15 Top Clarifying Shampoos for Curly Hair To Remove Stubborn Buildup

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If you have curly hair, you know how tricky it can be to find the right products that work for your hair type.

With its twists and turns, curly hair can easily become dry, frizzy, and prone to buildup. One of the most effective ways to tackle these issues is by using a clarifying shampoo.

However, with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right clarifying shampoo for curly hair. 

Two white bottles of shampoo on a pink background.

That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide to help you find the perfect one for your hair type and concerns.

In this article, we’ll dive into what clarifying shampoos are, why they are important for curly hair, and how frequently you should use them.

We’ll also cover the essential ingredients to look for and those to avoid, as well as tips on how to choose the right product.

Finally, we’ll share our top picks for the eight top clarifying shampoos for curly hair, so you can find the perfect one to achieve healthy, bouncy, and beautiful curls.

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo
Editor's Choice
  • Removes buildup without drying hair
  • Contains nourishing natural ingredients
  • Suitable for all hair types, including color-treated
DevaCurl Buildup Buster Gentle Clarifying Cleanser
Premium Pick
  • Leaves hair feeling soft and hydrated
  • Non-drying formula
  • Helps restore your curls’ natural bounce and shine
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo
Budget Pick
  • Inexpensive and readily available
  • Ideal for occasional use or as a weekly reset
  • Gentle clarifying shampoo for curly hair that won’t strip off natural oils

What Is a Clarifying Shampoo and Why Is It Important?

A clarifying shampoo is a deep cleansing shampoo that is designed to remove buildup and excess oil from your scalp and hair.

Regular shampoos may not be effective in removing all of these impurities. So it’s vital to find a good clarifying shampoo for curly hair that can help detoxify your locks and leave them feeling fresh, clean, and healthy.

Choosing the Ideal Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair

Clarifying shampoos can be a game changer for cleansing your curls. With this type of product, you can effectively remove any buildup or residue left behind by styling products, leaving your curls clean and free to breathe. 

However, not all clarifying shampoos are created equal. 

Let us delve into this guide to find the top clarifying shampoo for your curly locks!

Ingredients To Look For

Keep an eye out for the following beneficial ingredients:

  • Gentle surfactants: Look for mild surfactants like coco-betaine, decyl glucoside, or lauryl glucoside. These help cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping away its natural oils.
  • Natural extracts: Ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and green tea provide soothing properties, nourishing the hair and scalp while promoting a healthy environment for curls to thrive.
  • Hydrating agents: Ingredients such as glycerin and panthenol help retain moisture, keeping your curls hydrated and preventing excessive frizz.
  • Botanical oils: Look for lightweight oils like jojoba or argan oil. These oils provide nourishment without weighing down your curls, leaving them soft, shiny, and manageable.
  • Protein: Hydrolyzing proteins like wheat, soy, or quinoa can strengthen the hair strands and promote elasticity, helping define and enhance your natural curl pattern.

Ingredients To Avoid

If you follow the Curly Girl Method, you may already know that it’s important to steer clear of harsh ingredients in your hair care products to avoid damaging or drying out your hair. 

Now if you’re looking for clarifying shampoos for the Curly Girl Method, avoid the following ingredients:

  • Sulfates:  Common sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS) are harsh cleaners that can strip away natural oils, leaving your hair dry and prone to frizz.
  • Silicones: While not inherently bad, silicones can build up on your hair over time. This can lead to dullness and decreased curl definition. So look for shampoos that have silicone-free formulas or contain water-soluble silicones.
  • Alcohol: Avoid shampoos containing high amounts of alcohol, as they can be drying and strip away moisture from your hair.
  • Artificial fragrances: Synthetic fragrances can irritate the scalp and cause dryness. Opt for shampoos with natural or fragrance-free options to minimize potential sensitivities.

Take note that many people with curly hair buy clarifying shampoos with the ingredients listed above, even if they aren’t CG-friendly. 

This is because they typically provide thorough cleansing for stubborn buildup that gentle, sulfate-free alternatives can’t offer.

So you can opt to go for non-CG-friendly clarifying shampoos if you want a deep cleanse for your hair. Just make sure to deep condition your hair afterward, so your hair won’t dry out.

