How does the Best Shampoo for Curly Hair work?
Curly hair has wavy strands that make it under-moisturised. The scalp, on the other hand, gets very oily hence, the need to purchase a product that takes care of these two aspects. The scalp produces sebum, which keeps the hair soft and protected.
Straight hair spreads the natural oil (sebum) down the hair strand so that the shafts remain moisturised when the hair is brushed. Curly hair, however, has an asymmetrical shape that makes it difficult for sebum to wick throughout the shaft of the hair. It explains why experts advise against brushing curly hair.
What’s more, the unused sebum sits on the scalp and accumulates dust over time. The sebum, accumulated dirt and hair are hydroscobic, which means they won’t budge using water only. As such, the best cleanser should rid off such dirt and oil without drying out the scalp excessively. Normally, the shampoo cleans the hair using a detergent just like soap or other cleaning product. Detergents used in shampoos, however, are specialised for different types of hair.
What types of Shampoos for Curly Hair are There?
Finding the best shampoo for curly hair can be challenging especially when looking for products that not only leave the hair clean but also add volume, shine and glow. The best product should moisturise the hair given the dry nature of curly hair, light and strong enough to clean the hair to the root without damaging the shaft.
Our extensive review revealed women look for these types of shampoos:
This shampoo is formulated to eliminate dirt buildup from the hair and scalp, leaving it clean and fresh. A majority of online reviews cited they used this kind when the hair is greasy, weighed down and want to remove dirt. Consumer tests on the best clarifying shampoos revealed that they can be pretty harsh on the hair hence, the need to follow them up with a conditioner.
- Best for cleaning extremely dirty hair
- Removes any build-ups
- Contains heavy-duty surfactants
- Constant use strips off the natural hair oil
It is formulated for people who like cleaning their hair every day. Our extensive review also revealed that women who are intolerant to sebum use this type of shampoo as it is mild and removes dirt from the scalp without drying it out.
- It is mild on the scalp and the hair
- Too mild to remove oils and accumulated dirt
This kind is formulated for adding volume and body to the hair. As such, volumising cleansers do not deposit oils, silicones or conditioning quats on the hair.
They have special ingredients that open up cuticles to encourage growth and add friction at the roots to increase volume. Our tests and analysis showed that the best volumising cleansers clean relatively well.
- Improve hair volume
- Clean the hair from the roots
- Do not deposit oils and silicones to the hair
- The effects last for a short time
This kind is formulated to balance the PH of the hair. Online reviews showed that buyers purchased this type after using a lot of relaxants and chemicals on their hair. This is the best cleanser for balancing out the PH level hence, leaving the hair healthy. It is best to apply it after relaxing hair, according to a majority of reviews.
- The best for restoring the PH level
- Makes the hair soft
- May not reduce brassiness wholly
Damaged Hair Shampoo
Damaged hair forms lumps, which can make it difficult to style or brush it. It is a sign of reduced keratin levels, a protein that keeps the hair healthy. As such, when buying the best shampoos for damaged hair, buyers look for products that contain keratin to help repair the hair and restore balance.
- Reduces frizz
- Strengthen hair
- Some are sulfate-free
- It leaves oils and other conditioning ingredients on the hair shaft
This kind has cleaning and conditioning ingredients in one product and is best for hair that needs a decent amount of conditioning after cleaning.
- Great if the user does not have adequate time for conditioning
- Gentle on the hair
- Great for dry hair
- Cheaper compared to buying two separate products
- Creates a build-up after prolonged use
- User does not have control over the amount of conditioner applied on the hair
They are formulated to provide additional benefits apart from cleansing. Online reviews showed that most consumers opt for medicated products when they want to relieve an itchy or scaly scalp. Other online reviews revealed that consumers look for salicylic acid, tar derivatives, chlorinated phenols, sulfur, polyvinylpyrrolidone-iodine complex and selenium sulfide when buying medicated cleansers.
- Rid off sebum quickly
- Eases itching
- Reduce production of scalp scale
- Also acts as an antifungal
- Can dry out curly hair excessively
It is the best cleanser for preserving hair colour among women who have dyed or coloured their hair. Numerous online reviews revealed that users buying colour-protecting products also looked for additional ingredients like oil, kelp and UV-protecting agents.
