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Best Shampoos for Curly Hair

Updated July 2023
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Best of the Best
Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo
Water Works Clarifying Shampoo
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Gentle Cleanser
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The Ouidad product is a good shampoo for curly hair, removing all of the build-ups from your scalp without stripping its natural oils.


Removes build-up from hard water deposits, chlorine, and residue from color treatments. Scented with grapefruit and orange flowers. An excellent choice for those who frequently layer products and conditioners on their hair.


Can be intense, so may not be the best for thicker or drier hair types.

Best Bang for the Buck
OGX Quenching + Coconut Curls Shampoo
Quenching + Coconut Curls Shampoo
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Trusted Brand
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A natural formula ideal for hydrating all hair types; comes from a trusted brand in drugstore shampoos.


Citrus, honey, and coconut ingredients add moisture to curls and help to reduce frizz and flyaways. Detangles hair, adds shine, and revitalizes curls. Made without parabens and sulfates. Comes in a 13-fluid-ounce bottle.


May not have significant results on some hair.

SheaMoisture Curl & Shine Shampoo
Curl & Shine Shampoo
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Natural Formula
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A rich formulation that strengthens hair, restores shine, and enhances curls with clean ingredients.


Moisturizes and strengthens hair and improves its elasticity. Coconut oil replenishes hair while protecting it from damage. Enhances curls with a gentle formula that leaves a smooth finish. Cruelty-free and made without harsh chemicals and ingredients.


Might be too heavy for users with fine or oily hair.

Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Curl-Defining Shampoo
Maui Moisture
Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Curl-Defining Shampoo
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Natural & Vegan
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An eco-friendly shampoo that combats frizz and enhances curls.


A shampoo for curly hair that is made without silicone, parabens, and sulfates. Includes pure coconut water and aloe juice. Safe for dyed hair and works on tight curls. Comes in a 13-fluid-ounce bottle.


Some reports of hair loss after use.

Aveda Be Curly Shampoo
Be Curly Shampoo
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Gentle Formula
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Enriched with wheat protein and organic aloe to cleanse and enhance curls, soften frizz, and boost shine on curly or wavy hair.


Allows your hair to form its natural curl. Helps smooth frizziness. Hydrates well. You don't need a lot of product to get the job done. Boasts a refreshing citrus scent that will make your hair smell fabulous.


A higher price point compared to other brands. Some have said it causes hair to be oily.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best shampoos for curly hair

Having a tough time taming your head of curly hair? Sick of frizz and limp locks? Shampoo tends to dry out hair, which is bad news for those with curls. Some curly-haired folks forego shampoo altogether to avoid drying out their strands. But without shampoo, residue and dirt can build up and weigh down hair. Curly hair requires a cleanser that’s effective and can do the job without striping locks of their natural oils.

But with so many shampoos for curly hair on the market, finding the right one for your tresses can be a challenge. If you’re ready to embrace your hair’s natural volume and texture, we’re here to help.

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Aging can affect the appearance of your curls, which is why using high-quality products is so important. Thinning that occurs over time can make it tough to get curls to hold a defined shape. Choosing a moisture-rich shampoo for curly hair is key to maintaining a healthy head of curls.

Why buy shampoo for curly hair?

Whether you were blessed with tousled waves or gorgeous corkscrews, you’ve probably felt frustrated by your curly hair at some point in your life. Curls require a bit of TLC to keep them looking their best. Maintaining volume without weighing down hair is easier said than done, but the right products can prevent your mane from looking poofy and damaged.

What curls need more than anything is moisture and lots of it. Thick or thin, curls have a tendency to dry out and get very frizzy if not cared for properly. Shampoos for curly hair are specially formulated to inject moisture and life back into hair, so your locks look healthier than ever.

Features to consider for shampoos for curly hair

Let’s take a look at some of the critical things to consider when shopping for shampoo for curly hair, so you can pick out the right cleanser for your tresses.

Ingredients to avoid

Sulfates are harsh ingredients found in many shampoos. They dry out hair and leave it frizzy and hard to manage. Luckily, many companies are moving away from using sulfates in hair care products or offering sulfate-free options. Those with curly hair should opt for sulfate-free shampoo.

Silicones are another ingredient to avoid. Silicones that aren’t water-soluble cause buildup, which must be cleansed with sulfates.

Though alcohols are more often found in styling products, they may also be found in certain shampoos. Avoid alcohols to prevent dryness.

Ingredients to look for

Oil-based or fatty alcohols are naturally derived and good for smoothing out frizzy hair. Proteins are another ingredient to look for. They help strengthen hair and prevent breakage. Some examples of proteins include collagen and keratin.