Type of Formula

Consider the formula type that best suits your hair needs:

  • Creamy formulas: Cream-based clarifying shampoos for curly hair provide extra moisture and hydration, making them ideal for dry and damaged locks. They help retain moisture while removing buildup.
  • Gel formulas: Lightweight and easily rinsed out, gel-based clarifying shampoos are suitable for fine curly hair. They effectively remove buildup without weighing down the hair.

Price

Consider the following factors when determining your budget:

  • Quality ingredients: High-quality, naturally derived ingredients often come at higher price points. Investing in a slightly pricier option can be worth it in the long run.

    But if you’re on a tight budget, there are still top-notch but affordable clarifying shampoos available. Look for options that prioritize essential ingredients and avoid those with unnecessary additives, focusing on your hair’s specific needs.
  • Size and packaging: Some clarifying shampoos come in larger sizes, offering better value for your money, while others may have luxurious or eco-friendly packaging that adds to the overall price.
  • Brand reputation: Established brands with a strong reputation for producing effective hair care products may have higher price tags.

    However, they often invest in research, development, and quality control to ensure you’re getting a reliable product.

Our Top 15 Picks for the Top Clarifying Shampoos for Curly Hair

If you’re looking for the top clarifying shampoo for curly hair, we’ve got you covered. 

Here are our top picks:

1
DevaCurl Buildup Buster Gentle Clarifying Cleanser

The supreme solution for curly hair, the DevaCurl Buildup Buster Gentle Clarifying Cleanser removes buildup while maintaining moisture and enhancing your natural curls!

Primary Benefits: Deeply clarifies without stripping natural oils; restores natural bounce and shine; leaves hair feeling soft and hydrated

Features:

  • Gentle and non-drying formula
  • Contains Abyssinian seed oil and jojoba to nourish and hydrate hair
  • Free from sulfates, parabens, and silicones

A game-changing clarifying shampoo that will leave your curls looking and feeling their best!

 

The DevaCurl Buildup Buster Gentle Clarifying Cleanser is a highly effective clarifying shampoo that is specifically designed for curly hair. 

Unlike many other clarifying shampoos that can be harsh and drying, it’s formulated to gently clarify without stripping away the natural oils!

This clarifying cleanser goes beyond just cleansing; it has the added benefit of enhancing natural curls. With regular use, it restores bounce and vitality to curls, improving their overall appearance and definition.

The only downside of this product is its higher price point compared to other clarifying shampoos, but for those looking for a premium option that will deliver visible results, it’s definitely worth the investment.

2
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo

Amazing micro-exfoliating shampoo that combines the power of charcoal and coconut oil to deeply clarify the scalp, remove the buildup, and promote a healthy scalp environment.

Primary Benefits: Deeply cleanses and clarifies the scalp; promotes a healthy scalp environment for optimal curl health

Features:

  • Activated charcoal detoxifies and removes impurities from the scalp
  • Coconut oil provides nourishment and hydration to the hair and scalp
  • Peppermint and spearmint oils provide a refreshing and invigorating sensation

Say goodbye to dull, lifeless curls with this Curly Girl Method-approved clarifying shampoo!

 

How does this clarifying, micro-exfoliating shampoo work? 

A photo of a tube of briogeo exfoliating shampoo sitting on a white table.

Picture this: charcoal swooping in to detoxify your scalp and whisk away impurities, excess oil, and product that can weigh down your gorgeous curls.

Meanwhile, coconut oil jumps into action, providing intense hydration and restoring balance so your scalp feels refreshed and your curls come alive.

In other words, this shampoo’s ingredients elevate your curly hair game to the next level!

However, it is important to note that some individuals with very dry or sensitive scalps may find the exfoliating properties of this product slightly too intense.

It is recommended to follow up its use with a conditioner to maintain your hair’s moisture balance.

3
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo

Get ready to fall in love with your curls all over again with this clarifying shampoo that harnesses the power of Jamaican black castor oil to cleanse, nourish, and strengthen your curly locks.

Primary Benefits: Cleanses without stripping curls of their natural oils; nourishes and moisturizes hair and scalp; strengthens and promotes healthy hair growth

Features:

  • Jamaican black castor oil strengthens the hair strands while promoting healthy hair growth
  • Apple cider vinegar restores the scalp’s pH balance and adds shine to the hair
  • Peppermint stimulates the scalp and provides a refreshing sensation

Will transform your hair care routine and give you the luscious, vibrant curls of your dreams!

 

Jamaican black castor oil is a potion-like ingredient that has been used for centuries to promote hair growth, nourish the scalp, and strengthen hair strands. 

