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When a co-wash isn’t enough, look to these cleansers to clear the gunk without dry out.
If you were trying to rock your curls in the 90s or early ’00s, you probably had some horrible experiences with shampoo. Sulfates, dryness, scalp issues—all the things hair nightmares are made of. A lot of us gave up on traditional shampoos altogether. But while co-washes work great for some people, curly hair still needs a deeper cleaning from time to time. Products we need to keep our texture defined and frizz-free, like creams, gels, and leave-in conditioners, can all accumulate over time, causing build-up and limp spirals. To break down why curls need the right shampoo and how to find the best one, we turned to hairstylist Sarah Lund, to share some insight.
Not all shampoos are created equal, nor is every formula suitable for curly hair. Lund explains that every head of hair has different needs and to get the healthiest, best-looking hair possible, it’s important to fulfill or replenish curls based on what it’s craving at the moment. “Curly hair tends to be on the dryer side due to the shape of the strands so making sure your curls are properly moisturized is vital for healthy, bouncy curls.” For curls that are damaged, a shampoo with protein can help strengthen and repair. Additionally, “over time, ingredients, hard water, and pollution can build up on the hair creating a barrier that doesn’t allow ingredients to absorb,” says Lund, which is why a detoxing shampoo is also an essential product to have in your lineup.
We often think of shampoos as drying and stripping, therefore leading to more frizz. But there are plenty of hydrating cleansers on the market that both combat the fuzz and hydrate hair. “Frizz is best alleviated by the use of moisturizing products like shea butter, murumuru butter, and thicker oils like baobab seed oil. I also look for products with lotus extract as it acts as an emollient, leaving har silky and soft,” says Lund.
To find the best shampoo for curly hair that meets your texture needs, here are 15 options that can get you the healthiest, cleanest curls ever.
For parched strands, this shampoo is packed with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and evening primrose oil. The hydrating combo will diminish frizz and damage. Plus, extracts from Kakadu plums and bergamot fruits will leave your hair feeling soft and smooth.
With so many five-star reviews, SheMoisture’s cleanser is basically a constellation. Beloved by many, the sulfate- and silicone-free formula is packed with hydrating coconut oil that will leave your hair feeling soft, hydrated, and never stripped.
Healthy hair starts at the scalp, and this shampoo makes sure to treat your roots right. Hydrating and soothing aloe leaf juice in the cleanser alleviates painful or itchy scalps, while baobab oil softens strands and reduces frizz and dryness.
Curls can be very fragile and prone to breakage, which is why this shampoo does everything it can to make them stronger. The formula allows curls to live their fullest life ever—while providing endless hydration and shine.
With a hydrating (and delicious) combo of coconut oil, honey, and citrus oils, this shampoo will transform your shower into a mini paradise. The shampoo offers intense moisture to dry curls, while also removing build-up from the scalp.
The newest fan-favorite in the curl shampoo world is this Kérastase cleanser that uses two powerhouse ingredients to fight the biggest concerns when it comes to curls: dryness, breakage, and a lack of volume. There’s also manuka honey to moisturize, and ceramides to strengthen the hair and add body.
Damaged hair can be so hard to treat, and often makes curls limp, dry, and prone to further breakage. Virtue’s Curl Shampoo uses the brand’s Alpha Keratin 60ku, which mimics the hair’s natural keratin, to repair damage every time you use it.
There are so many delectable ingredients in this shampoo that it’s almost hard to list them all. With Argan oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, natural extracts, and spearmint, your curls will be protected and soothed from your scalp to your ends.
For severely damaged hair, Olaplex is the brand to turn to. Heat and chemicals can both compromise your curl’s integrity, but this shampoo gives hair a hefty dose of repair and moisture, for healthier and more manageable curls.
You don’t have to choose between cleaning your hair and giving it a moisture boost. This shampoo uses hydrating B vitamins and to quench your hair’s thirst, while also effectively cleaning your scalp so you don’t have to worry about aggravating build-up.
When your styling products are effectively washed away, it alleviates any heaviness that can weigh down curls. This gentle shampoo clarifies your scalp and removes old products, which will lead to bouncier, more voluminous curls.
If you’re looking for extra definition in your curls, Aveda’s option has made it its mission to do just that. While cleansing and hydrating, you’ll notice your curls clumping together more to form enviable and consistent spirals.
Created by the curl queen Tracee Ellis Ross, this shampoo ensures that your coils are effectively moisturized. With coconut oil, aloe vera, and honey, your curls will thank you for giving them this drink of water.
While shea butter hydrates and repairs dry strands, moringa oil works overtime to tackle dry, itchy scalps. Dandruff doesn’t stand a chance.
This gentle shampoo makes sure your curls are properly nourished, without stripping them of their natural oils. Plus, it’s perfect for curls that have been dyed, since it doesn’t dull color.

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