Having low porosity hair means that your hair cuticle is more interlocked and better at keeping moisture in. However, having a tightly formed cuticle also means it can be harder to get moisture into your hair and your hair is more likely to create product buildup, especially from high protein products. Because unfortunately, there are just some things you can’t, or shouldn’t, do when you have low porosity hair.

So when it comes to shampooing low porosity hair, that is a step that should not be missed or subbed for constant co-washing. In large part because shampooing not only helps combat product buildup, but it also helps to open your hair cuticles so the moisturizing agents in your conditioner can really sink in. Which is exactly what makes clarifying shampoos an essential product for anyone and everyone with low porosity hair.

Clarifying Shampoos Are A Staple For Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity hair is especially prone to product buildup because the tight knit cuticle layer not only prevents moisture from entering the hair shaft, but it can also keep hair products from passing through the outer layer as well. So instead of penetrating your hair, products often just sit on top of the cuticle.

And unless you clarify, product buildup just becomes another barrier preventing your hair from soaking in moisture. Because when it comes to low porosity hair care, there are a few things you should know.

Do All Clarifying Shampoos Have Sulfates?

Although sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate are two of the most common, and harshest, surfactants – they aren’t the only surfactants available in clarifying shampoos. And while sulfates might be fine for some, for others sulfates can be too harsh and drying on your hair. So for those with low porosity hair who’d rather avoid sulfates entirely, we’ve gathered a roundup of clarifying shampoos just for you.

Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate and Acetic Acid (Apple Cider Vinegar), for example, are two of the most common sulfate-free cleansing agents in clarifying shampoos. And while most are gentle enough for use as a great daily or weekly cleanser, some should be used a little more sparingly.


1. Bounce Curl Gentle Clarifying Shampoo

Pomegranate & Pumpkin enzymes gently exfoliate your hair and scalp without overly drying, making Bounce Curl a great option for everyday cleansing. Plus it uses Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, a mild coconut oil derived surfactant, as its cleansing agent.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? Yes

2. HairStory's New Wash (Deep) 

With a mixture of various surfactant agents including Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, and Acetic Acid HairStory’s new clarifying shampoo is perfect for low porosity hair. Thanks to the multiple cleansing ingredients that remove buildup and excess sebum from both your hair follicles and your pores.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? Yes

3. Alikay Naturals Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo

A quality, gentle clarifying shampoo that’s great for cleansing your low porosity hair of product and sebum buildup after taking down a protective hairstyle. Using Potash and Melaleuca Alternifolia Oil (Tea Tree Oil) as natural cleansing agents that can be applied directly to the scalp.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? Yes

4. Creme of Nature Argan Oil Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse

Thanks to the powerful properties of Apple Cider Vinegar, this clarifying rinse makes a great weekly shampoo replacement or post shampoo treatment to help seal your hair cuticles. Note: while this rinse is great for combatting product buildup, it may not be the best product to use before a deep condition thanks to the closed cuticles.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? Yes

5. SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

This clarifying shampoo is gentle enough for those who color or heat style their low porosity hair but just powerful enough to cleanse your scalp of product buildup using Castor Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar. Although, those who are protein-sensitive should use it sparingly, as it has multiple high protein ingredients.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? Maybe

6. Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment 

Unlike the other clarifying shampoos on this list, Briogeo Scalp Revival is designed to be used after your shower on clean, conditioned hair. Thanks to Binchotan Charcoal and Melaleuca Alternifolia Oil (Tea Tree Oil), your scalp will feel clean and revitalized. However, the strength of the treatment may dry out your scalp if used too often.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? No

7. Girl+Hair CLEAR+ Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Rinse

Packed with Acetic Acid and Hydrogenated Castor Oil (so much so that they’re listed as the second and third ingredients), this clarifying rinse both removes product buildup and helps to restore the pH balance of your hair and scalp. 

This rinse makes a great addition to your cleansing routine after removing extensions or taking down a protective style. Although those with low porosity hair who are also sensitive to protein should be wary of using it too often as it contains both Hydrolyzed Rice Protein and Hydrolyzed Keratin.

Gentle enough for daily/weekly use? Maybe