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The 15 Best Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoos

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aida turner

Published by Aida Turner

Fact checked by Annie

Haircare is a lot more than just flat irons and fancy scrunchies.

It’s also about nourishing your hair with the most moisturizing serums and curl-enhancing gels to get the most out of your hair’s natural shine and bounce.

Products are love when it comes to our hair. But sadly, after some weeks, these creams and oils get the better of us.

Over time, we get a buildup of gunk and grime in our hair from our beloved products. 

The worst part is when your hair stays feeling hard or oily even after you shampoo.

What you need for stubborn product buildup is a good clarifying shampoo.

Going for a sulfate-free one is a bonus for maintaining your hair’s health.

Best Overall

Amazon best-selling product B086XQF587

Our rating

Love Beauty and Planet Delightful Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

  • Bamboo charcoal usage
  • Infused with coconut oil
  • Nice, pleasant fruity fragrance

Amazon best-selling product B01MSI6BKU

Our rating

Honeydew Argan Oil Shampoo

  • Infused with argan and jojoba oil
  • Packed witu nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • Reduces sebum production
Best Value

Amazon best-selling product B014I3KO0K

Our rating

Pureology Purify Cleansing Shampoo

  • Perfect for color-treated hair
  • Feels and smells fresh and clean
  • Infused with tea tree oil, peppermint and rosemary

What is a clarifying shampoo, and why do I need it?

A clarifying shampoo is a type of hair cleanser that removes all the oils and minerals that have built up in your hair over time—the type of grime and gunk your ordinary shampoo can’t get out.

Clarifying shampoos are popular among swimmers who want to wash off the chlorine from their hair because it gives their locks a tinge of green.

They’re also a go-to for those who hate bathing with hard water full of minerals that make their hair feel hard and look dull.

However, clarifying shampoos should be used by anyone who uses products in their hair regularly.

It’s what gets rid of gels, moisturizers, hairsprays, and other products that just sit on your head, clogging our hair follicles and preventing other nourishing products from penetrating the hair shaft.

Clarifying shampoos get rid of the heavy and greasy feeling you get after weeks of piling on your favorite products.

It’s a way to detoxify and press reset on your hair so that it can feel light, clean, and natural again. 

When using a clarifying shampoo, you should wash and rinse your hair about 2-3 times in the shower to get all of the gunk out.

Your first wash might not lather up so much because it’s when the shampoo is sucking out all of the oil, but after you rinse and go another round of the shampoo, it should turn sudsy.

If you have an oily scalp, you might want to consider going for a clarifying shampoo with gentler cleaning agents, like those that are sulfate-free. 

This is because clarifying shampoos tend to purify the scalp, leaving it more dry than usual, which could make sebum production in the scalp go into overdrive. 

Are sulfates really bad for the hair?

The word around town is that sulfates are a big no-no for hair care. But the truth is, they’re not entirely bad.

Sulfates are the cleaning agents that create that satisfying lather in the shower. They’re very effective at washing off oils, dead skin, and other deposits in your hair.

However, sulfates are a harsh cleansing agent.

They can strip all the natural oils and essential moisture from your hair, leaving your scalp and tresses either dry and flaky or overly greasy when your oil glands try to compensate by putting sebum production on turbo. 

An overuse of sulfates can make your hair dry, brittle, and susceptible to split ends.

That’s why we always hear experts say that shampoos are for the scalp only—we don’t want to dry out the ends of our hair.

Sulfates are also bad for those with colored hair because it fades hair dye faster than you’d like.

They’re something ladies with curly, kinky hair avoid as well because they strip the hair of much-needed moisture and dry out their already parched curls. 

Fortunately, there are tons of sulfate-free shampoos on the market. These use gentle and oftentimes natural surfactants in place of sulfates to help retain the moisture in your hair after wash day.

It’s also a gentler option for those with scalp conditions like eczema or itchiness.

So if you want to give your hair a product buildup detox while helping it retain moisture and softness, a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo is your best bet.

