Hair Health

Does clarifying shampoo remove color?

[+ other questions, answered]

In this Article

If you have color-treated hair, you know firsthand that a lot of care goes into keeping your hair healthy and your color vibrant. It only makes sense, then, that you’d thoroughly vet any products in your haircare routine to ensure that they don’t cause fading or brassiness.

You may have heard that, despite its many benefits, clarifying shampoo can remove color from hair. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at clarifying shampoo for colored hair, explaining how you can use this powerful cleanser while maintaining the longevity and brilliance of your color-treated hair.

What is clarifying shampoo?

While all shampoos are designed to remove dirt, excess oil, and other residue from hair, clarifying shampoo is specially formulated to provide a deeper cleanse. Most clarifying shampoos achieve this through the use of chelating agents and surfactants. The former are chemical compounds that isolate impurities, while the latter are molecules that reduce the surface tension of liquids. When used together, these chelating agents and surfactants provide a powerful clean, removing buildup and leaving hair shiny, soft, and healthy.

What does clarifying shampoo do to colored hair?

Whether you want to remove excess oil from your scalp or fight the effects of hard water residue, clarifying shampoo could be the perfect solution. However, you might have heard that clarifying shampoo is bad for colored hair. We’re here to dispel that myth.

If you have color-treated hair, some fading is inevitable, regardless of whether you wash with a traditional or a clarifying shampoo. Although clarifying shampoo is more powerful than traditional shampoos, it’s still safe for color-treated hair. In some cases, clarifying shampoo can even make color-treated hair appear more vibrant as it removes any residue that could cause dullness. The key is to use clarifying shampoo correctly.

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t apply a clarifying shampoo more than once a week, as this can cause colored hair to fade prematurely, as well as strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to breakage. It’s important to note, though, that this guidance may vary depending on your hair type, texture, color, and whether you’re using any additional treatments. If you’re unsure how often to apply a clarifying shampoo for your colored hair, consult your stylist — they can provide a more personalized recommendation.

For more insights into how to safely use clarifying shampoo for colored hair, keep reading.

Can you use clarifying shampoo to remove color?

Although clarifying shampoo isn’t designed to remove hair dye, its high surfactant levels can cause color to fade faster than a traditional shampoo. Vivid colors, such as non-traditional hair colors such as purple, blue, or pink, and fashion colors, which are direct dyes that do not deeply penetrate the hair cuticle, are more susceptible to fading than other colors.

If you’re hoping to use clarifying shampoo to remove color, keep the “once-a-week” rule in mind. Applying a clarifying shampoo once per week will fade color without stripping your hair of its natural oils, which can leave it dry and prone to damage. Patience is key here — it may take several weeks to see results.

Note that this technique primarily works for semi-permanent dye (although it can help fade vivid permanent colors that bleed easily). If you want to remove non-vivid permanent dye, it’s best to schedule a color correction appointment at your local salon.

How to use clarifying shampoo [without stripping color]

Restricting your clarifying shampoo usage to once a week isn’t the only way to safely apply it to color-treated hair. Here are some other tips on how to get a deep cleanse while ensuring your color stays vibrant:

  • Choose the right clarifying shampoo. Not all clarifying shampoos are made alike. Although they all use powerful cleansers to achieve a deeper clean, some rely on harsher chemicals than others. When choosing a clarifying shampoo for colored hair, be sure to carefully read the ingredients list. Look for a shampoo that’s free from sulfates and that uses naturally derived chelating agents and a gentle surfactant blend — both of which you can find in Living Proof’s Clarifying Detox Shampoo — to cleanse without stripping.
  • Rinse with cold water. Although the idea of taking a cold shower may send shivers down your spine, rinsing your hair with cold water after applying clarifying shampoo can help seal the hair cuticle, keeping color in and making it appear more vibrant.
  • Take steps to protect your hair. Certain color treatments — especially bleaching or lightening — can damage hair. Add clarifying shampoo and heat styling to the mix, and you could find yourself with brittle and broken strands. To keep your color-treated hair soft and healthy, be sure to follow clarifying shampoo with a moisturizing conditioner, use a leave-in conditioning mask, and always apply heat protectant before styling.
  • Avoid overwashing. Washing color-treated hair too often can cause it to quickly fade, regardless of whether you use a traditional or a clarifying shampoo; it can also cause your hair to dry out, leading to breakage. Although your hair type and texture will dictate how often you wash it, it’s best not to wash color-treated hair more than two or three times a week. Adding a dry shampoo such as Living Proof’s Advanced Clean Dry Shampoo to your routine can help you extend the time between washes.
  • Use color-safe treatments. When putting together your haircare routine, be sure to use salon-quality products specially formulated for color-treated hair. By using a color-safe clarifying shampoo — as well as other color-safe products — you can remove buildup without stripping color. At Living Proof, we’ve formulated our entire line of products to be color-safe.
  • Use clarifying shampoo before refreshing your color. Whether you’re applying at-home color or are heading to the salon, washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo the day before you add color can remove buildup, allowing for the dye to distribute more evenly.

