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How and when you wash your hair can be a hotly debated topic, especially for curly-haired girls. Some with finer, light curls wash their hair every day, while others try to squeak out as many days as they possibly can. Regardless of where you land on the wash day debate, there’s no denying that all curls, whether you’ve got loose waves or tight coils, need a little extra TLC — and that all starts with using the right shampoo for your hair type and texture. After all, if you muck up the first step, there’s not too much hope for a stellar, commercial-ready result.
“Using a good hair cleanser is essential, as your shampoo sets the tone for your entire wash day,” says Maeva Heim, founder of Bread Beauty Supply. “Although it’s not generally the product that people spend a lot of time thinking about, your shampoo really is one of the most important steps in your routine.”
For example, Heim explains that certain shampoos can strip your hair of natural oils, which triggers the conditioner “to work overtime” and consequently not perform well, which can leave you disappointed with your results. On the other hand, if your shampoo is too gentle on your hair, the greasy look won’t wash out, and “you’ll have to start all over again after all that effort,” Heim cautions.
What to look for in the best shampoos for curly hair
“All curls have different needs, and the tighter the curls, typically the more hydration the hair requires,” says Christin Brown, hair stylist and owner of Full Spiral Salon in Santa Barbara, CA. “Someone with straight to wavy hair may only need light moisture, while someone with curlier curls needs more hydration so their strands aren’t subject to breakage.”
Whether you’re a type 2a or a 4c, never let a sulfate or alcohol-based shampoo near your curls. “They can dry out your hair, leading to frizz and breakage,” warns celebrity stylist Andrew Fitzsimons.
The types of shampoo for curly hair
“Ideally, each hair type should look for a shampoo with different ingredients to maximize curls,” says famed hair stylist Sally Hershberger. “Type 4 is much denser, so shampoos with heavier ingredients, like castor oil, are great for keeping the hair hydrated,” she adds. “Type 3 can benefit from more lightweight ingredients, like aloe vera.”
Not sure where your curls or concerns land? Check out the most common types of solution-oriented shampoos for every curly texture and styling challenge.
- Scalp health
- Lightweight formulation
- Curl definition
How often should people with curly hair shampoo their hair?
“Curly hair has different textures, which dictate how often you should wash your hair,” Hershberger explains. “Curly hair benefits from some natural oil, but too much oil will leave hair limp and flat.”
She recommends that those with fine waves wash their hair every other day to enhance body and shine while a definitive type 3 — thick, curly hair — should lather up every three days. Coarse type 4 textures should keep it to once a week to retain the hair’s natural oils.
Considering all this, we’re sharing the 16 best shampoos for every curly hair type, texture and styling concern below.
Top Shampoos for Curly Hair
- Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Curly Hair: Bread Beauty Supply Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser
- Best Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair: Philip B Peppermint & Avocado Volumizing & Clarifying Shampoo
- Best Frizz-Control Shampoo for Curly Hair: NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Smooth Shampoo
- Best Shampoo Bar for Curly Hair: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Clay Shampoo Bar
- Best Dry Shampoo for Curly Hair: R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
- Best Drugstore Shampoo for Curly Hair: Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo
- Best Dandruff Shampoo for Curly Hair: Love Ur Curls Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Best Purple Shampoo for Curly Hair: dpHue Cool Blonde Shampoo
- Best Detangling Shampoo: Miss Jessie’s Harm Me Knot
- Best Organic Shampoo for Curly Hair: Aveda Be Curly Shampoo
- Best Shampoo and Conditioner Set for Curly Hair: Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Winter Curls & Coils Kit
- Best Shampoo for Coily Hair: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
- Best Shampoo for Dry Curly Hair: Kérastase Bain Satin 1
- Best Curl-Enhancing Shampoo: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo
- Best Pre-Shampoo for Curly Hair: Fable & Main HoliRoots Pre-Wash Hair Treatment Oil
Bread Beauty Supply Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser
Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Curly Hair
When developing her award-winning hair wash, Heim knew exactly the one-of-a-kind product she wanted to launch in the crowded shampoo market. “We formulated the Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser to be the precise balance between a moisturizing co-wash and a properly cleansing shampoo,” she says. “And it smells like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles cereal milk, so you really can’t go wrong.”
Philip B Peppermint & Avocado Volumizing & Clarifying Shampoo
Best Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair
Sometimes, your hair just needs a solid wash to boost radiance or clear away residue from styling products, and this tingly shampoo for curly hair somehow makes a hearty cleanse still feel luxurious. Infused with 16 plant-based extracts, this super lathering formulation by Philip B washes away impurities from your scalp without stripping your hair’s natural oils so curls will still look shiny and bouncy — just extra clean, too.
NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Smooth Shampoo
Best Frizz-Control Shampoo for Curly Hair
“Frizz happens when the hair is not moisturized correctly and seeks moisture from the air around it,” explains Fitzsimons. “Finding a hydrating shampoo that will minimize and control unwanted flyaways without stripping or weighing down your hair will manage this.” One of his favorites is NatureLab Tokyo’s Smooth shampoo because it’s formulated with Yuzu ceramides that fight against frizz and deeply penetrating oils that offer long-lasting moisture.
SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Clay Shampoo Bar
Best Shampoo Bar for Curly Hair
SheaMoisture’s shampoo bars are so much more than just an eco-friendly trend — they’re ultra-concentrated, meaning that one little bar will last anywhere between 60 to 80 washes. Just as facial clay masks suck up all the excess oil on our faces, this mineral-rich clay shampoo absorbs debris while the coconut and hibiscus ingredients are able to soften even the thickest curls. Bonus: You won’t find a shampoo for curly hair that travels better than this.
R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
Best Dry Shampoo for Curly Hair
A brand made by hairstylists for hairstylists — and now the rest of the world — definitely knows how to purify dirty hair without needing to go through the time-consuming hair wash process. Curly hair already lacks moisture, leading many to stay far away from dry shampoos, which could exacerbate the problem. But because this R+Co formulation is designed for “easy, big, messy Bardot or Bon Jovi hair,” curlies can lean right on into their natural texture.
Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo
Best Drugstore Shampoo for Curly Hair
Garnier Fructis’ Curl Nourish formula is a classic drugstore shampoo with more than 4,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. Reviewers love that it defines curls, moisturizes and stands up to the usual curl-killers — high heat and humidity — and all for a great price.
Love Ur Curls Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Best Dandruff Shampoo for Curly Hair
“Avoid using products that use sulfates or parabens, especially for type 4 hair,” Taylor warns. “Sulfates can cause flakes on the scalp, causing the scalp to be dry and itchy.” Opting for a blend filled with ingredients like shea butter and moringa oil, such as this pick from Love Ur Curls, will keep your hair and scalp healthy, even if you wash your hair a few times a week.
dpHue Cool Blonde Shampoo
Best Purple Shampoo for Curly Hair
The deep violet pigments in this dpHue shampoo neutralize brassiness and yellow tones in just one wash to give all natural and faux blondes a brighter, refreshed look. It’s also sulfate-free, making it safe for all types of curls to use, and rich in proteins to prevent breakage. Plus, the great-smelling hibiscus flower extract helps with softness and shine.
Miss Jessie’s Harm Me Knot Shampoo
Best Detangling Shampoo
This weightless, sulfate-free shampoo from Miss Jessie’s is a dream for tangled curls. “This is a great option to gently cleanse curls while detangling and moisturizing the hair,” Hershberger says. It not only helps to loosen knots and matted hair, it also softens even the kinkiest textures to allow a wide-tooth comb to slip right through.
Aveda Be Curly Shampoo
Best Organic Shampoo for Curly Hair
Last year, Aveda reformulated every single product in its entire range to be vegan. A blend of wheat proteins and organic aloe vera expands when hair is wet and retracts when hair is dry to control frizz and add luster. One of the best shampoos for curly hair, this option will leave tresses with that super clean feel and has a zesty citrus smell that’s totally invigorating. If you need a zing of energy in the morning, this is it.
Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross Winter Curls & Coils Kit
Best Shampoo and Conditioner Set for Curly Hair
What’s better than having a Pattern shampoo? Having the entire curl collection. Curls and waves are notoriously temperamental, and it’s rare to find a curl product that works for all textures. However, this versatile range that includes a shampoo and conditioner for curly hair, plus a styling cream, addresses all the common curl concerns: achieving rich hydration, touchable hold and strong definition.
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
Best Shampoo for Coily Hair
“My go-to shampoo for type 4 is SheaMoisture’s black castor oil,” Fitzsimons says. “Not only is this shampoo $10, but it’s made with natural ingredients, such as shea butter, castor and peppermint oils that will moisturize and stimulate the scalp.”
Kérastase Bain Satin 1 Shampoo
Best Shampoo for Dry Curly Hair
When your hair is so dry it feels like straw sitting in a sunny field, you need strong intervention. Enter: Kérastase’s Bain Satin 1, a nutritive shampoo for curly hair that delivers a heavy dose of glucose proteins and nourishing lipids to turn outrageously dry strands into soft, glistening gold.
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo
Best Curl-Enhancing Shampoo
It’s easy to feel like Goldilocks when searching for the perfect balance of curly hair products that leave curls bouncy and plump, not limp and heavy. “To help curls, look for shampoos that contain oils, including avocado, macadamia, coconut and olive oil,” Fitzsimons suggests. “These ingredients will give any weak, brittle strands a much-needed revival.” This popular shampoo from Briogeo has avocado oil for noticeably hydrated and more manageable hair, rice amino acids to lock out frizz and the real star, tomato fruit ferment to attract and retain moisture for defined curl formation.
Fable & Main HoliRoots Pre-Wash Hair Treatment Oil
Best Pre-Shampoo for Curly Hair
“Shampoo is often considered step 1 in the wash day routine, but my favorite tip for bringing coarse hair back to life is to include a step 0 and start with a pre-wash treatment,” Heim says. “Using a pre-wash oil treatment [like this option from Fable & Main] can help minimize damage from water fatigue, because the oil can fix the gaps in the hair to protect the strand, repelling the water and stopping it from causing damage.”