The 13 Best Shampoos for Natural Hair of 2023

Our best overall pick is Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

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woman with natural hair

Stocksy 

In a market full of products aimed at your crown, it can be tough to find a shampoo suited for your curl type, porosity, and condition. Every kink, curl, and wave is to be embraced, and this is arguably easier to do when your shampoo is catered to meet your natural hair needs. On your quest to find the best shampoo for natural hair, "you must first identify what the hair is lacking," advises hairstylist Elliot Brian at Bibi Salon in New York City. The right shampoo can make or break your wash day and have a major impact on your curls.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, a stylist and fan-favorite strengthening sulfate-free shampoo that infuses hair with moisture to make sure strands have a healthy bounce. For a more affordable pick, consider, Aussie Miracle Curls Shampoo, replete with coconut and Australian jojoba oil to keep hair fully hydrated.

Here are the best shampoos

In This Article

Best Overall

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

5
Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

Ulta

What We Like
  • Highly-moisturizing

  • Color-safe

  • Maintains bonds within hair

What We Don't Like
  • May weigh the hair down

When it comes to bringing natural hair back to its healthiest state, Brian is a total pro. So you can trust his recommendation for natural hair, one of which is this fan-favorite strengthening shampoo that's infused with ingredients like biotin, green tea, and vitamin E. “Olaplex created an incredible line that can be best described as a bond repair to help redefine curls," he says. "Olaplex No. 4, completes the package by adding the one thing that curls crave most—moisture.”

Price at time of publish: $30

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: None | Size: 8.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Aussie Miracle Curls Shampoo

Aussie Miracle Curls Shampoo with Coconut

 Courtesy of CVS

What We Like
  • Nice smell

  • Very nourishing

  • Helps hair hold curls longer

What We Don't Like
  • Could produce more shine

You don’t have to break the bank to let your curls live their best life, and this product is proof. Aussie delivers yet again with a shampoo that is lightweight yet super moisturizing. It’s infused with coconut and Australian jojoba oil, and it’s free of the parabens found in many other drugstore brands. We especially love that this product delivers results for all textured hair from beachy waves to kinky curls.

Price at time of publish: $14

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Coconut | Size: 12.1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore

Maui Moisture Heal + Hydrate Conditioner

4.2
Maui Moisture Heal + Hydrate Conditioner
What We Like
  • Creates soft, touchable curls

  • Produces a healthy-looking glow

  • Reparative

What We Don't Like
  • Greasy to some

This brand often flies under the radar, but it delivers results that are totally worth bragging about. It’s impressively hydrating, which makes it perfect for nourishing dry and damaged curls. The formula begins with a unique blend of aloe vera juice and is infused with pure coconut water for moisture that you can feel. Reviewers say that hair is less tangled after use and the smell is divine.

Price at time of publish: $7

Hair Type: Dry, Damaged, Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Citrus Melon | Size: 13.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Color-Treated Hair

SheaMoisture Purple Rice Water Strength & Color Care Shampoo

Shea Moisture Color Care Shampoo

Courtesy of Sally Beauty

What We Like
  • Creates elasticity

  • Restores strength and shine

  • Effectively removes residue

Wat We Don't Like
  • Very watery consistency

Say goodbye to brassy tones and hair color that fades with this color-preserving shampoo. The sulfate-free formulary combines the beneficial effects of rice water, like increased manageability and elasticity, with wild orchid and sweet violet extract to remove dulling residue while restoring shine and strength.

Price at time of publish: $11

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Shea Butter | Size: 8.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Rice water products should only be used once or twice a week to avoid protein buildup. While protein is great for hair in moderation, alternate with a moisturizing shampoo to preserve elasticity.

Best for Fine Hair

TRESemmé Flawless Curls Shampoo

TRESemme Flawless Curls Shampoo

 Courtesy of Walgreens

What We Like
  • Defines soft curls

  • Tames frizz

  • Infused with Vitamin B1

What We Don't Like
  • Drying to some

If you have fine natural hair then you know how difficult it can be to find a product that caters to your curls without weighing them down, and this shampoo does just that. Infused with vitamin B1, this nourishing formula works to boost hydration while providing a protective barrier from humidity, so that you can flaunt your curls with less frizz.

