Best Shampoos for Curly Hair That Actually Work!

shampoo for curly hair

No, I Don’t Wish I Had Straight Hair!  Curly hair tends to carry a negative stereotype. In the corporate world, management sees women with curly hair as unprofessional, sloppy, and incapable.

The Internet contains many personal accounts of superiors advising their curly-haired employees to “do something” about their tresses. Many Internet news sources also indicate that Samira Ahmed, an English news anchor, quit her job after her superiors told her that her curly hair was “too scruffy.”

In fashion and beauty makeover over shows, when the contestant is a curly haired woman, the hairstylist almost always straightens her hair. Then, during the big reveal, everyone ooohs and ahhhs over her transformation. 

In the film Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway’s awkward “before” is a woman with thick, unruly, curly hair. When they transform her into a beautiful princess, they straighten her hair. In Dirty Dancing, when Jennifer Grey gets dressed up to replace the dancer and in the end dance scene, her signature curls are smoothed out.

There are also various quotes and saying about curly hair. And, again, most are negative. For example:

“I wish I had your hair.  No, you don’t.” Or, “Curly Hair, A Blessing with a Curse.” And, These are actually the tamer of the bunch.

So, are these assumptions and portrayals accurate?

Curly Hair is Beautiful and Sexy

In a recent Tinder experiment, a woman created two profiles:  one with her hair straight and one with her hair curly. Men “right swiped,” meaning the liked, the straight hair photo 19 times.  They right swiped the curly hair photo 41 times.

In other articles that compared photos of celebrities with their hair naturally curly and straightened, with only one or two exceptions, men chose the naturally curly photos as the most attractive.

Various experts commented that men liked when curly haired women embraced their true selves.  They felt that when a curly haired women straightened her hair, it made her look fake and as if she was rejecting a part of herself.  They viewed the curly haired woman as laid-back, confident, and independent. She had her own mind, a unique personality, who wasn’t a pushover, and who didn’t follow the crowd.  She was exciting, and irresistible.

Now, that’s completely different from the stereotypes. It’s time to disregard them.  Do not believe them. Get rid of them. Forever.

Also Check: Best Blow Dryer For Curly Hair

Never Let Anyone Dull Your Curls

If you are frustrated with your curly hair, it may be because you don’t know how to take care of it. But, don’t feel bad. All you know – all you see, is how to take care of straight hair. But, you cannot care for your curly hair the same way that straight haired women care for their hair.  And, you can’t take hair care advice from a straight haired person (that is, unless they’re a professional hairstylist with curly haired training and experience). Yet, straight haired people will always try to tell you what you should do.    

best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair

If you have any questions, you should consult with a professional hairstylist that specializes in curly hair.  Yes, it might cost more money, but it will be worth it because 1) you are worth it; and, 2) in doing so, you will no longer waste money on products that you will hardly ever use or simply throw out.

Remember, too, that you are also your best teacher and student.  You may be the only one in your circle of friends that has curly hair, so remember to always look around for and try different products and techniques.  Don’t hesitate or be afraid. Trust your instincts and your individuality. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should wear your hair or care for it. Express your true self.

More: Shampoos for Gray Hair | Hypoallergenic Shampoo Reviews

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

The first step in your curly hair journey is to properly cleanse your hair.  Now, this is a serious matter. If you go to the supermarket or drugstore and walk through the shampoo aisle, you’ll see that many popular shampoo brands, alongside the “dry,” “oily,” and “normal” formulas, also have a “curly hair” formula.  Whatever you do, do not ever touch those shampoos.
You want to cleanse your hair with products specifically designed for curly hair.  And, there’s more to it than just putting “curly hair” on the bottle. You want a cleanser that a dedicated manufacturer specifically designed for curly haired women.  Here are the best formulas.

