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Curly hair is so gorgeous, but it can also require specific maintenance tips and products to always look glorious. Learning how to properly care for your locks, as well as finding the best products for curly hair are so essential if you want bad hair days to be a thing of the past. Consider our picks of top curly hair products, as well as some easy tips and tricks so that you’ll always love your hair.
Guide to Curly Hair Products: Contents
- 31 Best Curly Hair Products to Use
- Understanding Your Curl Type
- How to Take Care of Curly Hair
- Washing Curly Hair
31 Best Curly Hair Products to Use
From shampoos and conditioners to styling products, we have picked the best products for curly hair many women swear by.
1. Best Overall: Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil
Dry curly hair might as well be a synonym for a frizz fest, but Bumble & Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil is the cure for parched strands. This curly hair product uses a blend of oils, including coconut, argan, and macadamia oils, along with a UV filter to help infuse the hair with critical moisture while also protecting it from the sun’s harmful rays. A frizz-free soft feel, heat and UV protection, as well as perfectly hydrated curls make this the best product for curly hair ever. Shop for it at Sephora!
2. Best Strengthening Treatment: Olaplex Jumbo Hair Perfector No. 3
This is a salon-worthy at-home treatment for curly hair that strengthens from within for a breakage-free, improved mane. Like all the other Olaplex products, this one really does deliver miraculous results, restoring compromised hair and protecting it from future damage. It’s not your regular hair conditioner, but a little bottle of treasure that will restore the healthy appearance and texture of your hair. Pick it up online at Sephora!
3. Best Styling Milk: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk
If you’re a kinky coily gal, then you know that moisture is essential, whether you’re doing a twist-out or just focus on infusing essential hydration into your hair. In addition to smelling heavenly, Shea Moisture’s sulfate-free leave-in styling milk is made with silk proteins and neem oil for a frizz-fighting haircare solution that helps to add shine. We like that this curly hair product can also pull double duty as a detangler. Buy it at Ulta!
4. Best Styling Cream: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Cream
Whether you’re a fan of the wash ‘n go or prefer a reliable leave-in that leaves your curls manageable, this pick from Briogeo is the way to go. This leave-in cream can also double as a holding cream, making it perfect for twist-outs or styling where you want your style to last all day. It also contains hydration-loving ingredients like avocado oil, tomato fruit ferments, and rice amino acids to improve your hair’s elasticity while also smoothing your curls to fight fizz. Shop for it at Sephora!
5. Best Cleansing Conditioner: DevaCurl No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser
If you follow the Curly Girl Method, you know that shampoos are usually on the no-go list. This no-poo cleanser from DevaCurl is Curly Girl-approved and is a great cleansing product for curly hair. It works on all hair textures and is ideal for wavy and curly hair.
The creamy formula contains grapeseed oil to moisturize your hair, while the peppermint helps to stimulate blood flow in the scalp. This best-selling pick is free from sulfates, parabens, and other harsh chemicals while also being vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. Buy it at Sephora!
6. Best Styling Oil: Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil
Say goodbye to parched, dull hair with this intensive repair oil. Not only does it provide essential hydrating for curly hair, but also, this curly hair product works to strengthen your hair and even doubles as a heat protectant that can defend your hair even at temperatures as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind, though, that you only need a small amount to reap the benefits. Get it at Nordstrom!
7. Best Against Humidity: Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel
Curly girls may have a love-hate relationship with humidity, but this pick from Oidad is designed to make humidity-induced bad hair days a thing of the past. We love that this is a massive 33.8-ounce bottle of product that’s perfect for all curl types. Say goodbye to frizz and say hello to perfectly moisturized curls that are defined, bouncy, and hydrated.
You’ll also appreciate that this pick includes a much-needed UV filter to protect your tresses from the damaging sun and silk proteins to strengthen your hair. With all those benefits, it’s clear why this is one of the best curly hair products. Shop for it at Ulta!
8. Best Conditioning Balm: IGK MISTRESS Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner Hair Balm
No matter your hair texture, your curly hair is going to love this leave-in conditioner that helps increase moisture and hydration while preventing dreaded frizz from ruining your hair day. This lightweight curly hair product won’t weigh down your curls but still provides UV protection. Coconut oil provides hydration while you can use it without fears of sulfates, parabens, phthalate, or mineral oil. Plus, it’s a vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free styling balm. Buy it at Sephora!
9. Best Curl Enhancer: AG Hair Curl Re:coil Curl Activator
Sometimes you don’t have time to fully set your hair every day. And if you’ve gone a few days between resets, those curls might start to look a bit sad. But this pick from AG Hair is perfect for reactivating those curls and giving your tresses a bit more bounce. We like that this pick can also be used to create definition if you have hair that’s a little harder to define like type 4C curlies. Buy it on Amazon!
