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Now, as a curly-haired girl myself, I know the feeling. Having curly hair is far from cheap. The countless curly hair products needed to style, care and nourish curly hair. Then there are the countless ingredients needed to be avoided– it’s confusing and expensive!!

Plus, you have hairdressers on the other end saying drugstore curly hair products are no good. Is there a way we can care for our curls without having to spend an arm and a leg in order to do so? Surely there are some good drugstore curly hair products, right?

Well, yes, but you need to be much savvier in your search.

But don’t worry, this is what I’m here for. I have hunted down my top favorite drugstore sulfate-free shampoos for defined curls. There are some real hidden gems out there, these affordable shampoo options are great for any curly hair type!

The reason why professionals like myself do not recommend drugstore shampoos is that they do not get the hair fully clean. Other products can be pretty great, but for the shampoo, you should try to invest in a good shampoo.

That being said, I have still found some pretty incredible options to get you started. So stay tuned for my full guide on my top picks of the best drugstore shampoos for curly hair– finding one that works for your curls is key to unlocking beautiful curly hair.

Let’s delve in, shall we?

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Top Picks Of The Best Drugstore Shampoos For Curly Hair


SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Coconut Shampoo

best drugstore curly hair shampoo

When it comes to nourishing curly hair, SheaMoisture has it down to a T. I have always been a personal fan of their products. Their Coconut and Hibiscus and their Black Castor Oil range have a special place in my heart. 

You wouldn’t believe this is a drugstore shampoo by it being both CGM approved and super nourishing to curly hair strands!

This natural formula is free of all the nasties like sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and even petroleum– all the nasties which strip your hair. Their product line is also completely cruelty-free, which is a total plus in my eyes. 

Another thing I love about SheaMoisture is that they are continuing to formulate with Raw Shea butter created and handcrafted by women in Africa, and every purchase is reinvested into communities which is a nice touch. 

This shampoo is gentle on curly hair; it doesn’t weigh your curls down nor feel heavy on your hair. It leaves hair feeling soft and manageable, which is everything we need to hear when buying shampoo for our curly hair.

Want to hear the best bit?

This shampoo gently cleanses naturally curly hair to improve health and restore shine. It contains coconut oil to moisturize and protect hair while restoring natural oils on the ends, where extremely curly girls struggle to retain moisture. 

This silicone-free shampoo also contains hibiscus flower extracts to improve the hair’s elasticity and reduce breakage; it smooths curls making brushing your hair while wet a breeze. It leaves your hair frizz-free with luscious, defined curls. 

This shampoo also contains a silk protein that helps smooth hair for a silky feel, while the neem oil helps tackle frizz while adding shine. Using this shampoo between co-washes will transform your curls. 

You can’t beat that their products are ethically traded, sustainably produced as well as being cruelty-free– it is rare nowadays, which is why Shea Moisture will always be a winner in my eyes. 

  • Free of all harsh chemicals and ingredients
  • Cruelty-free, ethically, and sustainably made 
  • Leaves hair feeling silky and manageable
  • Gentle ingredients which improve the hairs health and elasticity 
  • None

Latest deal: SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Shampoo


Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Shampoo

best drugstore shampoo for dry curly hair

This next drugstore shampoo is brilliant for those with high porosity curls looking for an extreme hydration kick. The issue with high porosity hair is that it loses moisture as quickly as it is absorbed, so sealing and locking moisture into the hair cuticle is key.

This is why I love this range by Maui; their range of products caters to all kinds of curls, from low to high porosity hair. Curl Quench, in particular, is a heavyweight cleansing shampoo ideal for high porosity hair. 

Thanks to coconut oil, this shampoo is designed to hydrate, smooth, and defrizz unruly locks. This shampoo is ideal for tight curls; it helps detangle, protect and hydrate, leaving curls looking defined and nourishing the hair shaft from root to tip.

Want to know more about why this drugstore product is so great?

It is free from all the nasty ingredients and harsh chemicals that you find in regular shampoo. No mineral oil, no silicones, no parabens, no gluten, no sulfates, SLS, nop synthetic dyes. This vegan formula is a godsend for natural curls. 

It is deeply nourishing, meaning that it is not only perfect for hydrating curls, but it is also perfect for repairing damaged curly hair; coconut oil is brilliant at restoring protein loss and strengthening the hair shaft from the inside out.

It is also safe to use on color-treated hair, thanks to the all-natural, gentle formula.

This rich blend of curl-defining vegan shampoo contains 100% aloe vera along with coconut milk, plumeria extract, and papaya extract. An all-natural formula which is free of all the nasties, yes, please! 

Coconut oil and aloe vera also go hand in hand to improve scalp health. These ingredients can help improve the condition of the scalp, which can also help aid with hair growth as it strengthens hair and prevents breakage.

