15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (2024)

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (1)

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Like many things, haircare isn't one-size-fits-all. The products you need to get your best curls ever won't be the same as what someone with straight hair needs. From plopping to using diffusers, there are tons of ways to maintain your curls. If you're just learning about your curly locks and figuring out how to best take care of them, shampoo is a great place to start.

When it comes to curly hair, finding a moisturizing formula is the number one step, regardless of whether you have frizz, an oily scalp or anything else. "Definitely focus on hydration as naturally curly hair is often fragile and on the drier side," advises hairstylist and owner/CEO of Deeper Than Hair Kee Taylor.

Our experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab have tested countless shampoos across all price points, so I tapped them for their top-tested picks and expertise. I also reached out to curly hair experts for their recommendations and additional insights, including Taylor and trichologist Bridgette Hill.

Ahead, I've rounded up the best shampoo options for every type of curly hair, including sulfate-free shampoos and clarifying shampoos. Want to read more about taking care of your curls? Check out our guides to the best curl creams and best gels for curly hair, too.

1

Best Overall

Salwa Petersen Chébé Hydrating Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (9)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (10)Gentle enough for daily use
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (11)Doesn't strip hair of its natural oils
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (12)Fragrance may be overpowering to some

Reach for this nourishing shampoo weekly (or even as frequently as daily). It's gentle on hair and packed with ingredients like argan oil and chébé, a Chadian seed that, according to the brand, helps strengthen, protect and hydrate strands. Also an effective cleanser, Taylor loves this product because it "not only hydrates your hair but also cleanses your hair without stripping it of its natural oils," she says. Just note that some online reviewers feel it has too strong of a smoky scent for their liking.

Hair typeAll, especially dry and damaged
Size8.5 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

2

Best Value

Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Curl Care Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (13)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (14)Affordable
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (15)Performs well in conjunction with other products
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (16)Not super moisturizing

GH Deputy Director Stephanie Dolgoff recommends this affordable pick. Formulated with rice, keratin amino acids and enzymes (and without sulfates), the brand claims this shampoo has multiple benefits including enhancing curl retention. Dolgoff likes that "it's widely available and smells nice," she says. After shampooing, she finishes "with a hair mask and then use a leave-in and gel and it is as good as the more expensive products," she adds. However, she doesn't use it for every wash because it's not as quite as moisturizing as other options out there.

Hair typeAll curly hair types
Size12 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

3

Best for Dry Scalps

Leaf and Flower CBD Instant Curl Refresh Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (17)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (18)Great scent
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (19)Effectively cleans without stripping the scalp
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (20)Expensive

Dealing with a dry scalp can be tough: Though you want to get a good clean, you also don't want your skin to get flaky or irritated. Enter: Leaf and Flower's CBD-infused curl shampoo, which GH Deputy Editor Jessica Teich says is "super hydrating yet still makes my strands and scalp feel cleansed without the harsh squeaky feeling."

It helps remove buildup without stripping, and Teich uses it when she wants her curls "to be super juicy and bouncy." It's definitely on the more expensive side, but she loves this shampoo, adding that "the scent is so amazing; it's fruity and almost candy-like but not cloying."

Hair typeAll
Size12 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

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4

Best Purple Shampoo for Curly Hair

Moroccanoil Blonde Perfecting Purple Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (21)

Brassiness begone, thanks to this purple shampoo from Moroccanoil. Whether you have highlights, silver hair, blonde hair or just general brassy or yellow tones you want to get rid of, this is one to reach for. Teich loved the quick results of this shampoo when she was blonde, sharing that "it was so pigmented that it would sometimes stain my hands, but that meant it made a measurable difference in just one wash." She has tried various purple shampoos and feels that this one was less drying than other formulas; she paired it with the brand's matching conditioner and felt "like my hair truly looked toned after," she raves.