Price at time of publish: $6

Hair Type: Curly, Wavy | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: None | Size: 28.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Hair

Creme of Nature Strengthening Shampoo with Acai Berry & Keratin

Creme Of Nature Acai Berry & Keratin Strengthening Shampoo

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Contains keratin

  • Gentle

  • Nice smell

What We Don't Like
  • Makes some hair harder to manage

Chances are moisture is at the top of the list of priorities for your natural hair, and this hydrating shampoo gets the job done. Its formula includes keratin, which helps to repair your hair and prevent it from future damage, and you can trust this OG natural hair brand to take care of your mane. It has great slip for easy detangling and users say their hair feels clean without being stripped of essential moisture.

Price at time of publish: $13

Hair Type: Damaged, Dry | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Acai Berry | Size: 12.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Clarifying

CURLS Pure Curls Clarifying Shampoo

CURLS Pure Curls Clarifying Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Effectively removes chlorine

  • Enhances curls

  • Adds sheen

What We Don't Like
  • Results not drastic to some

If you use lots of creams and custards to achieve your perfect curls, you might need to go above and beyond every now and then to cleanse your hair from product build-up, and that’s where this ultra clarifying shampoo comes in. Ideal for looser curl patterns, bring this sulfate-free formula to the forefront of your beauty stash once a month between your regular shampoo to reveal healthy, squeaky clean curls.

Price at time of publish: $15

Hair Type: Curly, Kinky | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Pineapple, Grapefruit | Size: 8.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Sulfate-Free

Mixed Chicks Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Mixed Chicks Sulfate Free Shampoo

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Not stripping

  • Retains moisture

  • Rich in vitamin E

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't produce much of a lather

Users of all hair types pledge their loyalty to this sulfate-free shampoo. Even without the harsh chemicals, you’ll be surprised at the lather that this cleanser dishes out without stripping your hair of the oils it needs for health and elasticity. You can expect hair that is less frizzy after use, and we’re giving this one extra props for borage seed and avocado oils that nourish as they cleanse.

Price at time of publish: $10

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: None | Size: 10.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Deep Cleansing

Matrix A Curl Can Dream Shampoo

Matrix A Curl Can Dream Shampoo

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Deeply cleanses

  • Preserves curl pattern

  • Effectively removes build-up

What We Don't Like
  • Harsh to some

Manuka honey is a rich humectant and can be beneficial for natural curls and coils. Infused with Manuka honey extract plus salicylic acid, this formula provides a deep cleanse, to removing buildup while leaving curls defined and hydrated. Plus, it’s formulated without silicones, parabens, mineral oils, petrolatum, or paraffins while still preserving your pattern.

Price at time of publish: $20

Hair Type: Curly, Coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: None | Size: 10.1 and 33.8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Anti-Breakage

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Gently cleanses

  • Contains an ancient nourishing ingredient

  • Fortifying

What We Don't Like
  • Smells bad to some

Nothing is worse for your hair goals than brittle strands that are prone to breakage, but you’re in luck with this sulfate-free shampoo. This repairing cleanser is gentle enough for the most fragile and distressed hair. The ancient monoi oil derived from Tahitian flower extract and coprah coconut oil works to moisturize your curls without weighing them down. Use it regularly to reduce breakage and retain length.

Price at time of publish: $14

Hair Type: Curly, Dry, Fine, Chemically-Treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Coconut, Tiare Gardenia flowers | Size: 8.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Natural

CurlMix Pure Aloe Vera Shampoo

CurlMix Pure Aloe Vera Shampoo Fragrance-Free

 Courtesy of CurlMix 

What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Good for sensitive scalps

  • Creates longer lasting hairstyles

What We Don't Like
  • Harder to use on short hair

This lightweight shampoo is all-natural and handmade with ingredients that you can feel good about. CurlMix stands by this hero formula, boasting that you’ll notice curls that are defined, moisturized, and more manageable when used along with the rest of their product line. We love the gentle, non-drying qualities, and if you’re not into lavender, no worries. The Aloe Vera Shampoo also comes in watermelon, vanilla berry, and fragrance-free options.

