Finding the best shampoo and conditioner for your hair type is absolutely vital when it comes to the health of your strands. Luckily, there are so many options that tailor themselves to specific hair concerns.
That’s right, whether you constantly find yourself fighting back with frizz or you’re just looking for a deeply nourishing conditioner to rejuvenate your ends, there’s a specific formula that will work best for you. We’ve scoped out a variety of conditioners based on reviews and ingredients, and we consulted experts and our editors for their recommendations. After considering dozens of formulas, we’ve rounded up the best picks on the market.
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Shea Curl Defining Conditioner
Seals in moisture
Promotes consistent curls
Might be too drying for some
Briogeo's Curl Charisma Conditioner is all-natural and loaded with goodness. Rice amino acids block environmental moisture that causes frizz and flyaways, plus tomato fruit ferment and mollis leaf extract help with curl definition. It has a clean and sulfate-free formula, making it great for maintaining a healthy scalp and hair.
Reviewers love that it creates body and moisturizes their curls without weighing them down, and that it has a pleasant, long-lasting smell. They also noted that the protein in its formula made their hair stronger with continued use.
Price at time of publish: $28
Key Ingredients: Rice amino acids, mollis leaf extract, tomato fruit ferment | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens, artificial dye | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Conditioner
Can be drying
After using this conditioner, you'll have to do a double take to make sure you didn't accidentally use a luxury brand. Byrdie contributor, Kindra Moné, cites it as a favorite for its creamy texture that leaves your curls feeling hydrated from the inside out.
Price at time of publish: $7
Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, papaya extract, plumeria extract | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Natural Hair
DevaCurl One Condition Original Rich Cream Conditioner
Rich, creamy consistency
Can be used everyday
Can leave a residue
Devacurl's One Condition Original Conditioner is a great everyday conditioner because it provides a healthy amount of moisture for frizz-free tresses without weighing down curls. It even works beautifully as a leave-in conditioner— and we just can't say no to a double-duty product.
Price at time of publish: $58
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, coconut oil, vitamin E | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 32 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Detangling
Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Conditioner
Prevents split ends
Locks in moisture for even thick hair
Very thick consistency
Detangling curly hair can be a chore, but this all-natural conditioner has plenty of slip to help make the process easier. It has the nutrients your hair needs to lock in moisture and strengthen your strands while also working to prevent split ends. Users say that with continued use, their curls were softer and more defined.
Price at time of publish: $12
Key Ingredients: Pomegranate seed oil, babassu oil, coconut oil | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 12 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Thick Hair
SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner
Smooths the hair cuticle
Ingredients have changed
SheaMoisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner is a classic and a favorite among natural-haired beauties. This Fair Trade pick detangles, smooths the hair cuticle, and imparts abundant moisture. We also love that it enhances the shape of the hair while taming frizz.
Price at time of publish: $11
Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, jojoba oil | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Conditioner
Might be a bit greasy for some
Thirsty locks will love a drink of OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Conditioner. This is a hydrating blend of coconut oil to soften and nourish hair, honey to define curls, and citrus oil to tame frizz and boost shine. Not to mention, this product is easy on our wallets while also being effective.
Price at time of publish: $7
Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, honey, citrus oil | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Frizzy, Curly Hair
Aveda Be Curly Conditioner
Infused wheat protein enhances curls
Nice citrus smell
Full of fruit ingredients
Could be more hydrating
To enhance your curls, Aveda's Be Curly Conditioner boasts wheat protein and organic aloe. In addition to enhancing curls, the formula combats frizz and boosts shine. We'd also like to add, its citrus scent is a dream.
Price at time of publish: $32 for 6.7 oz.
Key Ingredients: Aloe extract, wheat protein | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Oribe Priming Lotion Leave-In Conditioning Detangler
Preps for styling
Contains mango seed and cupuacu butters
Some reviewers don’t love the smell
In addition to smoothing the hair cuticle and reducing frizz, this formula calls on natural oils and butters to detangle and repair strands. This conditioner is applied after washing the hair, and it can be left in. Make sure you add a little extra to damaged ends, as this formula will also protect the hair from heat styling damage.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Mango seed and cupuacu butters | Free of: Silicones, sulfates | Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Coily Hair
Pattern Beauty Intensive Conditioner
Formulated for tightly coiled textures
Detangles coils effortlessly
Rich and thick texture
May be too heavy for fine curls or waves
Created by Tracee Ellis-Ross, this formula is specifically for tight textures with low porosity. It uses avocado oil, shea butter, and safflower oil to deeply condition the strands so that the normal curl pattern of your hair is nourished and restored.
Price at time of publish: $25
Key Ingredients: Avocado oil, shea butter and safflower oil | Free of: Silicones, sulfates | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Ouidad Curl Shaper Double Duty Weightless Cleansing Conditioner
Ideal for everyday use
Can be used as co-wash
Vegan and cruelty-free
Formula may be too lightweight for damaged hair
Not only does this shampoo nourish lighter curls and waves, it is incredibly lightweight so that you never feel like your hair is being weighed down. The lather-free formula can also be used as a cleanser, which is great for daily use.
Price at time of publish: $12
Key Ingredients: Avocado oil, shea butter, and safflower oil | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, mineral oil | Size: 3.2 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Deep Conditioner
GU FLAWLESS BY GABRIELLE UNION Repairing Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment Masque
Helps nourish damaged or color-treated hair
Defines curly textures
Not ideal for everyday use
If your hair has moved from generally dry to damaged, this is the masque for you. This formula is packed with protein-rich ingredients that are great for building-up individual strands. Just apply a generous amount to your hair and allow it to sit for five to ten minutes.
