Tag Archive | SLS

TKC: Chelating v. Clarifying Shampoos

By Kelly





Clarifying Shampoos are a must for hair carers, but is it enough? Do you need a little more?


What is a Chelating Shampoo?

Chelating shampoos are for lifting dulling, mineral deposits (and random ions) that have attached to your hair (mainly in hard water situations.) Some people use them as a pre cursor to a chemical service to help free up the cuticle and get “better” relaxer results. It can also be used after a relaxer (especially if the relaxer is no-lye) to help remove some of the deposits relaxers leave behind.

Regular shampoos can’t remove the minerals; they can only remove product build-up. Minerals really bind onto the hair and don’t just wash off. Not even a clarifying shampoo can lift the minerals off, hence the need for a chelating shampoo.

Chelating shampoos are sometimes referred to as swimmers shampoos because they remove chlorine deposits and such. Some swimmer’s shampoos are also chelating formulas, too

Clarifying Shampoos:

Clarifying shampoos are mainly for lifting everyday products and other build-up from the strands. Some clarifying shampoos contain chelating ingredients (ex. EDTA), but those ingredients are typically used in those other shampoo formulas as preservatives and/or pH balancers. Look for a chelating shampoo that specifically says that it is formulated to either chelate or lift mineral deposits because ingredients can throw you off.

How Do You Know If You Need To Chelate Or Clarify?

Chelating shampoos are only really necessary if you have hard water, are a swimmer, or you relax with no-lye formulas. They are specifically formulated to lift mineral deposits from the hair, and they can also clarify since they are generally stronger shampoo formulas. Occasionally you’ll see a clarifying formula that also chelates like Kenra Clarifying Shampoo.

Plain old, regular product build up tends to result in limp, weighed down feeling hair. It also tends to feel dry and may even have a bit of breakage, but not to the magnitude of mineral-laden hair. Mineral build-up results in hair that is excessively dry and straw-like despite conditioning. Faded colours (for colour-treated hair especially,) and even some brassy weird tones on natural hair colours. Breakage occurs pretty easily. If your water lathers poorly in general with soap and shampoos, your water is hard and you could be in need of a chelating shampoo. Also, if your water makes your skin feel dry after a shower or bathing, you’ve probably got some hard water.

So, If you aren’t a swimmer, a no-lye user, or don’t have hard water, you really don’t need a chelating shampoo.  A clarifying shampoo will do everything you need (and some clarifiers actually contain chelating ingredients like EDTA).  A clarifier won’t work well if you have hard water.  So if your shampoo isn’t lathering well, you’re clarifying and your hair still feels coated, your hair colour has a strange cast to it, and just feels rough and ‘tangly’ in the shower, you probably have hard water and you might benefit from a chelating shampoo.

If you don’t fit the description for a chelating shampoo (and/or aren’t sure if you have hard water) but you want one just in case – I’d use one once a month or every couple of months just for maintenance.

How often should you use a Chelating Shampoo?

Swimmers use chelating shampoo formulas often. My daughter swims twice a week and I use it in her hair twice a month because the swimming cap still lets all the water in and her hair is pretty much drenched when she comes out of the pool. If I feel that it is too much for her hair, I cut back and just use a clarifier or give her hair a really deep condition plus treatments. If you have hard water, then you need it more often too – but once a month or every couple of months is the most common.

Note: It can dry out your hair if you don’t deep condition it afterwards.

Chelating Agents Are:

Disodium EDTA
Tetrasodium EDTA
Sodium Citrate AKA Trisodium Citrate

What Chelating Shampoos are there?

Most chelating shampoos will say that they are.  Some popular chelating shampoos are:

  • Pureology Purify Shampoo – sulfate free – best reputation
  • Kenra Clarifying – chelating formula and clarifier in one – good reviews as does not over strip the hair. Also does not contain SLS as many others do.
  • Shampoo Three’ by Paul Mitchell
  • Joico K-Pac Chelating Poo
  • L’anza Swim & Sun Daily Chelating Shampoo
  • Mizani Phormula 7 Neutralizing and Chelating Shampoo Aveda Detox
  • Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Creamy Aloe Shampoo is chelating  (removes minerals)
  •   RESOLVE® Chelating Shampoo from Joico
  •   Elucence Moisture Acidifying Shampoo
  •   Nexxus Aloe Rid
  •   Nexxus – Phyto Organics Kelate Purifying Shampoo
  •   Ouidad Water Works
  •   Artec Texturline Daily Clarifying Shampoo

Some have joked that Johnsons Baby Shampoo fits the bill as it contains Tetrasodium EDTA and contains no SLS!

The Benefits:

There would be nothing blocking the penetration of healthy hair products and you’d only need to use it once a month or so, so the bottle will last more than a year with that little of use.

Yes, it would have a slight stripped feeling but after deep conditioning afterwards, you will notice a difference in how your hair took to your conditioning treatment because chelating makes your hair like a blank canvas.

Some naturals have never used a chelating shampoo, and find that clarifying works just as well.

The choice is yours.

If you choose to use one of the above products or another that you’ve found, please review and let me know how you got on. Can’t wait…