SheaMoisture has harnessed this ancient secret, creating a magical elixir that works wonders on your curls! It also uses apple cider vinegar to clarify the scalp and cleanse your strands, leaving your hair fresh and clean as a whistle.

Users praise this shampoo for its ability to leave their curls feeling softer, more moisturized, and more manageable.

4
Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo

Get ready to refresh and revitalize your curls with this shampoo, a gentle yet effective formula that removes impurities while preserving moisture.

Primary Benefits: Removes buildup and residue from hair and scalp; preserves moisture and hydration levels in hair; enhances curl bounce and definition

Features:

  • Gentle yet powerful natural clarifying shampoo for curly hair
  • Contains nourishing ingredients to maintain moisture balance
  • Suitable for all curl types

Elevate your curl care routine with this, will leave your curls feeling refreshed, moisturized, and full of life!

 

Imagine letting the magic of the deep sea work wonders on your curls. That’s exactly what you’ll get with the Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo!  

It boasts a marine complex that dives deep into your strands to remove buildup, residue, and all other impurities from them.

Just like an underwater treasure hunt, this shampoo leaves your curls refreshed, revived, and ready to conquer the world!

As you lather up, let the invigorating scent transport you to a tropical paradise, making every wash feel like a mini vacation.

5
Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

Indulge your curls with the luxurious Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo, a rich and purifying formula that infuses hair with argan oil while effectively removing residue.

Primary Benefits: Deeply cleanses and detoxifies the hair and scalp; restores moisture and smoothness to the hair; provides the nourishing benefits of argan oil

Features:

  • Enriched with argan oil for added hydration and shine
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Cruelty-free

Experience the luxury while effortlessly detoxifying and rejuvenating your curls, leaving them luscious, hydrated, and irresistibly smooth.

 

The Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo removes product buildup, traces of chlorine, and environmental pollutants from your hair, transforming your dull and limp locks into clean, revitalized curls. 

It’s also infused with avocado and argan oils to deliver superior nourishment to your curls.

Plus, it treats your senses to a captivating blend of exotic scents, transporting you to a Moroccan oasis. The invigorating fragrance lingers in your hair, creating an aura of freshness that will leave you feeling confident!

6
SheaMoisture Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo

Embrace the power of botanicals with this gentle and nourishing formula that cleanses while moisturizing and rejuvenating.

Primary Benefits: Promotes defined and healthy-looking curls; adds moisture and hydration to the curls

Features:

  • Sulfate–free
  • Gentle cleansing formula
  • Enriched with botanical extracts and natural ingredients
  • Suitable for all curl types, including kinky and coily hair

A gentle yet effective formula that removes buildup, revealing healthy, well-defined curls that are sure to turn heads!

 

Packed with natural ingredients, this is a clarifying shampoo for curls and coils that nourishes and hydrates each strand from root to tip.

It uses natural chelating agents and botanical extracts to cleanse away any grime or buildup of minerals on your hair, which results from showering with hard water. This way, your curls get an instant refresh!  

SheaMoisture also takes pride in its commitment to being cruelty-free, ensuring that no furry friends are harmed in the making of their products.

7
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

A clarifying powerhouse that leaves your curls refreshed, clean, and ready to absorb the benefits of your favorite hair products.

Primary Benefits: Removes stubborn impurities and product buildup; restores hair’s natural volume and bounce; prepares the hair for better absorption of styling products

Features:

  • Non-irritating formula
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Non-stripping
  • Ideal for occasional use or as a weekly reset

Revitalize your curls and give them a fresh start with this ultimate solution to remove stubborn buildup, restore volume, and prep your hair for flawless styling!

 

Imagine having a reset button for your hair. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo is just that! 

It effectively removes residue, oil, and product buildup, offering a fresh start with a clean slate that prepares your hair for whatever fabulous styles you have in mind.

Whether you’re planning a sleek updo, beachy waves, or rocking your natural curls, this shampoo ensures your canvas is ready for your masterpiece!

8
Bounce Curl Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo

This Pomegranate & Pumpkin Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo cleans all types of hair (without drying it out) and adds volume while balancing moisture.

Primary Benefits: Gently removes build-up from stylers and oils; Restores hair's natural shine and vibrancy; Nourishes and strengthens curls

Features:

  • Infused with botanical extracts for nourishment and strength
  • With 100% Oil Scent
  • Curly hair-friendly ingredients for enhanced manageability

Curly hair care just got easier with this clarifying shampoo.

