Is Your Haircare Regimen Missing This Important Weekly Step?


hair residueSource: WireImage/Getty Images

You regularly wash and condition your hair and devoutly apply nourishing products and heat protectants, but when’s the last time you used an anti-residue shampoo? Turns out, this hero product – also dubbed a “clarifying shampoo” – is a major must in your haircare routine. And get this, it can actually help your other products work better. Whoa! Below we’ve got the full deets on what anti-residue shampoo is and how it works, and we’ve also included some expert recommendations.

The Rundown on Anti-Residue Shampoo

Anti-residue shampoo is formulated to remove product build-up, excess oil, and environmental pollutants from your scalp and strands. In other words, it’s like a badass hair hero that shows zero mercy on all that accumulated yuckiness in your hair.

“Anti-residue shampoo can actually cleanse the hair of residue up to 90% better than your normal go-to shampoo and conditioner,” notes Cheng Tan, a San Diego hairstylist at Koda Salon. (FYI: She personally uses one every Sunday!)

Brittany Johnson, hairstylist for Mayvenn Hair, adds, “Anti-residue shampoos are great for people who use a lot of haircare and styling products, don’t shampoo very often, go swimming regularly, or just want a super cleansing refresh for their hair.”

When your hair has all that built-up gunk and residue, it can feel and look stickier, heavier, drier, and duller – even after washing with a regular shampoo. If that sounds like your sitch, then incorporating an anti-residue shampoo into your haircare regimen could solve your hair woes. Also, even if you can’t see or feel the build-up, it’s possible that it’s there and you just won’t realize how bad it was until after you clarify.

How to Use Anti-Residue Shampoo

As a rule of thumb, you should use an anti-residue shampoo about once per week. You really shouldn’t use it more than that since it can be drying, and if you notice your hair needs it less often then adjust accordingly. (That might be the case if you’re someone who doesn’t really use a lot of styling products, washes with a regular shampoo daily, or lives in a non-polluted area.)

Johnson says, “Clarifying shampoos are OK for most hair types, but should be used in moderation for people who are prone to dry strands or have chemically-treated hair. It can also cause color to fade more quickly, so be mindful of using one that is specifically safe for color-treated hair.”

Whatever your frequency, always give your hair some TLC with a deep conditioner afterward.

Pick Up A Bottle

anti-residue shampoo

You’ve got a number of options here! Let’s start with Neutrogena’s Anti-Residue Shampoo, $7, a cult-favorite, and Johnson’s go-to. It’s been around for decades and is a great one to try if you’re new to the game and don’t want to throw a lot of cash at a product just yet. It’s also reputed to be the go-to treatment for deep-cleaning dreadlocks. On the opposite end of the price spectrum is Bumble & Bumble Sunday Shampoo, $27, which Tan recommends if you’re seeking a particularly robust clarifying shampoo. She says it’s the strongest one she’s personally used.

If you prefer sustainable and eco-friendly, then Davines Solu Shampoo, $29, is a great pick that’s formulated with natural ingredients. Pattern Clarifying Shampoo, $20, is particularly good for textured and natural hair and does a great job of clarifying while it also infuses hair with moisture and antioxidants for a super healthy, shiny finish.


Finally, anyone who wants to focus primarily on cleansing their scalp versus strands, Sunday Riley’s new Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum, $48, is legit. It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way and it has some luxe ingredients in it, including glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and niacinamide.

TL;DR? If you’ve yet to include a clarifying, anti-residue shampoo in your regimen then it’s 100% worth trying. You’ll probably be surprised at how soft, shiny, and healthy your hair is afterward, and how easily it takes to styling. Start with the once-weekly pace, then adjust according to your own needs!

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