Repairing, clarifying, toning – the list of buzzwords on our shampoo bottles know no bounds. And while I’ve talked about how to do damage control on your hair before, there are always more methods to try. Clarifying shampoos in particular, help strip away regular buildup when you replace your go-to shampoo with it every week or so. Along with many clarifying shampoos comes another word of the moment – chelating – but the two actually don’t go hand in hand.

Chelating shampoo - what you need to know

Clarifying provides that regular deep clean, while the chelating kind is specifically formulated to remove mineral buildup. This may only be necessary for people who wash with hard water – that is, water with high mineral content – that results in buildup over time. (If you’re in the US – you can check how hard your water is here.)

In order to be a chelating shampoo, it needs to be able to, well, chelate – AKA contain ingredients that extract the buildup. Strands that feel extra unruly or particularly “coated”, like you can still feel product on your roots after washing, might be suffering from such buildup. So if you want your clarifying shampoo to combat the effects of hard water (and chlorine – it’s a hair saver for swimmers), you’ll want to look for chelating agents like the ingredient EDTA. And you don’t need to use both a clarifying and chelating ‘poo to get both types of clean– it’ll do everything that clarifying does (removing non-mineral buildup and residue). However, mineral buildup is not one you likely need to worry about on a weekly basis.

Now you’ve got the 411, but what about the products? Well, chelating shampoos are hard to come by in many popular hair care lines and drugstore brands because they’re so specialized. But there are a few well loved products on the market that are worth a try if your hair feels especially in need of a deep-clean, such as Fekkai Apple Cider Shampoo or Joico K-PAK Clarifying Shampoo.

Do you have clarifying and chelating shampoos in your hair routine?


Beauty, haircare
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