Hair typeAll
Size6.7 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

5

Best Co-Wash for Curly Hair

Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint Moisturizing Cowash

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (25)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (26)Gently cleanses hair
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (27)Calming lavender scent
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (28)Doesn't provide a super deep clean

Co-washes, or conditioning washes, are great for curly hair as they gently cleanse and condition hair simultaneously. If your hair is feeling over-washed or dehydrated, adding moisture back in by washing with a co-wash is a great solution.

This one from Paul Mitchell is Teich's favorite. She especially loves its "therapeutic lavender scent that makes my shower feel like a spa," she shares. "It makes my hair feel so soft and silky, though it may not leave hair feeling the most clean if you use it alone." If you feel like you need a deeper clean, try using it after a traditional shampoo while conditioning your ends.

6

Best Shampoo and Conditioner Set for Curly Hair

Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (29)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (30)Makes hair more manageable and smooth
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (31)Minimizes frizz
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (32)Bargain price point
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (33)Can cause hair to look flat

A key to maintaining healthy curls is keeping them moisturized. With this GH Beauty Award-winning Dove duo, you can get strong smoothing and conditioning effects thanks to a protein- and coconut oil-laced formula. Two testers noted that their hair wasn't frizzy after use, with one adding that their hair "was easier to style and my blowout lasted." Plus, in GH Beauty Lab assessments, the well-priced set got perfect scores for making hair manageable, smooth and supple. Some online reviewers thought their hair looked flat after use, though.

Hair typeDamaged
Size12 fl. oz. each
Sulfate-freeNo

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7

Best for Curly, Frizzy Hair

John Frieda Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Moisturizing Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (34)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (35)Highly moisturizing
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (36)Starts working after just one use
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (37)May not completely remove frizz

Curly hair gets frizzy too! If your curls are turning frizzy, grab this Beauty Lab-tested shampoo. Not only is it moisturizing (which is great for curls), but it did so well that testers said they were tempted to skip conditioner.

One tester even said they "could already tell a significant change in my hair texture for the better" after just one use. Take note that a shampoo rinses out quickly and may not give the longest-lasting frizz protection, so try pairing with a conditioner or leave-in for best results.

Hair typeFrizzy
Size8.45 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeNo

8

Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Curly Hair

Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (38)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (39)Cleans and hydrates hair simultaneously
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (40)Includes argan oil to help smooth hair
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (41)May leave residue in hair, causing greasiness

Moroccanoil's hydrating shampoo is a reliable option for curls. Teich calls this her "go-to, everyday shampoo." Thanks to its sulfate-free formula, it's color safe and "strikes the perfect balance of cleanliness and hydration," she adds. "The scent is absolutely addicting — I get compliments on how good I smell every time I use it." As with any Moroccanoil product, this is packed with smoothing argan oil. Some reviewers say it leaves their hair feeling greasy, so if you have oilier hair, this may not be the best choice for you.

Hair typeAll, especially drier hair types
Size8.5 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

9

Best Drugstore Shampoo for Curly Hair

OGX Quenching + Coconut Curls Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (42)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (43)Great price
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (44)Gentle on hair
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (45)Hair may not feel voluminous after use

Taylor recommends looking for coconut oil as an ingredient in shampoos for curly hair. She shares that coconut oil is hydrating, and GH Beauty Lab Director Sabina Wizemann adds that coconut-derived surfactants "effectively remove impurities without being excessively powerful," meaning that they won't irritate or be too harsh.

So, OGX's coconut oil-infused shampoo is a great buy. Though this particular formula hasn't been tested in our Lab, many other OGX shampoos have done very well in testing. Reviewers love its coconut, fruity scent and that it leaves their curls soft and bouncy, but take note that some shared that their curls lacked volume after use.

Hair typeAll
Size13 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

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10

Best Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Hair

Hours Day 7 Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (46)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (47)Deep cleans hair
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (48)Peppermint oil leaves hair and scalp feeling fresh
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (49)Pricey

Clarifying shampoos are great for removing buildup and deeply cleansing hair. But, with curls especially, you don't want them to aggressively strip the hair. Teich loves this pick for that deep clean, sharing that it's a "great go-to for a reset. It even has peppermint oil for a fresh feeling clean that I really love," she raves. It's a little pricey, but clarifying shampoos, including this aptly named one, only need to be used about once a week, so one bottle will last you a while.