Here are some of the best ones out there:

The 15 Best Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoo

1. Love Beauty and Planet Delightful Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Product Overview

This shampoo fronts bamboo charcoal as the star of the show, helping to get rid of any excess oil and dirt stuck in the hair and scalp after a ton of product buildup.

It leaves your scalp fresh and clean without stripping it of essential moisture.

  • Plant-based ingredients
  • Uses bamboo charcoal
  • Deep detoxifing and cleansing properties
  • Infused with natural coconut oil

It also has natural coconut oil to soften and moisturize the hair, as well as bergamot to give your hair a fruity fragrance.


  • Provides a deep cleanse and moisturizing effect
  • Doesn’t use sulfates and parabens
  • Removes buildups and exfoliates skin pores

The Cons

  • Can get your scalp itchy

2. Honeydew Argan Oil Shampoo

Product Overview

If you have an oily scalp and particularly greasy hair, you’ll love this argan oil shampoo by Honeydew.

It cleanses and purifies the hair to reduce sebum production and wash out all the impurities stuck in the scalp.

It’s infused with Moroccan argan oil and jojoba oil to add some shine and softness to your hair.

  • Infused with argan oil
  • Uses jojoba oil for extra moisture
  • Reduces sebum production
  • Deep cleansing properties

That means you don’t have to worry about drying out your hair that could, in turn, lead to more oil production.


  • Deeply cleanses your scalp
  • Exfoliates and moisturizes skin pores
  • Repairs existing hair follicles

The Cons

  • Dries your hair out

3. Pureology Purify Cleansing Shampoo

Product Overview

This shampoo is perfect for colored hair that needs an extra srub to get gunk and impurities out of the hair without speeding up the fading process of your dye.

It cleanses the hair gently while thoroughly removing unwanted grime and mineral deposits.

  • Perfect for color-treated hair
  • Infused with tea tree oil
  • Rosemary and peppermint extracts
  • Removes unwanted grime and minerals

It leaves your hair feeling and smelling fresh and clean, thanks to the scent of tea tree oil, peppermint, and rosemary the shampoo leaves behind.


  • Softens and conditions your hair
  • Repairs damaged hair
  • Thoroughly cleanses all the impurities

The Cons

  • Smells bad for some people

4. Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo

Product Overview

If you need a clarifying shampoo for black hair, this is one of the best ones for you.

Nothing But Clarifying Shampoo gets rid of dirt and minerals that make your hair dull and heavy, give you a deep yet gentle clean after weeks of using products in your hair.

It also cleans and purifies your hair so it can better absorb your conditioner.

  • Doesn’t use mineral oils, colorants or phthalates
  • Perfect for black hair
  • Get’s rid of mineral oils and dirt
  • Deep cleaning abilities

It’s formulated as safely as possible.

It doesn’t contain parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, colorants, phthalates, and other dangerous chemicals.


  • Gets rid of the build-up sebum
  • Nourishes the scalp
  • Makes your hair more prone to absorb conditioner

The Cons

  • Can make your head itchy

5. Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

Product Overview

Use this clarifying shampoo if you need to lift and get rid of product buildup but can’t sacrifice moisture.

It contains Moroccanoil’s signature argan oil as well as avocado oils to nourish your hair. That ensures that even if you clarify your hair, you won’t leave it dehydrated.

  • Moroccanoil’s signature argan oil
  • Comes in a concentrated formula
  • Rich, thick lather
  • Works amazing with hard water

The shampoo comes in a concentrated formula, giving a rich lather when you wash your hair, unlike other sulfate-free formulas that don’t create suds.

This is also a favorite shampoo for hard water.


  • Deeply cleanses your hair and skin
  • Uses natural oils to nourish your scalp
  • Provides all the needed nutrients

The Cons

  • You might not like the smell

6. Saragan Pure Activated Charcoal Shampoo

Product Overview

If you want an all-in-one shampoo that clarifies the hair as well as moisturizes and strengthens it, this Saragan shampoo is your guy.

The best part is that it’s made with natural ingredients!

Activated charcoal helps purify the hair and absorb all the oil and grime left by product buildup, leaving your hair fresh and clean.