- Mild for curly hair
- Some are free of sulfate
- Reduces brassiness in women with blonde shades
- Has conditioning properties for dry and damaged hair
- Are extremely pricey
- Most of them contain SLS
The Best Shampoo for Curly Hair-Buyer’s Guide
We also noted that they looked for shampoos with natural ingredients and vitamins that nourish curly hair and rejuvenate the scalp. Here’s a list of ingredients that people with curly hair should avoid.
They are also referred to as detergents and when dissolved in water, give the product the ability to rid off dirt and oil from the skin. There are different types of surfactants, and they vary in their level of harshness.
Most reviews showed that women with curly hair didn’t purchase products that have sulfates as they strip away the natural moisture that keeps the hair soft and glowing. An in-depth review revealed that sulfates contain hormone-disrupting agents and many of them have traces of dioxane, a carcinogen that disrupts the functioning of the kidney.
There are two types of silicones. These are water-soluble silicones and those that are not soluble. Non-soluble silicones build up on the hair over time hence, the need to use a surfactant-based shampoo to remove them.
Hair products with such silicones end in –conol, -cone, -xane or –col and include dimethicone, dimethiconol, cetearyl methicone and stearyl dimethicone, among others. Our analysis showed that consumers who purchased products that have silicone looked for those containing forms that enable them to repel deposits to prevent buildup.
Such products will indicate ingredients like amodimethicone, trimethylsilylamodimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. Other consumer reviews cited that they looked for products with soluble forms of silicone. As such, products that contained behenoxy dimethicone and stearoxy dimethicone were rated higher than others. Further reviews showed many women with curly hair opted for products with water-soluble silicones as they did not build up. These kinds have the abbreviations PPD or PEG.
Traditional hair products like perms used thiglycolates and ammonia to develop waves on hair. However, ammonia causes the hair to swell, making it permeable while thioglycolates break the disulfide bonds of the hair, altering its shape.
This ingredient is known as kryptonite and is often used in beauty products as a preservative. Being a xenostrogen, it has a similar composition to a woman’s estrogen hormones.
Xenoestrogens interfere with the normal estrogen hormones, leaving users exposed to diseases like cancer. Additionally, when used on curly hair, it gets easily frizzled and dehydrated. This exacerbates the condition of the hair.
Some types of curly hair (those with a coarse texture) were sensitive to some proteins as they caused them to become brittle and dry.
Most shampoos for curly hair have these products, hence the need to look for products that have one or two of these ingredients to avoid excessive hair breakage.
Initially, this ingredient was FDA-approved when used in small proportions. However, propylene glycol does not evaporate easily causing curly hair to dehydrate.
Some alcohols can cause curly hair to dehydrate. While long-chain alcohols add moisture to natural hair, bad alcohols dehydrate curly hair. Our extensive review revealed consumers with curly hair avoid products that contain ethanol alcohol, alcohol denat, propanol alcohol, benzyl alcohol, isopropanol alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.
Most manufacturers include the word fragrance on labels to avoid showing the list of ingredients used to develop the product. This freedom allows them to use any ingredient as long as it creates a fragrance.
Our extensive review showed that some ingredients used to make synthetic fragrance cause irritation and other health problems. The chemical form of synthetic fragrance is called endocrine and is known to disrupt the normal functions of the body. It is often associated with thyroid cancer.
This explains why products with essential oils as fragrance were rated higher than those with synthetic fragrance on the different online reviews we analysed. Natural fragrances are not only healthy but also offer aroma-therapeutic benefits, making them the best types.
Results and Experiences from Other Consumer Tests
According to various online reviews, a majority of consumers purchased products based on their ability to provide adequate lather and leave the hair soft. The products also have to be clean and manageable while releasing a subtle fragrance.
We already explained the effects that surfactants have on curly hair. It attaches to the oil (sebum) and water molecules and washed down the drain, leaving the hair dry. Surfactants have varying degrees of intensity while harsh surfactants strip off good oils from the scalp and may cause irritation. Since surfactants are responsible for the deep-cleaning feature in shampoos, we realised that most users will opt for products that contain mild surfactants.
Presence of Expert-endorsed Ingredients
The best product should include ingredients that not only clean but also nourish the scalp.
