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10 Best Clarifying Shampoos of 2021

10 Best Clarifying Shampoos of 2021
what are sulfates

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If your freshly washed hair still looks dull and limp, using a clarifying shampoo may be in order. Clarifying shampoos, often called purifying or deep cleaning, are specifically formulated to remove stubborn residue on your hair that your everyday shampoo may miss. If you use leave-in styling products, have oily hair, wash your hair in hard water, or live in an area with high air pollution, all of these factors can leave deposits on your hair that regular shampoo may not completely remove.

To keep your strands residue-free, it’s important to choose the right clarifying shampoo for your hair type, texture, and overall hair condition, especially if your hair is processed or color-treated. Clarifying shampoos are meant to be used scarcely and only when needed as they can be drying or cause sensitives for some.

Over the years, our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab have evaluated hundreds of shampoos for different hair types and concerns including shampoo for dry hair, oily hair, and color-treated hair, brass-fighting purple shampoos for blonde hair, thickening shampoos, and more. For each shampoo, our chemists methodically test and quantify the efficacy of each formula (with the matching conditioner) on real human hair swatches and send products out for real consumer feedback.

The list below includes our picks for clarifying shampoos that we use in the Lab to thoroughly clean hair swatches before testing, those that are highly rated and reviewed, or our editor and scientist favorites. Here are the best clarifying shampoos:

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Best Overall Clarifying Shampoo

Detox Shampoo

Ouai products have a loyal following so it’s no surprise that the Detox Shampoo is also a favorite at Sephora with over 800 reviews and 4.5 rating. Our Lab pros tried this at home and found that it washed away styling product build-up without making the scalp feel too dry. It can be used on straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair types as well as fine, medium, and thick textures. Take note, it did seem to fade hair color treatment.

  • Can be used on many hair types
  • Deep cleans without stripping hair


Best Value Clarifying Shampoo

Daily Clarifying Shampoo

Our chemists call this the “gold standard” for clarifying shampoos because they use this to thoroughly cleanse all the hair swatches that will be used for testing all types of hair products. It does an effective job of removing dirt and oil, not to mention it’s one of the lowest-priced clarifying shampoos on this list. Shoppers also praised this on Amazon, however, the scent may be too strong for some.

  • Good value
  • Beauty Lab favorite
  • Scent may be too strong for some


Best Drugstore Clarifying Shampoo

Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo

To get an effective clarifying shampoo you don’t need to head to a fancy hair salon or high-end beauty store, all you need is the Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo that can be purchased at most drugstores. We haven’t tested this in the Lab, but it has quite the following with over 16,000 reviews and a 4.6 rating on Amazon with one reviewer saying they’ve been using this for over a decade. It claims to be excellent at removing build-up, though one shopper notes it did not work as well on their oily hair

  • Remove buildup from styling products
  • Budget-friendly
  • May not work on oily hair


Best Clarifying Shampoo for Color Treated Hair

Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo

Living proof


If you’re looking to keep your color-treated hair vibrant, try
the Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox shampoo from Living Proof. It vows it can remove build-up from styling products, hard water, and pollution while leaving hair soft, vibrant manageable. It also claims it’s non-stripping so it’s safe for color-treated hair and it has 4.5 stars from over 750 reviewers on Amazon.

  • Safe on color-treated hair
  • Leaves hair soft and manageable


Best Clarifying Shampoo for Oily Hair

Sunday Clarifying Shampoo

Bumble and bumble


Some clarifying shampoos only focus on removing build-up on hair but this clarifying shampoo promises it can remove excess oil as well as product residue and pollutants. Though we didn’t put this through our rigorous Lab testing, it’s one of the most popular clarifying shampoos at Sephora with a 4.6 rating and over 400 reviews. It claims to work on many different hair types and textures but it’s best for healthy, oily, non-color treated hair.

  • Removes excess oil
  • Sephora best-seller
  • Not for color-treated hair


Best Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair

Buildup Buster Hair Cleanser

Curls can be weighed down and lose their springy bounce due to product buildup, but the Devacurl Buildup Buster swears it can help restore your natural curls. It has a 4.0 rating with nearly 1,300 reviews and one shopper said that this product revitalized their curls. It also claims to be free of silicones, parabens and sulfates.

  • Nozzle tip makes it easy to apply to scalp
  • Restores curls and removes buildup


Best Clarifying Shampoo for Natural Hair

Clarifying Shampoo

According to Nothing But, this formula is specifically made for natural hair and deep cleans the hair and scalp. It claims to remove excess oils, build-up, and residue from hair. This didn’t make it into our lab tests, but it has over 1,200 reviews and a 4.4 rating with reviewers saying this left their hair “squeaky clean.”

  • Made for natural hair
  • Cleans hair and scalp


Best Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoo

On The Rocks Clarifying Charcoal Shampoo



If you’re looking to steer clear of sulfates, try the Drybar On the Rock Clarifying Charcoal Shampoo. It has over 250 reviews at Sephora with a 4.0 rating and it claims to be free of sulfates, parabens and phthalates. It also guarantees it’s safe for color-treated and keratin-treated hair and contains charcoal to help clean the scalp. Enthusiasts of this shampoo rave how clean their hair and scalp feel after they use this shampoo.

  • Safe for color-treated hair
  • Refreshes scalp


Best Professional Clarifying Shampoo

Rosemary Mint Purifying Shampoo

Get the salon experience at home with this purifying shampoo. This formula promises to gently deep clean hair and adds body to fine to normal hair. It’s rated 4.5 from nearly 650 reviews and buyers commented how much they love the invigorating rosemary mint scent and how refreshed they feel after using it. As a bonus, this shampoo also took a top spot in our Sustainable Packaging Awards for it’s 100% recycled plastic bottle, recyclable cap and no secondary packaging. 

  • Refreshing scent
  • Adds body to fine to normal hair
  • Sustainable packaging


Best Scented Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying Shampoo



Moroccanoil hair products are a favorite among our staffers and this clarifying shampoo is no exception. Though not tested in our Lab, it has a 4.6 rating and over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. This clarifying shampoo made with argan and avocado oils claims to remove buildup. According to shoppers, this shampoo is excellent at getting rid of residue but they recommend only using it once or twice a month otherwise it can dry out hair. 

  • Restores moisture
  • Great signature scent
  • May dry out hair if used too often

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