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What Are Chelating Shampoos? | MIMI

What Is Chelating Shampoo?

There are endless amounts of products on the market that claim to be the key to perfect hair, but how do you know which is right for your mane? Our friends at MIMI tested chelating shampoo to get the dirt on what it has to offer.

The beauty world moves quickly, of that we are all too aware. Every few months or so, new formulations hit the shelves, new fads and techniques become explosively popular, and we all feel like new again. Recently, I've noticed the term "chelating" cropping up on shampoo bottles, and haven't had the faintest idea what it means. I consider myself very literate when it comes to beauty, so obviously my not knowing had to be remedied. ASAP.

So I did what any girl would do in this situation: I turned to my trusty colorist and friend, Mark Debolt of Wella Haircare and Marie Robinson Salon in New York City. He had all of my questions answered in a jiffy.


Let's get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we? According to Debolt, chelating shampoos are formulated to remove minerals that have attached to the hair's fiber. This is necessary because minerals can leave the hair dry and limp, and they can cause buildup over time. And that's an issue. Why? It causes cuticle degradation (aka hair damage), and it can interfere with the oxidative processes of lightening hair (when you bleach it) and depositing color.

So how is it different from a clarifying shampoo, you ask? Clarifying shampoos are much harsher cleansers than chelating shampoos.

Why should you be using a chelating shampoo? "In NYC, we see many clients who live in buildings with old copper pipes. As a result, minerals bond the hair and oxidized copper causes highlighted hair to have a green cast," Debolt explained. "We very regularly use chelating shampoos to remove these minerals and restore the hair's tone and brightness."

And that doesn't just apply to New York City dwellers. Those who live elsewhere may live in cities or towns with municipal wells, and this water can lead to iron deposits on the hair, giving it an orange cast.

If you're look to try out a chelating shampoo, here are two solid formulations:

  1. Malibu C. Hard Water Wellness Shampoo ($15)
  2. Joico K Pak Chelating Shampoo ($30)

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