cleanser; hair growth pills and hairspray.
I live in a soft water area, is the Bounce curl clarifying cleanser enough or do i need to get the Bumble and Bumble Sunday?
Thank you 🙂
Hi Hayley, if you live in a soft water area (double check on a map just to be sure, you can Google it), and you DON’T swim in the ocean or pool, then use the Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo is fine. But it’s actually gentle enough to use every wash day, two – three times a week with no issues. Hope that helps!
That’s great thank you
Maysam omar says
My hair has forever been of shoulder length. It never grows longer. And my curls do break a lot, could you drop me some advice
Hi there, there’s plenty of tips, advice, techniques and recommendations on this blog. Alternatively, if you’re looking for advice and recommendations specific to your hair, then I recommend booking in for a Curl Clinic with me http://www.curlmaven.ie/services
Hi Gabriella! Hadn’t been here in a little while and stayed up late last night reading all the new content since the switch to Curl Maven. What a great idea, congratulations on the new brand!
I recently moved to a hard water area and now having to think about using a chelating shampoo for the first time. I am looking for something budget-friendly, and wondered about the Herbal Essences Aloe & Avocado shampoo which is also sulfate free and 97% natural, so maybe a bonus?! These are the ingredients, thanks for any advice you have! And thank you for your amazing blog supporting so many people on their CG/CM journey.
Aqua, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Parfum, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Salicylate, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA, Limonene, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butylene Glycol, Histidine, Persea Gratissima Oil, Alcohol Denatured, Ecklonia Radiata Extract
Hi Imogen, thanks so much for your kind words of support! I’m glad you’re liking all the new content. That product does have the required EDTA ingredients, but it also has a polyquat and a drying alcohol which I wouldn’t be too keen on, I definitely prefer the formula of the BB Sunday Shampoo, and it lasts 2 years so…
Thanks a lot Gabriella for taking the time to reply, really appreciate it! Great to have your expert opinion on this, I have a lot still to learn about what ingredients to avoid. Also just discovered your live Curl Clinics on Ista so will hopefully see you there!
Thank you so much for this article! I have been using a hard water shampoo and conditioner for the last six months every week. Recently I started using it every time I wash (ik ik, but my hair just felt so heavy) and now my front strands are very frizzy and look like they are losing their curl. My hair almost feels too soft to hold its curl. I have 3B/3C. Please help me!
Hi Leila, goodness me using a hard water shampoo weekly for six months is way too hard on the hair. I recommend booking in for a Curl Clinic, more info and booking here: http://www.curlmaven.ie/services
Nivedita Chatterjee says
This is so helpful and informative, I am so new to the curly hair care regime. Thank you so much ♥️ for this article .
Thanks so much for all the information on your site, you present it really nicely
I swim sometimes around 3 times a week in the sea and I always wash my hair afterwards otherwise it’s sticky from the salt water. What would you suggest? A clarifying shampoo after each swim? Or just once a week?
Any help greatly appreciated!
Hi Helen, thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so glad you like the site and find my content helpful! I’d recommend clarifying with the Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo (or similar) once every 7-10 days if you’re sea swimming 3 times a week. Always deep condition after x
Hi, I seem to have build up, flaky white bits (maybe dandruff) I don’t think I live in a hard water area, but am struggling to decide, would Clarifying with say bounce curl remove this, or would you recommend bumble and bumble? Would love something a bit cheaper still if I’m honest but would splurge if I thought it would get rid of it. Thanks
Hi Heather, to be sure I’d search “hard water area map (insert your country)” on Google, and unless you’re in a soft water area, get the Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo. Wash with it once a month. If you’re in a soft water area, the Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo will be fine to use, maybe use it to shampoo twice for a washday or two. And it’s gentle enough to use as your regular shampoo 2-3 times per week. You can get 10% off Bounce Curl using code CURLMAVEN on the Bounce Curl and The Clean Beauty Edit websites.
Thank you for all the information you provide on your site. So so helpful and really appreciated. I have a question please about clarifying shampoos. I was wondering whether you knew if there was really that much difference between the expensive ones such as B&B Sunday shampoo and the cheaper £4 Expert build up removal shampoo you find in Boots? They both have Tetrasodium EDTA in them but do the differing other ingredients make all that much difference?
Thank you! x
Thanks so much for this information! I have fine low density hair and struggle with infrequent hair washings. The Ouai Detox Shampoo doesn’t have sulfate (not sure if the ingredients changed). Is this still a proper chelating shampoo because of the disodium EDTA? Or, do I need to use a sulfate shampoo once a month? I currently use New Wash (no-poo) most days and wash with the Ouai Detox Shampoo once a week.