Keep your curly locks soft and bouncy with the best curly hair shampoos

·10 min read

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Calling all #CurlyGirls! The fact of the matter is simple – you should cherish your natural curl pattern. No matter your texture, you should take pride in your crown. Caring for natural curls can sometimes feel like a weird friendship. Ignore your curls too often, and they’ll get back at you with frizz and dry, split ends. Give your curls too much product or oils, and you’ll find yourself dealing with weighed down strands. If you’re someone who’s just learning to love their curls, this relationship can even feel tricky. This guide can help you learn to manage and love each and every one of your precious curls.

If there’s one thing for certain, curly hair that’s not properly cared for can appear frizzy and become hard to manage. That’s why using a hydrating shampoo is so important. The right shampoo can pay off in various ways. Just as the right combination of hair oils and conditioner can enhance your natural hair texture, a truly healthy hair shaft also calls for a great shampoo that cleanses your scalp but doesn’t entirely strip natural oils or leaves residue.

Purchasing the right shampoo can be hard, which is why we’ve created this list of the top curly hair shampoos of 2022.

Top Picks

Best overall: Shea Moisture Shampoo For Curly Hair

Nothing is worse than a shampoo that strips your curls of its natural oils. Phthalate and paraben free, SheaMoisture can put an end to unnourished curls while also unlocking deeply cleansed hair.

While some shampoos can leave your hair feeling oily or weighed down, Shea Moisture leaves your curls feeling as light and fluffy. Moreover, this curl-enhancing shampoo includes coconut oil, which helps to create nourished and shiny curls.

Free of silicone and featuring hibiscus flower extracts, this shampoo works to minimize tangles and breakage by improving elasticity and frizz. The shampoo forms a thick, creamy lather to cleanse your scalp – leaving frizz-free and bouncy locks and waves.

For that eco-loving friend in your life, this product is cruelty-free – so you can rest easy knowing your next product reference is approved by Mama Earth and effective.

Pros

  • Leaves hair soft and shiny

  • No harmful impact on the environment

  • No harsh chemicals or sulfates

Cons

  • No expiry date on the packaging

Gentle cleansing: OGX Quenching+ Curl-Defining Shampoo

Featuring coconut oil, this curl-enhancing shampoo will maximize volume, giving you big, bouncy curls!

Providing your hair with just the right boost of hydration, use this product with a wide-tooth detangler comb to promote defined waves and spirals.

While some shampoo products lack in the quantity department, you can rest assured knowing OGX champions with its amount and quality.

Another plus? The nourishing formula contains citrus oil, which helps to maintain healthy pH levels and adds natural shine to your hair. It also contains sweet honey with humectant properties, which is a secret moisturizing agent.

If you’re someone who loves a hair product that doubles as a perfume, the subtle sweet scents of vanilla, coconut oil and tangerine will have your friends and co-workers asking if you are wearing perfume.

Pros

  • All-natural ingredients

  • Sulfate and paraben free

  • Gentle on your hair

Cons

  • Can dry out thin hair

Suitable for vegans: Maui Moisture Curl-Defining Shampoo

Made for thick, coarser hair, this shampoo is made with love and coconut oil to produce defined curls.

Those concerned about the formula altering their original curl pattern can rest easy knowing this product is suitable for tight curls and will leave your hair shaft feeling hydrated after every wash.

If you are living or plan to adopt a vegan lifestyle, this shampoo will be your next best friend because it's made with unique blend of natural aloe vera, coconut oil and papaya extract.

Sulfate-free, this product contains no parabens and has a silicone formula.

Pros

  • Gentle, nourishing formula

  • Suitable for vegans

  • Comes in small packaging

Cons

  • Fragrance is unnoticeable

Suitable for kids: SoCozy Curly Hair Shampoo

This curly hair shampoo restores the natural balance of the hair shaft and reduces breakage while improving the elasticity.

This shampoo is made with organic ingredients like plum seed oil and olive oil to deeply cleanse the scalp and remove buildup.

Another plus? Because of its natural ingredients, this shampoo protects your hair from contaminants and pollutants – giving you that salon feeling without nasty ingredients.

Pros

  • Gentle cleansing with salon formula

  • Protection from environmental factors

  • Soothes itchy scalp

Cons

  • Not suitable for all hair textures

Honorable mention: Moroccan Oil Shampoo For Curly Hair

The next shampoo on our list is from Moroccanoil, which gives you bouncy, shiny and frizz-free curls.

This formula contains a blend of Abyssinian oils and vegetable protein to give you the best of both worlds. Protecting your curls from environmental factors, the argan oil enhances each hair strand’s elasticity.

Free of sulfates, phosphates, and parabens, your hair will feel soft and frizz-free in even the driest of conditions.

Another plus? The lightweight formula nourishes your hair without weighing it down, so you can use this with complete peace of mind. Cleansing the scalp without breaking down natural oils, you won’t have to worry about color stripping with this one.

