The 8 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Hair Experts
Calling all curly-headed cuties: I hear you, finding the right shampoo to quench the curls is truly a crapshoot. Born with the densest of curls, I've tried several shampoos throughout my life and I've found only a select few cleanse my hair without leaving it feeling dry and stripped of its natural oils. So I asked a few hair professionals—from dermatologists to stylists—for their recommendations of the best shampoos for curls and coils of all kinds.
"Curly hair needs to be washed with a hydrating or strengthening shampoo to enhance shine, prevent breakage and flyaways, while being lightweight," says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow at the American Academy of Dermatology. What's more, be sure to choose formulas without ingredients like sulfates and alcohol, which could strip and dry the hair out.
That said, consult this guide of the best shampoos for curly hair, recommended by pros and customer reviews, to get your bounciest curls and coils yet.
Dove Hair Therapy Spa Hydrating Shampoo
A pick from Dr. Nazarian, she loves that this shampoo contains hyaluronic acid, a natural serum often found in skincare to help draw in moisture. "Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance that helps our body retain water and maintain a healthy barrier," says Dr. Nazarian. "There are [also] no sulfates or parabens in the shampoo, so it avoids the constant stripping of natural oils that protect hair or can be irritating for sensitive skin or those who are allergic."
Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo
Prior to the pandemic, Mona Gohara, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, would go to the salon for a blowout once a week. Now, she's letting her natural curls be free, recommending this super-hydrating shampoo from Shea Moisture to give hair some TLC. "[This shampoo] has coconut oils to add extra moisture, keep the original shape of my curls, and adds shine!" she raves. "Plus the ingredients are sustainably produced."
Wella Nutricurls Curls Micellar Shampoo
Textured hair expert Diane Stevens, owner of the Cole Stevens Salon in Washington, D.C., knows her way around curls, and recommends this creamy shampoo to her clients. "It uses micellar technology found in some facial cleansers that pull the dirt from the skin without a lot of lather," says Stevens. "It’s awesome for curls because it’s a creamier shampoo that leaves the hair feeling soft and bouncy without stripping it."
Dove Amplified Textures Hydrating Cleanse Shampoo
Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, is a fan of this formula. "This shampoo is sulfate-free and hydrates the hair with ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil and aloe," he tells Health. "Curly hair tends to be dryer than straight hair which is why a richer shampoo is important." Also worth noting: It's free of parabens and dyes, is totally color-safe, and uses Dove's patented Fiber Actives to rehydrate and protect damaged curls of all kinds.
Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Shampoo
With over 10,000 5-star reviews, Maui Moisture doesn't disappoint with this anti-frizz shampoo made for the loosest of curls to the tightest coils. Designed for even the thickest hair, shoppers have called this shampoo one of the best they've ever tried, leaving them with soft, manageable curls. The tropical scent is also a fan-favorite. "I've been using this shampoo and conditioner for over a year now and I LOVE it," wrote one customer. "This product has none of those extra unnecessary ingredients. Not to mention my curls are more hydrated and better than before!"
Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Curl Quenching Shampoo
One of the top-rated shampoos for curly hair on Amazon, this shampoo moisturizes even the driest of hair with its sulfate-free formula. Made with softening coconut oil, coconut milk, mango and murumuru butters, one shopper has called it a "hair savior" for its ultra-hydrating properties bringing dry, limp hair back to life. "The shampoo lathers very well and the scent is light and refreshing," said another. "I feel like my hair has become healthier and even a bit more curly/wavy since using these products."
Sun Bum Curls & Waves Shampoo
You may know Sun Bum for their stellar sunscreen, but their shampoo is also jam-packed with their delicious-smelling, nourishing ingredients like kukui nut and coconut oils to keep your curls soft and shiny. Several shoppers remarked how soft and luxurious this shampoo made their hair feel, from the lightest waves to tighter ringlets. "The shampoo lathered nicely and rinsed cleanly away without making my hair feel stripped," said one shopper, who recommends trying the entire Sun Bum hair line for the best effect. Did we mention it's 100% vegan, too?
Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo
This sulfate-free shampoo is amazing at removing buildup and keeping your scalp clean and your curls light and bouncy. Made for the tightest of curl patterns, reviewers have said just a little bit of this shampoo goes a long way, saving you plenty of time (and money!) on wash day. Shoppers rave about the amazing scent and how clean—but not stripped—their hair feels after one wash. "I absolutely love this shampoo," shared a customer. "It really gets all the dirt out of my 4c hair, lathers up pretty nicely which I like... I would definitely suggest this product for anyone who loves a squeaky clean scalp!"
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