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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. Read more  
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.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

40 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
68 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best conditioners for curly hair

If you have curly or coily locks, you probably already know that the right kind of conditioner can make your hair more manageable. This important haircare product lives up to its name by locking in moisture, enhancing natural softness and shine, and helping fragile hair resist breakage.

Texture is the name of the game here. While other formulas may have a drying effect, a conditioner for curly hair with plant-based oils, polymers, and other highly-moisturizing ingredients can tame frizz and keep your hair hydrated in between washings.

Of course, curl and texture vary from one head to the next, so finding a conditioner that makes your hair look and feel its best can be challenging. We’ve taken the guesswork out of your decision with our recommendations and detailed shopping guide. 

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Do you prefer to use products with natural or clean ingredients? Many premium haircare brands don’t include artificial fragrances, dyes, or chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.

Benefits of using a conditioner for curly hair

Regardless of your hair type, using a conditioner offers many benefits. However, consumers with curly hair face some specific challenges when it comes to achieving soft, shiny locks. Here is a closer look at how a conditioner that’s made specifically for curls can tackle some of the top curly hair concerns.

It smooths your cuticles

Hair cuticles, or the exterior hair shafts, are more raised in individuals with curly hair. This can result in frizz and a dull appearance. Conditioners for curly hair work by smoothing the cuticles, giving curly hair a sleeker, shinier appearance.

It moisturizes dry hair

This is a primary reason for using conditioner regardless of your hair type, but sometimes, people with curly hair need an extra boost of moisture. Most formulas for curls have rich ingredients like plant oils that hydrate thirsty hair.

It makes hair stronger

When hair is moisturized, it has better elasticity than dry hair. The results are strands that are more resilient to breakage, brittleness, and split ends.

It defines curls

Dry hair can lead to frizz, which in turn can cause curls that lose their shape and definition. A curly hair conditioner helps define curls by creating smoother cuticles and stronger hair shafts.

It adds shine

Not only do conditioners for curly hair tame frizz and add strength that can make hair shiny, but ingredients like protein, vitamins, keratin, and polymers give hair a lustrous look.

Types of curly hair conditioner

  • Daily use conditioners are the most popular. These formulas can be used each time you shampoo without leaving residue that weighs down your locks. Simply apply a dab to your wet hair after shampooing it, wait for a few minutes, and rinse. Just like that, your hair will be hydrated and nourished.

  • Deep treatment conditioners are best if you have very dry, damaged hair. These formulas are typically used on a weekly basis to repair split ends and deliver a higher level of moisture than daily conditioner provides. These benefits are achieved courtesy of deep-conditioning ingredients that are allowed to soak into wet hair for at least 30 minutes before rinsing.

  • Leave-in conditioners, just as you would expect, do not require rinsing. Instead, they are applied to the hair after shampoo has been rinsed and left in place. These products provide light, continuous moisture and thermal protection for consumers who use blow dryers or other heated styling tools on their hair.

Ingredients and consistency

Curly locks require special ingredients to keep them moisturized and looking their best. Plant-based oils like argan, coconut, shea butter, and avocado smooth hair and give it a soft feel. Proteins are also used to calm cuticles and tame frizz. Many conditioners for curly hair also contain fatty acids, lipids, keratin, and polymers that add strength and shine.

It’s the creamy, lotion-like consistency of these luxurious ingredients that makes them easy to apply all over your curls. However, leave-in formulas are usually thinner, and they are often applied using spritzer. On the other hand, deep conditioners are thicker, due to their rich ingredients.

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Did you know?
In addition to locking in moisture, the protective barrier that hair conditioners form help keep impurities and pollutants from penetrating the hair shaft.
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Curly hair conditioner prices

You can find hair conditioners that will work for curly hair for less than $15, but they won’t have the same high-quality and intensely moisturizing ingredients as pricier options. You also won’t find many salon-quality brands in this price category.

In the mid-range, between $15 and $25, you’ll find rich formulas for daily use and for all types of curls. You’ll also have your pick of several top-selling brands.

If you’ve got your eye on deep-treating conditioners, superior ingredients, and tried-and-true premium brands, expect to pay more than $25. Some specialty formulas and salon brands will run as high as $40 or more.

Tips

  • For the best results, leave your hair conditioner in place for five to 10 minutes before rinsing. This will give the product time to moisturize your curls.

  • If you have damaged hair, choose a deep-treating conditioner. These products are formulated to moisturize more deeply than everyday conditioners and are typically used once a week.

  • Choose a conditioner without unnatural additives for the best results. Ingredients like sulfates, mineral oil, and silicone can weigh down hair and actually be somewhat drying, which is counterproductive to your goal of conditioning your hair.

  • Make curly hair conditioner a part of your routine. Using this type of conditioner on a regular basis will keep your hair moisturized and make it more manageable.

  • Think about your hair texture and curl type before you choose a conditioner. Different products are formulated with ingredients to benefit specific types of hair, from fine, loose curls to coarse, tight coils.

Other products we considered

There are almost as many formulas of conditioners for curly hair as their are types of curls. In addition to our favorites, we also like Kerastase’s Resistance Conditioner for Damaged Hair for its reparative properties. It contains ingredients that strengthen hair shafts while repairing damage like split ends.

If your curls aren’t as thick and bouncy as you’d like them to be, Amika 3D Volume Thickening Conditioner delivers plant-based proteins to hair that build it up and add volume. As an extra bonus, its patented formula also stimulates follicles, promotes growth, and protects.

Do you need a conditioner that you can apply and go? Ouai’s Leave-In Conditioner is made by a brand that knows curls, so it’s designed to moisturize hair and tame frizz without the need to rinse it out once applied. It detangles and guards against damage from heat styling, too.

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Not only is conditioner good for your hair, but most products also smell great. The results? Better-looking curls with a pleasant, lingering fragrance.

FAQ

Q. What is high-porosity hair, and how can a conditioner for curly hair benefit it?
A.
Porosity is a term that refers to how well hair can absorb moisture. Although high-porosity hair is absorbent, it requires more moisture to maintain and is prone to becoming dry, brittle, and frizzy. Conditioners that are formulated for curly hair deliver deep, targeted moisture and seal it in, making high-porosity hair shiner and curls more defined.

Q. Can I use a conditioner that’s made for tight curls on wavy hair?
A.
Yes, but you’ll want to be careful not to apply too much. Conditioners that are made for springing curls and tight coils contain extremely hydrating ingredients, and they may be a bit heavy on waves and loose curls. However, if you use a small amount and work it evenly throughout your hair, you’ll reap the benefits of the moisture without weighing down your locks.

Q. What ingredients should I look for in a conditioner to add shine to my tight curls?
A.
Many conditioners for curly hair contain fatty acids and natural plant oils that add shine by moisturizing hair and controlling frizz, yet they do not feel heavy or oily. Polymers are also great for creating a glowing finish, because they adhere to hair shafts to make them smooth and shiny.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
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