The Difference Between Clarifying And Chelating Relaxed Hair

Joico K-Pak Clarify Chelating ShampooChelating

Now for most of us chelating is a fairly new concept among the healthy relaxed hair community. I have to admit when I first heard the term chelating I was like “does that hurt?” Okay maybe I didn’t say that but it does sound kind of “science-y”.

Anyway let me break down what chelating is and what it is not.

What is chelating?

Now this is where things get a bit mixed up and here’s why: while chelating and clarifying are both meant to deep cleanse the hair they actually deep cleanse by getting rid of different things.

Now we know that when you clarify you are removing heavy buildup from products like silicones, oils and dirt, but when you chelate you are removing specifically mineral deposits and heavy metals.

Where do the mineral deposits come from and what do they have to do with relaxed hair?


Mineral deposits to the hair come from to two main sources: hard water (which contains a large amount of minerals like calcium and magnesium in contrast to soft water which contains a significantly low amount of minerals) and no-lye, calcium hydroxide, relaxers.

For regular swimmers, deposits can also come from pool water due to the high content of chlorine.

Hard water and its effects on our hair

Even though relaxed hair is our primary focus in this article, hard water can affect the health of both relaxed and natural hair, especially those of us who live in areas where hard water is our tap water and as such we use it to wash our hair.

The more we use hard water the more mineral deposits build up on our hair which causes it not to respond positively to the products that we use such as our leave in conditioners and deep conditioners.

This means that over a certain period of time if nothing is done about it, our precious strands can become damaged which can be a detriment to length goals.

No Lye (Calcium Hydroxide) and its effects on our hair

For most of us relaxed ladies, especially those of us who self – relax, no-lye relaxers are usually the relaxer of choice. But what most of us didn’t know, at least until recently, is that every time we use no-lye relaxers, calcium deposits onto our hair strands and if you have hard water this makes a double whammy. This is an essential reason why chelating is extremely important for relaxed ladies.

How can chelating help aide in healthy relaxed hair and how often should you do it?

By chelating your hair, you are wiping away all of those moisture blocking mineral deposits from your strands and are allowing for optimum moisture to infuse into those babies.

As far as how often you chelate, most women chelate every couple of months and most times it is not needed as often as a clarifying treatment. You could also opt to chelate a week or so after you do your relaxer touch up.

Which products should I use?

As far as clarifying goes, most sulfate containing shampoos or a specially formulated clarifying shampoo will do a great job at removing most silicones, dirt and oil so you won’t need anything special.

You may find it easier however to pick up a bottle of a combination clarifying and chelating shampoo like the Joico K-Pak Clarify Chelating Shampoo which does both. Another alternative is to look for a ‘swimmers shampoo’ which will serve a similar purpose.

So there you have it, I hope that we have shed light on the differences between chelating and clarifying! Let us know your thoughts below!

Originally posted 2014-01-10 15:00:46.

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About Danni


Hi All! I am Danni and I am a staff writer here at BHI. I am a Graphic Design major and a long time resident of Washington DC. I have been on a healthy hair journey for 3 1/2 years. Within those years , I have went through a relaxed hair journey, a natural hair journey in which I big chopped twice(2nd big chop occurred in November 2013) texturized and now I have big chopped a THIRD TIME! I am 100% natural and here to stay. I am super excited to share information that I learn along the way to those who are just as into healthy hair care as I am and wish everyone best wishes on their healthy hair journey!

About Danni


Hi All! I am Danni and I am a staff writer here at BHI. I am a Graphic Design major and a long time resident of Washington DC. I have been on a healthy hair journey for 3 1/2 years. Within those years , I have went through a relaxed hair journey, a natural hair journey in which I big chopped twice(2nd big chop occurred in November 2013) texturized and now I have big chopped a THIRD TIME! I am 100% natural and here to stay. I am super excited to share information that I learn along the way to those who are just as into healthy hair care as I am and wish everyone best wishes on their healthy hair journey!

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Jestina CampbellLina SantosAndreanette SchafferRobin VeronicaShari Powell Recent comment authors
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Vanae Walker

I would also recommend Paul Mitchell Clarifying Products which are Shampoo 2 (deep cleansing)good oily hair & scalps also lowers oil production. & Shampoo 3 (deep cleansing& chelating) good for swimmers, removes chlorine & iron and minerals from chemicals and hard water. It also strengthen strands & lowers future buildup! KEEP in mind the PAUL MITCHELL products are available for purchase at licensed professionals Beauty Suppliers or at a Paul Mitchell School near you!

Shari Powell

Thanks for the clarification!

Robin Veronica

Could neutralizing shampoo be used to chelate hair? Is it the same?

Andreanette Schaffer

Pretty. Women. !!!

Lina Santos

This is not natural

Jestina Campbell

Thanks i did not know that…