The 13 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair of 2022

Our best overall pick Ouidad’s Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo

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Best Shampoos for Curly Hair

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

As any curly-haired girl will tell you, this type of texture requires an entirely different set of products and styling techniques than straight hair. At the risk of getting overly complex, straight hair has hair follicles that are symmetrical, while curly hair follicles are asymmetrical. The number of bonds between the keratin (protein) within the hair shaft affects exactly what type of curl pattern you end up with. All of this is a fancy way of saying that curly hair is different—and, as such, it also has different issues and needs.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Ouidad’s Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo is our top choice due to its unique anti-frizz technology, naturally nourishing ingredients, and UV filter that keeps curls and coils protected from sun damage. For a budget-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with the Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo, which, as the name implies, nourishes curls with plant-based oils and strengthening proteins.

“Due to the shape of the strands, curly hair tends to be much drier than straight hair,” explains Emily Burns, a Product Development Haircare Specialist for Hask Beauty. Essentially, she explains that natural oils from the scalp cannot travel throughout the hair strand and evenly distribute moisture, resulting in dry and fragile hair. For this reason, it’s a good idea to go a few days in between washes—and, when it is time to wash, using a gentle, hydrating, and non-stripping shampoo is paramount.

To find the best shampoos for all curl types and hair concerns, we tried out a few top-rated products. Our testers used them for weeks, rating each formula’s texture and feel, ingredient list, and how well it defined (and, of course, cleaned) their curls. We then combined these results along with our research and tapped a handful of curly hair experts for their recommendations to compile this list.

Meet the Expert

Ready to get sudsing? Read on for the best shampoos for curly hair.

Best Overall: Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo

5
Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo

Ulta

What We Like
  • Fights frizz

  • Hydrating formula

  • Provides UV protection

What We Don't Like
  • May be heavy for finer hair

Humidity is to curls what Kryptonite is to Superman—the arch-nemesis of all arch-nemeses—which is why we’re giving this sudser top honors. First, it touts unique anti-frizz nanotechnology infused with silk protein that helps lock out humidity and lock in your hair’s natural moisture. Couple that with plenty of hydrating ingredients—shea butter, murumuru butter, ceramides—to keep the cuticle smooth, and you’ve got a surefire way to ensure smooth curls, no matter how humid it gets. Even better, this shampoo also has a UV filter to protect your hair from sun damage.

Byrdie contributor Ashley Rubell took this pick for a spin, giving it five stars for giving her loose curls newfound buoyancy and pizzazz. “This shampoo may be the product that completely shifts my relationship with my hair and gets me out of my lazy rut,” she says.

Price at time of publish: $21

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

What Our Testers Say

"Overall, never have I seen my hair look more beautiful than after using this shampoo and watching it air dry." — Ashley Rubell, Product Tester

Best Budget: Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo

Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo

Courtesy of Garnier

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Strengthening

  • Nourishing

What We Don't Like
  • Dry hair types may need more hydration

At just a few bucks, the price tag on this drugstore standout can’t be beaten. But despite the wallet-friendly price, you still get all of the same benefits as many other pricier shampoos. It's a sulfate-free, silicone-free, paraben-free formula that has conditioning coconut, macadamia, and jojoba oils plus strengthening proteins and B vitamins to keep your curls looking healthy.

Price at time of publish: $4

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 12.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Detangling: Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Moisturizing & Detangling Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Design Essentials

Amazon

What We Like
  • Hydrating formula

  • Boosts shine

  • Gently cleanses without stripping hair

What We Don't Like
  • May be heavy for finer hair

Even the healthiest curly hair needs to be detangled from time to time, and this ultra-nourishing, sulfate-free shampoo makes it a breeze. The almond and avocado oil formula penetrates hair to leave it softer, more manageable, and noticeably hydrated. Natural hair blogger Courtney Danielle Bryant cites this shampoo as one of her favorites of all time. She highly recommends it, saying, "It's extremely moisturizing, and you can finger detangle with it in your hair. It leaves my hair feeling very soft."

Price at time of publish: $13

Hair Type: Curly/Coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Editors Say

"Before I found this shampoo, my wash days would also double as arm day—I have a very thick head of kinky hair, and patiently detangling took ages. This product makes it so much easier for me to detangle in the shower, and it leaves my hair so shiny and soft. It's the most crucial product in my arsenal for a salon-quality wash-and-go or twist-out." — Eden Stuart, Associate Editor

Best for Dry Hair: Mizani True Textures Moisture Replenish Shampoo

Mizani
What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Restores curl buoyancy

  • Antioxidants improve hair health

What We Don't Like
  • Dry hair types may need more hydration

Curly hair is naturally drier than other textures, which is why it's so important to find a shampoo that will infuse moisture into your hair. Mizani's formula is sulfate-, paraben-, and silicone-free and contains coconut, olive, and marula oils to retain moisture and restore the natural pattern of your hair.