Hair typeAll (best for oily scalps)
Size8 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

11

Best Dry Shampoo for Curly Hair

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (50)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (51)Leaves hair looking clean
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (52)Maintains styled hair for up to five days
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (53)May leave white residue on hair

Can you use dry shampoo on curly hair? Yes, confirms Hill. She recommends incorporating it into your shampoo routine as needed. Try this Beauty Lab test-winning Living Proof one, which faked freshly washed hair and maintained styles for up to five days. Plus, an impressive 100% of testers agreed that it left hair looking clean, with one sharing that it was "the most effective I've ever tried." As with many dry shampoo formulas, some testers did feel it left some powdery residue behind.

Hair typeAll
Size5.5 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

12

Best Dandruff Shampoo for Curly Hair

Kérastase Symbiose Bain Crème Antipelliculaire Antidandruff Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (54)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (55)Fights dandruff, flakes and itchy scalp
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (56)Feels luxe on hair and in shower
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (57)Can make hair feel brittle or dry

Teich shares that "curly hair tends to be drier than other hair types, which means dry scalps prone to flaking or irritation." If her scalp is feeling itchy or flaky, she trusts this Kérastase anti-dandruff formula for her curls. "I'll cycle this shampoo in for a few washes to nix any flakes, dryness or discomfort," she adds.

She also loves that it feels elegant and glamorous in her shower — plus, it does the trick, thanks to the inclusion of proven dandruff-fighting ingredient pyrithione zinc. Note that some online users find it leaves their hair feeling brittle or dry after use.

Hair typeAll (best for dry, flaky scalp)
Size8.5 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

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13

Best Natural Shampoo for Curly Hair

NatureLab Tokyo Texture Curl Shampoo

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (58)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (59)Full of botanical ingredients
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (60)Gently cleanses hair for soft, shiny curls
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (61)Affordable
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (62)May leave hair feeling dry

Filled with natural ingredients like alpine rose extract, camellia seed oil and blue algae, this well-priced Japanese shampoo gently cleanses hair. Taylor highly recommends this pick, sharing that it uses "plant extracts to help promote softer and shinier curls over time while also working to protect your scalp, which is key for growing healthy hair — no matter your curl pattern." There are very few poor reviews for this one, but one online reviewer does note that it made their hair feel dry after use.

Hair typeAll
Size11.5 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

14

Best Bar Shampoo for Curly Hair

Ethique Professor Curl Curl-Defining Solid Shampoo Bar

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (63)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (64)Waterless formula makes it more eco-friendly
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (65)Gentle and nourishing
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (66)There is a learning curve to using a shampoo bar

Shampoo bars are great because they are waterless, making them both eco-friendly and more potent (meaning you can actually use less product and achieve the same cleansing results). This one from Ethique is designed specifically for curls, and with 4.5 stars based on more than 15,000 reviews, it's safe to say this one's a crowd favorite. It includes soothing ingredients like shea butter and cocoa butter for happy, nourished hair.

One online reviewer raves that "Ethique cleans, leaves hair soft and my hair does not fall out like it did before. Not harsh, no irritation, very cleansing and gentle." However, as a shampoo bar, there is a bit of a learning curve: Swipe the bar across wet hair a few times, then set it down and wash hair as usual.

Hair typeAll
Size3.8 oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

15

Best for Men

Maria Nila Coils & Curls Co-Wash

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (67)

Pros
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (68)Conditions and cleanses hair
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (69)Long-lasting light fragrance
Cons
  • 15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (70)Doesn't lather much

Maria Nila's co-wash is a favorite of the boyfriend of one of our beauty editors; it leaves his hair super moisturized and feeling healthy, and it adds definition and shine to his curls. Note that it doesn't lather much, so don't expect a super sudsy experience with this one. It has a light, fresh scent that smells like apricot and is great for anyone to use. "It left my hair very soft and my curls actually looked hydrated after my hair dried," an online reviewer shares.

