Saturday, April 19, 2014

Clarifying vs. Chelating

Hey, beautiful people!  In my search for cleansers, I forgot about something pretty important and I wasn’t reminded of it until recently by a fellow forum member -- clarifying and chelating.

Clarifying is a deep clean where you are removing buildup from the surface of the hair, including dirt, oil, gel and silicones.  Think of it as a very intense shampooing.  You should do this if it feels like your staple products have stopped working.  You may also want to clarify if you are trying out new products, so you can see how it works without the benefit of residue from your prior products.  Some people clarify on a schedule, like once a month, but I personally just clarify when my hair needs it (i.e., my products aren’t working, my hair feels gross or I know I used a lot of gel or other product in my last style).  Good clarifiers include:
  • Sulfate shampoo (not an option for me)
  • “Clarifying” shampoo (these use ingredients that are just as strong as sulfates)
  • African Black Soap (my preferred clarifier)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (my alternate)
  • Baking soda
  • Aritha ayurvedic powder
  • Bentonite clay
Chelating is not the same.  Chelating goes one step further than clarifying to remove metals and minerals from the hair.  You should do this periodically if you have hard water to remove the mineral deposits, like magnesium and calcium, or if you are a swimmer to remove the chlorine.  Don’t chelate if you don’t have to because it is guaranteed to strip your hair.  You can find out more about hard water on the U.S. Geological Survey website and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.  A good way to determine if you have hard water is to check here where some counties post their annual drinking water quality reports online.  You can also buy test trips at your local home improvement store.  Good chelators include:
  • "Chelating" or “Swimmer’s" shampoo
  • Citric Acid a/k/a sour salt
  • Phytic Acid
  • Shampoo containing EDTA

I checked my county’s quality report, which said that my area has moderately hard water.  I then bought some teststrips online, and I actually have very hard water.  Thankfully, I already deviated from my no-buy to purchase Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Shampoo because it was on clearance (they are discontinuing the old label) and I know my son and I will be swimming this summer, so I will probably use that this weekend.

It probably goes without saying, but I will say it anyway.  After clarifying or chelating, be sure to condition your hair so that it is not left in the stripped state.

Do you clarify or chelate?  How often?
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