Best Shampoo for Curly Hair

Most shampoos, body washes and soaps contain sulfates. Sulfates produce foam. They’re fine for those products. For curly hair, however, sulfates are nasty, evil beings. They dry and frizz curls and make them look like hay.  So, read the label and always, always, always use sulfate free shampoos. Here are some excellent sulfate free shampoos that work well with curly hair:

1. AG Hair Curl Revive Sulfate-Free Hydrating Shampoo

This shampoo is enriched with extreme hydrating coconut oil.  Anything with coconut is good for curly hair. Coconut softens curly hair and helps it maintain moisture. The shampoo also contains sunflower oil, hydrating pea peptides, and an exclusive complex that gently cleanses hair, preserves its moisture balance, contains frizz, stimulates curl, and maintains its curl pattern.


2. Carol’s Daughter Monoi Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Lisa, the woman who established the company and created its products, credits her mother, Carol, for inspiring her.  Hence, “Carol’s Daughter.” Lisa actually created the first products in her kitchen. As you would expect, the products come from the heart and work wonderfully.  This shampoo is infused with Monoi Oil and coconut cleansers. Monoi is from Tahiti and natives have used it on their hair for years. As stated previously, anything with coconut is great for curly hair.  This shampoo treats hair gently and thoroughly cleanses every type of hair, even damaged hair, and leaves it healthy and strong.

Lo Poo and No Poo Cleansers

There are a lot of articles on the Internet discussing the lo poo and no poo “craze.”  It received much attention not too long ago due to people’s desire for fewer chemicals in their products.  Results were mixed and some especially disliked them. It was great to see people more aware of what they were using on their hair and body, but what they were overlooking in this particular issue was that lo poo and no poo shampoos work especially well with curly hair and can be used exclusively for it. Curly hair is different. It responds differently to certain products and, it responds well to lo poo and no poo cleansers.

When you are using a no lather shampoo, it’s like washing your hair with conditioner.  After years of washing your hair with a product that lathered, it may feel odd and you may worry that it isn’t cleansing your hair or scalp.  But, rest assured, it is, and it’s working exceedingly well. These products actually make your hair look better, make it easier with which to work, and make it healthier (instructions on how to wash your hair with no-poo shampoos follow this section).

Here are some of the best lo poo and no poo shampoos for curly hair:  

3. NYC Curls The Curl Cleanser

It’s a creamy, no poo shampoo that’s also good for curly, color treated hair. It’s sulfate, paraben, and silicone free.  It’s enhanced with ginger and peppermint oil, aloe, and vitamin E, so it effectively moisturizes your hair and leaves your scalp feeling tingly clean. The citrus and tea scents also leave your hair smelling clean and fresh.

4. DevaCurl Low-Poo Original Mild Lather Cleanser

Ahh, DevaCurl. DevaCurl is the go-to brand for any curly hair product, be it a shampoo, a clip, styling product, spray, hair dryer…anything. DevaCurl not only makes products for curly haired woman, it has an academy that trains hair stylists on how to dry cut curly hair. DevaCurl’s sole mission is for women to celebrate their curls. If you ever see the name Deva Curl on a product, get it. Never hesitate. It will do exactly what it says it will do. This lo poo shampoo will clean your hair beautifully and ready it for wherever you are going and whatever you are doing. Nothing more really needs to be said.

5. Ouidad Curl Immersion Low-lather Cleansing Conditioner

Ms. Ouidad was a revolutionist in curly hair care and products. In the early 1980s, she opened a hair salon devoted to curly hair.  She offered choices to curly haired women and the ability to embrace their beautiful selves.   This lo-poo cleanser moisturizes and nurtures kinky curls. It additionally fortifies hair and helps detangle it, all while gently cleansing it.  Coconut oil, which, again, is fantastic for curls, shields hair from breakage and damage, encourages growth, and refines texture. Sage and rosemary oils further rejuvenate and cleanse the hair, while grapeseed and avocado oils add strength and hydration.  After just one use, your hair will feel and look soft, smooth, and healthy. You can absolutely trust any Ouidad product

6. DevaCurl No-Poo Original

DevaCurl was the first to ever introduce a no-poo cleanser for curly haired women. It’s the first and best. See also the comments above for **DevaCurl Low-Poo Original Mild Lather Cleanser.  This is the no-poo version. Advertising says it guarantees the healthiest, bounciest curls. Believe it. It’s exactly what it does.  Once again, if you see the name DevaCurl on a product, get it. Don’t ever hesitate. It will work.