To reduce our pool of tests, we engaged a few hair experts and asked additional essential ingredients that people with curly hair look for:
- Panthenol: This ingredient is the best for repairing, thickening and strengthening damaged hair. It also increases the hair’s tensile strength and reduces split ends
- Aloe vera extract: Has natural moisturising properties and soothes sensitive scalps
- Hydrolysed wheat proteins and silk: They repair the hair from the inside out
- Glycerin: It is a humectant that moisturises the hair
- Shea butter: has healing properties
- Coconut oil: soften the hair
- Vitamin E: Protects the hair from damage
We picked traditional shampoos and left out one-off products like gender-specific shampoos, dual-action products and cleansing oils. From there, we sorted the best products based on these two categories- for curly hair and for all types. This left us with 30 varieties from the 10 brands discussed below.
Ease of Use
These consumer sites have performed extensive reviews on both men and women with curly hair to determine their most preferred application method.
Most participants preferred the traditional shampoo experience that involves squeezing the bottle to ensure easy distribution of the shampoo on the hair.
They also loved mild-scented products. The effects of the product also made a significant impact on the user’s buying decision.
The Best Brands
- Shea Moisture
It is one of the best brands in the market in terms of hair products and cosmetics. Hair shampoos are formulated to be non-abrasive and nourish hair fibres. Its products are sulfate-free but are effective as their sulfate counterparts and provide the utmost care for women with demanding hair. L’Oreal hair products are also free of harsh parabens, salts and are 100% vegan. They also have aromatic botanicals that are natural that have refreshing aromatherapuetic benefits. What’s more, they provide a broad range of hair products based on users’ hair texture and type- curly hair, damaged or dry hair. Reviews on L’oreal products showed that users got results days after using products from this brand.
It is the best brand for buyers looking for eco-friendly hair products. Like other brands, Aveda produces hair shampoos for dry, damaged and curly hair. The brand also produces colouring hair products. Its Shampure Dry Shampoo stands out thanks to its ability to remove residue or grease from hair. It contains lavender and lemon verbena, which provides invigorating scents. Women with curly hair rated Aveda’s Be Curly Co-Wash shampoo the best. The product has deep-cleaning properties that leave the scalp feeling fresh, nourished, frizz-free and moisturised. What’s more, the benefits last as long as three days after washing. The brand also boasts the best product for hair with split ends. Aveda’s Damage Remedy Split End Repair product is formulated to bind the split ends and prevent the new ones from forming.
It ranks among the best brands for cosmetics and hair products. The company was launched in 1904, though at the time, it was known as Laboratories Garnier. Later, it was acquired by L’Oreal and has now become the largest skincare and haircare producer, creating famous luxury brands in India, Asia and China. Garnier shampoos are pretty vast and are formulated to deal with hair problems like split ends, dandruff, slow growth of hair, dull hair and hair fall. Garnier’s Ultra Blends Royal Jelly product is the best for people who have frequent hair fall while its 5 Precious Herbs Shampoo is great for women looking for herbal hair shampoo. It contains five herbs- Aloe, green tea, henna, eucalyptus and lemon, which have anti-bacterial and anti-oxidising properties. Women with curly hair rated Garnier’s Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo the best thanks to its supple lather that does not remove the hair’s natural moisture. The product is sulfate-free and paraben-free and contains essential oils like jojoba, coconut and macadamia.
It is an international luxury haircare company that is part of L’Oreal’s Group of professional products. Kerastese was established in 1964 and has its main office in Paris. The brand first distributed its products in Europe before expanding to Japan and North America in 1999. Today, Kerastese has become the leading brand in many countries in the luxury and professional haircare categories, clinching the first position in providing the best professional haircare products. The brand offers a range of hair care regimens for all types of hair, and these are dry (Nutritive), colour-treated (Blond Absolu, Reflection), fine (Densifique), damaged (Extenotioniste, Force Architecte Therapiste) and curly (Bain Oleo Curl). Most of its products are distributed via high-end hair salons, Sephora in the US and online using the site www.kerastese-usa.com.
This brand is named after its founder Ouidad, a curly hair expert who has a range of salons across the US, Curacao and Canada. Her flagship salons are based in Santa Monica and Manhattan. Ouidad boasts a range of silicone-free hair products, including the best kids’ shampoos. They include KRLY Kids’ No Time for Tear Shampoo and Curl Quencher Moisturising Shampoo, to mention a few. Some formulas contain small portions of water-soluble silicone to enhance the products’ effectiveness and avoid build-up. They include Advanced Climate Control Defrizzing shampoo, PLayCurl Amplifying Shampoo and Curly Immersion Silky Souffle Setting Crème, among others.