Price at time of publish: $20

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 16.9 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Colored Hair: L'Oréal Paris Evercurl HydraCharge Shampoo

L’Oréal Paris EverCurl HydraCharge Shampoo

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Hydrating formula

  • Fights frizz

  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like
  • May be heavy for finer hair

Not only is this shampoo sulfate-free, but it’s also free of harsh salts and surfactants that can wreak havoc on both your color and your curls. Coconut oil adds the hydration your hair needs, though the vegan formula is still light enough that it won’t weigh your hair down. It also smooths down frizz and increases shine. But perhaps most impressive of all? When used with the accompanying conditioner and treatment, the trio will keep your curls defined for 48 hours. Yes, as in two full days!

Price at time of publish: $8

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Fresh, coconut | Size: 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

If you have curly hair, your shampooing technique matters just as much as your shampoo. “Curly hair is extremely fragile and more prone to breakage when wet, so it’s important to be very gentle with your hair," explains Burns. "Start by massaging the shampoo into your scalp and roots, keeping your fingers under the top layer of hair since too much friction on that top layer may cause breakages." Finish by gently working the lather down your lengths, and remember to rinse well after.

Best for Volume: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo

curl charisma shampoo

Briogeo

What We Like
  • Defines curls

  • Adds volume and body

What We Don't Like
  • Dry hair types may need more hydration

No matter whether your hair is wavy, curly, kinky, or coiled, you can use this shampoo. The sulfate-free formula gently cleanses while tomato fruit ferment (which converts into the amino acid cysteine) seals the hair cuticle to ensure that hair dries consistently, the secret to maintaining a uniform curl shape. But to the point of volume, it’s the addition of hydrating shea butter and avocado oil that increases volume and body without weighing the hair down. (Because, while curly hair can often look big, it can also easily go limp and fall flat.) It’s also made of 98 percent naturally-derived ingredients without gluten, silicones, or artificial dyes and is good to use on color-treated or chemically-treated hair. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 8.5 ounces or 33.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Splurge: Leonor Greyl Paris Shampooing Reviviscence

Leonor Greyl Paris Shampooing Reviviscence

 Courtesy of Leonor Greyl

What We Like
  • Strengthening

  • Boosts shine

  • Gently cleanses without stripping hair

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself (and your hair) and splurge on a great product. Such is the case with Leonor Greyl's shampoo. It repairs your hair from within, reconditioning and restructuring your curls and helping each one to strength and manageability. Hairstylist Michael Dueñas says, "This will keep your curls tight and fight frizz all day."

Price at time of publish: $78

Hair Type: Dry/Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Apple, pear, quince | Size: 6.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge, Runner-Up: Kérastase Curl Manifesto Shampoo

Kerastase Curl Manifesto Bain Hydratation

Amazon

What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Lathers nicely

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Another splurge-worthy pick, everything about this sudser feels extra luxurious, from the creamy lather (even though it is sulfate-free) to the subtly sweet floral scent. It works equally well on wavy, curly, and coily hair and fine, medium, and thick textures—no small feat. Plus, it also helps keep your curls moisturized via the addition of manuka honey to add moisture and ceramides that help lock it in.

Price at time of publish: $31

Hair Type: Wavy, curly, coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Tuberose, jasmine, white musk | Size: 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Cleansing Conditioner: Bounce Curl Hydra Drench Cleansing Conditioner

Bounce Curl Hydra Drench Cleansing Conditioner

Bounce Curl

What We Like
  • Hydrating formula

  • Naturally-derived fragrance

What We Don’t Like
  • Doesn’t lather or foam at all

Cleansing conditioners are exactly what they sound like—super-hydrating formulas that clean without stripping your hair the way some traditional shampoos can. It’s why they’re a staple for many with curly hair, and this is one of the best options we’ve seen. The ingredient list is not only squeaky clean but jam-packed with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. Aloe vera is the first one, alongside a variety of natural oils. There’s only one cleansing-specific ingredient in the mix, so you know that you’re getting tons of moisture.

Price at time of publish: $22

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Citrusy and fruity | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural: EVOLVh SmartCurl Hydrating Wash

EVOLVh SmartCurl Hydrating Wash

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Hydrating formula

  • Lathers nicely

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Another clean pick, this hydrating formula is great for all curls but works especially well for those with really thick or coarse hair. It’s loaded with moisturizing fatty acids, natural oils, and strengthening amino acids, which will help define and enhance your natural curl formation, an attribute many happy reviewers point out. It also lathers surprisingly well for a sulfate-free formula.

Price at time of publish: $36

Hair Type: Curly, coarse | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Citrusy and fruity | Size: 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Sulfate-Free: L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths No Build-Up Curls Micellar Shampoo

L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths No Build-Up Curls Micellar Shampoo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Innovative water-to-foam texture

  • Affordable

  • Cleanses scalp and hair equally well

What We Don’t Like
  • Strong scent

Sulfates are the detergents found in all kinds of your beauty products, from shampoo to soap to face wash. They’re used for cleansing purposes and are why things lather and foam up, but they can admittedly be harsh and stripping, especially for curly hair, which is already more prone to dryness. Many shampoos for curly hair are sulfate-free. This is a top pick, largely because of the super innovative formula. It looks kind of like the micellar water you’d use for skin but transforms into a featherweight, airy foam as you work it into your hair. Major bonus points for the fact that it effectively removes residue, oil, and product build-up on both scalp and hair while still being gentle. Oh, and there is both hyaluronic acid and castor oil in the mix to add tons of hydration, too.