Pros

  • Removes buildup without damaging scalp

  • Boosts elasticity and shine

  • Makes hair more manageable

  • Helps fight frizz

Cons

  • Single bottle doesn’t last long for people with coarse hair

How to purchase high-quality curly hair shampoo: a buying guide

The basics of choosing curly hair shampoo

Know your scalp type

While knowing your hair type is important, figuring out your current trouble areas can ultimately improve the overall state of your hair shaft. For example, if you’re suffering from a dry scalp you’re probably going to want to skip a shampoo that strips more oils from your strands. If your hair isn’t damaged, then you can most likely skip products that work to repair split ends because that’s not what you need.

In regards to budget, knowing these things can also help you avoid spending unnecessary money on products you won’t use very often.

Consider hair length

If you have curly hair, chances are you totally ignore those suggested product amounts on the back of the bottle. If the directions say pea-sized, you go ahead and use two to four times more because, well, that’s just instinct. We all know when you use too little product there’s a chance your curls will frizz up halfway through the workday or, worse, not hold its natural curl pattern due to dryness. This can especially prove annoying if you live in a dry or unpredictable climate.

If you have long curly hair, a good rule of thumb is to apply shampoo to the tips first and move up. Use a wide-tooth comb or detangler brush while running your conditioner or shampoo through the hair shaft. Doing this will help you develop a better understanding of how much product you need.

Check ingredients

While curly hair does require daily moisturizing, too much conditioner and oil can clog the pores and actually inhibit hair growth. This is why it’s important to understand your hair type, establish a hair routine and keep track of any new changes and improvements.

For those who are just exploring their shampoo options, or it’s your first time digging deeper into curly hair care, you may find it helpful to search for tutorials on Youtube posted by beauty gurus who have your curl type. Doing so can not only provide a sense of familiarity, but expand your knowledge on the best (and worst) shampoos on the market.

Another plus? By subscribing to one Youtuber, the algorithm will naturally suggest similar Youtubers to check out.

How to choose curly hair shampoo (based on hair texture)?

Oily scalp shampoos

Picking a shampoo doesn’t have to be stressful. As with hair conditioners, you want to look for a shampoo that promises to strengthen strands, repair stripped ends and uses natural ingredients.

Because textured hair needs oil to thrive, it’s important to pick a shampoo that won’t strip your hair of vital oils and nutrients.

Dry scalp shampoos

Those who suffer from dry scalp may have a tendency to scratch their heads, which leads to additional flaking and possibly scalp damage. This is why it’s better to seek shampoo formulas that offer natural ingredients like coconut, jojoba and tea tree oil that will replenish the scalp and provide relief.

Be aware of shampoos that drive their pitch with claims of fortifying and strengthening ingredients. While intriguing at the surface, these shampoos can contain harmful chemicals which, in the long run, will alter your hair shaft’s natural rate of oil production – and in some cases, even tamper with your original texture.

Types of curly hair shampoos

Normal curly hair shampoos

Because textured hair is more prone to knots and dryness, hydration is key. Using the wrong shampoo for your hair type often has a lot to do with ingredients, so check product labels. For example, those with textured hair should be aware of products that contain sulfates.

Dry curly hair shampoos

People who often straighten or dye their hair are more prone to split ends and dry hair. This is because when textured hair is kept from its natural state the strands tend to break (which is why curly hair deserves a lot of love!)

In the long run, manipulating your curls with heat and chemicals can strip your hair of its natural moisture.

While dry shampoo is perfect for those on the go, users should be aware that too much too often can lead to crispy-feeling strands due to product build-up and the inability to absorb into the hair shaft.

Balancing curly hair shampoos

As the name suggests, balancing shampoos lock your hair shaft’s moisture level to ensure smooth, frizz-free curls. When it comes to tighter curl patterns, like 4C, the last thing you want is for your shampoo to completely strip the oil in your hair. This is because oil is what gives curls their coil – so as you can imagine, a “squeaky clean” scalp is actually more harmful than a clean one and can even lead to split ends.

Balancing shampoo for curly hair typically includes a blend of proteins, vitamins, and moisturizing agents to help restore your hair.

Anti-dandruff curly hair shampoos

Because most shampoos can strip curly textures of natural oils, you might have noticed an increase in flakiness with other products. Curly hair shampoos that contain jojoba, olive seed oil and coconut oil can help combat the annoying dandruff and flakiness that comes with the winter season.

People also asked

Q: Which ingredients should you avoid while choosing a curly hair shampoo?

A: You should always choose a sulfate, phthalate, and silicone-free shampoo. 

Q: Should I get a complete hair care kit for my curls?

A: It depends on your personal preferences, curl texture, and scalp condition. Excessive moisturizing from conditioners and hair masks can make your hair greasier and ultimately clog pores.

Q: Are scented curly hair shampoos good?

A: It’s advised to avoid scented shampoos because these contain chemicals that can lead to split ends. If you do prefer scented shampoo, choose one with a mild fragrance.

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