The company focuses on personal care and hair products like body wash, shampoo and conditioners. It was founded in 1991 by two Liberians- Richelieu Dennis and Nyema Tubman as a result of Dennis’ grandmother (Sierra Leonean), Sofi Tucker who sold shea butter in Bonthe village back in 1912. The brand has since become popular among women of colour as most of them have curly or kinky hair. In 2015 and 2016, Shea Moisture was selected as a favourite brand for naturally curly hair during the annual Best of Best survey. It was, however, acquired by Unilever in 2017 but retains its signature name Shea Moisture.
It is the best brand to purchase curly hair products as it specialises in the styling and maintenance of this type of hair. This company’s ability to specialise in curled hair products increased its popularity among consumers who had been looking for exclusive curly hair brands. DevaCurl hair line products are free of silicone, parabens and sulfate hence, every user’s go-to brand when buying conditioners, cleansers, treatments and styling accessories. It was the first company to replace the harsh detergents with botanical extracts and gentle, hydrating ingredients. DevaCurl No-Poo cleanser is the most popular for women with curls. The product leaves the hair curlier, moisturised and does not strip it of natural oils.
This Swiss-American brand of hair care products was founded by P&G in 1945. It launched its first hair product then, which was named after the panthenol, an ingredient used in the shampoo formula. Proctor and Gamble acquired the company in 1985 in a bid to compete in the beauty industry instead of venturing into the functional product category. Pantene’s most famous product is the two-in-one cleansing and conditioning formula called Pantene Pro-V (Pantene Pro-Vitamin). It is remembered for introducing the famous 1980s advertising campaign with the slogan ‘don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.’
This is the best brand for stylists dealing with African-American clientele. The company’s founding principle is based on beauty and chemistry in Balance. As such, Mizani has evolved to produce advanced hair care products that provide essential nutrients to the hair. The company launched its first line of products in 1991 with the help of Soft Sheen and Redken Laboratories. In 2001, it joined L’Oreal’s Professional Products Division after existing as part of Soft-Sheen Carson Group for more than a decade. Today, it has a complete line of professional relaxers, conditioners, shampoos, treatments, and styling products to cater to its growing customer base. Each product’s formula is designed to match individual hair types, i.e., from curly hair, textured, relaxed, coarse and colour-treated hair.
The brand’s name comes from two Italian words, Brio, which means vibrant and Geo to mean nature and earth. Nancy Twine, the founder, was inspired by New York’s vibrant and diverse culture when she was launching the company. As a result, her lines of hair care products are texture-specific, so everyone has something for their hair. Briogeo hair care products are free of silicones, sulfates, phthalates, parabens, synthetic colour and DEA. Additionally, the products are derived from natural ingredients and packed in recyclable bottles.
The History of Shampoos
We realised that it was mandatory to indulge in the history of hair to explain the invention of shampoos for curly hair successfully. For centuries, humans have been oblivious about the existence of this type of hair. Some communities regarded it with superstition and people with this type of hair were stereotyped. The history dates back in the 1500s when wealthy people added curls to their hair to add glamour to their style.
Commoners who had curly hair, however, would pull their hair up to form a bun atop the head in a bid to straighten the ‘unusual’ hair. Most people believed that hair curled as a result of sinning. In the subsequent centuries, the 1700s and 1800s, humans were set in the same traditions.
Her dedication to the study of this type of hair led her to discover the different types of curly hair, their styles and problems and developed the best products for treating each one of them. Dove, another company that embraced people with curly hair, launched a campaign ‘Love Your Curls’ to teach young girls to love their hair.
Fun Facts about Shampoos
- The first shampoo dates back to the 1500s in India. Natives boiled soapberries, dried Indian gooseberries and other herbs to make an extract that created a lather, softened and made the hair shiny.
- Before the invention of liquid shampoos, bar cleansers were invented and formulated to clean the hair, body and teeth. They were developed in the 1880s.
- The word shampoo is derived from a Hindi word champo to mean massage or press. Sake Dean Mohammed opened a bathhouse in England after experiencing the Indian practice of champu. He called it shampooing. Decades later, this word is used in modern civilisations to refer to scalp massages.
- Hans Schwarzkopf is credited with inventing a water-soluble hair cleaner in 1927. The same year, he developed the first liquid shampoo.
- In Indonesia, natives used ashes of straw and husk to make shampoos. The ash was mixed with water to form a lather. Coconut oil was applied later to moisturise the hair as the concoction left the strands extremely dry.
Tips for Care & Maintenance for Curly Hair
While buying the right product for curly hair keeps hair shiny and glowing, several consumer reviews cited some maintenance tips that help keep this hair in top-notch condition:
Accessories for People with Curly Hair
Curly hair requires extra work compared to its straight counterpart hence, the need to have essential accessories that will make any hair regimen easy.
Our experts analysed several reviews and found women recommended these accessories:
What is the Best Way to Apply Dry Shampoo on Curly Hair?
We came across numerous reviews that advised against applying a dry cleaner on curly hair. Experts have a contrary opinion; if it is applied following these steps, you can easily avoid drying out the hair:
• Choose a product that includes a hydrating component to fight frizziness and post-styling dryness
• Shake the bottle and hold it eight inches from the head and spray on the roots
• Spread the cleanser to ensure it reaches different layers of the hair while spraying
• Allow the spray to sit for 30 seconds. During this time, the cleanser absorbs sweat, odour and oil
• Flip the head over and work the product back and forth to eliminate any powder residue
• Finish off with hydrating oil on the curls to prevent the hair from getting frizzy
How Often Should We Wash Curly Hair?
It depends on the type of curls one has. According to several online reviews, women who have loose curls preferred washing their hairs 2-4 times a week while those with kinky curls deep-cleansed using shampoo once a month and co-washed once a week. Women with tight curls washed hair after three days or a week. The rule of the thumb when it comes to curly hair is to avoid washing frequently if it often feels dry.
How do We Prevent Curly Hair from Tangling?
The best way to protect hair from tangles is to avoid applying the shampoo in a circular motion. Rather, use a back and forth motion as it is most effective. Also, co-wash into the roots and work the lather downwards to the mid-lengths.
What is the Best Method of Conditioning Curly Hair?
Expert reviews cited finding the right conditioner is the beginning of ensuring the hair is conditioned correctly. Women with the classic curl type applied the conditioner from the mid-length towards the end to avoid weight down the roots while those with kinky curls preferred conditioning their hair close to the scalp. Women who wanted longer curls avoided rinsing out the whole product. They left a light coating that added weight and length to the curls.
What are the Best Conditioner Brands for Curly Hair?
The best product should lock in moisture to ensure the hair remains shiny and sleek. A good conditioner also rids of tangles without weighing down the curls. Most online reviews rated DevaCurl, Shea Moisture, L’Oreal, Pantene and Maui Moisture as the best conditioner brands.
What is the Best Dandruff Shampoo for Curly Hair?
Women with curly hair are more prone to dandruff than those with straight hair. As such, they opt for products that have moisturising properties to treat dandruff. Examples include the Maple Holistics Argan Cleanser and Shea Moisture African Black Soap Dandruff Control Cleanser, among others.
What is the Best Cleanser for Babies with Curly Hair?
Toddlers with curly hair have a delicate scalp hence, the need to look for a product that takes care of this skin. Peek-A-Boo Tearless Shampoo is an excellent product for kids. Some essential ingredients in this cleaner include a botanical extract from the comfrey plant and calendular extract that has cooling and gentle antiseptic properties.
Which are the Best Brands for Sulfate-free Cleansers?
The best sulfate-free cleansers for curly hair should lather well without stripping hair of moisture, essential oils or dye. According to numerous online reviews, L’Oreal, Shea Moisture, Maple Holistics and DermaChange offer the best sulfate-free cleansers.
Are Shampoo Bars Ideal for Cleaning Curly Hair?
They are believed to contain natural ingredients and have gained popularity among people with curly-hair as they are free of silicones and sulfates. However, when used in hard or acidic water, the carboxylate group interacts with the metallic ions in hard water forming an insoluble precipitate on the hair. This film is difficult to remove hence, leaves the hair dry, dull, lifeless and tangled.
What is the Best Way to Clean Curly Hair Using Shampoo Bars?
According to some online reviews, people planning to incorporate shampoo bars in their hair care routine should:
- Purchase shampoo bars that contain plant-derived oils
- Avoid lathering the bar on the head
- Use soft water when washing the hair using a cleansing bar
- Follow it up with a mild acidic rinse, i.e., use hard water to rinse. It restores the PH of the hair and leaves a shiny, glow on the surface.