The color-safe clarifying shampoo you’re looking for is here

Living Proof’s Clarifying Detox Shampoo is specially formulated to be tough on buildup, but gentle on hair — including color-treated hair.

As with all of our products, our Clarifying Detox Shampoo delivers real results backed by science. It uses a combination of naturally derived chelating agents, magnetic polymers, activated charcoal, and a gentle surfactant blend to provide a powerful cleanse, restore your hair’s natural shine, and enhance its vibrancy (by removing buildup that can cause hair to look dull). Free from sulfates, parabens, silicones, and phthalates, it’s gentle enough to use on even vivid and fashion colors.

Frequently asked questions

Does clarifying shampoo remove color?

Yes and no. Washing your hair with any shampoo — whether traditional or clarifying — will cause color-treated to fade. Although clarifying shampoo can remove color through repeated use, it isn’t specifically designed for that purpose. Instead, clarifying shampoo is intended to remove excess oil, product residue, and hard water buildup from your hair.

How often can I use clarifying shampoo on my color-treated hair?

General guidance dictates that to prevent color-treated hair from prematurely fading, you should only apply a color-safe clarifying shampoo once a week. However, this guidance may vary depending on your hair type, texture, color, and whether you’re using any additional treatments, so be sure to consult your stylist for best results.

How do I know if I need to use a clarifying shampoo?

You might benefit from using a color-safe clarifying shampoo if:

  • You frequently use leave-in hair products, which can leave behind product residue
  • You regularly heat-style your hair, using protectant serums or sprays to prevent damage and hairspray to set your style
  • Your hair has difficulty holding different styles
  • Your hair looks and feels oily or greasy, even after washing
  • Your hair feels heavy or sticky
  • Your hair looks limp or lifeless
  • Your color looks dull, instead of vibrant

Can I use clarifying shampoo immediately after coloring my hair?

Washing with a clarifying shampoo too soon after coloring your hair can cause it to fade faster. For best results, let your color set for at least three days before washing your hair, with a clarifying shampoo or otherwise.

Are there clarifying shampoos specifically designed for color-treated hair?

Although clarifying shampoos specifically formulated for color-treated hair are uncommon, many clarifying shampoos include ingredients that are color-safe. When choosing a clarifying shampoo to add to your haircare routine, look for a product that’s formulated without sulfates and that uses naturally derived chelating agents and a gentle surfactant blend to cleanse.

Protect Your Color-treated Hair with Specially Formulated Products

Our hair care quiz will help you develop the perfect routine to keep your color-treated hair vibrant and healthy.

Take the Quiz

  1. Living Proof, “What is clarifying shampoo? [+ how & when to use it].”
  2. Living Proof, “Hair Chelating 101: Your Ultimate Guide,”
  3. Pharmaceutics, “Surface Active Agents and Their Health-Promoting Properties: Molecules of Multifunctional Significance,”
  4. Living Proof, “What Is Oily Scalp? 9 Common Causes & How to Treat It,”
  5. Living Proof, “The effects of hard water on hair [+ how to treat it],”
  6. Living Proof, “Hair Breakage 101: Causes & Treatments,”
  7. Living Proof, “10 Colored Hair Tips for Long-Lasting Color & Healthy Hair,”
  8. Living Proof, “How to Protect Your Hair from Heat Damage,”
  9. Living Proof, “How to Use Leave-in Conditioner,”
  10. Living Proof, “Does Heat Protectant Spray Actually Work?,”
  11. Living Proof, “The story behind our science,”

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Living Proof Review Team

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