With shampoos for curly hair, pick a product with a scent you like. You’ll get to enjoy it while washing your hair in the shower, and the scent will linger after your hair is dry.


Shampoos for curly hair come in several specialty formulas.

Cleansing conditioners are sometimes called no-poo shampoos. This formula is designed to condition and cleanse at the same time, without harsh ingredients that strip hair of moisture. Water and oils are the main ingredients. Cleansing conditioners provide moisture and get rid of residue, leaving behind clean hair that won’t feel weighed down. Though some formulas don’t lather like regular shampoo, there are plenty of brands that offer cleansing conditioners that produce suds. If that matters to you, read the label, and check customer reviews to get a full picture of a no-poo shampoo.

You can find color-safe shampoos designed specifically for curly hair. These shampoos are made for color-treated hair. Color-safe formulas protect dyed locks from fading and dulling.

There are an array of curl-friendly shampoos derived from natural ingredients that provide moisture and protection. Some shampoos also provide protection from the harsh rays of the sun. UVA and UVB rays can damage hair just like skin, causing your curls to dry out and color-treated hair to look dull and faded.


Shampoos for curly hair usually come in either squeeze bottles or bottles with pumps. A small amount of product is all you need to wash curly hair, so a pump bottle is great for controlled dispensing of the product.


Because shampoos for curly hair are specially formulated, they tend to be more expensive than regular shampoos.

You can find drugstore brands for under $10, but most specialty shampoos cost more than that.

Higher-end curly hair cleansers that are free of harsh chemicals and feature formulas with specialty ingredients may cost up to $30.

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Expert Tip
Many shampoos for curly hair don’t produce a thick lather. It’s tempting to use more shampoo in an effort to create a sudsy consistency, but lather is not necessary for effective cleansing.


Here are a few need-to-know tips for washing, caring for, and maintaining a curly head of hair.

  • Don’t forget about conditioner. After washing with your shampoo for curly hair, follow with a conditioner that’s formulated for curly hair, too.

  • You only need a small amount of shampoo to wash your hair. Using too much shampoo can cause dryness.

  • Focus on your scalp when washing your hair. Massage your scalp when washing your mane. Massaging is gentler on your hair follicles than scrubbing, and it’s an excellent way to relax in the shower.

  • Air dry to prevent damage and moisture loss. Don’t roughly towel dry your hair, or you’ll encourage frizz.

  • Use alcohol-free products to avoid dryness. This is especially important for curly-haired folks. Shampoos and other styling products with alcohol can leave your curls feeling crunchy instead of soft.

  • Use the right styling tools. If you must dry your hair with a blow dryer, attach a diffuser.

  • Don’t brush your hair. Brushing your curls will lead to frizz. It’s best to only brush out your hair right before you shower to get rid of any tangles. Brushing or combing wet hair will mean less-defined curls. Some conditioners for curly hair are designed to help with detangling.

  • Be careful not to go overboard with heat styling. Heat dries out hair and can cause damage.

  • Don’t wait until your hair is dry to shape and define your curls. Wet styling is a better alternative for those with curly hair. Scrunch a curl definer into your wet hair, and your curls will dry frizz-free.
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Invest in a silk pillowcase to prevent frizz. You’ll feel like royalty, and there will be no friction on your curls that can leave you with bedhead in the morning.


Q. Will shampoo for curly hair give me curly locks if I have straight hair?

A. No. Unfortunately, that’s not how shampoo for curly hair works. Shampoos designed for washing curly hair are made to infuse and lock in moisture, while preventing the dryness that commonly occurs with this type of hair. If you have straight hair, shampoo for curly hair won’t give you curls. You’ll need a curling iron for that.

Q. How often do I need to wash my curly hair?

A. Washing your hair strips out its natural oils, so washing every day is not a good idea. If you have fine hair, at least a day between washes is recommended, since oil buildup is more likely to occur with thin hair. Those with a lot of hair can get away with less frequent washing, perhaps two to three times a week. However, if your hair feels weighed down, limp, or oily, it’s time for a wash.

Q. How much shampoo should I use to wash my curly hair?

A. A small amount of shampoo is usually all you need, though the amount may depend on the length and thickness of your hair. Focus on cleansing your scalp. Using too much shampoo can sap moisture from your locks. You don’t need much to clean your hair effectively.

Q. Should I also use conditioner on my curly hair?

A. In addition to using a cleanser designed especially for your hair type, you should definitely use conditioner, too. Remember, curly hair needs moisture. But be careful. Heavy conditioners can leave a residue that weighs down your curls, leaving you with hair that looks more limp than lively. There are curl-friendly conditioners available that will effectively hydrate and smooth out your hair.