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Is it ok to use clarifying shampoo after coloring hair?

Hair coloring is a popular way for many people to change up their look and express themselves. But maintaining vibrant, healthy hair color can be a challenge. Using the wrong hair products after coloring your hair can cause the color to fade quickly. So an important question arises – is it okay to use clarifying shampoo after coloring your hair?

What is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is a deep-cleansing shampoo that removes buildup from styling products, hard water minerals, chlorine, and other impurities. It has a stronger formula than regular shampoos and contains ingredients like sulfates to break down and wash away residue. Some key benefits of clarifying shampoo include:

  • Removing product buildup from hair
  • Getting rid of mineral deposit buildup from hard water
  • Cleansing away chlorine after swimming
  • Reset and prepare hair for new products
  • Thoroughly cleanse oily hair and scalp

Using a clarifying shampoo periodically can refresh your hair and keep it cleaner. However, these shampoos tend to be drying, so they shouldn’t be used every day.

How Clarifying Shampoo Can Affect Colored Hair

Now that we know what clarifying shampoo does, how does it interact with colored hair? Here are some key ways clarifying shampoo can affect colored hair:

  • Can cause color to fade faster – The harsh sulfates and deep cleansing action strip color molecules from hair faster.
  • Can dry out colored hair – Clarifying shampoos are very drying and colored hair needs added moisture.
  • Can remove color unevenly – It may remove more color from certain sections, leading to uneven fading.
  • Can dull vibrancy of color – The thorough cleansing and stripping leaves hair looking less vibrant.

The bottom line is that frequent clarifying shampoo use is generally not ideal for colored hair. But occasional, strategic use may be beneficial if done with care.

When to Use Clarifying Shampoo on Colored Hair

Here are some guidelines on when it may be appropriate to use clarifying shampoo on colored hair:

  • After swimming – To remove chlorine buildup that can degrade color.
  • If switching hair products – To remove residue before applying new products.
  • Before getting a color refresh – To prepare hair for maximum color uptake.
  • If hair feels dull or heavy – To gently remove buildup and improve shine.
  • About once a month – To detox without over-stripping color.

Focus on occasional, targeted use of clarifying shampoo when you feel it’s needed based on your hair’s condition, rather than regular use. Also, be extra diligent about conditioning and protecting colored hair before and after clarifying.

Tips for Using Clarifying Shampoo on Colored Hair

Here are some tips to follow when using clarifying shampoo on color treated hair:

1. Limit use to 1-2 times per month

Frequent clarifying will cause faster fading. Limit to only when needed.

2. Focus clarifying shampoo only on the scalp area

Apply mainly to your roots and scalp which tend to need it most, rather than lengths.

3. Follow with a deeply conditioning treatment

Restore moisture after clarifying with a hydrating hair mask or treatment.

4. Avoid other drying hair products

Skip any other drying treatments or products that day, like heat styling.

5. Get a professional clarifying treatment

Have your stylist include a clarifying component in your in-salon color treatments.

Best Clarifying Shampoos for Colored Hair

Look for clarifying shampoos that are specialized for color treated hair. Here are some top options:

Redken Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoo

  • Sulfate-free formula
  • Gently removes buildup
  • Helps prevent color fading

AG Hair Care Re:Coil Curl Activating Clarifying Shampoo

  • For curly, coiled, and colored hair
  • Removes residue without drying
  • Enhances curl definition

MATRIX Total Results Color Obsessed So Silver Clarifying Shampoo

  • Purple pigment neutralizes brassiness
  • Brightens blonde and silver tones
  • Mild sulfate cleanser

Kenra Clarifying Shampoo

  • Balanced pH to protect color
  • Refreshes hair and scalp
  • Leaves hair silky and manageable

Alternatives to Clarifying Shampoo for Colored Hair

Instead of clarifying shampoo, consider these gentler options to cleanse and care for colored hair:

  • Chelating shampoo – Removes metals and minerals only, less stripping on color.
  • Moisturizing shampoo – Hydrates and gently cleanses colored hair.
  • Co-wash – Uses conditioner to cleanse hair without harsh detergents.
  • Apple cider vinegar rinse – Naturally removes buildup and enhances shine.
  • DIY dry shampoo – Absorbs oil between washes instead of frequent shampooing.

Key Takeaways

To sum up, here are the key tips to remember about using clarifying shampoo on colored hair:

  • Use sparingly, only 1-2 times per month when needed
  • Focus on the scalp area when applying
  • Always follow with a hydrating, color-safe conditioner
  • Avoid other drying hair treatments that day
  • Consider alternatives like chelating shampoo or co-washing
  • Get occasional clarifying as part of in-salon treatments

While clarifying shampoo is harsh on colored hair, strategic use can help refresh dull, product-laden hair and prepare it for color treatments. With a gentle approach and plenty of moisture, you can clarify colored hair occasionally without stripping the vibrant shade you worked so hard to achieve.


Maintaining beautiful, healthy colored hair requires diligent haircare and the right product choices. While regular clarifying shampoo use is generally too harsh for colored hair, occasional targeted use can offer benefits. Follow the tips in this article to clarify colored hair sparingly when needed. With a color-safe approach focused on moisture and nourishment, you can removes buildup without stripping your vibrant color.