  • Activated charcoal to purify your scalp
  • Argan and coconut oil for extra moisture
  • Avocado and almond oils packed with nutrients
  • Has some keratin for extra strength

It’s also infused with argan, coconut, avocado, and almond oils to restore deep moisture in the hair to leave it shiny and soft.

It also has some keratin to fortify the hair and make it strong.


  • Provides healthier and thicker hair
  • Deeply cleanses and hydrates
  • Restores natural volume and thickness

The Cons

  • Might get spilled

7. Acure Curiously Clarifying Shampoo

Product Overview

If you’re looking for a cruelty-free shampoo that packs a punch when it comes to a gentle yet thorough cleansing, this Acure shampoo is the one for you.

It’s made with lemongrass that purifies and detoxifies the hair, paired with argan oil that softens and conditions the hair for a shiny, bouncy finish.

  • Cruelty-free shampoo
  • Gentle and through cleansing
  • Purifing and detoxifying properties
  • Fresh and natural scent

This shampoo also leaves your hair smelling fresh and natural, thanks to its lemongrass scent.


  • Provides needed vitamins
  • Deeply cleanses and detoxifies
  • Provides deep nourishment for the follicles

The Cons

  • A bit pricy

8. Puriya Sulfate-Free Scalp Clarifying Shampoo

Product Overview

If you suffer from sensitive scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, acne-prone or eczema, you need an extra gentle clarifying shampoo, like this one from Puriya.

It’s explicitly designed for those with flaky, itchy scalps.

  • Formulated with sage and rosemary
  • Infused with aloe vera extracts
  • Works great with sensitive skins
  • Fights acne, eczema and dermatitis

The shampoo is formulated with soothing ingredients like sage, rosemary, and aloe to eliminate irritation while washing the hair deeply.

The result is deeply cleaned, dandruff-free hair that you can feel confident wearing all day.


  • Provides dandruff-free hair
  • Cleanses your pores and hair
  • Eliminates irritation and inflammation

The Cons

  • Has chemicals

9. Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo

Product Overview

While this shampoo’s main goal is to get rid of any oiliness and grease left in your hair by product buildup, it also eliminates flakes and dead skin on your scalp.

That means you get a complete refresh of your hair, leaving it feeling cleaner and lighter.

  • Great formula for hair growth
  • Contains lots of essential oils
  • Infused with rosemary, basil and lemon
  • Has a nice, pleasant scent

This shampoo has a volumizing formula that can bring limp, lifeless locks back to life with somebody.

It’s also great one for hair growth because it contains essential oils from lemon, basil, and rosemary.


  • Makes your hair silky smooth
  • Increases thickness and strength
  • Stimulates hair growth with nutrients and essential oils

The Cons

  • The shampoo might not work for all types of hair

10. GIOVANNI 50:50 Balanced Hydrating Clarifying Shampoo

Product Overview

Balancing a detox with hydration is the key to giving your hair the thorough cleanse it needs without stripping it of much-needed moisture.

This ph balanced shampoo by Giovannie ensures you get both.

It has moisturizing properties with the help of vitamins and proteins to hydrate your hair and make each strand more plump and bouncy.

  • Infused with vitamins and proteins
  • pH balanced formula
  • Deep hydration properties
  • Get’s rid of excessive dirt and oil

At the same time, it cleanses your hair deeply to get rid of any excess dirt and oil left behind.


  • Provides vitamins and proteins
  • Helps repairing damaged hairs and split ends
  • Gives your hair much needed moisture

The Cons

  • Hard to lather shampoo

11. Avalon Organics Shampoo in Clarifying Lemon

Product Overview

This organic shampoo by Avalon Organics uses lemon as its star ingredient, which is known to clarify and detoxify the hair, leaving it feeling more fresh and clean.

  • Has quinoa proteins
  • Infused with aloe vera extracts
  • Has vitamin E for soft an shiny hair
  • Uses lemon as a maine ingredient

It’s also infused with fortifying and hydrating ingredients such as quinoa proteins, vitamin E, and aloe vera to ensure that your tresses are left strong, soft, and shiny.


