How to Remove Product Buildup and Clarify Hair

10/14/2012 | By | More



I’ve noticed that my hair feels limp, and my natural hair texture and curl pattern is gone. My twists don’ t have the definition they used to have and my hair feels much drier than normal. It’s like my conditioner and moisturizer don’t “work” anymore. I am wondering if I need to change products…maybe my hair has “maxed out” on the benefits of this product line? What should I do? I’m really hating my hair right now.


Sounds like your hair is suffering from product build-up, a very simple to fix problem with clarification! Though there are dozens of commercial clarifying shampoos on the market, you can easily and inexpensively clarify hair – removing caked on butters and oils, shampoo scum, minerals and salts from hard water and product residue.


Using Baking Soda to Clarify Hair

  • 2 tablespoons of shampoo
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

Measure out two tablespoons of shampoo into a small unbreakable container and add about half as much (1 tablespoon) of baking soda to it.

Wet hair and use the baking soda clarifying shampoo as you normally would, using fingertips to massage into your scalp.

Let mixture sit in your hair no longer than 3-4 minutes.

Rinse out thoroughly with cool water, then deep condition as you normally would.

Final rinse should be with an acidic rinse to return hair to its proper acid balance (see below).


Using Vodka to Clarify Hair – Especially Braids and Locsvodka makes a great clairier for hair

Though not common amongst black Naturalistas, use of vodka in shampoos is a well-known and popular solution for non-black women. Vodka detoxes hair and scalp, thoroughly removing product buildup and minerals from hard water. Vodka also acts as a disinfectant on the scalp, killing off fungus and bacteria that may be slowing hair growth or creating itchy dry scalps and dandruff. Your hair will be shinier and bouncier as well.

Simply add 2 tablespoons or so of vodka to your regular shampoo and wash hair normally. Follow up with a good quality moisturizing conditioner, then style.


Bentonite Clay Mask to Clarify Hair

Bentonite clay (rich in magnesium, potassium and silica( strengthens your hair, promotes hair growth, and works great to clarify hair.

To prepare the clay hair clarifier, add a little warm water in half a cup of Bentonite clay to make a thick paste similar to pancake batter.  You may also add apple cider vinegar, coconut milk or essential oils for extra conditioning. After mixing let mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before using.

Apply Bentonite clay mask on damp hair then cover your hair with a plastic wrap (so that the clay doesn’t dry out).  Rinse out thoroughly after 20-25 minutes. Follow up clay treatment with a moisturizing conditioner.


© James Harbal |

Using Dried Herbs to Clarify Hair

Herbs such as rosemary and thyme make a fabulous natural hair clairifier. Simply place 4-5 tablespoons of dried leaf thyme or dried rosemary in 10 oz. of distilled water. Bring mixture to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain herbs from liquid. Add another cup of distilled water. Use this mixture on wet hair immediately after shampooing.

Both rosemary and thyme are excellent clarifiers. Another added benefit is that both herbs are well known to nourish the hair follicle and stimulate hair growth.



Acid Rinses to Balance pH After Clarifying Hair

Acid rinses include:

  • 3 cups of water combined with 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon squeezed into 4 cups of water. This rinse is especially good for highlights, bleached hair or light colored hair
  • Citric acid rinse comprised of 1 tablespoon of citric acid crystals blended into 4 oz. of boiling hot water. Once crystals are completely dissolved add 2-3 cups of cool water and use to rinse hair
  • Aloe Vera juice can also be used as an acidic rinse (some people prefer it to vinegar because of the vinegar smell). Mix 2 tablespoons of aloe juice into 2 cups of water and use as a final rinse to clarify hair after shampooing.

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Category: Cleansing, Questions/Answers

About the Author ()

Blogger, writer, relationships/dating expert, fitness trainer and natural hair enthusiast since 1997. Sharing information from grandmomma, books and scientific journals, as well as my personal discoveries and experiences with natural hair as we journey from relaxers, flat irons and weaves together.

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  1. Tanya Sheard says:

    awesome I am going to try the baking soda:)

  2. after you apply the acid rince do you rince it out with water? after how long? or do you just leave it in your hair?

  3. after you apply the acid rince do you rince it out with water? after how long? or do you just leave it in your hair?

  4. sexxygurlmd says:

    Has any of this stuff been verified? I mean, you can look at hair under a microscope and see if there is actually “buildup” on it. I watch Forensic Files a lot and they look at hair samples a lot, but I’ve never heard them comment the hair had anything whatsoever on it. If it sounds good, it still doesn’t mean its true! We do know waxes and oils in the hair products can coat the hair and this is was gives that promised “shiny hair”, but does it “build up”? Its worth googling anyway. We know hair samples are used for drug testing and looking for poisons like Arsenic. What about all the prescription drugs you take? Could they be the culprit? Sounds plausible, doesn’t it? Truth is i don’t know, but no one ever mentioned it. Pure alcohol, really? In my high school chemistry lab, ethanol was labeled as a poison, and you want to put it on your hair? just saying’. Now baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is classified by the NFPA as a class 1 health hazard, which means “Exposure would cause irritation with only minor residual injury”. Bentonite clay, used to line cow ponds and famously for western movie scenes involving slippery mud. It does have minerals in it, BUT they are part of the molecular formula of the minerals in clay, and they don’t just rub off into your hair. They don’t come off at all!! That would be like the oxygen in water (H2O) coming off when you drink it!! (it does not). As far as natural remedies, I think urine may be a good one. Oh, but it doesn’t sound good, so it can’t be good, right? Again, not very scientific. Actually, urine is 1. sterile (unless you have a bladder infection), 2. definitely “natural”, and from your own body. 3. acidic, so it could help restore this “acid balance” they talk about. and it has PROTEIN in it!! Yes, it does. Its called Tam-Horsfal protein (google that), and is what keeps you from getting Interstitial Cystitis and protects the lining of the bladder!! BTW, did you know that plain water denatures hair? Denatured protein means the amino acids in the protein have lost their 3 dimensional structure. Sound bad? not really. once the hair dries, it regains this 3d arrangement!! How about just go through your cupboard and try every product you have on your hair to see if it helps? Lemon juice? weak acid. Peroxide? oxidizer. These definitely damage your hair by chemical reaction, but they’re still recommended?? Anyone care to inject a little reasoning, logic, scientific rationale or evidence into their beauty mythology? Just a thought : )

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