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When you have curly hair, it can feel like you need to find the Holy Grail or a special cipher to figure out the right products for your hair as well as the proper routine to bring out the best in your curls. But one key step that no curly head should overlook is the right curly hair shampoo.
The right shampoo should address the specific needs your hair has and serve as the foundational step in your hair care routine. We’re outlining 19 of the best shampoos for curly hair, as well as highlighting key tips to make sure that you’re giving your tresses the TLC they deserve.
Curly Hair Shampoo Guide: Contents
- 19 Best Shampoos for Curly and Coily Hair
- How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Curly Hair?
- How to Wash Curly Hair?
- Other Hair Care Tips for Curly, Coily Hair
19 Best Shampoos for Curly and Coily Hair
From the overall best shampoo for curly hair to ones made specifically for color-treated, dry, or damaged hair, our list below features the right product for your hair type.
1. Best Overall: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo
A leave-in cream can do wonders for parched curls. Especially fans of wash ‘n gos will love that the Briogeo shampoo is designed to provide manageability and moisture. This curly hair shampoo works to remove dirt and build-up while relying on avocado and rice amino to strengthen curls. Shop for it at Sephora!
2. Best Nourishing: Pattern Hydration Shampoo
If you’re not a fan of the Curly Girl Method, but you’re still leery of using traditional shampoos, then this pick from Pattern is perfect. It is packed with moisture-loving ingredients like aloe vera leaf juice, coconut oil, and honey. The gentle cleanser works to remove impurities from your hair and scalp without stripping both of natural oils and essential moisture. Buy it at Ulta!
3. Best for Color-Treated Hair: L’Oreal Paris EverCurl Hydracharge Sulfate Free Shampoo
Curly hair and sulfates rent a winning combination. But again, shampoo can be a dicey category since it’s usually designed to get hair squeaky clean. The L’Oreal Paris shampoo combines coconut oil with their proprietary EverCurl Hydrocharge blend to create a gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave hair stripped of necessary oils. This pick is not only sulfate-free but is also salt- and surfactant-free, making it safe for color-treated hair. Buy it on Amazon!
4. Best Cleansing Conditioner: DevaCurl No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser
For people who are completely against shampoos of any kind, DevaCurl No-Poo shampoo is going to be your BFF. It’s perfect for all hair textures and is specially designed to gently cleanse wavy and curly hair. Your hair will love the grapeseed oil that works to moisturize, while invigorating peppermint stimulates blood flow in your scalp. This fan-favorite hair product is free from sulfates, parabens, and other harsh chemicals. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. Buy it at Sephora!
5. Best for Frizz Prevention: Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo
Anyone with curly hair will tell you that sometimes humidity can do more than a number on their hair. The Ouidad shampoo is designed to help you press the reset button when the humidity makes your hair frizz. The sulfate-free formula uses shea butter and murumuru butter, along with ceramides, to repair your hair’s cuticle and smooth the surface. It also relies on silk proteins to seal your cuticles, lock in moisture, and block humidity. Plus, you’ll even get UV protection for your tresses. Buy it at Ulta!
6. Best Clean Beauty: Kinky Curly Come Clean Natural Moisturizing Shampoo
If the idea of using products with questionable ingredients has you afraid, then the Kinky Curly Moisturizing Shampoo is going to be a smart choice. This sulfate-free shampoo is perfect for kinky, curly, and wavy hair types. It’s free of everything you don’t want while still working to effectively cleanse your scalp and tresses. This curly hair shampoo relies on mandarin orange extract to remove build-up, while sea kelp helps your hair maintain its moisture balance. Buy it on Amazon!
7. Best for Detangling: Bumble and Bumble Curl Moisturizing Shampoo
Most people wouldn’t associate a shampoo with being a good detangling product. But the Bumble and Bumble product offers plenty of slip thanks to the gentle cleansing formula that promises not to strip important oils from your hair. This pick is perfect for all hair textures and wavy, curly, and coily heads.
