Curls look their best with the help of a few products that define shape and moisturize the hair. From shampoo to leave-in treatments, we’ll show you the best products for curly hair in this guide.
- Do Products Really Matter?
- Best Products for Curly Hair
- – Shampoo
- – Conditioner
- – Treatments and Masks
- – Styling Products
- Creating a Routine
Looking for the Best Products for Curly Hair?
Curls can be exhausting. They dry out easily, they seem to have a mind of their own, and frizz is always a concern. The curls’ high-maintenance nature might make it seem like the only fix is using a litany of products to force them into submission.
But fortunately, that’s not the case. The truth is that you can create the best curls with a quick and easy product routine. You don’t need the Curly Girl (or Curly Guy) method.
You don’t need to swear off silicones and sulfates. You don’t need to pineapple your hair (loosely secure in a ponytail on top of your head overnight). What you do need is a very small arsenal of proven products that soften, moisturize, and shape your curls.
And they’re not going to cost you a fortune! We’ll show you the best products for curly hair and why each one works so well. Before we get to it, let’s do a quick overview of the types of products curly hair needs.
Read Next: Trending Curly Hairstyles
You Need a Product Routine
If you don’t have a simple curl routine yet, this will help you get started. At the minimum, curly hair is going to need the following types of products to look its best:
- Cleansing (shampoos)
- Moisturizing (conditioners)
- Nourishing/Repairing (hair masks/treatments)
- Styling (mousses/creams)
You’ll need a good cleansing product (shampoo). You should be washing curly hair 1 to 3 times a week with a gentle shampoo that delivers a little moisture. That means extremely limited use of clarifying and harsh shampoos.
These strip every ounce of moisture from the hair, leaving it prone to frizz and damage. We’ve got three excellent options for curl-friendly, moisturizing shampoos below.
Next, you need a good moisturizing product or conditioner. Curls thrive on moisture to hold their shape without becoming frizzy. Using a conditioner after shampooing (some use it before and after shampooing) will help restore any lost moisture.
It also helps seal the hair strands to make them less susceptible to damage. You’ll see our favorite conditioners below in the product list. A product that nourishes the hair or repairs damage is also a necessity to have in your curly hair routine.
Treatments or hair masks should be used once a week or so to maintain healthy, bouncy curls. Nourishing treatments containing moisturizing oils and extracts are a great option for curly hair that is healthy but tends to dry out.
Repair treatments containing proteins and collagens are best for damaged curly hair. Results last a few days when you use a hair treatment or mask.
Finally, you’ll need a great styling product to bring it all together. Once your hair is properly cleansed, moisturized, and healthy, a styling product designed for curly hair will help your curls hold their shape.
Styling products for curly hair should be chosen based on the fineness or coarseness of the hair. Fine hair needs a mousse; coarse hair needs a thicker styling or curl control cream.
Best Products for Curly Hair
Check out the most effective products for curly hair below. You’ll see the best shampoos, conditioners, leave-ins, treatments, masks, and styling products to make your curls look better than ever.
We’ve found products at multiple price points, so you can stick to a budget or go all in!
It all starts with shampoo. The products you use to cleanse your hair set the stage for how your curls will behave further into the styling process. So it’s important to choose a good shampoo that will thoroughly cleanse the scalp.
But you also need one that won’t dry out or completely strip your hair of its naturally moisturizing oils. Here are the best shampoos for curly hair and why each one works.
SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Coconut and Hibiscus Shampoo
If you’re trying to eliminate parabens, silicones, sulfates, and phthalates for better hair health, SheaMoisture delivers with the Curl and Shine shampoo. It’s formulated with natural products that work to gently cleanse and protect your curly hair.
That includes coconut oil, hibiscus flower extract, aloe juice, and shea butter. The formula makes curls shiny, bouncy, and deeply moisturized for frizz-fighting power. A matching conditioner is available in the Curl and Shine set.
Aussie Miracle Curls
For a budget-friendly drugstore option, Aussie Miracle Curls shampoo is unbeatable for curly hair. It’s formulated with jojoba and coconut oils that seal moisture in to keep curls from drying out.
It’s paraben-free and made with water-soluble silicones that will make your hair feel softer than ever without causing buildup over time.
This shampoo also cuts frizz and eliminates tangles for more manageable curls. There’s a matching conditioner in the Miracle Curls set.
Maui Moisture Curl Quench
Maui Moisture Curl Quench shampoo is amazing for curly hair. It makes the hair shiny and moisturized without frizz and tangles.
Another excellent natural option, it contains zero sulfates and parabens while being vegan and cruelty-free.
Ingredients include papaya and plumeria extract, plus goodies like coconut milk and aloe vera. You can grab the matching conditioner for even better results.
Conditioner is essential to keep curly hair moisturized and primed for shapely curls that don’t frizz. But not all conditioners are created equally.
You need a conditioning product that replenishes the moisture lost when you shampoo. Here are the top conditioners for curly hair and what makes each one awesome.
L’oreal Paris EverCurl HydraCharge Conditioner
This budget-friendly curl conditioner eliminates frizz and dryness by deeply moisturizing curls and sealing it in with coconut oil.
It promises a 48-hour curl definition, and users confirm this shampoo delivers. There are no surfactants, salts, or sulfates, which can be harsh on curly hair and ruin the shape.
This conditioner is pure moisture in a bottle, and it’s really great for thirsty, curly hair. There’s a whole suite of products you can use in the EverCurl line, but we like the conditioner best.
OGX Extra Strength Damage Remedy + Conditioner
This damage-repairing conditioner will work for all hair types, but coarse, curly hair benefits from it the most. It’s all about nourishing and hydrating your hair.
Natural ingredients mean it’s gentle on the hair to introduce moisture deep into the strands without damaging it.