RELATED: The Best Shampoos for Men

Hair typeAll
Size11.8 fl. oz.
Sulfate-freeYes

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How we chose the best shampoos for curly hair

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (71)

The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has tested hundreds shampoos across all price points over the years, from volumizing shampoos to shampoos for colored hair.

For this guide, we reached out to hairstylist and owner/CEO of Deeper Than Hair Kee Taylor and trichologist Bridgette Hill to weigh in with their expertise and recommendations. Beauty Lab top-tested products and GH editor favorites round out the rest of our list.

What to look for when shopping for shampoos for curly hair

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (72)

While you're picking out the perfect shampoo for your curls, keep these things in mind:

✔️ Sulfate-free: "Generally, curly hair requires hydrating, moisturizing, nourishing sulfate-free cleansers," explains Hill.

✔️ Moisturizing ingredients: The best ingredients in a shampoo for curly hair are hydrating ones. Taylor recommends "coconut oil for hydration, castor oil to increase shine and gloss throughout the locks, shea butter to lock in the moisture and argan oil to stimulate growth throughout the hair."

✔️ Made for curly hair: Sometimes, the best place to start is to simply look for shampoo bottles that are labeled for curly hair. "Curly and kinky hair needs help retaining its natural oils," says Wizemann. "This sets specific expectations and complexities that formulators must tackle, a process that extends beyond the ingredient list." She notes that a smart starting point would be to "explore products designed explicitly for curly hair."

How often should you wash curly hair?

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (73)

This answer varies vastly depending on your curl pattern, but a general rule of thumb is "one to two times a week," says Taylor. "Textured hair needs natural oils to stay healthy," she adds, so don't over-shampoo. Hill notes that tightly coiled hair may only need to be washed every 10 to 14 days.

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Does curly hair need a different shampoo than other hair types?

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (74)

Yes. "Curly hair is more prone to breakage because of its shape and structure," says Hill. "There is a lack of strength and elasticity, making the overall hair fiber of curly hair more fragile." As a result, it's so important for curly hair shampoos to be super gentle and moisturizing. She also likes incorporating "co-washes and scalp rinses to allow curly haired clients to cleanse the scalp more frequently without disrupting the hydration and moisture level of the curl."

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (75)

GH Beauty Assistant Catharine Malzahn works closely with the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab to help deliver fact-based, science-backed beauty coverage. Over the years, she has interviewed experts, written product reviews and tested hundreds of hair products, including professional hair treatments, tools, shampoos, conditioners, styling products and more.

Catherine worked closely with GH Beauty Lab Director Sabina Wizemann to write this article. Sabina has a background in hair dye research and synthesis, and over her years in the Health, Beauty & Sustainability Lab, has fashioned Lab and consumer studies on at-home hair dyes, shampoos and conditioners, hair serums, hair volumizers, dry shampoos and more. She also tests hairstyling tools like hairdryers and curling irons.

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (76)

Catharine Malzahn

Beauty Assistant

Catharine (she/her) is the beauty assistant at Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Prevention, working closely with the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab to write science-backed beauty content. She was previously an assistant beauty editor at Group Nine Media and returned to Hearst in 2022 after having held editorial internships at Harper’s Bazaar and CR Fashion Book. Catharine received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (77)

Reviewed bySabina Wizemann

Beauty Lab Director

Sabina (she/her) is the director of the Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she has overseen skincare, haircare and makeup testing since 2012. She also reviews applications, substantiates claims and evaluates products for the GH Seal and the Beauty Awards and Sustainability Awards programs. She has a B.S. in chemistry from Ithaca College and more than 16 years of experience working in the pharmaceutical and personal care industries.

15 Best Shampoos for Curly Hair, According to Experts (2024)

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