Thanks to the oil and butter blend with a mix of avocado, coconut, and jojoba oils, as well as shea and cocoa butter, you’ll get an ultra-hydrating shampoo that gives you plenty of slip to detangle your hair while still infusing moisture to help combat frizz and improve shine. Shop for it at Sephora!
8. Best Vegan: Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Shampoo
When you’re vegan, it can be hard at times to find effective products that don’t have questionable animal byproduct ingredients. The Maui curl-defining shampoo is a vegan-friendly solution that helps to tackle tangles and dryness, specifically for tightly curled or coily hair types. This pick is also silicone- and paraben-free. Coconut oil combines with pure aloe juice, plumeria, and papaya extract for a result with touchably soft hair that’ll get you compliments all day long. Buy it on Amazon!
9. Best Accessible: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
Not everyone lives within close distance of a Sephora or Ulta or wants to shop online for their haircare needs. Thankfully, Shea moisture is a brand that’s incredibly accessible thanks to the fact that many stores, from drugstores to big-box retailers, stock them.
The Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo is specially designed for thick curly hair and works to remove frizz while infusing moisture and shine. Along with coconut oil, neem oil helps to improve moisture balance. Plus, this product is made using ethically sourced ingredients. Buy it at Ulta or Amazon!
10. Best Protein Treatment: Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Curl Care Shampoo
If your hair has been a little dry or in need of a protein treatment, but you’re not sure you want to use the more traditional options, this one is a great alternative. This cleansing shampoo is also full of Rice Curl Complex, a proprietary blend of rice, enzymes, and keratin amino acids that help to improve the health of your hair. This includes hydration, conditioning, and protection, which can all result in better curl retention. Buy it at Ulta or Amazon!
11. Best for Humidity: Aveda Be Curly Shampoo
Humidity might be great for your skin, but curly heads know that it wreaks havoc on hair. The Aveda Be Curly Shampoo promises to dramatically reduce frizz by as much as 57%. This gentle shampoo for curly hair relies on a wheat protein and organic aloe blend, along with natural plant essences like organic lime, lemon, bergamot, and orange to improve shine, enhance your curls and stop frizz in its tracks. Buy it on Amazon!
12. Best for Dry Hair: OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Shampoo
If it feels like you could start a fire just by touching your hair, then you need a deeply hydrating curly hair shampoo. The OGX shampoo should be on your shortlist. This cleanser combines coconut, sweet honey, and citrus oils to tackle dry, frizzy hair. Thanks to this pick, you’ll have improved shine, lush, hydrated curls, and improved definition. Shop for it at Ulta!
13. Best for Curly Kids: Fairy Tales Curly-Q Shampoo
Even young curly heads need a little TLC. The Fairy Tales shampoo is designed to gently wash your child’s hair while infusing it with essential moisture, thanks to the inclusion of murumuru butter. Plus, this gentle shampoo can also double as a detangler to keep knots at bay and tame frizzy hair. Buy it at Ulta or Amazon!
14. Best Clay-Based: Flora & Curl Coconut Mint Curl Refresh Clay Wash
If you prefer clay washes to traditional shampoos, then Flora & Curl is the way to go. This natural clay shampoo relies on Moroccan Lava clay and bentonite clay to gently and thoroughly cleanse the scalp and hair of all manner of build-up, including dirt, oil, and styling products. Plus, the mint oil helps to stimulate your scalp and encourage hair growth. You’ll also love the improved curl definition this product creates. Buy it at Ulta!
15. Best Hydrating: Vernon François Shampoo for Curly Hair
When you’re a curly-haired person, your curls could range from more defined S curls to ones that wind on themselves because they’re so curly. But the Vernon Francois shampoo is perfect for all manner of textured wavy, curly, coily, and thick hair. The ultra-hydrating shampoo features a trifecta of shea butter, coconut, and castor oil for serious moisture infusion. This sulfate-free pick is designed to enhance your curl pattern while helping to improve softness and shine. Buy it on Amazon!
