Is head and shoulders a clarifying shampoo

By: | Last Updated: April 19, 2022

Sometimes, with all the products launched in the market, it gets confusing to track which is for what. It becomes more frustrating when you hear from forums that you can substitute one product for another— and still have the same results!

Head and Shoulders shampoo is included in that gray area. They are the leading anti-dandruff shampoos, but some find them to be as good as any clarifier. Is Head and Shoulders a clarifying shampoo? Can you use it instead of buying another shampoo?

It isn’t easy to conclude since anti-dandruff and clarifying shampoos share similar purifying properties and appear interchangeable.

But today, you’d make it clear once and for all to yourself. So, in the end, you go for what works for you.

How do you tell if a shampoo is a clarifying shampoo?

How do you tell if a shampoo is a clarifying shampoo

Updating your haircare routine means knowing the difference between products. A simple misstep of using a clarifying shampoo every day, for example, can cause your scalp dryness.

To avoid a mistake, you should know the basics of shampoos first.

The primary goal of shampoos is to clean the hair and scalp at a minimum. 

Nowadays, the formulas promote smoothness, strength, and hair growth. They are typically composed of cleansing agents, additives, conditioning agents, and unique ingredients which target specific problems.

The shampoo ingredients remain similar, no matter the brand: 80-90% water, 2-8% detergents, and an estimated 1% fragrance and preservatives. Shampoos mainly differ by the amount of surfactants (detergents) they contain. 

Regular shampoos aim to moisturize, smoothen and nourish your hair. 

Most shampoos nowadays are sulfate-free and gentle enough for everyday use. In contrast, clarifying shampoos contain heavy surfactants and may even include a harsher type of surfactant, sulfates, in their ingredients.

Why is that?

A perfect example of a surfactant’s effectiveness is liquid detergent— no amount of dirt or grease can withstand it. 

These soap-like ingredients help reset and restore your hair to shinier and softer condition by removing any build-up— from dirt and your natural oils to the hair products you use, such as mousse and serums. 

However, these surfactants also cause dryness which may induce or aggravate skin conditions. Unlike your regular shampoos, you are only generally advised to use them no more than once or twice a week.

Individuals with curly or kinky hair must also consider using clarifiers too often. After all, they have the type of hair prone to dryness

If you also colored your hair recently, you should know that clarifiers may strip color gradually. Lastly, those with sensitivity or skin conditions must stay aware of irritation in using these shampoos.  

Clarifying shampoos are a must, especially if you use numerous hair products daily, sweat a lot, or often expose your hair to the environment. 

Don’t fear the abundance of different shampoos available in the store. Your best bet? Get one that clearly states “clarifying” on the label!  

Can anti-dandruff shampoo be used as clarifying shampoo?

Can anti-dandruff shampoo be used as clarifying shampoo

The answer is yes— to an extent. 

They are not entirely exchangeable products as they simply have different purposes

Before anything else, you should know why you can’t treat dandruff like oils or other accumulated products. It’s another key to understanding the non vice-versa relationship between anti-dandruff and clarifying shampoos. 

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition. They do not only occur in hair but also on the scalp, eyebrows, mustache or beard, and shoulders. 

Its symptoms mainly show up as visible white flakes, irritation, and inflammation in the mentioned areas. If the symptoms grow severe, a medicated shampoo becomes necessary to relieve the conditions.

Clarifying shampoos do NOT treat dandruff. 

With mild dandruff, clarifying shampoo might help as a topical treatment. However, dandruff has contributing factors like hormone disorders, diet, depression, and illnesses that may trigger its recurrence. 

They can also get worse with heat, sweat, and pollution. Moreover, some clarifiers may prove too harsh and dehydrating to an already inflamed and flaky skin. 

This is where anti-dandruff shampoos become the preferred choice— a hero to rescue you from dandruff. 

And of course, like Captain America, one hero remains at the top of the pyramid regarding anti-dandruff shampoos: Head and Shoulders. 

Head and Shoulders is a brand under Procter and Gamble. By 1975, their clinical trials proved effective in removing dandruff, and by 2002, they were able to decode the genetic code of Malassezia globosa, the dandruff-causing fungus. 

Their active ingredients include selenium sulfide, piroctone olamine, and zinc pyrithione. 

Each bottle of head and shoulders contains an anti-dandruff component. This does not only include shampoos but also conditioners, 2-in-1, co-wash, hair masks, and scalp treatments. 

While clarifying shampoos do eliminate dandruff, is anti-dandruff shampoo clarifying?

Anti-dandruff shampoos, like Head and Shoulders, can be a clarifying treatment. 

As dirt and residue accumulate in your hair, it may trap oil and encourage yeast overgrowth, which leads to dandruff. In this case, it’s a preventive measure to use anti-dandruff shampoos.

Note, however, that it is not a permanent replacement. This is especially true if you put a lot of products in your hair. 

Always remember that clarifying shampoos have a more significant amount of surfactants to strip your hair of all impurities and bring your hair back to square one. 

On the other hand, anti-dandruff shampoos are regular medicated shampoos that may contain ingredients that can clarify your scalp. 

Is Head and Shoulders a good clarifying shampoo?

Is Head and Shoulders a good clarifying shampoo

It’s a bother to have separate products for everything. It is probably a relief to know that your Head and Shoulders may work effectively as your regular shampoo and as a gentle clarifier. 

However, there’s a difference between knowing it WILL work and hoping it MAY work. 

Head and Shoulders is not a clarifying shampoo. 

It is an anti-dandruff shampoo that happens to have purifying ingredients. In other words, it has clarifying powers, but it doesn’t classify as a clarifying shampoo. 

Be that as it may, Head and Shoulders is an excellent choice to regularly and effectively cleanse your hair of trapped oils and dirt. 

Their cleansing agents include anionic surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Non-sulfate and amphoteric surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine and cocamide MEA, which have mild dermatological properties, are included in the formula too. 

Sulfates are strong cleaners and may prove harsh to the scalp and hair. These ingredients are also the reason why Head and Shoulders purifies deeply. 

Moreover, Head and Shoulders products have pH balancing agents, which offset the effects of anionic surfactants like SLS in the hair. 

You get to deep cleanse your hair regularly and gently without worry. This is especially helpful if you do not want to commit to clarifying treatments yet but want a cleaner scalp. 

There are two product lines of Head and Shoulders they market as containing clarifying properties: Apple Cider Vinegar and their Supreme Sulfate-free products.

Head and Shoulders’ Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is paraben-free and infused with ACV to clarify the scalp and restore the hair’s shine. 

It also comes with an ACV Rinse which you can use in dry hair to remove visible flakes. A 2-in-1 option is also available if you prefer a more conditioning formula. 

Their Supreme line indeed lives up to its name. 

The shampoo and conditioner in this product line are free from sulfates, parabens, dyes, phosphates, phthalates, silicones, and sulfated surfactants. It contains blue algae extract and naturally-derived argan oil, ensuring perfect scalp and hair care. 

Now, that is impressive!

If you are the type not to sweat a lot or rarely use styling products on your hair, those two product lines may be your clarifying go-to. It is not advisable, as repeated here numerous times. 

But hey! If it works for you and makes your hair healthier while keeping your pockets fuller, why not add it to your shopping list?

CHECK OUT: Is Head and Shoulders bad for your hair 

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