Want something a little lighter? Well, one thing I love about Maui is that they offer different shampoos for different curls and different porosities of hair; working out your hair porosity is the key to a healthy hair cleansing routine. 

Maui’s lightweight hydration shampoo is perfect for finer hair; all in all, this is an essential natural shampoo for all curlies!

  • Free of all harsh chemicals
  • Vegan formula
  • Natural ingredients
  • Highly hydrating 
  • None

Latest deal: Maui Moisture Curl Quench Shampoo


Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Curl Quenching Shampoo

best drugstore shampoo for fine curly hair

If you’re looking for a super-moisturizing shampoo for fine hair that provides enough conditioning without leaving your hair limp? Well, look no further than this great Coco Creme Curl Quenching Shampoo by Carols Daughter.

I personally love their Coconut Creme Curl Quenching range, with their deep conditioner being number four on my best deep conditioner for curly hair guide. Their shampoo is pretty amazing too! It is infused with coconut milk, oil, mango, and murumuru butter.

While coconut oil in products can be slightly heavy on fine hair, if you have fine high porosity hair, then it is one of the best oils for the job. It works to create a seal over the ends to lock in moisture with the strands as well as revive protein loss.

With the lightweight ingredients, it can also be used on low porosity hair but is best suited for high porosity.

Quench the thirst of those nagging curls, this coconut cream sulfate-free shampoo is brilliant for extremely dry hair, and it offers a major moisture kick. It is perfect for those curls that struggle to retain natural oils from the scalp.

The only thing I would suggest is that you should do rinse well after use; this will prevent any heaviness on your curls. Despite this shampoo being perfect for fine curls, rinsing out properly is key, as some users found that it was perfect for finer hair as long as you rinsed it out properly.

But all in all, this is yet another hydrating shampoo that matches fine curls perfectly.

  • Nourishing ingredients
  • Great for fine high porosity hair 
  • Curly girl method approved
  • Strengthens hair from within 
  • None

Latest deal: Carol’s Daughter Curl Quenching Shampoo


Garnier Hair Care Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo

Up next is this brilliant budget-friendly drugstore shampoo on my list; it is the cheapest out of the other drugstore shampoos on my list, perfect for curly and wavy hair. Costing only three bucks, this sulfate-free shampoo definitely won’t break your bank!

Our hair is made up of keratin which is a fibrous structural protein that makes up our hair, skin, and nails. Over time this protein is broken down, and hair becomes brittle and weak, so having nourishing products all throughout your hair care routine is key.

But this sulfate-free, silicone-free, paraben-free formula by Garnier gently cleanses, moisturizes, and increases nourishment within the hair for stronger, more defined, frizz-free curls. It is packed with yummy goodness and nutrients.

Pretty cool, right? Wait until you hear whats packed within this shampoo

For starters, it comes with a beautiful blend of citrus protein, vitamins B3 and B6, fruit and plant extracts, and strengthening conditioners to strengthen and promote healthy hair.

Vitamin B3 helps to strengthen the hair from within as it increases protein synthesis; lack of b3 may be causing the weakening of hair, so using it in shampoo can help promote hair growth. Vitamin b6 is also brilliant at promoting hair growth.

A great option for those on a budget!!

  • Nourishing vitamins B3 and B6
  • Super affordable
  • Free of harsh chemicals 
  • Curly Girl Method Approved
  • None

Latest deal: Garnier Hair Care Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo


Davines Love Curl Enhancing Shampoo

Up next is another personal favorite of mine for fine natural hair, mainly because it is super lightweight and helps to boost the elasticity of the hair– which any curly girl knows is super important during the washing process as hair is most fragile while wet.

Other curl shampoos don’t always bring out the best in your hair’s natural elasticity it can dry curls out and cause them to become crunchy and hard. This is why Davines LOVE Curls seals number one spot on my list, as this creamy, lightweight shampoo makes those curls pop!

Great news about elasticity, but what about hydration?

Well, the almond oil extract within the LOVE Curl Shampoo is rich in protein, magnesium, iron, and yummy vitamins like Vitamin E! Vitamin E helps support a healthy scalp and has natural antioxidant effects, which can help with hair growth.

It reduces the amount of oxidative stress and free radicals that cause the hair follicle cells within the scalp to break down. This means that this shampoo is not only brilliant for fine curls but also for fine and thinning hair– pretty cool, right?

Well, that’s not the only thing this shampoo is brilliant at; it also helps to tame curls and frizzy hair by offering superior frizz control; tackling frizz in every step of your routine is the key to unlocking the ultimate curls with none of the frizz.

But this shampoo is not just for curly hair. Thanks to its lightweight nature, it is also perfect for wavy hair too; it helps to enhance the volume and texture of curls and gives fine curly hair the boost it needs to look luscious, hydrated, and super bouncy.