  • Deep detoxifying effect
  • Leaves your hair fresh and clean
  • Provides all the needed nutrients

The Cons

  • Interesting but powerful scent

12. Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo

Product Overview

This tea tree shampoo helps purify the scalp and hair while soothing it at the same time.

Tea tree also helps eliminate dandruff or any itchy flakes sitting on your scalp.

Because it has jojoba oil, you can be sure your hair won’t dry out and look dull and parched.

  • Infused with tea tree oil
  • Has jojoba oil extracts
  • Restores natural shiness
  • Has natural soothing abilities

Instead, the shampoo helps restore its natural shine while ensuring you feel fresh and clean.


  • Gives your hair needed hydration
  • Fights dandruff and itchy scalps
  • Strengthens the existing hairs

The Cons

  • No perfume

13. Maple Holistics Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

Product Overview

If you want to clarify your hair and promote hair growth for longer, stronger locks, this is the shampoo for you. 

It’s made with apple cider vinegar to purify the hair and promote volume and body throughout your locks, making your hair look thicker.

It’s also infused with jojoba, sunflower, argan oils to ensure you retain moisture and shine in your locks.

  • Infused with jojoba, sunflower and argan oils
  • Packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals
  • Has rosemary essential oil
  • Makes your hair stronger and thicker

Packed with rosemary essential oil, this shampoo can help regrow your hair, which is great for those suffering from hair loss or thinning.


  • Deeply moisturizing effects
  • Nourishing effect from all the nutrients
  • Works perfect with hair loss problems

The Cons

  • Not the greatest product for frizzy hair

14. Manic Panic Prepare to Dye Clarifying Shampoo

Product Overview

Clarifying your hair is step one to dyeing your hair successfully because you need clean hair with no oils and serums blocking the pigment from penetrating your hair cuticle.

This shampoo by Manic Panic is the perfect clarifying shampoo to use before your color treatment.

It helps eliminate minerals, oils, and dirt to ensure your hair and scalp are immaculate and detoxified.

  • Eliminates minerals, oils and dirt
  • Leaves a nice, refreshing scent
  • Infused with ginger root and rosemary extracts
  • Has sage extracts

It also leaves your hair smelling fresh and relaxing, thanks to ginger root, rosemary, and sage extracts.


  • Blocks dye to penetrate hair cuticle
  • Makes your hair healthy-looking
  • Stregthen the skin and hair follicles

The Cons

  • It doesn’t work with oily hair

15. HASK Charcoal with Citrus Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set

Product Overview

Charcoal is fantastic for sucking up any dirt and oil left on your hair after days of using serums and oils to freshen up in between wash days.

This is combined with lemon and grapefruit essential oils that help clarify the hair and stimulate the scalp.

This combo of ingredients leaves your hair looking clean, lively, and shiny.

  • Uses charcoal as a primary cleansing factor
  • Infused with lemon and grapefruit essential oils
  • Has a nice scent
  • Non-staining color in the shampoo

The charcoal used in this HASK shampoo is made from Philippine coconuts.

The deep color in your shampoo is non-staining, so you don’t have to worry about ruining any towels and clothes.  


  • Repairs the damaged hairs
  • Will keep your hair nourished and healthy
  • Makes your hair shinier

The Cons

  • Very thin and liquidy


It’s one thing to clarify your hair, but another to ensure that your shampoo is good for you and never too harsh on your scalp and delicate hair cuticles. 

If you want the best results when you press reset on your hair after weeks of TLC from your favorite products, you should go for a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo.

The purifying properties, coupled with gentle surfactants to clean your hair without stripping it, is a match made in heaven.

So if you want to leave your hair clean and fresh but still soft, shiny, and bouncy, try out any of the shampoos above and kiss product buildup goodbye.

Best Choice

Amazon best-selling product B086XQF587

Our rating

Love Beauty and Planet Delightful Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Bamboo charcoal usage
Infused with coconut oil
Nice, pleasant fruity fragrance

aida turner


Founder & Hair Beauty Specialist

I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty and make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!