Clarifying shampoo vs. regular shampoo, Which one should you use?

woman showing a clarifying shampoo and a traditional one

These are the 8 differences between clarifying shampoo and traditional shampoo.

  • Difference 1: the clarifying shampoo should be used not more than twice a month, while the traditional shampoo can be used frequently.
  • Difference 2: the clarifying shampoo removes the remains of hair products, while the traditional shampoo only removes superficial dirt deposited on the hair.
  • Difference 3: the clarifying shampoo may control dandruff while traditional shampoo can worsen the situation.
  • Difference 4: a clarifying shampoo is for specific situations such as before a keratin, straightening, or perm treatment. However, traditional shampoo is used after these treatments.
  • Difference 5: the clarifying shampoo should be on the hair for 10 to 20 minutes, while the traditional shampoo works on the hair for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Difference 6: the clarifying shampoo offers few options, while there are different options of traditional shampoo including shampoo for dry to colored hair.
  • Difference 7: a clarifying shampoo can’t be used on colored hair, a traditional shampoo for colored hair will extend the duration of the dye.
  • Difference 8: a traditional shampoo is much easier to find than a clarifying.


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Phew, what a long list! But it’s necessary.

 The differences between traditional and clarifying shampoo are as stark  as night and day.
If you want to get the best out of both types of shampoo, you should know the differences.

Otherwise, if you don’t know the differences between a clarifying and a traditional shampoo, you may be in for some unpleasant surprises.

Having said that, let’s not waste any more time and start analyzing the differences.

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Difference 1: the traditional shampoo is for frequent use while the clarifying shampoo can be used up to twice a month.

 Why can you use the clarifying shampoo only twice a month, while the traditional shampoo can be used every 48 or 72 hours? 


A clarifying shampoo has powerful ingredients to remove traces of hair products, dyes, toner, and dirt. If you used a clarifying shampoo every 48 or 72 hours, your hair would become dry, brittle, and fragile.


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On the other hand,  a traditional shampoo is for frequent use. 

Now, can you use it every day?


Sí, pero como estilista no te lo aconsejo. En realidad, lo que te aconsejo es que laves tu cabello cada 48 o 72 horas, utilizando el shampoo tradicional.

Washing your hair every day isn’t recommended even with a traditional shampoo because it removes hair and scalp moisture. As the weeks go by, your hair will weaken.


Difference 2: a clarifying shampoo removes the remains of hair products and dirt, while a traditional shampoo cleans the hair.

This difference between clarifying shampoo and traditional shampoo derives from the previous difference.

 The clarifying shampoo cleans the hair in depth  because it removes residues of hair products such as gels and styling creams as well as environmental dust particles.


It deeply cleanses your hair because its ingredients are powerful, however, they’re also damaging to the hair. That’s why you should only use it twice a month at the most.

When you wash your hair with traditional shampoo, in turn, you clean it. And this cleansing needs to be done every two or three days.


Difference 3: a traditional shampoo can worsen dandruff, while a clarifying shampoo can help you control it.regular shampoo vs clarifying shampoo to remove dandruff


 If you have dandruff, you should use an anti-dandruff shampoo,  which is designed to specifically control a chronic scalp condition known as seborrheic dermatitis.

In this case, however, traditional shampooing could worsen the situation.  Because the shampoo will leave behind cream residue, which can clog the pores of your scalp and cause more flaking, irritation, and itching.


On the other hand, a clarifying shampoo can help you remove the excess flaking that causes this condition. But, you shouldn’t overuse it. Remember that a clarifying shampoo should only be used a maximum of twice a month.


If you have dandruff, as a professional I recommend that you ask a dermatologist who will advise you on which shampoo to use.

Therefore, if you have dandruff, my advice is to avoid clarifying and traditional shampoos.


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Difference 4: the clarifying shampoo, unlike the traditional shampoo, is used in specific situations.

hairdresser straightening her client's hair

Have you ever heard that before applying a keratin treatment it’s advisable to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo?


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The reason is simple. The hair must be thoroughly clean   for the keratin to penetrate the hair and modify the structure. This can only be achieved with a clarifying shampoo, which removes all traces of hair products. 

The same would be true if you wanted to perm or straighten your hair. Before the treatments, you should wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo.

You can also use the clarifying shampoo if you dyed your hair with semi-permanent hair color and
you want to remove the color or remove some traces.


As we saw before, traditional shampoo has only one purpose: to keep your hair clean and fresh.


Difference 5: the traditional shampoo is left on the hair for three to five minutes while up to 20 minutes for the clarifying shampoo.

Why is the clarifying shampoo left longer than the traditional shampoo?

Because  it needs more time to remove product residues and clean the cuticles. 


The traditional shampoo removes only dirt and grease from the outer layer of the hair and it takes less than removing residues.


Difference 6: according to the hair type, the traditional shampoo offers many more alternatives than the clarifying shampoo.

shampoos on the supermarket shelf

There are no different types of clarifying shampoo. In other words, a clarifying shampoo is for both greasy and dry hair.


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But if we talk about traditional shampoos, you’ll find a great variety for all hair types.


There are shampoos for straight or curly hair, shampoos for dry or normal hair, shampoo for blonde or red hair. You can even find traditional shampoos made with different ingredients such as keratin, coconut oil, silk, or ceramides.


Difference 7: the clarifying shampoo can’t be used on color-treated hair, unlike the traditional shampoo.

And the reason is obvious. If the shampoo is strong enough to remove hair product residues, it’ll do the same for the dye pigments. In other words,  a clarifying shampoo will remove your dye in the first wash. 


Just a comment regarding traditional shampoos. You can use a traditional shampoo on your colored hair, but if it contains sulfates, it’ll fade the color gradually.

So, if you color your hair, you can opt for sulfate-free shampoos.


Difference 8: a clarifying shampoo is more difficult to obtain than a traditional shampoo.

I left this difference for the end because it’s relative. Nowadays, online shopping makes everything much more accessible.

What I mean is that if you run out of traditional shampoo, you can buy one in any store, even in supermarkets.

Clarifying shampoos are sold in pharmacies, specialized stores, and rarely in supermarkets.



If you use hair products daily, you plan to apply keratin or a process such as a perm on your hair, or you want to fade the remains of a semi-permanent hair dye, you can use a clarifying shampoo. But remember, you can use it twice a month at the most.

As regards traditional shampoo, it should be used frequently to keep your hair clean and fresh.

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