 

This shampoo is formulated without sulfates, parabens, and harsh chemicals, making it safe and gentle for your curls. 

Its thoughtfully designed packaging adds a touch of luxury to your shower routine, creating a delightful experience.

Many users say Bounce Curl is by far the top product for their curls. It cleanses thoroughly without leaving their hair feeling dry or tangled. It’s now a staple in their hair care routine.

9
Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo

The Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo is a multisensory experience designed to bring total comfort to your hair.

Primary Benefits: Deeply hydrates and nourishes for improved elasticity; enhances shine and smoothness for a luxurious finish; gently cleanses and regenerates the scalp

Features:

  • Rich in essential oils such as argan, cypress, and maracuja
  • Sulfate-free formula for gentle cleansing
  • Elegant packaging for a touch of opulence

Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo is a luxury clarifying shampoo that goes above and beyond to cleanse and transform hair.

 

This shampoo is dermatologically tested, gentle, and has an incredible combination of healing oils and extracts, such as cypress, argan, and maracuja, which can soften even the most damaged hair.

Experts recommend applying it to the whole skin and emulsifying with a little water before massaging gently then rinsing with warm water.

10
L’Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Sulfate Free Shampoo

In one step, EverPure Scalp Care + Detox deeply cleanses the scalp, removing dirt, products, and oil without stripping hair of its color.

Primary Benefits: Purifies and detoxifies the scalp; reduces itchiness and dryness; preserves hair color and protects against environmental aggressors

Features:

  • Sulfate-free formula for gentle cleansing
  • Infused with neem leaf extract and menthol
  • Vegan and free from paraben, gluten, and dyes

L'Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Sulfate Free Shampoo is a must-have for hair color-treated individuals seeking a clean and revitalized scalp.

 

Professional hair colorists validated this clarifying shampoo with extensive in-person testing.

It has notes of mint and eucalyptus in its aroma.

Use L’Oreal Paris EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Sulfate Free Shampoo for gentle cleansing, rich lather, and a fresh, aromatic fragrance that blooms!

11
Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo

Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo restores shine and natural highlights to dull hair.

Primary Benefits: Gently cleanses and clarifies the hair, removing buildup and impurities; nourishes and strengthens hair follicles; revives natural highlights

Features:

  • Organic lemon essential oil for a refreshing aroma
  • Gentle formula that won't strip natural oils
  • Plant-based ingredients for a clean and sustainable choice

Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo is the perfect choice for a clean and conscious hair care routine.

 

This EWG-verified shampoo is made with non-GMO ingredients, free of parabens, artificial color, fragrance, phthalates, and sulfates. Moreover, it is vegan and cruelty-free.

By combining lemon essential oil with quinoa protein, aloe and vitamin E, this blend gently conditions and seals the hair cuticle, leaving it smooth and lustrous.

Dedicated to organic agriculture and formula transparency, Avalon Organics’ products are certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Standard for Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients.

It is through this honest, transparent process that the Avalon Organics company creates safe, effective, and conscious products.

12
EDEN BodyWorks Peppermint Tea Tree Clear Clarifying Shampoo

A shampoo that invigorates, clarifies, and cleanses the scalp to leave it feeling refreshed and renewed.

Primary Benefits: Gently removes buildup and impurities, promoting a clean and healthy; helps to soothe and balance the scalp; reduces itchiness and dryness

Features:

  • Clear formula for effective removal of buildup and residue
  • Peppermint and tea tree oil provide a refreshing and cooling sensation
  • Free from sulfates, parabens, and artificial dyes

Experience the refreshing power of peppermint and tea tree oil!

 

EDEN BodyWorks Peppermint Tea Tree Clear Clarifying Shampoo is a remarkable choice for clarifying hair. 

To promote healthy hair growth, this Shampoo is formulated to work best with EDEN’s Peppermint Tea Tree Conditioner.

13
Alikay Naturals Moist Black Soap Shampoo

Enriched with African black soap, shea butter, and natural oils, this shampoo provides deep cleansing and enhances the natural texture of your curls. 

Primary Benefits: Cleanses the scalp and hair; promotes softness, manageability, and shine; contains African black soap, a natural ingredient known for its clarifying and healing properties

Features:

  • Gentle yet effective cleansing for all hair types
  • Free from sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, and artificial colors or fragrances
  • Easy-to-use and convenient packaging design

Unleash the nourishing power of African black soap on your curls!

 

Traditionally, hair cleansers strip your hair of its natural moisture, leaving you with dry and itchy hair. But unlike traditional cleansers, this sulfate-free shampoo moisturizes and cleans at the same time.

It contains a natural blend of plantain skins and tea tree oil that protects and moisturizes the hair from the scalp to the tips.

14
Kinky Curly Come Clean Natural Moisturizing Shampoo

Remove all the grimy stuff you have put on your hair with Come Clean!

Primary Benefits: Restores the natural pH balance of the scalp and hair; removes buildup and residue; infused with natural moisturizing ingredients to nourish hair

Features:

  • With phytic acid and sea kelp
  • Lightweight and non-greasy texture 
  • Free from harmful chemicals, parabens, and artificial fragrances

Experience the delight of clean, moisturized hair with Kinky Curly!

 

As you use this clarifying shampoo, mandarin orange extract will gently remove dulling buildup, while sea kelp will help maintain proper moisture balance in your hair.

Calcium and magnesium are removed from hard water through phytic acid, a natural chelating agent.

It’s gentle enough to use every day and perfect for dry, damaged hair.

15
GIOVANNI Invigorating Tea Tree Shampoo

Experience the triple-threat power of GIOVANNI Invigorating Tea Tree Shampoo!

Primary Benefits: Strengthens and fortifies the hair; conditions and moisturizes the hair, leaving it soft, smooth, and manageable; clarifies the scalp and hair, removing impurities, product buildup, and excess oil

Features:

  • Enriched with certified organic botanicals for natural nourishment and vitality
  • pH-balanced formula that promotes overall hair and scalp health
  • Cruelty-free and free from harmful chemicals, sulfates, parabens, and artificial colors
  • Convenient packaging with a flip-top cap for easy dispensing and storage

With aloe vera, lavender, sage, and other botanical oils, this stimulating shampoo enhances shine and awakens hair follicles.

 

GIOVANNI Invigorating Tea Tree Shampoo is a remarkable choice for those seeking a triple threat solution to strengthen, condition, and clarify their hair. 

This clarifying shampoo is suitable for all hair types and is infused with invigorating tea tree oil. It soothes and refreshes the scalp, providing a rejuvenating experience every time you cleanse your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Clarifying Shampoos Damage Curly Hair?

Clarifying shampoos, when used properly and in moderation, do not typically cause damage to curly hair.

However, frequent use or leaving the shampoo on for extended periods can strip away natural oils, leading to dryness.

So make sure to use clarifying shampoo on your curly hair only once to twice a month. If you have more severe buildup issues, you can use it once a week for up to four weeks. Remember to always follow it up with conditioner. 

Can Clarifying Shampoos Cause Frizz in Curly Hair?

In some cases, clarifying shampoos contribute to temporary frizz in curly hair.

This can happen if the shampoo is too harsh or if the hair is not properly moisturized after cleansing.

To minimize frizz, choose a clarifying shampoo specifically formulated for curly hair and follow it up with a hydrating conditioner or leave-in treatment to restore moisture.

Can You Use a Clarifying Shampoo on Colored or Chemically Treated Curly Hair?

Yes, you can use a clarifying shampoo on colored or chemically treated curly hair.

However, it is important to choose a clarifying shampoo that is specifically labeled as safe for color-treated or chemically treated hair.

This ensures that the shampoo is gentle enough not to strip away the color or disrupt the chemical treatments.

Additionally, it is recommended to follow up with a color-safe conditioner or treatment to maintain the vibrance and health of the hair.

Revitalize Your Curls!

The carefully curated selection of clarifying shampoos presented in this article offers a variety of options to cater to different curl types, budgets, and personal preferences.

Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option or a premium choice, there is a clarifying shampoo that suits your specific needs on our list.

No matter which clarifying shampoo you choose, the benefits are evident.

By incorporating a clarifying shampoo into your hair care routine, you can maintain healthier, more manageable curls, ready to embrace any style.

Remember to consider your hair type, specific concerns, and desired results when selecting a clarifying shampoo. 

Experimenting with different options can help you find the perfect match for your curls, unlocking their true potential.

So, go ahead and embark on your journey to luscious curls with the right clarifying shampoo for your curly hair!

Get More Curly Hair Care Ideas Here:

Author

  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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