After using this on my clients, they found that their hair was much softer and more manageable up until the next wash day, no frizz, just bounce– that’s a winner if you ask me, if you have dry hair that needs a bit of boost.

To top it all off, Davines Love Curl Shampoo is Curly Girl Method approved!

  • Curly girl method approved
  • Infused with vitamins and minerals
  • Gives curls a bit of volume and is super lightweight
  • Helps infuse elasticity into the curls
  • None

Latest deal: Davines Love Curl Enhancing Shampoo


L'Oreal Paris EverCurl Sulfate Free Shampoo

Here is yet another excellent option for those tight on budget but still looking for a good quality shampoo that will cleanse their curls gently and even help to promote the natural curl pattern of the hair; L’Oreal has bought out a whole new curly girl range!

Their sulfate-free formula is infused with coconut oil which helps to nourish curls as well as help with moisture retention. It helps keep curls hydrated and even works to smooth the cuticle to help combat frizz and help prevent breakage.

Coconut oil is the saving grace for curly hair; it helps restore protein loss, strengthen the hair shaft from the inside out, and also helps improve the elasticity of the hair strands to help with detangling and protect hair from breakage during this process.

After all, we have no choice but to detangle our curls while wet, when our hair is most fragile.

This shampoo is even safe to use on color-treated curls; it leaves curly hair super defined, nourished, and hydrated. L’Oreal even promises 48 hours of curl definition, so you can count on this shampoo to gently cleanse your hair and revive those curls.

You can buy with confidence that this shampoo is super gentle to use on curls; it is 100% free of sulfates, parabens, and harsh salts. Sadly it does contain amodimethicone, so it is not curly girl method approved.

That being said, amodimethicone is a super lightweight silicone that will wash out with gentle shampoo and water, so doing a detox shampoo when needed is recommended. But for a drugstore shampoo brand, this shampoo is pretty incredible.

  • Contains nourishing coconut oil
  • Restores protein loss and strengthens
  • Sulfate free
  • Super affordable
  • Contains amodimethicone

Latest deal: L’Oreal Paris EverCurl Sulfate Free Shampoo


Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo

They are looking for a sulfate-free cleansing shampoo that is ideal for the loosest waves and the tightest coils? Well, you must check out Cantu– they are a revolutionized brand trusted by the Curly Girl Method.

This cleansing cream shampoo gently cleanses and moisturizes curly locks to help minimize breakage during shampooing.

Their award-winning formula is made with Shea butter, a key moisturizing ingredient; it adds moisture and helps maintain moisture within your hair to prevent breakage.

It works even have type 2 wavy hair, type 3 curly, or even type 4 coily.

This rich lather removes all heavy buildup; its gentle formula is also great for colored curls too. This removal of heavy buildup around the scalp is also ideal for prom noting healthy hair growth.

While this shampoo has been proven brilliant for some curly girls, I wouldn’t recommend it if your hair is particularly dry; many customers found it to be drying, meaning it doesn’t work for all curl types.

Some sulfate-free shampoos can still be very stripping, so rather than using it straight on your scalp, I would recommend mixing with a couple of pumps of conditioner; this should prevent this shampoo from drying out your ends.

Other than the fact that it can be a little drying, this shampoo is still a great contender.

  • Free of all harsh chemicals and ingredients
  • Cruelty-free, ethically, and sustainably made 
  • Leaves hair feeling silky and manageable
  • Gentle ingredients which improve the hairs health and elasticity 
  • None

Latest deal:  Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo

Best Drugstore Shampoo For Curly Hair-- A Buyer's Guide

When it comes to caring for our curly hair, the number of products we need is countless, and this gets expensive. Finding a budget-friendly option where we can is super important, so we are not spending an arm and a leg each month on products.

Drugstore shampoos have come a long way for curly hair, especially for gentle formulas that are not too stripping for hair. There are some great sulfate, silicone-free, and curly girl method-approved shampoos that are great for your curls.

But knowing what to look for is key, which includes ingredients, whether the ingredients are best for low porosity or high porosity hair. These will all help you find the best shampoo for you. Don’t worry, though, I’m here to guide you through.

What To Look For When Buying Drugstore Shampoo For Curly Hair

There are a few chemicals to avoid; some chemicals can be really damaging to the natural curl and cause breakage, frizz, and even damage the way the curl looks. In the Curly Girl Method, here are the top chemicals to avoid after the ‘reset’ wash.


Remember the foamy, creamy, forthy lather when you wash your hair with normal shampoo– it is the ‘ah’ moment that everyone loves; well, this is actually caused by sulfates and can be very damaging for your hair, especially curly hair.

Although the sensation of lathering your hair up with shampoo is lovely, sulfates can actually STRIP your hair of its natural oils, making it more prone to frizz, breakage, and overall leaving the hairdryer.