10. Best Multitasking Styler: DevaCurl SuperCream Coconut Curl Styler
Some curls need a little help, especially if you’re a fan of styles like wash ‘n go that isn’t always ideal if you struggle with shrinkage or a variety of curl patterns throughout your hair. DevaCurl’s curl styler is the perfect curly hair styling product for coily heads since it helps to hydrate, fight frizz, enhance and define curls. We love that it helps kinky coily heads fight shrinkage so that their curls can really pop. Buy it at Nordstrom!
11. Best for Fighting Frizz: Amika Curl Corps Curl Enhancing Hair Gel
Give those curls a little ego boost with a curly hair product designed to fight frizz, improve the shape of your curls and help them look your best during the styling process, regardless of whether you stretch or twist your curls. This product is ideal for all curly hair types and also is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. Shop for it at Sephora!
12. Best Leave-In Conditioner: Pattern Leave-In Conditioner
Leave-ins are such a great option for curly girls since they infuse moisture and improve manageability. This pick is perfect for sealing in moisture on wash day or as a great way to add slip during the detangling process. We like that it’s a lightweight option that helps to define your curl pattern and is made from oils and honey for a great natural curly styling product. Buy it at Ulta!
13. Best for Light-Hold Curl Defining: Verb Curl Cream
If you prefer a styling cream with a bit of hold, this curly hair product is right up your alley. Verb’s Curl Cream is designed to provide a light hold while also being ideal for all curl types and textures. It tackles dryness while also infusing shine and helping to define your curls. We like that it contains plenty of hair-loving ingredients like sunflower seed extract, glycerin, and olive oil to tame flyaways, smooth split ends, and add softness. Pick it up at Sephora!
14. Best Styler for Natural-Looking Curls: Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream
For the curly girls who prefer argan oil, this pick from Moroccanoil should be on your shortlist. This is one of the curly hair products designed to work with all curl types to enhance curls, fight frizz, and provide a lightweight hold. While argan oil helps to restore elasticity and smooth your hair for a more manageable experience, hydrolyzed vegetable protein works to coat strands and split ends. Shop for it at Nordstrom!
15. Best Detangler: Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner/Detangler
When you have kinky curly hair, there’s nothing that ruins your styling experience like a bunch of random knots, especially at the ends of your hair. But this curly styling product is specifically ideal for smoothing your cuticle while also providing sufficient slip to gently remove knots from your hair. We like that this is an herbal solution that’s perfect for curly, wavy, and thick hair. Buy it on Amazon!
16. Best Scalp Scrub: dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub
Whether you’re a fan of the pre-poo or know that your scalp needs a little extra TLC, this apple cider vinegar scalp scrub is perfect for helping to remove product build-up and dead skin. While we’re featuring it as one of the best products for curly hair, know that it’s safe for use for all hair types and textures even if you’re not curly.
You’ll like that this pick features apple cider vinegar to help seal the cuticle, while pink Himalayan sea salt naturally exfoliates your scalp, and avocado oil soothes your scalp while moisturizing your hair. Get it at Sephora!
17. Best for Intense Hydration: Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La Lightweight Curl Defining Custard
Your twist-outs and wash ‘n go looks will never look better than when you’re using the right curly hair product that provides the perfect balance of moisture, and hold. We’ve included this custard because it’s made with shea butter and olive oil for intensive hydration that kinky coily strands need. It can be used on wet or dry hair to either set it or give dry curls a pick-me-up. Buy it on Amazon!
18. Best Natural Curl Enhancer: Aveda be curly Curl Enhancer
Whether you struggle with shrinkage or just prefer a frizz-free look, this pick from Aveda helps to banish frizz while improving your hair’s shine. This curly hair product contains a wheat protein blend that acts as a lightweight holding solution to maintain your curls. We like that this is a 96% naturally derived formula that’s made from plants and is free from petroleum, parabens, mineral oil, formaldehyde, and synthetic fragrance. Buy it at Nordstrom!
19. Best for Volume: DevaCurl B’Leave-In Miracle Curl Plumper
If you love your curls but wish they had more volume, this is the solution to your haircare woes. This curly hair product is designed to moisturize your hair while also adding volume and shine to your precious curls. It helps to plump up curls while strengthening your tresses with a blend that includes wheat protein, chamomile, and lemongrass. You’ll also love that it’s free from parabens, sulfates, and silicone. Buy it at Nordstrom!
