If you have curly hair, then there's a good chance that you know how time consuming wash days can be—and don't even get us started on all of the products that are involved. From cleansers to deep conditioners to leave-in products, there's a lot to look for when trying to perfect your haircare routine but familiarizing your locks with a decent shampoo for curly hair is a great place to start, and it'll save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
“Products are key, starting with the shampoo,” says celebrity stylist and curl connoisseur Tippi Shorter. “Once hair is hydrated, less styling products are needed.”
When it comes time to wash, some of the best shampoos for curly hair are hydrating ones which are often infused with essential oils and butters. “Using products that have moisture and frizz-reducing ingredients are essential for curly girls to achieve healthy curls,” says Shorter. Steer clear of “anything that says chelating, clarifying, or deep cleansing,” she adds. They’ll further strip your hair of moisture, which contributes to the frizz-factor.
Another tip stylists swear by: Comb your hair out while it's soaking wet and don't touch them again until they're dry. Fussing with them too much roughs up the hair follicle and leads to more frizz.
Want to put your bad hair days behind you? Here are the best shampoos for every type of curl and styling need.
1. Best For Restoring Shine: Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo
Treat your tresses without breaking the bank thanks to this sulfate-free formula that leaves curls soft and silky. Shea butter softens and smooths the hair, neem oil controls frizz and restores shine, and coconut oil helps reverse the effects of UV rays, dirt, and pollution, which can lead to dull hair.
2. Best For Daily Cleansing: Together Beauty Wash & Co Cleansing Conditioner
When Shorter is styling a client’s curls, she reaches for this hydrating option instead of shampoo because it cleans the scalp without any harsh ingredients. “A co-wash is a conditioner with some cleansing agents,” she explains. “The essential oils help restore moisture that curly hair lacks.”
3. Best For Coils: Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo
If you have tight curls you’ll want to reach for this low pH cleanser that’s free of parabens, phthalates, and synthetic dyes, making it a nourishing option for both natural and color-treated hair that won’t tangle post-shower.
4. Best For Fine Curls: Renee Furterer Sublime Curl Curl Activating Shampoo
Fine curls can easily fall flat, which is why you should reach for this formula that employs acanthus extract to restore volume, all while strengthening and defining your natural curl pattern.
5. Best For Type 3 Curls: Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Curl Care Shampoo
This curl type has a mix of S-shaped waves and ringlet curls and requires a special shampoo that's both hydrating and also lightweight. Enter this shampoo enhanced with blend of rice, keratin amino acids, and enzymes that does all of the above.
6. Best For Keratin-Treated Curls: Kérastase Discipline Fluidealiste Shampoo
While a sulfate-free shampoo is your best bet if you have curly hair, it’s even more imperative if you’ve had a keratin treatment. This gentle formula fights frizz without weighing down your ringlets. Plus, it’s sulfate-free, making it a great option for color-treated curls, too.
7. Best Organic Option: Innersense Hydrating Creme Hairbath
Curly girls will rejoice over this gentle, sulfate-free formula that employs tamanu oil, which regenerates, strengthens, and protects the hair follicle, all while delivering moisturized curls sans product build-up. This certified organic formula is free of parabens and sulfates, too.
8. Best For Smoothing Hair: Shu Uemura Shusu Sleek Smoothing Shampoo
This deeply hydrating formula is free of parabens and silicones and works on the coarsest curls to deliver frizz-free tresses thanks to a high concentration of antioxidants and omegas 3, 6, and 9. The result? Smooth texture instantly.
9. Best For Controlling Frizz: Biolage Smoothproof Shampoo
This deeply nourishing formula is great for damaged tresses and will lock in hydration and offer humidity control, all while restoring moisture when your hair needs it the most—without weighing it down.
10. Best For Itchy Scalps: Aveeno Almond Oil Blend Shampoo
This scalp-soothing shampoo employs a combination of natural ingredients, like oat, almond oil, and avocado oil, which moisturize hair from root to tip.
11. Best For Strengthening: Virtue Recovery Shampoo
Less breakage and more bounce is just a shampoo away. This formula contains keratin, which fills in damaged spots and replenishes the vital nutrients hair needs to thrive, creating stronger, softer, more manageable hair with each wash.
12. Best Budget Buy: Tresemmé Moisture Rich with Vitamin E Shampoo
For under $10 you can restore the moisture your curly hair needs, thanks to this affordable option that uses ceramides to infuse each strand with hydration, restoring the life and vitality of your curls.
13. Best For Wavy Hair: Amika Normcore Signature Shampoo
This lightweight formula eliminates product build-up without weighing down your waves and employs coconut acid, sea buckthorn, and vitamins C and A to provide the hair with a satisfying cleanse while moisturizing the hair and scalp.
14. Best For Type 4 Curls: DevaCurl No Poo Decadence
Kinky curly hair requires an extra boost of moisture to maintain its shape and its integrity. This non lathering shampoo is a boosted version of the brand's cult class, offering more nourishment thanks to chufa milk and quinoa protein.
15. Best For Thick Hair: Carol's Daughter Wash Day Delight Water-to-Foam Shampoo
The great thing about this shampoo—other than its light water-to-foam formula—is that it's packaged in bottle with a nozzle, making it easy for you to apply the product to every inch of your scalp without using too much and stripping your curls of moisture.
16. Best For Damaged Curls: Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
Okay, so the product itself wasn't specifically formulated to treat curly hair, but as a best-seller at Sephora and a favorite of tons of hairstylists, this shampoo works just as beautifully for curly hair as it does other hair types. It's a repairing shampoo that works wonders on damaged hair thanks to a special, patented ingredient that relinks broken bonds in the hair and prevents the formation of split ends and breakage.
17. Best Hydrating Shampoo: Bread Beauty Supply Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser
This light and milky formula transforms into a gentle, satisfying lather rich with argan oil that moisturizes and softens the hair. It also features a healthy does of lemon tea tree oil to help soothe itchy, irritated scalps.
18. Best Co-Wash: As I Am Coconut Cleansing Conditioner
With a gentle cleansing formula that practically glides through the hair and takes the hassle out of detangling, this cleansing conditioner is perfect for using in between your weekly shampoos—especially when you want to give your hair an extra hit of moisture.