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Clarifying vs Detoxing Your Hair

Updated: May 31, 2022

There are so many articles and advertisements about clarifying and detoxing your hair. But, what’s the difference? Why do we even need to worry about that? I figured it’s as good a time as any to get this sorted out along with the why's and how's about clarifying vs. detoxing out hair.

It was CRAZY HAIR DAY and now you really need to get off all that product BUILD-UP!


Maybe...probably. First, you need to determine if you have build-up in your hair. But, honestly, if you haven’t done a detox in a while, you probably need to do one pronto! Some products (not mine!) contain ingredients such as silicone, to help reduce frizz and increase shine. However, these products are not water-soluble and do not absorb into your hair. Rather they sit on the hair and depending on your routine, these products may not be removed at each wash and can continue to build up over time. Also, mineral deposits can be build up from hard water. For those of us who co-wash only, can have build up of oils, etc. that need a good clarifying shampoo or detox to cleanse that excess debris away.

So, what does that build up look like? If your hair looks dull and doesn’t have that shine anymore or feels dry to the touch, it probably has build up. If your hair is limp and your curls just aren’t holding like they used to, it might be build up (or it might also be a moisture/protein issue...see my blog for more information on the Wet Stretch Test and find out what your hair needs.)

Frizzy Dull hair


In a lot of ways, clarifying and detoxing your hair do the same thing. They both remove excess or unwanted minerals (ie, hard water deposits), oil, and residue buildup.

How they differ is largely in the ingredients and how the ingredients interact with your hair. Detox products and techniques often use natural products to remove unwanted material from your hair. Detox products may also include deep conditioners such as shea, moisturizing oils, and bentonite clay. On the other hand, clarifying products and techniques typically use synthetic ingredients that strip the material away. Also, clarifying products are commonly shampoos or similar products that do not add moisture back to the hair and are meant for only occasional use, so there is the risk of it leaving your hair dry if overused. Of course, products can use the terms interchangeably, "muddying up the water" a bit figuratively saying, so hopefully the details below will help you decipher what you need for your hair and what to look for in a product.


Clarifying products are typically shampoo-type products. They are designed for the occasional use to strip the hair of excess buildup and are NOT meant for regular use as they are drying. They clarify your hair by using chemical surfactants such as ammonium- or sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, alpha-olefin sulfonate, chlorides and bromides, and cetyl-fatty alcohols. Sulfa-containing ingredients in particular are usually a very strong surfactant. Think about a super greasy skillet in your sink. You could use a mild detergent, but will it really get that stubborn grease off that skillet? Probably not. That’s when we whip out that Dawn dish soap to get that skillet clean. However, you’re not going to lather up with Dawn every day in the shower unless you want your skin to feel dry and crack over time. This is the same with clarifying shampoos and other products that contain strong surfactants. They have a purpose, but frequent use can be damaging and drying to your hair. No one wants to have a frizzy, dry mane. For obvious reasons, it is very important to condition your hair after using a clarifying shampoo.

Additionally, strong surfactants can strip color out of hair, so if you have color treated hair, please make sure the packaging states that it is color safe!!

For those with skin conditions, such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis, you might want to check the label first. It is best to use products with salicylic acid that helps with these conditions. It’s not very helpful to clarify your hair, if it just aggravates an existing skin problem by leaving your scalp too dry and triggering it to produce even more oil.


One of the biggest differences between clarifying and detox products, besides the moisture issue discussed above, is that detox products also address removing environmental toxins. Our hair is exposed to anything and everything in the air...and it adds up over time. Some ingredients that are commonly seen in detox products include Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and Centrimonium Chloride. These products are typically milder surfactants that are fairly gentle to the hair and help to reduce frizz and other “symptoms” of dry hair. They can also help reduce skin irritation that can be caused by other stronger surfactants. Some ingredients, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine can also be used in cosmetics as an emulsifying agency and thickener as well as in conditioners to help reduce static. Additionally, detoxing products can help retain the color in color-treated better and help it last longer.


Great question! I highly recommend using my Mix-in Detoxifying Cleanser.

The high pH of 9, is great to detox and deep cleanse your hair. When it comes to most detox shampoos, they are only able to be used periodically to clean away the excess stuff in your hair, but NoFrizz10 Natural Detox Cleansers can be used regularly by those who have a normal to oily scalp. The longer that you leave it on your hair, the deeper it will detoxify. For a really deep detox leave on for 1-2 hours. Even just 20 minutes does a great job though. If quickly rinsed away rather, it will not be harmful to use and it still smooths rough frizz and brings shine and bounce back to the hair. So, this is a great curly girl approved sulfate free/salt free shampoo for people who go to the gym often or who are on the oily side. If your scalp is normal to dry and you need a more gentle cleanse, than we also offer a pH 5 version that's available. You get to choose your natural scent provided from essential oils too, How fun is that!


Trial 1 of NoFrizz10 Detox Shampoo (Also called a cleanser for body & hair.)

A Specific Routine On How I Detox My Hair

I used only 2 hand fulls of NoFrizz10 pH 9 Mix-in Detoxifying Cleanser on wet hair, then let it set on just under an hour, and rinsed.

Get That NoFrizz10 Squeak! Results of using NoFrizz10 Detox

Turn the volume up to hear the "squeak" sound as I pinch and slide my fingers down my hair clean hair. This means NO BUILD-UP!

And a huge shoutout to #Straightupcurls on Instagram. I have learned so much from her. She is a great hairstylist and has a very unique approach to healing damaged hair. Great customer service too!! She has a great technique for detoxing hair that her followers love. I suggest using my NoFrizz10 pH 9 Detoxifying Cleanser instead of the Moo Goo Clarifying pH 9 that she uses though. With a couple slight variations to her routine you may find that you need to use much less product to detox! That's a huge plus. She suggests to use over a cup of Moo Goo pH 9 Shampoo! Ouch on the wallet! I was able to get a squeak to my hair on a variation of her routine using only a handful of my NoFrizz10 pH 9 Detoxifying Cleanser set on for less than 1 hour! It's possible that if your hair has more build-up that it will take longer. She suggest using Moo-Goo for 8-9 hours. "Ain't nobody got time for that!" LOL. I was so excited that my hair squeaked so quickly using NoFrizz10 Detox, and so I have shared my routine with you below! Comment below or in our forum to let us know how it works for you.


This is similar to #Straightupcurls method, except it uses much less product, NoFrizz10 pH9 Mix-in Detoxifying Cleanser, and less time set on.

Treatment: 1. Wet hair, apply a couple hand fulls of NoFrizz10 pH 9 Mix-in Detoxifying Cleanser . Rub on and distribute throughout hair. Let set on up to 1 hour. Rinse. 2. Afterwards, use a bond repairing treatment such as k18 khairpep or Olaplex #3...(heals keratins bonds and strengthens with amino acids). Leave on for 15 minutes, don't rinse.

3. After that, put on a protein free deep conditioning mask such as NoFrizz10 SOAK Conditioning Lotion, then leave on overnight.

Everything is then rinsed off in the morning.

Repeat every 4-8 weeks.

*If you color your hair and have a hard time with getting the color to stay then doing the 3 steps treatment as I described above is very helpful the day before coloring. Rinse the morning that you'll be coloring.

Written by, Shelby Barker (NoFrizz10 Admin & Editor) & Athena Padilla (Owner of NoFrizz10)

(Find more NoFrizz10 Naturals product demo videos posted on our public Facebook page...

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