Cleansing Conditioners for Curly Hair

Cleansing conditioners (or co-washes for short) are no-poo cleansers that are less rough than standard shampoos.  They use a blend of agents that reduce residue without stripping hair’s natural oils and they contain nourishing ingredients that promote hair and scalp’s health.

At first, only curly haired women used co-washes, but like the no poo and lo poo cleansers, straight haired women also started using them. Results were also mixed. Some women said that the co-washes caused buildup and some even claimed they damaged their hair. Yet again, what they were overlooking was that cleansing conditioners worked especially well with curly hair.  To reiterate, curly hair is different. It responds differently to certain products and it responds well to cleansing conditioners.

You wash your hair with a co-wash the same way you wash with no-poo shampoos (instructions below).  You can comb it through if you like and leave it on your hair three to five minutes to condition it.  Here are some of the best cleansing conditioners:

7. Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado Plus Quinoa Co-Wash

This rich cleansing co-wash eliminates impurities, grime, and buildup.  It also detangles, nourishes, and conditions your hair without drying it. Infused with avocado oil, quinoa extracts, shea, and aloe, it boosts hair’s manageability and health.  It’s safe for color-treated and chemically processed hair.

How to Wash Your Hair with a No-Poo Cleanser or a Co-Wash

Whenever you use conditioning cleanser or a no-poo shampoo and, sometimes with a lo-poo shampoo, you oftentimes need to use a substantial amount of product.  You need to coat your hair from root to ends in order to properly cleanse and condition it. Such does mean that you use up the product more than a comparable bottle of shampoo. You shouldn’t, however, let that fact frustrate you.  These unique products keep your special hair healthy, manageable, and looking beautiful, so they are truly worth every penny.

More: How to use a Diffuser

It’s much easier to use these products in the shower.  You need lots of water and heavy rinsing. Here are the steps on how to use them to effectively wash your hair:

  1. Completely wet your hair with warm water. You want your hair to be totally saturated, so stand, in the shower, under the water, and let it wet your hair for at least two minutes.
  2. Coat your hair from root to end with product.  Applying the product in small doses to small sections makes it easier.  Such also helps make sure every strand of hair is coated.
  3. Finger detangle and work the product through your hair, much like you would with a standard shampoo.  Just make sure you get to every section and every strand.
  4. Massage the product into your scalp.  A scalp shampoo brush or hair scalp massager, which you can easily purchase online, makes it much easier to massage the product into your scalp.  It also helps reinforce your hair root and invigorate blood flow to your scalp. Most of all, though, it feels really, really good.
  5. Use a wide tooth detangling/conditioner comb to disperse the conditioner throughout your hair and to also detangle it.  These combs are also available online.
  6. Let the conditioner absorb into your hair for three to five minutes.  You can leave it on even longer if your hair is damaged or dry or if you feel it needs extra conditioning.
  7. Rinse thoroughly.  Stand under the water and run your hands through your hair to help the water loosen the product. You want to be sure all the product is rinsed out.

Best Shampoo for Curly Hair

What to Do Directly After Rinsing Shampoo

Yes, there are actually a few tips you should follow and/or consider after washing your hair with sulfate-free shampoo, cleansing conditioner, or lo-poo or no-poo cleanser:

  • Microfiber Towels:  never, ever use a regular towel to wrap or blot dry your hair.  A regular towel’s rough fibers are like sharp little hooks that dig into your hair’s delicate cuticle layer and tear it away from the hair’s cortex. In addition, the material draws out too much moisture.  It leaves your hair broken, dry, and frizzy.