16. Best Clarifying: Mizani True Textures Moisture Replenish Shampoo
When you’re a curly girl, there’s a good chance that you use more product than the directions recommend because you know you need more to tame those curls. But this can also contribute to excess product build-up. This shampoo is perfect for gently clarifying hair while still focusing on moisture, definition, and frizz control. Coconut, marula, and olive oil combine for an ultra-hydrating shampoo that adds shine and softness while preventing frizz from giving you a bad hair day. Buy it at Sephora!
17. Best for Parched Strands: Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
Coloring your hair is fun, but it can contribute to dryness that causes your hair to act like it has a mind of its own, refusing to do the things you desperately wish it would. So, it’s no secret that the key to luscious curls is getting your moisture balance under control.
The Pureology shampoo is specifically designed for thirsty hair. It’s great for all hair types and especially safe for color-treated hair. This sulfate-, paraben-, and mineral oil-free shampoo contains vitamin E and a UV filter to maintain your fresh color, while a gentle cleansing formula with corn, coconut, and sugar gently cleanses your hair without stripping color. Buy it at Ulta or Amazon!
18. Best for Dry Scalp: adwoa beauty Baomint Moisturizing Shampoo
When you have curly or coily hair, dryness can be a serious issue. And for some people, it’s a situation that also includes a seriously dry scalp. The Adwoa Beauty shampoo actually deposits natural oils that mimic the sebum your scalp normally produces to hydrate dry skin and hair.
This gentle curly hair shampoo cleanses and soothes dry scalps while also detangling and encouraging shine. Thanks to aloe leaf juice, baobab oil, and a trifecta of wintergreen, spearmint, and peppermint oil, your scalp is invigorated and stimulated while your hair is gently moisturized and softened. Shop for it at Sephora!
19. Best for Type 3s: Rizos Curls Hydrating Shampoo for Curly Hair
If you have those stereotypical larger corkscrew curls that people imagine when they hear the phrase “curly hair,” this shampoo is for you. It is designed to moisturize and strengthen your hair thanks to the inclusion of shea butter and moringa oil. Hair is gently cleansed without being stripped of essential oils. Buy it on Amazon!
How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Curly Hair
When it’s time to wash your hair, the products you use on your hair are as important as your technique. Even when you know which hair type you have, you still need to consider other factors like density, dryness, and porosity so that you can pick the right shampoo to address your specific needs.
Density and Porosity
If you’re new to the world of curly hair care, porosity and density can sound like foreign concepts – but they’re not! Porosity determines how easily your hair holds onto moisture. This is based on the cuticle formation on your hair shaft and how much they overlap. Porosity is usually listed as low, normal, or high porosity.
Density references the thickness of your hair and the total number of individual hairs on each square inch of your scalp. Density can be harder to figure out, but you can figure out your hair’s porosity fairly quickly.
The next time you wash your hair, blot it so that it’s damp and feel the texture. If your hair feels rough, it has low porosity. If your hair feels wet, then it has normal porosity. And a sticky feeling like you didn’t wash all the product out means your hair has high porosity.
Picking a Shampoo
Now that you know your hair type and porosity, also consider the specific issues that you want to address. If you struggle with frizziness, then you need a shampoo that tackles that issue. If you want to focus on definition or increased shine, look for options that prioritize those needs.
But keep in mind, if you decide to follow the Curly Girl Method, you’ll want to skip traditional shampoos and opt for a cleanser or co-wash instead. These options are usually much gentler and are less likely to strip your hair of critical oils and moisture. Likewise, they’ll be free from harsh ingredients like sulfates and parabens.
How to Wash Curly Hair
Now that you’ve found a shampoo for curly hair that you like, it’s time for wash day. Depending on whether you follow the Curly Girl Method or not, you may opt for a pre-poo step, to use a cleanser, or to solely wash with a conditioner.
However, we definitely recommend that if you solely use a conditioner to wash your hair, focus on incorporating a great clarifying pre-poo step such as cleansing your scalp and strands with apple cider vinegar before washing your hair to properly agitate any dirt or oils so that they’ll wash out with a conditioner.