20. Best for Unruly Thick Hair: Maui Moisture Quench + Coconut Oil Curl Milk
Curly girls with thick hair will love this serious hydration solution for parched and thirsty tresses. A proprietary blend of coconut oil, papaya butter, and plumeria extract helps to provide intensive moisture while also smoothing curls and preventing frizz from setting in. This leave-in solution is made from 100% aloe juice and is also silicone-free. For best results, apply this curl milk to damp hair. Buy it on Amazon!
21. Best Lightweight Conditioner: Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-in Conditioner
Curly hair tends to be a bit drier than most other hair textures, and the Mizani leave-in conditioner is the perfect curly hair product that also serves as a multi-tasking option. This all-in-one solution works to not just hydrate hair but also to act as a detangler while softening and adding shine. Thirsty curls will soak up the coconut and fennel seed oil, guaranteeing improved manageability and a sleek finish. Buy it at Sephora!
22. Best Refresher Spray: Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curly Refresher Spray
You don’t always need an intensive product to put a bit of pep back into your curls. Sometimes you just need something to gently revitalize them, especially if you’re working with day-two (or three or four!) hair.
This refresher spray from Carol’s Daughter is ideal since it’s packed with curl-loving ingredients like agave, sweet almond oil, and wheat protein. As it is fairly common with many leave-in products designed for curly hair, this pick can also serve as a detangler, moisturizer, and frizz-fighting solution for dry hair. Buy it on Amazon!
23. Best Hair Pomade: Ouai Matte Pomade
While creamy leave-ins and gels tend to get all the attention for curly hair products, if you’re looking for something with serious hold, you can’t go wrong with a hair pomade. This pick from Ouai is designed to truly shape and hold your hair into whatever style you desire, all while being flexible and without flaking. This pomade is best paired with short curly crops. It should be applied when hair is wet if you’re creating a fresh style, or on slightly damp day-old hair to bring it back to life. Buy it at Nordstrom!
24. Best Hair Gel: Curls Blueberry Bliss Control Jelly
For a lot of kinky curly heads, an oil-infused gel is the best option for infusing moisture and shine while also locking a style into place without making it stiff. We like that this pick relies on the most intensely moisturizing oils in the game – castor, jojoba, and argan oil – while also including shea and mango butter for serious hydration.
This jelly is great for setting twists but can also be used for wash ‘n go styles to define curls. This curly hair product is ideal for all type 2, 3, and 4 curls. Buy it on Amazon!
25. Best for Deep Conditioning: Adwoa Beauty Baomint Deep Conditioning Treatment
While deep conditioning is great for all hair types, it can be especially useful for people with curly hair. If you struggle with a dry, itchy scalp, then this is one of the best products for curly hair, as it helps to hydrate both your scalp and hair. And of course, it can also serve as a detangler, repair split ends, and even help to soften and hydrate. It’s available at Sephora.
26. Best Curling Custard: Kinky Curly Original Curling Custard
Curling custards or items that help to highlight and encourage your natural curl pattern are all the rage, especially within the natural hair community. Kinky Curly’s custard is one of those holy-grail curly hair products that natural-heads rave about because it works. This lightweight gel is made from natural ingredients, including aloe vera gel for a healthy dose of hydration. It can be used on both dry and wet hair without the risk of flaking or drying out your curls. Buy it on Amazon!
27. Best Curl Gloss: Oribe Curl Gloss
Dull hair is never a beauty do. Thankfully, Oribe’s Curl Gloss is designed as the perfect finishing curly hair product to define curls, provide vital moisture, and even offer UV protection. We like that this pick is vegan-friendly and is also paraben-, sulfate-, and gluten-free. It’s also safe for use on colored or keratin-treated hair. This product is perfect for type 2 and 3 curls and should be used on damp hair for best results. Buy it at Dermstore!
28. Best Dry Shampoo: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo
Even curly heads don’t always want to spend every day washing their hair. Dry shampoo can help you cheat and get out the door faster. This simple-to-use curly hair product works in as little as 30 seconds to quickly absorb oil and refresh your hair for the perfect day-two hair. This pick is safe to use on color-treated hair and is also free from parabens, silicone, and phthalates. Buy it at Nordstrom!
29. Best Shampoo: Pattern Hydrating Shampoo
While many people are concerned that shampoo will strip their hair of essential oils, there’s a solution to this problem. Look for shampoos that are full of hydrating ingredients. Pattern’s Hydrating Shampoo is designed with aloe vera leaf juice, coconut oil, and honey for a cleanser that’s designed to gently remove impurities while also providing your hair with the essential moisture that it needs. Buy it at Ulta!
30. Best Styling Lotion: Redken Curvaceous Ringlet
Serious curls call for a serious styling product that can help to bring out your curl pattern without weighing it down or leaving it coated in product. Redken’s lotion is that curly hair product that provides curl definition that is promised to last for up to three days. The lightweight hold is designed to be flexible while also banishing frizz and providing a beautiful shine that you’ll love. Buy it at Ulta!
31. Best Hair Mask: IGK Antisocial Leave-in Dry Hair Mask
An intensive hair mask may be just the curly hair product you need if you find that your hair is chronically dry and crunchy. We like that it’s a leave-in spray treatment that can be applied to dry or wet hair that helps to soften and smooth the texture while also repairing damage. We like that it relies on vegan silk proteins so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of this wonder product. Shop for it at Sephora!
Understanding Your Curl Type
You’ll find that “curly hair” is actually a rather large category that can include people with lightly wavy hair to those with kinky curly or tightly coiled hair. If you follow the Andre Walker Typing System, there are four major hair type categories numbered one through four. Each category is then broken down further into three subcategories.
- Type 1 is exclusively for straight hair.
- Types 2 through 4 include wavy through curly hair.
- Type 2A, 2B, and 2Cs are all wavy hair types where the hair has a defined “S” shape in the wave.
- Type 3A, 3B, and 3C is a range of “traditional” curly hair with a visible “S” shape with a corkscrew curl pattern.
- And type 4A, 4B, and 4C hair is the tightest curl pattern that creates that “S” shape when the hair is stretched.
Density and Porosity
However, it doesn’t stop there. You also need to understand terms like porosity and density.
Porosity refers to how easily your hair retains moisture and depends on how closely the cuticles on your hair shaft are overlapped. Porosity is often referenced as either low, normal, or high porosity.
Density refers to the thickness of your hair and how many individual hairs there are in a square inch on your scalp.
While it’s not as easy to determine density unless someone measured the total number of hairs in a square inch of your scalp, you can quickly determine porosity. After washing and blow-drying your hair, feel the texture while it’s damp. If it feels rough, you have low-porosity hair. If it just feels wet, you have normal-porosity hair. And if it feels sticky like it still has product in it, then you have high-porosity hair.
How to Take Care of Curly Hair
Curly hair is a glorious thing to behold, but you know that you can’t treat your hair the exact same way as someone with straight hair might do. In addition to using the right curly hair products that are designed to bring out the best in your curls, following a few smart tips for caring for your curls can go a long way towards ensuring that bad hair days are far and few between.
Finding the Right Styling Tools
Because “curly hair” is an expansive category, you need to find the right styling tools that are going to work for your specific curl type.
Many experts will de facto say, don’t use a hair brush if you have curly hair. But the truth is that depending on your curl type, something like the classic Denman brush, or even the newly popular EZ-Detangler brush can be used on your hair – even if you have coily hair. So again, it’s important to do a little experimenting and find the right tools that will work for your hair type.
However, all curly heads, from wavy to coily, can benefit from a quality wide-tooth comb. These combs have (as the name implies) teeth that are spaced farther apart so they’re less damaging. Make sure that they’re seam-free, so that they’re less likely to snag on your hair. Plus, a wide-tooth comb is the perfect detangling tool and is flat enough to be travel-friendly too.
Detangling Curly Hair
Tangled curly hair can be intimidating, especially if those tangles have been sitting in your head for a day or two (or three!). For the best results – no matter your curl type – you should always detangle curly hair when it’s damp or wet.
While hair is in a more fragile state when wet, it also has more elasticity, so it’ll be easier to work knots out of the hair. If you attempt to detangle your hair when it’s dry, be prepared for a lot of breakage and split ends.
• Fully saturate the hair with your preferred detangling solution to help provide added slip to work through knots. But in a pinch, you can also mix your favorite conditioner with water and spritz it throughout your hair.
• There’s a lot of dissent in the curly community about whether hair should be detangled before washing or while washing. In our opinion, this is going to depend on your curl pattern and the severity of your tangles. For very curly/ kinky textures or hair that is extremely tangled, it’s probably best to do all detangling before you hop in the shower. This way, you can see in a mirror any areas that need more attention.
• Once the hair is properly wet and saturated, section your hair into manageable portions and begin by working from the ends and slowly combing or brushing as you work up the length of your hair.
• Type 4 textures should opt for a wide-toothed comb or finger detangle to work through any knots in their hair.
To Pre-Poo or Not
Pre-pooing – or the act of applying some type of treatment to your hair before you actually begin washing your hair – isn’t a required step, but it can be helpful if you’re trying to focus on cleansing the scalp, effectively lifting dirt, or even avoiding removing too much sebum or healthy oils from your scalp or hair.
