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Which shampoo for curly hair is best?

If you have curly hair, you’re in luck. There are now whole product lines dedicated just to curly hair types. This is because conventional hair-care products formulated with harsh ingredients can dry out and frizz curly hair. While some with curly hair skip shampoo altogether, dirt and product buildup can weigh down your curls. Instead, you should use a shampoo for curly hair.

The Bumble and Bumble Curl Moisturizing Shampoo is a fine choice, a hydrating shampoo that’s gently formulated so your curls stay bouncy and defined.

What to know before you buy shampoo for curly hair

Ingredients to avoid

Shampoos designed for curly hair will maintain your curls’ bounce, definition, and volume while providing ample moisture. Because curls have a tendency to frizz and dry out, most of these shampoos avoid harsh detergents called surfactants. These are used in conventional formulas to cleanse hair, but they can also strip hair of its natural oils.

When shopping for a shampoo for curly hair, avoid these three ingredients that are detrimental to your curls:

  • Sulfates are a commonly used surfactant in shampoos. While sulfates create the sudsy lather we associate with shampoo, they can be harsh and drying on curls. Most shampoos for curly hair are sulfate-free.
  • Silicones add shine to the hair, but they also add buildup that only sulfate-containing shampoo can effectively remove. Over time, products containing silicone dull curls and weigh them down, so many curly hair shampoos are formulated without them.
  • Alcohol: Some shampoos contain this drying ingredient, common in styling products. If you’re serious about keeping your curls nourished, avoid all hair products containing alcohol, including shampoo.

Types of curly hair shampoos

  • Classic shampoos formulated for curly hair produce rich lather and are made without harsh ingredients that can dry out curls. Those that offer the best protection for curls are made without parabens, silicones, alcohol or sulphates. 
  • No-poo shampoos for curly hair have a water-and-oil-based formula to cleanse hair without stripping it of moisture. Some no-poos don’t create suds, while others produce a light lather. No-poos need to be followed by a conditioner for curly hair.
  • Cleansing conditioners, also called co-washes, are all-in-one formulas that combine shampoo and conditioner. “Co-wash” is short for “condition wash” and refers to washing your hair with conditioner. In general, conditioners contain surfactants, but they are much milder than those in regular shampoo. While a cleansing conditioner will gently clean your curls, don’t expect it to lather much. Leave it on your hair for a few minutes before rinsing it out.

What to look for in a quality shampoo for curly hair

Color-treated hair

If your curly hair is also colored or dyed, be extra careful with the product you choose so you maintain your color. Be sure to select a curly hair shampoo with a color-safe formula.

UV protection

UVA and UVB rays from the sun can damage and dry out curly hair. Select a shampoo with ultraviolet protection, especially if you have color-treated hair that can fade or dull with sun exposure.

Natural/clean ingredients

Some shampoos for curly hair are formulated with natural plant-based ingredients. They also may have “clean” formulas that don’t contain chemicals potentially harmful to the body, such as sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. 

How much you can expect to spend on a shampoo for curly hair

They range in price from $10-$30 for standard-sized bottles, and up to $100 for bulk or family-sized bottles. You can find drugstore brands for less than $10, but it’s worth it to splurge on a specialty brand formulated without harsh chemicals.

Shampoo for curly hair FAQ

Q. What ingredients are commonly found in shampoos for curly hair?

A. Curly hair shampoos often contain oil-based emollients and fatty alcohols to smooth and cleanse your curly hair. They also contain proteins, such as keratin and collagen, to help strengthen hair.

Q. What else should I look for in a curly hair shampoo?

A. Don’t forget to pick one with a scent that appeals to your nose. No matter how well a shampoo works for your curls, if the scent is offensive, you’re not going to want it lingering on your hair all day long. 

What’s the best shampoo for curly hair to buy?

Top shampoo for curly hair

Best Bumble and Bumble Curl Moisturizing Shampoo

Bumble and Bumble Curl Moisturizing Shampoo

What you should know: This is a top-selling moisturizing shampoo made for all types of curly hair. 

What you’ll love: Made with highly moisturizing ingredients, this shampoo cleans gently yet effectively. Plant-based oils protect while they moisturize curls. The formula doesn’t contain sulfates or parabens and works well for waves, curls and coils. 

What you should consider: It may weigh down some consumers’ hair, and produce a bit of buildup. 

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora, Amazon, Target and Ulta Beauty

Top shampoo for curly hair for the money

Devacurl No-Poo Zero-Lather Original Cleanser

Devacurl No-Poo Zero-Lather Original Cleanser

What you should know: This is a highly popular no-poo from a trusted brand synonymous with curly hair.

What you’ll love: Free of sulfates, parabens and silicone, this hydrating and detergent-free cleanser provides a reliable clean with UV protection. It’s formulated for chemically treated hair. And the price makes it a good value.

What you should consider: This isn’t a co-wash and needs to be followed by a conditioner for best results. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Ulta Beauty and Target

Worth checking out

L'Oreal Paris EverCurl Shampoo and Conditioner Kit

L’Oreal Paris EverCurl Shampoo and Conditioner Kit

What you should know: This is a bargain-priced set of shampoo and conditioner for curly hair types.

What you’ll love: The affordable price includes both a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. They are free of silicones and parabens, and have a nice botanical scent. The formula repairs hair for healthy curls. 

What you should consider: It may dry out some users’ curls.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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