If you fail to properly remove dirt and grime from your hair, you can encourage other hair care woes like flaking and product build-up. All of that translates to curls that just don’t pop and require more effort to style.
Start with Detangling
Tangles can happen to anyone, but curly hair is more likely to be anywhere from a little to extremely tangled, depending on your hair type and how frequently you use styling tools like brushes and combs between washes.
Always detangle your curly hair when it’s damp or wet. Even though your hair is technically more fragile when it’s wet, it has more elasticity when it’s wet. This means that it’s easier to gently work through knots.
Detangling your hair when it’s dry is a recipe for disaster that can encourage breakage and split ends. If tangles are mild, you can simply spritz your hair with water and then use your preferred wide-tooth comb or detangling brush.
But for serious knots, make sure the hair is fully saturated with water and a detangling solution to give you extra slip as you work through knots. If you’re not sure which detangler is best for you, just create a one to one mix of conditioner and water and put it in a spray bottle.
While some people would recommend detangling after washing, we think doing this step first is easier. Depending on your curl pattern, waiting until after you’ve washed your hair or during the shampoo step to detangle your hair can actually encourage tangles.
Work through your hair in sections that are manageable enough for a brush or comb to effectively work through the length. Begin at the ends and slowly work up towards your roots.
When you have curly hair, you can’t tackle wash day the same way someone with straight hair would do. Depending on how curly your hair is, you’ll need to completely adjust your hair washing routine so that you’re not encouraging frizz or tangles. For example, you’re not going to want to vigorously create suds during the shampoo step by roughly working through your hair and scalp.
Depending on the length of your hair, apply as much shampoo as necessary to the roots of your hair and work it into your strands as you go down the length of your hair. Gently massage the hair as you move down your length.
Depending on the shampoo, you may or may not experience the stereotypical sudsing effect. For example, cleansers and co-washes that are promoted as sulfate- or EDTA-free (the main ingredient that causes lathering) won’t create soap suds.
Also, don’t use the hottest water temperature, as this can contribute to dryness. Instead, when it’s time to wash your hair, bring the temperature down to as low as you can stand it. This helps the hair shaft to seal in moisture.
Prioritize the Conditioner Step
Curly hair is more prone to damage because it easily becomes dry, which can lead to breakage. So, the conditioner step is just as important as picking the right curly hair shampoo. Just like with shampoos, you’ll want to prioritize options that are paraben and sulfate-free and also focus on hydration.
Depending on the state of your hair, you might want to include a deep condition step to add protein or that intensively moisturizes your hair. To deep condition your hair, apply your conditioner throughout the hair, and then either with your hands or a wide-tooth comb, make sure that it’s been evenly distributed through your hair. Depending on the product, you may need to wait anywhere from two to 15 minutes before rinsing it out.
For a truly intensive deep conditioning experience, add a bit of heat either by wearing a processing cap or covering your hair in a plastic bag to capture the heat from your scalp and help the product work through your hair.
Deep Conditioner as a Leave-in
This is an optional step, but leaving a little conditioner in your hair instead of fully washing it out can serve as a quick leave-in solution. Leaving a little conditioner in your hair can improve manageability.
To do this, you don’t want to leave a large amount of conditioner in your hair. Instead, rinse it out so that the hair has a bit of slip to signal that there’s still conditioner in your hair.
Other Hair Care Tips for Curly, Coily Hair
While curly hair can have its ups and downs, the biggest contributor to bad hair days is not knowing how to properly care for your hair. And this reality goes far beyond picking the right curly hair shampoo for your tresses. Consider the following tips if you want to make sure that bad hair days are far and few between.
Depending on your hair type, and if you have concerns about dryness or fine strands, you might not need to wash your hair every day. This is going to depend on your hair’s composition and any issues you’re experiencing, as there’s no de facto rule that all kinky coily hair types should wash less frequently and all wavy hair types should wash daily.
But if you’re not entirely sure, the general recommendation is that people with curly hair types shouldn’t wash their hair more than two to three times a week.
Know Your Curl Type
While having a specific hair type doesn’t mean that you can use the exact same products as your favorite Instagram hair influencer, knowing your type can help you stay away from techniques, products, and styling tools that might not be your hair’s BFF.
“Curly hair” is a large category that ranges from slightly wavy hair to kinky curly and tightly coiled hair. According to the Andre Walker Typing System, hair can be broken down into four major categories numbered with three additional subcategories for Type 2 through 4.
- Type 1 is for straight hair.
- Types 2 through 4 include wavy, curly, and coily hair.
- Types 2A, 2B, and 2Cs are for wavy hair with a defined “S” shape.
- Types 3A, 3B, and 3C are for larger corkscrew curly hair.
- Types 4A, 4B, and 4C hair is the tightest curl pattern with a miniature corkscrew or zigzag curl.
Picking the Right Styling Tools
You wouldn’t use a leaf blower to wipe the dust off your countertops, right? So, you need to use the right tools, depending on your hair type.
While many experts don’t recommend brushing curly hair, a brush can be effective in the styling and detangling process. Popular options like a Denman brush, or the EZ-Detangler brush can cut down on detangling or help to create definition in corkscrew curls if you struggle with that – especially at the roots.
You might need to experiment to find the right tools for your hair type. But, everyone in the wavy/ curly/ coily category can benefit from a good wide-tooth comb. The teeth are spaced farther apart and are less damaging, especially during detangling steps. For the best results, look for seam-free options that won’t snag your hair.
Think About Your Styling Products
Just like with curly hair shampoos, you should be picking styling products that are addressing your hair needs. If you’re concerned about volume, dryness, or frizziness, look for products that work to tackle those issues.
However, a few ground rules will always apply. Avoid products with alcohol, as this ingredient is a big no-no. Alcohol is incredibly drying and can encourage frizz or hair that feels rough. Instead, opt for products that are infused with natural oils or proteins to rebuild and repair your strands.
Maintaining Curly Styles
Freshly styled curly hair is gorgeous, we can all agree on that. But day two and beyond can look a little sad if you don’t know how to preserve your style. So, to make sure that your second day (or third or fourth day) hair looks just as fabulous as the first, consider adopting these two routines.
Invest in a good silk pillowcase. Cotton is known to sap moisture from your hair and skin. Likewise, the rougher nature of the fibers can snag your hair and encourage damage or knots. Upgrading to a silk pillowcase will give your hair more slip and prevent unintended snags and dryness.
Adopt the “pineappling” method before you head off to dreamland. Pineappling is the process of gathering your curly hair on top of your head and making a bun or top knot. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be high enough so that when you’re lying on your back or sides, your head isn’t crushing your curls.
Pineappling can extend the life of your day one hair by leaving your curl pattern relatively undisturbed. The next morning, remove the top knot or bun and fluff your hair to revive the few strands that got crushed while you slept.
Curb Your Reliance on Heat Styling
Curly hair is awesome because you can shift between straight and curly styles with the use of a heat tool. But if you rely on flat irons or blow dryers too much, you can risk heat damage and the permanent loss of your curl pattern – at least until you cut the damaged ends. Instead, try heat-free styling methods like banding, braiding, or even air-drying your hair.
And when you do want to use heat tools, find a good heat protectant that’s designed to fortify and protect hair. If you use blow dryer on your hair, use a diffuser to leave your curl pattern undisturbed and avoid using it to the point that your hair is 100% dry. Instead, dry hair until it’s slightly damp and be sure to follow up with a lightweight moisturizer.
And most importantly, use the lowest heat setting possible so that you still achieve your desired style but aren’t exposing your hair to too much heat.
Find the Right Stylist
Not everyone is adept at styling and caring for curly hair, especially if you’re natural. The wrong stylist may use too much heat or products that can unintentionally damage your curly hair. Look for stylists that are experienced with styling and caring for your curl type. These stylists can also recommend the right products like curly hair shampoos, and even share techniques to bring out the best in your curly hair.
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