There is a wide range of pre-poo options out there, but some of the most popular include apple cider vinegar, mud washes, and hot oil treatments.
Consider Your Styling Products
As you saw from our recommendations with the best products for curly hair, the majority of styling products that are designed specifically for curly hair usually lack alcohol. Alcohol is a drying agent that pulls moisture out of your hair.
And considering that curly hair tends to be on the dry side, products with alcohol in the ingredient list are a big no-no. Instead, notice that most of our picks for the best curly hair products were infused with natural oils or even wheat or silk complexes to help rebuild and repair your hair.
Maintaining Curly Styles
Day-one curly hair looks fantastic. But after a good night’s rest, those curls might look a little sad. There are two ways to maintain your hair so that days two, three, and four look as awesome as the first day.
First, swap out those cotton pillowcases for a silk one. Cotton can pull moisture out of your hair and catch against your strands, which only helps to encourage damage and knots. In contrast, silk is much gentler on your hair.
Next, become a fan of “pineappling” before bed. With this method, you gather up your curly hair onto the top of your head and create a bun or top knot. This allows the majority of your hair to maintain its curl pattern. In the morning, take your hair down and fluff it out to help retain the curl pattern and bring a bit of life to the few strands that might have gotten crushed overnight.
Keep Heat Styling to a Minimum
We all love our flat irons or blow dryers, but using heat tools too frequently can lead to heat damage, which can ruin your curl pattern. Opt for heat-free styling methods like air-drying or even banding to help dry your hair.
When you do use heat tools, always be sure to use a heat protectant product for curly hair first. For blow dryers, use a diffuser to prevent disturbing the curl pattern. The goal should be to leave the hair slightly damp but not 100% dry. Also, make sure that you’re using the lowest heat you possibly can while still achieving your desired style.
Find the Right Stylist
Not everyone is a pro at working with curly hair – and this is especially true if you’re a natural-head. The wrong stylist can unintentionally end up damaging your curly hair. Look for stylists that know how to wash, cut, and style your curl type. They’ll also be able to recommend the right curly hair products as well as techniques that can ensure your hair looks fabulous every day.
Washing Curly Hair
This is another contentious space because some people who follow the Curly Girl Method are adamantly against using any kind of shampoo and against conditioners with sulfates, silicones, fragrance, or harsh chemicals. Instead, they rely on co-washes and conditioning cleansers to gently remove dirt without stripping essential oils from the scalp or hair.
Opting for or skipping shampoo is a personal choice. But there’s definitely an argument to be made that skipping shampoo in favor of co-washing isn’t a bad thing. However, if you decide to follow this camp, make sure that you’re using an effective cleanser so that you’re truly removing all dirt from your scalp and hair – otherwise, you’re in for even more haircare woes.
Just like with detangling, you need to be gentle when washing curly strands. Don’t attempt the classic lather where you vigorously build suds by roughly scrubbing at your hair and scalp.
Instead, apply a decent amount of shampoo and work it into your hair, starting at the roots and continuing down the length. Gently massage the hair to work the shampoo into it, keeping in mind that gentler cleansers that are sulfate-free or lack EDTA (the main ingredient that causes lathering) won’t create a stereotypical sudsy effect.
Also, avoid using the hottest water temperature that you can handle. While it might feel good, it’s actually bad for your hair and skin. Hot water further opens the hair shaft, allowing moisture to escape. Instead, opt for a cooler temperature – as cool as you can stand it – to help close the hair shaft and seal in moisture.
Prioritize the Conditioner Step
All hair is prone to damage, but because of its very curl pattern, curly or wavy hair is most likely to experience dryness and breakage. So, don’t skimp on the conditioner step.
Look for gentle formulas that are paraben- and sulfate-free that also focus on hydration. More importantly, opt for a deep condition where you apply a thorough amount of conditioner and either with your hands or a wide-tooth comb, ensure that it’s spread evenly throughout your hair. Wait the recommended amount of time (usually anywhere from two to five minutes) and then rinse it out of your hair.
Some people like to leave a bit of conditioner in their hair as a leave-in solution. If you opt to do this, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t fully wash it out of your hair. But leave just enough that your hair still retains that tell-tale slip that conditioner creates when you touch damp hair.
Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for curly hair care. While general wisdom says you shouldn’t wash daily, as it can encourage dryness, that doesn’t mean that some people don’t benefit from daily washing.
It’s going to depend on the products you use to wash and style your hair. However, most experts agree that washing less frequently – no more than two to three times a week – is ideal for people with curly hair.
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