Price at time of publish: $10
Key Ingredients: Biotin, creatine, rice oil | Free of: Silicones, sulfates | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Damaged Hair
Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength Fortifying Conditioner
Smoothing ingredients that target damaged hair
Can be used as deep conditioning mask
Too hydrating for everyday use
This formula is infused with Castor oil, which is extracted from castor beans and super nutrient-rich. It’s often used to promote hair growth, which makes it all the more incredible for restoring damage and breakage. When using this conditioner, make sure to add a little extra to your ends to leave them feeling much more smooth and nourished.
Price at time of publish: $11
Key Ingredients: Castor and black seed oils, ginger | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 11 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Dry Hair
Ceremonia Cupuaçu & Castor Deep Hydrating Conditioner
Made with natural ingredients
Might be too heavy for fine hair types
The majority of curly hair products are hydrating, but if you hair is extra dry, this is the conditioner for you. Formulated with nourishing oils and butters such as cupuaçu butter, shea butter, babassu oil, and castor oil, this pick from Ceremonia will quench your hair's thirst and then some. We love that it's also able to add shine and cut frizz, all while keeping the hair soft and moisturized.
Price at time of publish: $20
Key Ingredients: Cupuaçu butter, castor oil, aloe vera | Free of: Silicones, sulfates, parabens | Size: 8.45 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
R+Co Cassette Curl Conditioner + Superseed Oil Complex
Reviewers note it doesn't lather well
Having lifeless curls can be discouraging, but this conditioner from R+Co is guaranteed to save the day. Not only does it hydrate and strengthen the hair (with rice protein and seed extracts), but it enhances the shape of your curls for hair that has more volume and body. Reviewers note that it works on all kinds of curly hair, including those with fine or thin strands.
Price at time of publish: $34
Key Ingredients: Flax seed extract, chia seed extract, rice protein, aloe | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Briogeo’s Curl Charisma Hydrating Conditioner and Deva Curl’s One Condition Original Rich Cream Conditioner took home our top spots, largely due to their moisturizing formulas. They also work to hydrate curls and coils all the way down the hair shaft so that you don’t have to worry about frizz or breakage.
Meet the Expert
- Lizzie Caplan is a professional hairstylist based in Brooklyn. She is the senior stylist at Soon Beauty Lab in Fort Greene.
- Dmitri Giannetos is a professional hairstylist based in Los Angeles. He has worked with celebrities such as Ciara, Britney Spears, and Megan Fox.
What to Look for When Shopping for Conditioners for Curly Hair
Ingredients with shea butter, mango seed, and cupuacu butters are important when it comes to hydrating the individual hair strands. All of these butters are filled with vitamins A and E, as well as fatty acids – all of which work to reduce dryness and prevent split ends.
Sulfates are basically a detergent, meaning they strip the hair and scalp of all-natural oils and sebum. This is particularly concerning for those with natural or curly hair, as their strands can be on the dryer side or have lower porosity – and sulfates will drastically exacerbate this issue. Sulfates can leave your locks more brittle and prone to breakage.
Oils are not only packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids, they act as a humectant, meaning they hold in moisture and other nourishing ingredients from your shampoo and conditioner formulas. This is especially important for natural and curly hair types because it will allow the good ingredients to penetrate each hair strand so that your locks are less prone to breakage.
Moisture and hydration-based conditioners
“Curly hair is naturally drier because the scalp’s natural oils don’t easily slide down the coils of the hair,” says Lizzie Caplan, a master stylist at Soon Beauty Lab. “So, moisture and hydration-based conditioners work best—smoothing conditioners can also be helpful, but finer textures should use with caution.”
Cleansing conditioners are also great to alternate between shampoos. “This will gently cleanse the scalp and hair without stripping the scalp of its essential oils,” says Caplan.
What conditioner is best for curly hair?
We tapped celebrity stylist Dmitri Giannetos to find out what types of formulas are best for curly hair. He suggests looking for thicker, more nourishing formulas and masks if you have curlier or coily hair to prevent the ends from feeling too dry. While moisturizing formulas are great for all hair types, if your hair is just slightly wavy, you may want to stay away from super heavy conditioners unless you’re taking-on significant damage.
Why/how are formulas with lots of oils good for curls?
Curly hair can be drier – especially at the ends – due to the fact that it’s difficult for the scalp's natural oils to traverse the natural wave of each individual hair. Oils in formulas can add-in some of that missing moisture to the ends of the hair.
Are sulfate-free conditioners better for curly hair?
In short, Giannettos specifies that “Yes, they definitely are.” He further explains that this is because of the fact that sulfates can be stripping and damaging – especially to dryer hair types.
Why is curly hair prone to frizz?
The natural coils make it more difficult for the scalp’s natural oils to travel down the length of the hair shaft, which makes them more prone to tangling.
What does conditioner do for curly hair?
A conditioner will help to restore moisture, leaving curls shinier, bouncier, and less frizzy, according to Caplan.
How long should you leave conditioner in curly hair?
“A typical conditioner should process from 3-5 minutes,” suggests Caplan. “That’s long enough to be effective, though deep conditioning masks may be recommended for 10-20 minutes.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Kaitlin Clark has over ten years of experience in beauty editorial, and is currently the senior beauty commerce editor at Byrdie and InStyle. She's written hundreds of stories on hair and other beauty topics throughout her career, and her work has appeared in Allure, Elle, and WWD.