This cuts down on tangles and frizz for soft, bouncy curls. It smells like white peach, vanilla bean, and coconut to leave a fresh, sweet scent in your hair. It’s sulfate-free.
Maui Moisture Curl Quench Conditioner
This heavily moisturizing conditioner is designed to replenish lost moisture and deeply hydrate curls for a more defined shape. It’s going to leave your hair softer, more manageable, and less tangled with separated, defined curls.
Ingredients like aloe vera, coconut milk, and plumeria extract make it naturally effective while smelling amazing. Plus, it’s sulfate and paraben-free!
3. Treatments and Masks
Hair treatments and masks aren’t meant to be used daily, but they are a godsend for maintaining healthy, curly hair. Not all the masks and treatments on the market are intended for curly hair, though.
We’ve found the best hair masks and treatments that will prop up your curls with allllll the moisture and strengthening proteins.
SheaMoisture Intensive Hydration Masque
If conditioning doesn’t seem to imbue your strands with enough moisture to last, use the SheaMoisture Intensive Hydration Masque once a week. It will change the way you care for your curls.
Formulated to be thick and hydrating without being heavy or greasy, this hair mask embraces your curls to help them hold their shape.
It also makes hair shiny and amazingly soft. Apply from root to tip if you have coarse hair; start midway down the shaft if you have fine or medium hair.
Olaplex No. 3 Repairing Treatment
Olaplex No. 3 is not, I repeat, is not a conditioner. It’s not going to give you the slip-sliding soft results right away that moisturizing hair masks give because it’s a damage repair treatment.
But what it does is so important for curly hair, especially if you’ve got even slightly damaged hair. Damage causes curls to be misshapen, frizzy, and dry. This treatment tackles all those problems by repairing strands from the inside out.
It results in stronger bonds in the hair for less breakage and stronger, healthier curls that hold up without frizzing. It’s pricey, but if your curly hair is even remotely damaged, it’s worth it.
CER100 Collagen Coating Hair Protein Treatment
Collagen is necessary for hair growth and strength. This protein treatment supplies your hair with collagen and ceramide 3, a component that makes up about 50% of your skin and scalp moisture barrier.
By saturating the hair with this treatment containing collagen and ceramides, gaps in protein bonds are filled and the cuticle closes to seal in the additional moisture.
This leaves curls defined, shiny, springy, and so much healthier. Pop a shower cap on after applying it to really drive the treatment deep into strands!
4. Styling Products
Styling curly hair requires the right product. It needs to be the right weight for your hair (fine hair needs lightweight styling products, while coarse hair needs something heavier). It has to be formulated to give you the type of results you’re looking for.
And it shouldn’t contain drying ingredients like alcohol. We’ll include the best styling product recommendations for fine, medium, and thick curly hair below.
Design Essentials Natural Curl-Enhancing Mousse
Best for fine curly hair, Design Essential’s mousse is formulated to be lightweight while enhancing and defining curls. It’s lightly moisturizing without being overwhelming on fine hair. It does contain silicones,
But they’re water-soluble, so they will wash right out next time you shampoo. Work a small amount through slightly damp hair and use a diffuser to gently finish drying for perfect curls. Or air dry for a more casual curly look
OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream
Medium hair that isn’t fine or coarse needs a styling product that’s a little heavier than mousse. OGX’s air-dry cream is spot on! It makes curls bouncy and defined with plenty of moisture to avoid frizz.
You don’t even need heat to style with this cream. Just work it through your hair, tousle the curls to separate, and let it air dry for lightweight, hydrated curls.
The smell is absolutely delicious, thanks to the coconut oil, shea butter, and jasmine. This is the perfect low-maintenance styling product for curly hair.
DevaCurl Define and Control Styling Cream
Coarse hair needs a heavyweight styling product that can help define and support curls. DevaCurl’s styling cream is the solution.
It’s thick and creamy to coat every strand with a curl-boosting matrix of nourishing, hydrating, controlling, and natural ingredients.
Tapioca starch in the cream acts as “scaffolding” for your curls without creating the dreaded crunchy curls.
It locks in moisture to nix frizz and make curls shiny. DevaCurl products are always vegan, cruelty-free, and sulfate, paraben, and silicone-free.
Create Your Curl Routine
Now that you’ve seen our recommendations for the best products for curly hair, you can start to build your custom curl routine based on your hair’s needs. As we mentioned above, every curl routine needs the following:
- A cleansing shampoo
- A moisturizing conditioner
- A nourishing or damage-repairing treatment
- A styling product
If you have fine, thin curly hair, always opt for lightweight moisturizing products. Gentle shampoos, lightweight conditioners, and airy mousse are great for fine curly hair. These can deliver the hydration your curls need without overwhelming the texture of your hair or making it greasy.
For medium-textured curly hair, any lightweight or medium-weight product will work. Stick with mousses, foams, and lightweight creams. Make sure you’re not applying too much of any heavier moisturizing product.
It can weigh your curls down and make them go flat. Coarse, thick curly hair can handle all the moisture you want to throw at it. Just make sure you’re doing a once-weekly hair mask or deep conditioning treatment to keep your curls ultra-hydrated.
Pick a heavyweight styling cream to hold your curls up and prevent frizz. Your curl routine might involve air-drying or diffusing your hair with a hair dryer. Choose whatever works best for your curls.
Likewise, you might find that using a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray is a necessity to get the perfect texture for your curls. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
So, What’s the Best Product for Curly Hair?
Curls are as unique as the people they belong to. But they all need lots of moisture, gentle cleansing, and styling products that support curls and prevent frizz.
Choose any product on our list to start your curl routine off on the right foot. You’re going to be amazed at how soft, shiny, and bouncy your curls will be when you treat them right!