Finding hair products that work for your unique texture is challenging enough—trying to find vegan formulas is a whole different story. There seem to be more and more vegan brands cropping up every day, all touting the same pseudo-science and lackluster results.
That can make for some pretty serious decision fatigue. But luckily, we've done all of the digging for you. As beauty editors, Team Byrdie has spent years testing the most popular vegan hair products to separate fact from fiction and share the formulas that actually work.
From shampoos and conditioners to conditioning masks, to natural-friendly curl creams, discover Byrdie's picks for the best vegan hair products ahead.
"I started using Eden Bodyworks at the beginning of my natural hair routine in 2015 and six years later the Coconut Shea Curl Defining Creme and is still in my top three styling products," says social media editor Jasmine Phillips. "I love that this product has a great hold for my 4B texture, withstands humidity, defines and moisturizes my curls. The formula has nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and vitamin E which help strengthen the hair and seal in moisture. Major pro: provides shine but does not cause flakes."
Byrdie associate editor Eden Stuart is in full agreement: "This is one of my favorite affordable curl cream options," she says. "It never leaves me with the dreaded product flakes (you know the ones—they make it look like you just finished taking out your twists on a ski slope), and consistently makes my twist-outs look healthy, bouncy, and softly defined. Plus, it smells amazing."
I" have been using Lush's Big Shampoo for years and I have no intention of stopping," says senior editor Karli Bendlin. "It's a cross between a shampoo and a scalp scrub, and it leaves my hair feeling squeaky clean while also delivering serious volume and shine."
"I've put my hair through the wringer—bleaching, aggressive heat styling, skipping trims... you name it," says senior editor Holly Rhue. "I can't stand heavy heat-protectants that weigh down my curls and leave my hair feeling greasy, so this product is one of my favorite discoveries. It's multi-tasking—it detangles, smoothes, and offers heat protection—all without feeling heavy or weird on my hair. It's extremely lightweight and leaves my curls feeling pillowy soft."
Senior editor Karli Bendlin agrees with this sentiment: "My hair is always a tangled mess post-shower, and Drunk Elephant's tangle spray makes the process of brushing it out so much easier," she says. "I normally stay away from products with marula oil since it tends to weigh down my hair, but this spray is super lightweight and leaves no residue behind. Plus, it makes my hair feel so much softer."
"This is hands down my favorite dry shampoo formula of all time," says Rhue. "It not only absorbs all of the sweat and grime from my post-wrokout hair, but it also delivers an insane amount of volume to my typically flat roots."
"Co-washes are such a great tool for cleaning dry hair without leaving it even drier (crucial for those of us with majorly parched strands)," says Stuart. "And this one goes above and beyond. Along with leaving my hair super soft, it has excellent slip that makes detangling so much easier."
"I’ve tried almost every gel under the sun, and at this point, I know precisely the types of gels my hair prefers," says associate editor Olivia Hancock. "My curls thrive when I apply lightweight, medium-hold gels. And Curlsmith’s Hydro Style Flexi Jelly is one of the best I’ve tried in that category. It provides my curls with tons of definition without making them sticky or crunchy. Because it is made with hyaluronic acid, my curls also feel ultra-hydrated after using it."
"I like to refresh my curls with lightweight sprays throughout the week—I always reach for this one from Maui Moisture," says Hancock. "It’s formulated with a conditioning blend of aloe vera, flaxseed oil, and coconut water. A few sprays of this instantly reinvigorates and hydrates my curls when they’re looking and feeling a bit dry.
"I am such a fan of Rahua, as the products work and the palo santo scents are heavenly," says Byrdie's associate editorial director Hallie Gould. "This mask, a mix of rahua oil and shea butter, works to maximize moisture retention to keep my curls hydrated and happy. It smooths, softens, and feels absolutely divine. I apply it once a week after shampooing and leave it in for just 15 minutes. After that, I can tell a visible difference in my hair. It's a forever favorite."
"Obviously, I love a hair mask; my hair is color-treated, brittle, and often prone to breakage," says Gould. "This option really helps. It's a blend of rosehip oil, algae extract, and B vitamins to maintain hydration, strengthen, and add a bit of sheen. It's the perfect cocktail to apply post-highlights."
"This leave-in conditioner has become a solid part of my routine over the past few months," says senior social media editor Star Donaldson. "During the summer my hair can lose moisture a lot quicker due to heat and humidity, and I always reach for cream-based formulas that will lock in moisture as well as hydration. It has a rich and creamy texture that is perfect for my wash-and-gos and is safe for my curls because it's formulated without sulfates, silicones, and most importantly alcohol."
"Glass hair was once the stuff of red carpets and Instagram grids—a phenomenon that I wasn’t totally convinced was possible without the help of a pro-hairstylist," says editor Jesa Marie Calaor. "That is, until I started using this treatment. I saturate my hair with the stuff once a week for at least 10 minutes to give my hair post-salon luster and body. It's unbelievable and I'm portioning my bottle carefully because I don't want to run out anytime soon. I know I don't have to (it's at an accessible price point of $35), but it's just that good."
"My medium-coarse, wavy hair needs an emollient cleansing system to maintain its body while quelling frizz. Enter: Odele’s Moisture Repair System, a vegan duo formulated to deliver exactly that minus any heavy residue," says Calaor. "The shampoo lathers to a foam to break down and wash away the loads of dry shampoo I use throughout the week, while the thick conditioner gives my hair shine and bounce. Even better is its earthy scent—I look forward to it every time I shower."
"One of my first experiences trying to get to know my wavy hair texture was with a jar of Lush’s R&B, which is newly named Revive, and it has since been in my everyday hair routine," says Calaor. "The tropical scented leave-in treatment is hyper-hydrating, helping define my waves and coddle dry ends (à la a blend of oils like avocado, olive, and coconut). And it leaves my hair smelling awesome. Seriously—it’s like a tropical vacation in a jar."