Price at time of publish: $21

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: None | Size: 8.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Type 3 Curls

Mielle Organics Moisture RX Hawaiian Ginger Moisturizing & Anti-Breakage Shampoo

Mielle Organics Moisture Rx Hawaiian Ginger Moisturizing & Anti-Breakage Shampoo

 Courtesy of Mielle

What We Like
  • Creates a lather

  • Infused with avocado and ginger

  • Thick, rich texture

What We Don't Like
  • Top could be more durable

This shampoo has everything that you need for your natural hair without weighing it down with greasy residue. Formulated with type 3 hair in mind, it cleanses gently while moisturizing thirsty curls. It also eliminates frizz and preps hair for styling, so you can get the most out of your curls before the next wash.

Price at time of publish: $10

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Ginger | Size: 12.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Type 4 Curls

Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo

Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Makes hair easier to manage

  • Locks in moisture

  • Creates definition

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't deliver a strong scent

Coily hair needs a little extra attention when shampooing to avoid tangles that lead to breakage, and this unique blend is a great multitasker. It detangles kinks while clarifying and moisturizing strands all in one. Infused with honey and babassu oil, the formula gently lifts away impurities while providing tons of slip to make detangling a breeze.

Price at time of publish: $12

Hair Type: Curly. Coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Pomegranate, Honey | Size: 12.0 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

Meet the Expert

• Elliot Brian is a hairstylist at Bibi Salon in New York City.


Michelle O’Connor is a professional hairstylist and the Artistic Director at Matrix.

What to Look For in a Shampoo for Natural Hair

Glycerin

When it comes to cleansing natural hair, Artistic Director at Matrix Michelle O’Connor, says glycerin is a must-have ingredient for keeping the hair and scalp healthy. “Studies have shown that glycerin can help ease dandruff, moisturize the scalp, and prevent hair from breaking due to its ability to keep hair moisturized,” she says.

Manuka honey

Beloved for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and bacteria-fighting benefits, Manuka honey is another ingredient to look for as it has proven benefits to natural hair. “Manuka honey is one of my favorite ingredients," explains O'Connor. "It's a natural humectant, meaning it attracts moisture from the air. It contains four times more vitamins and minerals than standard honey, and it aids in hydration, definition, and shine." The A Curl Can Dream Shampoo contains Manuka honey extract; it's also included in Carol's Daughter Monoi Sulfate-free Shampoo.

A mild surfactant

In order to properly cleanse your hair, O’Connor stresses the importance of using a mild surfactant to thoroughly remove product buildup. “If the hair isn’t properly cleansed from time to time, it can become dryer and dryer,” she explains. “No matter what products you use—unless you’re literally using only water—you will eventually get product buildup on your scalp and hair strands over time, which will first cause your scalp to get extremely clogged up, and when that happens, your hair growth becomes hindered.”

One surfactant she says shouldn’t always necessarily be avoided? Sodium laureth sulfate. “This ingredient can get a bad rap; however, it’s not to be confused with sodium laurel sulfate, which is harsher,” she explains. “Its main job is to thoroughly cleanse the hair of product buildup, dirt, and oils."

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of a shampoo for natural hair?

    A good shampoo will remove build-up and flaky skin from the scalp. A clean scalp can help with hair growth and maintaining length of hair. A good shampoo also preserves your natural curl pattern and provides moisture to the hair shaft.

  • How often should you use a shampoo for natural hair?

    It is harder for hair’s natural oils to travel from the roots to the ends of curly hair, and washing it too frequently will strip it of its natural oils. Curl pattern is a key factor in determining how often natural hair should be shampooed. In general, natural hair should be shampooed once every one to two weeks to remove product and oil build-up. This could vary depending on how active you are and how much you sweat.

  • Are there any ingredients to avoid in a shampoo for natural hair?

    Phthalates are a common ingredient to avoid, as they have been linked with hormonal imbalances and infertility. 


    Sodium lauryl sulfate is another common shampoo ingredient to avoid. Although it creates a rich lather. it can strip hair and cause scalp irritation. If you have sensitive skin, dry hair, or dyed hair, it is recommended that you use a sulfate-free shampoo.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overviewInt J Trichology. 2015;7(1):2-15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450

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