Plus, since curly hair is naturally dry to begin with, regularly using sulfate shampoo is a terrible idea, even worse the curlier your hair type is.

In the Curly Girl Method, Lorraine recommended you do one last ‘reset wash’ with a shampoo filled with sulfates to get rid of the silicone and wax buildup before switching to a sulfate-free shampoo.

She also strongly suggests switching to the No Poo method, which cuts out all shampoos completely and switching to a cleansing conditioner instead. Cleansing conditioners are brilliant for cleansing any dirt from your hair without causing dryness.


So if you’re following the curly girl method, you will also need to avoid silicones, silicones are like plastic, and they’re used in conditioning products to smooth down the cuticle, making your hair feel softer reduced frizz.

However, without a sulfate shampoo to remove them, it can lead to product buildup, and over time, this makes hair frizzier look limp and lifeless. It will also lose the life of your curl.

Silicones can only be removed with sulfates, and without sulfates, it causes buildup– not ideal, so it is best to cut it out completely. But don’t worry, you can still achieve silky soft hair without silicones; some people will tell you it’s even softer too!

Mineral Oils and Waxes:

Mineral oil and petrolatum are other ingredients you should try to avoid when doing the curly girl method or just caring for curly hair, they can weigh down your hair, and without sulfates to remove them, they build up like silicones. 

Some waxes use natural ingredients which are safe to style curly or kinky hair. However, most waxes are s non-hydrous, meaning they won’t wash out with just water or co-washing.

If you find yourself accidentally using waxes or silicones, then you can use your reset shampoo to remove them, then go back to the Curly Girl Routine.


Parabens are used in many hair products to prevent and stop the growth of bacteria in your hair, but there are far more negatives than positives to using parabens. 


Glycerin is another ingredient you should avoid if you have curly hair, especially if you live in a humid climate. If you live in a hot, humid environment, glycerin will absorb moisture from the hair and cause the hair to swell. 

This is not ideal for curly hair as it raises the cuticle and disrupts the curl pattern, creating coarse, frizzy hair. If you live in a hot, humid environment, then you should definitely avoid products with glycerin. 

Cheap Ingredients:

The main reason why professionals don’t tend to recommend drugstore shampoos is that they use more of the cheap ingredients that don’t get the hair fully clean. Professional brands may be more expensive, but they’re worth it.

Salon products use the best and finest ingredients in their shampoos. However, sometimes these shampoos can be too harsh on curls because they are so powerful, which is why some drugstore brands may be better.

However, doing a detox shampoo from a professional brand once every few months to remove buildup is recommended in order to get the hair 100% clean. That being said, Shea Moisture, Maui Moisture, and Carol’s Daughter are my best drugstore brands for curly hair.

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Why Is Drugstore Shampoo Bad?

The main reason that drugstore shampoos are so bad is that they contain harsher ingredients, they often contain silicones, and they don’t often fully cleanse the hair but instead strip the natural oils and nutrients from the strands.

Many drugstore brands tend to contain non-soluble silicones; they claim to “soften curls” when in reality, they are just coating the strands with a plastic film. Non-soluble silicones can make curly hair very brittle as they create a barrier over curls to “lock in moisture,” but in reality, they are actually preventing moisture from being absorbed into the strands.

So while your curls may feel silky and shiny at first, they will become lifeless later.

That being said, most curly hair drugstore brands don’t tend to contain silicones, and if they do, they’re usually water-soluble silicones that help aid hydration and don’t tend to build up on hair as they wash out with water.

The main reason that drugstore shampoo brands are so bad is that they are generally mass-produced and tend to contain harsher detergents and chemicals which may irritate sensitive scalps. Instead of cleansing the hair, it clogs up hair follicles, leaving hair greasy.

Now don’t worry, I’m not saying every drugstore brand is bad, just the majority; there are a few hidden gems out there that are worth buying. Just be sure to check the ingredients before buying and invest in a good co-wash between washes to keep curls hydrated and clean.


So there you have it, the best drugstore shampoos for curly hair, those with straight hair don’t know how lucky they are to have such low maintenance. There are some real hidden gems out there if you know where to look.

Personally, I love Shea Moisture, Maui Moisture, and Carols Daughter for being affordable and high quality for the price. They are often sold at most drugstores, and they have different shampoos for different curly hair types.

The best way to use drugstore shampoos is to rinse and massage your scalp for a few minutes before shampooing; this should help to break down grease and product buildup, making the job easier for the shampoo, so you can get the best results out of it.

See? You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on all curly hair products.

jess rowley

Jess Rowley

Cheif Editor & Nail Technician Expert


Jess Rowley, a veteran nail tech, has been studying beauty over the last 11 years and has completed the nail technology program in California. Watching the latest trends in beauty, Jess searches for the highest quality products that make your nails feel loved.