Instead, purchase a few microfiber towels.  You can buy them online, too. The fibers on a microfiber towel are extremely thin and tightly packed and the surface is very even. They won’t pull at your hair and cause breakage. Plus, they only absorb a limited amount of moisture. Microfiber towels are a must-have for a curly-haired woman.

In a pinch, you could also use an old cotton t-shirt.  But, a microfiber towel still works best.

  • Apply Styling Product to Freshly Rinsed Hair:  when your hair is sopping wet, before you wrap the microfiber towel around your head, try applying your favorite styling gel or cream, and then wrap your hair.   Some women’s hair and some products simply work best this way.
  • Never, ever, ever brush your curly hair.  Brushing it will wipe out the curl pattern and cause it to frizz.  And, not just simply frizz, but tremendously frizz. The only time you should ever use a brush on curly hair is when you’re using a hair dryer to straighten it.  But, why would you ever want to do that?

Some FAQs

Q. If you use a cleansing conditioner, do you also need to use a separate conditioner?

Cleansing conditioners were designed to both cleanse and provide the benefits of a separate conditioner.  There’s no need to also use a separate conditioner. If, however, your hair is very dry and damaged, you may want to also use conditioner.  It really all depends on the health of your hair.

Q. How often does curly hair need to be cleansed?

There is no one word or simple response to this question.  Naturally, you should wash your hair when it feels dirty or greasy.  But, you don’t want to wash it too often, as you will strip the natural oils from both the hair and scalp and it will look frizzy and dry.  Then again, if you don’t cleanse it, your hair will look and feel dirty. So, then, once again, how often should you cleanse your hair? The main objective is to make sure your hair retains as much natural oil as possible, so it really comes down to texture:

  • Coarse Curly Hair:  this type of hair is thick and usually dry and thirsty.  It, thus, doesn’t have to be washed that often. Once or twice a week may be enough.  If it gets or feels dirty in between, a dry shampoo would be helpful.
  • Medium Curly Hair: washing every two to three days should be enough for this type of hair.  If it gets or feels dirty in between, adding an extra cleansing wouldn’t hurt.
  • Fine Curly Hair:  just a little oil or dirt can make this type of hair look limp and droopy.  Washing daily or every other day is necessary.

Q. What’s a better cleanser for curly hair?  Sulfate free shampoo, lo-poo or no-poo cleanser, or cleansing conditioner?

It’ll come down to a personal preference.  Either one is fine. You should, however, use one of the three.

Q. I’m still not sure which product to use.  What should I do?

Experiment with products until you find the ones that work for you.  Don’t be afraid to try to do so. Products that don’t work for others, might work wonders for you and experimenting is the only way you’re going to figure it out. Online sites contain plenty of helpful information and customer insight.  You can trust the comments. It’s okay, too, to have a variety of cleansers. You might use different ones for certain occasions.

Q. How can I keep my hair looking fresh between shampoos?

There are several ways to keep your hair looking nice and clean between cleansings.  You might also come home from a busy day at the office, an evening out, or from a workout and want to do something quick to revive your hair.  You could always use a dry shampoo. They are easy to use and quite effective. Some women even suggest using baby powder as a quick dry shampoo.  A little bit of water and a dab of styling product or no rinse conditioner also works wonders.

Q. What can I do about buildup?

Every now and then, over conditioning or using the same cleanser over and over again can make your hair feel dull and lifeless. One or two washes with a sulfate free clarifying shampoo should return everything to normal.

Here’s a replacement for those earlier, negative curly hair sayings.  Repeat it daily and often:

“I love my curly hair.  It’s a reflection of me and I’m beautiful.”  

Monika Dimitrovska

A makeup freak who's passionate about books, beauty products, vegan food, daydreaming, and stargazing.

One thought on “Best Shampoos for Curly Hair That Actually Work!

  1. I got to try some of these. I currently use Maple Holistics and it does a good job but I enjoy using different brands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts