Chelating Hair At Home: The Ultimate How-To Guide

If you’ve noticed your hair looking a little dry and dull lately, or if your hair products are not as effective as they once were, then you should consider chelating your hair. If you’re not familiar with the term or you’re not sure what chelating hair involves, then keep reading.

curly woman lemon chelating

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about chelating hair and the top reasons why you should be doing it. 

But first, let’s explain what chelating is. 

Chelating hair is a process that removes the buildup of metals and minerals. If you use hard water or swim in chlorinated pools, it can result in metals and minerals building up on your hair. This makes it difficult for hair products to work correctly and can cause damage to your hair. 

What Does Chelating Hair Mean?

Using hard water or chlorine water on your hair can lead to mineral buildup, which can stop your hair products from working properly.

This can also lead to hair product buildup, and you may start to notice your hair looking and feeling different. 

When you chelate your hair, you simply remove the mineral buildup and hair product residue from your hair.

You can use a special chelating shampoo or a more natural method using lemon juice which you can read more about below. 

To remove the metals and minerals from your hair, you need to use products that contain specific chelating agents such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), ascorbic acid, or citric acid.

These are referred to as chelators, and they attach to the minerals and metals, which are then washed away. 

Also Read: The Problem With Low Poo Shampoos (And Alternatives To Use!)

Why Do You Need To Chelate Your Hair?

Hard water and chlorinated water can be damaging to your hair. The mineral buildup acts as a barrier and prevents any moisture from getting to your hair. 

When you use hair products, they will be ineffective as the mineral buildup will stop the hair product from doing its job. 

If these minerals and metals are left in your hair, they can leave your hair feeling dry, dull, frizzy, and weighed down.

If your hair is colored, mineral buildup and pool chemicals can make it appear brassy and lose its vibrancy. 

Chelating hair from time to time can prevent you from experiencing these different hair problems. 

The chelators will dissolve the mineral buildup and product residue lingering in your hair, leaving your hair in a much better condition.

How Often Should You Chelate Hair?

After you have chelated your hair, you will notice it feels softer and more lightweight than before. Your hair will also look brighter, more vibrant in color, and overall, look much healthier. 

However, chelating hair is not a process you should follow each time you wash your hair. 

How often you should chelate your hair depends on several different factors. Here are some things you should consider:

  • How much hair product do you use and how often? 
  • How many of these hair products contain harmful ingredients?
  • What type of water do you have, hard or soft?
  • Does your hair often feel weighed down?
  • Does your hair feel dry?
  • Has your hair lost its shine?

Once you have some answers to these questions, it should help you determine how often you need to chelate your hair. 

You may find it best to chelate your hair every few weeks, once a month, or every few months. There is no suitable timeframe as everyone’s hair is different. 

Do what you feel is best for your hair. But remember that chelating shampoos can dry out your hair, so it’s best to avoid using these regularly. 

Using a chelating shampoo can remove your hair’s natural oils, so ensure you deep condition afterward to help restore those oils. This will also prevent your hair from drying out. 

Also Read: Does Low Porosity Hair Need Protein? (How To Tell)

Top 5 Reasons To Chelate Your Hair

woman chelating hair in bathtub

Now that you know what chelating hair means and have an idea of how often you should be doing this, here are the top five reasons for chelating your hair. 

1. Chelating Removes Mineral Buildup From Hair

If you use hard water on your hair or swim in a chlorinated pool regularly, it can damage your hair. 

The metals and minerals found in these types of waters can leave your hair looking dry and dull because of the mineral buildup. 

Chelating hair from time to time will help remove the mineral buildup. 

2. Chelating Leaves Hair In Healthier Condition

When your hair is looking dry, frizzy, or weighed down, it is a sign that your hair products are no longer working correctly. 

To ensure your hair looks in a better, healthier condition, you should use a chelating shampoo followed by a hydrating hair mask or deep conditioner. 

You will notice your hair looking silky, shiny, and softer once again.  

3. Hair Color Will Look More Vibrant After Chelating

Has your hair started to look a little dull lately? If the answer is yes, then chelating your hair can make your hair color look more vibrant. 

Chelating hair works wonders for those who have natural hair color, balayage, highlights, or dyed blonde hair. Your hair will look much brighter in no time. 

It is recommended to chelate your hair before you dye it, as the hair dye will take to your hair quickly and leave it looking more vibrant. 

4. Alternative To Toning Your Hair

If you have blonde hair and want to tone it down without actually using a toner, then you should chelate your hair. 

Once you have chelated your hair, use a hydrating purple shampoo or conditioner to get rid of any unwanted brassy tones. 

The purple pigments will be able to penetrate your hair strands and give you the desired results. 

Also Read: Shampoo Bars Pros and Cons: Most Important Facts

5. Hair Products Will Be More Effective After Chelating

When you use hair products regularly, your hair gets used to them, and you may find the products are no longer as effective as they once were. 

By chelating your hair as and when it’s needed, you will essentially be giving your hair a clean slate as it will be stripped of all the mineral buildup and product residue. 

You will notice your hair products are more effective after you have chelated your hair. 

How To Chelate Your Hair

woman washing hair

If you want to chelate your hair, there are a few ways you can go about it. There are plenty of chelating shampoos available that will cleanse your hair of mineral buildup and product residue. Some hair salons will offer to chelate your hair. 

But if you are looking for a more cost-effective and natural method to chelate your hair at home, you can follow this guide:


  • Dawn Dish Soap
  • A lemon, cut in half
  • A purple shampoo or conditioner (optional)
  • A super hydrating hair mask or a deep conditioner

Step 1. Get your hair completely wet. 

Step 2. Lather about two to three pumps of Dawn Dish Soap.

Dawn Dish Soap is gentle but will also get rid of harsh oils. Lather it into your hair as you would with shampoo. Start at the scalp before working it through to the ends of your hair. 

Step 3. Thoroughly rinse your hair with warm water. 

Step 4. Squeeze half the lemon to the hair on top of your head. 

Tip: Squeeze the lemon juice into a bottle for easy application. 

Step 5. Use the remaining half of lemon for the lower section of your hair.

Run the lemon juice through to the ends of your hair and leave for a minute or two.

Note: your hair may feel squeaky clean or almost like wool. This is normal, so do not panic. 

Step 6. Rinse the lemon juice out of your hair.

Step 7. Apply your hydrating mask or deep conditioner all over your hair. 

Leave this on for around five minutes. 

Alternatively, if you have blonde hair, you may opt for a purple shampoo or conditioner at this point to tone the color. 

Step 8. Rinse your hair all over with warm water before a short blast of cold water to close the cuticle.

You have now successfully chelated your hair, and it should feel incredibly soft and smooth.

Also Read: Can You Use Oil As A Detangler? A Helpful Guide

Three Reasons Not To Chelate Your Hair

Although chelating hair can do wonders for many people, there are times when it’s best to avoid chelating your hair. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons not to chelate your hair. 

1. Your Hair Is Dyed Red

If you dye your hair red, chelating your hair will strip the color away.

As red hair requires a lot of care, chelating is not recommended as you may notice your color loses a lot of its vibrancy.

Chelating red hair can leave it looking dull and faded. 

2. Your Hair Is In Good Condition

Chelating hair is a process that is only needed when your hair is in a damaged condition.

If your hair is not dry, dull, frizzy, weighed down, or if you do not use hard water or swim in a chlorinated pool, then it is very unlikely you will need to chelate your hair. 

3. You Have Chelated Your Hair Recently

As mentioned, you should not chelate your hair regularly. Every few weeks or once a month should suffice.

Chelating hair also removes your hair’s natural oils, so it’s essential not to chelate too often. 

Remember to use an extremely hydrating hair mask or deep conditioner to restore those lost oils and give your hair moisture. 

Also Read: What Does A Scalp Scaler Do? (Benefits And How To Use)

The Difference Between Chelating And Clarifying

There may be times when you need to use a clarifying shampoo on your hair and other times when a chelating shampoo is needed. So what’s the difference between the two?

A clarifying shampoo will remove hair product buildup but will not be able to remove mineral buildup. 

A chelating shampoo can remove mineral buildup from hard water and pool water chemicals, and it can also remove hair product residue. 


Let’s summarise what we know about chelating hair:

  • Chelating is a process that removes mineral buildup from your hair, allowing hair products to become effective again. 
  • Chelating your hair can prevent it from looking brassy, frizzy, dry, dull, and weighed down. 
  • You should only chelate your hair every few weeks, each month, or every few months, whatever works for your hair.
  • Chelating can make your hair healthier and look more vibrant in color and be used as an alternative to toning.
how to chelate hair

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