Price at time of publish: $10

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 16.9 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Purifying: Pattern Beauty Clarifying Shampoo

Pattern Clarifying Shampoo

Ulta

What We Like
  • Deeply purifying without stripping hair

  • Smells good

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Generally speaking, curly hair can require a good amount of styling products, and over time all of those products can build up (on both your hair and scalp). That’s why the occasional use of a purifying or clarifying shampoo—like this one from actress Tracee Ellis Ross’s line—is so important. It offers a seriously deep clean and also contains antioxidant-rich matcha green tea, aloe, and panthenol to make sure your hair stays strong and healthy. Rotate it in with your daily shampoo and use it every third wash or so.

Price at time of publish: $20

Hair Type: Curly, coily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Jasmine, bergamot, sweet sandalwood | Size: 7.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Natural Hair: Pantene Gold Series Moisture Boost Shampoo

5
Pantene Gold Series Moisture Boost Shampoo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Hydrating formula

  • Affordable

  • Lathers nicely

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains sulfates

This entire line from drugstore haircare staple Pantene was formulated specifically to address the unique needs of natural, relaxed, and/or transitioning hair. Case in point: This super hydrating formula contains plenty of argan oil to soften and moisturize even the roughest and driest of hair cuticles while still gently cleansing. We also appreciate the nice and creamy lather that still rinses out cleanly.

Price at time of publish: $9

Hair Type: Natural, relaxed, transitioning | Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 9.1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

The best shampoo for curly hair is Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing Shampoo. It touts unique anti-frizz nanotechnology that uses silk protein to lock out humidity and lock in your hair’s natural moisture. For voluminous, defined curls, we recommend Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo. The sulfate-free formula gently cleanses while tomato fruit ferment seals the hair cuticle to ensure that hair dries consistently, maintaining a uniform curl shape. And finally, color-treated hair needs its own TLC. Try the L'Oréal Paris EverCurl HydraCharge Shampoo. Not only is it sulfate-free, but it’s also free of harsh salts and surfactants that can wreak havoc on both your color and your curls.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino and Avocado Leave-In Defining Creme
Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Meet the Expert

Emily Burns is a Product Development Haircare Specialist for Hask Beauty.

What to Look for in a Shampoo for Curly Hair

Hydrating Ingredients

Because curly hair is innately drier than straight hair, it’s important to pick a formula that contains hydrators such as natural oils, butters, and glycerin. One ingredient that might be worth avoiding, however? Silicones. While these are often used as a conditioning ingredient to help add slip and shine to the hair, they tend to build up on the hair strands over time, says Burns. This can be particularly problematic for curls since it can cause them to become heavy and lose their shape.

No Sulfates or Harsh Detergents

In regards to dryness, it’s best to avoid shampoos that contain harsh surfactants or detergents, sulfates being the most common, explains Burns. They can be very drying and stripping, which is the last thing your curls need.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino and Avocado Leave-In Defining Creme
Byrdie / Bianca Lambert
FAQ
  • Are sulfate-free shampoos better for curly hair?

    Sulfates can be stripping for any hair type, including curly hair, so it’s best to go sulfate-free if you can. Devachan stylist Taylor Tugman explains that curly hair already skews toward the dry side, so you don’t want to further dry your hair with a harsh product. Look for a “no-poo” cleanser with a gentle formula, and don’t forget to spend the same amount of time massaging your scalp as you would with a foaming lather.

  • Is dry shampoo bad for curly hair?

    Dry shampoo is safe to use as long as you are properly cleansing your hair on a daily basis. Anabel Kingsley, president and head trichologist of Philip Kingsley, explains that dry shampoos don’t actually remove the dirt and oils that accumulate on the scalp, so while it’s fine to use as a styling aid or for a day or two between shampoos, those who wash their hair less frequently should consider double cleansing and/or adding a scalp toner or mask to their weekly routine. This way, you’ll protect your hair from the damage that excess buildup can cause while still enjoying the benefits of dry shampoo.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. While her hair is fine and straight, she has many friends and family with curly hair who she relies on to be her trusty product testers for anything and everything curly hair-related.

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.
  1. Cloete E, Khumalo NP, Ngoepe MN. The what, why and how of curly hair: a reviewProc R Soc A. 2019;475(2231):20190516. doi: 10.1098/rspa.2019.0516

  2. Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: An overviewInt J Trichol. 2015;7(1):2. doi: 10.4103/0974-7753.153450

  3. Plaza NC, García-Galbis MR, Martínez-Espinosa RM. Effects of the usage of l-cysteine (L-cys) on human healthMolecules : A Journal of Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry. 2018;23(3). doi: 10.3390/molecules23030575

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