Best Products For Curly Hair [Review] in 2021
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
See full list of products
Are you looking to start the Curly Girl Method or just looking for ways to tame frizz and define your luscious curls?
After discovering the curly girl method, I am a changed woman, and I’m here to show you how.
There’s always an endless battle of trying to tame frizz while wearing your curls naturally but what if I told you that the products you use have a lot to say about the way your hair looks– who knew it could be so simple!
The trick is to keep your curls hydrated and use products that won’t strip your hair. Sulfates, silicones, and wax are a no-go for curls, as the ends of curly hair tend to be very dry, and these ingredients make them even drier causing frizz, which is the last thing we want.
But wait, what if I told you this…
To make things easier for you, I have spent hours trying, testing, and reviewing all the products you’ll need for your curly locks and if you’re doing the curly girl method. These products I’ve listed are the very best hair products for curly hair.
Here’s a pro tip before we get started: if you’re looking to do the curly girl method, remember to do a final ‘reset’ wash first with a shampoo filled with sulfates. Why? Well, sulfate-free shampoo cannot get rid of silicone and wax buildup so without this final ‘reset’ wash, your hair will look greasy.
You won’t want to miss these gems of products.
hours spent finding
My top picks of the best curly hair products
As I Am Coconut Co-Wash
best co wash for curly hair
Now I know it is pretty intimidating switching from regular shampoo to cleansing your hair with conditioner. We’ve all grown up with shampoo and dealt with the frizz, but who knew switching to a cleansing conditioner could make such a difference?
This light conditioning cream by As I Am gentle spreads easily throughout the hair and removes oils and residue, including everything you’ve used to style your coils and curls, leaving your hair looking and feeling fresh and hydrated.
Coconut oil is the best way to hydrate your curls, and this Coconut Cowash contains a natural blend of natural ingredients which promote healthy hair growth from the follicular level.
This cleansing conditioner maintains moisture, adds more moisture, and helps retain moisture between washes. This is ideal particularly for coily hair as it helps nourish the ends of your hair (which is a need) without leaving your scalp greasy.
As if that was enough.
This co-wash makes detangling a breeze and rinses easily from hair, it is gentle enough to use daily, and it is even safe for color-treated hair. If you’re struggling to find a solution for your brittle curls, this is it!
Instead of using shampoo every wash, especially if you have particularly dry curls, you should instead switch up for this excellent cleanser; it will leave your curls feeling nourished and feeling like silk.
Even some sulfate shampoos can dry out the ends of your hair, but this coconut co-wash contains all the excellent ingredients like coconut oil, castor oil, and citrus extract to revive your curls and provide them with the TLC they need.
This co-wash refreshes your curls without the buildup; it’s brilliant!
- Infused with coconut oil, castor oil, and citrus extract
- Removes oils and residue, including products used
- Natural ingredients which maintain, add, and retain moisture
- Gentle enough to use daily
- Not ideal for wavy hair
Latest deal: As I Am Coconut Co-Wash
SheaMoisture Curl and Shine
best sulfate free shampoo for curly hair
I get it we can’t wash our hair with conditioner every time it needs washing; after a while, it will begin to build up, and that’s fine. But we can’t just go with any old shampoo; we need one that is free of sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, etc. etc…
Luckily SheaMoisture has your back; it is free from all the nasties and super safe for your curly locks.
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.
SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Shampoo is sulfate-free, silicone-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, mineral oil-free, and free of petroleum. All the nasties you’d find in regular shampoo that causes frizz and strips your hair.
It gets bonus points for being cruelty-free too.
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.
One thing I love about SheaMoisture, in general, is that their products are ethically traded, sustainably produced, and cruelty-free so that you can buy without the guilt.
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.
- Free of all the nasties
- Cruelty-free, ethically, and sustainably made
- Leaves hair feeling silky and manageable
- Gentle ingredients which improve the hairs health and elasticity
- Some issues ordering through Amazon
Latest deal: SheaMoisture Curl and Shine
Moroccanoil Curl Enhancing Cream
best curl defining cream for fine hair
Finding the right products for fine curls is no easy task, especially when it comes to styling creams. Sadly most styling creams weigh your curls down if you have fine hair, but this one by Moroccanoil is brilliant on thick and fine hair.
This featherlike curl cream formula is infused with argan oil, which helps calm frizz and defines curls without weighing down your hair or leaving it feeling greasy or sticky. It works wonders on bouncing up all curl types.
After shampooing and conditioning or even just co-washing your hair, you should apply a generous amount to damp hair, running your fingers through the hair to separate the curls– it acts as a leave-in conditioner.
I personally love using a Denman Brush to define my curls with this cream; I apply the cream or gel I am using to each section of hair and run the Denman brush through the curl, twisting as I go. This leaves my curls looking super defined.
I love to use this product with a diffuser for a little extra bounce.
Argan oil isn’t the only winning ingredient in this curl-defining cream; Morrocanoil also included a vegetable protein that coats porous strands and helps nourish the ends of your hair to prevent split ends.
The argan oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, leaving hair feeling like silk.
Just like SheaMoisture, Morrocanoil is yet another sustainably produced product that I absolutely love. So many happy customers expressed how this cream transformed their curls and held them in their curls for longer.
- Infused with argan oil and vegetable proteins
- Helps calm frizz and define curls without weighing down your hair
- Ideal for all curl types and fine hair
- Sustainably produced product
Latest deal: Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
best deep conditioning mask
As hair gets curlier, it gets drier and drier because the natural oils from your scalp struggle to reach the ends, so having a trusty deep conditioning mask by your side is an absolute must for nourishing and hydrating those curls.
When your hair is dry and damaged, it is more prone to frizz, so by restoring and retaining moisture using a deep conditioning mask, you’ll notice your curly looks look more defined, nourished, and frizz-free.
Enough rambling on about the importance of a deep conditioning mask, this mask by Briogeo is one to get excited about.
It is an intensive weekly treatment for dry, damaged, chemically treated, or lifeless hair. It works within minutes to restore essential hydration within minutes.
It is free from silicones, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and artificial dyes, making it perfect for those doing the Curly Girl Method as it is a gentle treatment that will nourish curls.
But wait, get this:
This treatment is packed with b-vitamins, including biotin, which works to fortify and restore health to the hair damaged by heat or chemical treatments. It gives the ends of your hair that little boost it needs.
It even contains rosehip oil, essential fatty acids that balance hair hydration and control frizz, while the almond oil enhances the shine, luster, and moisture of dry and weak hair. Plus the argan oil is a great moisturizing ingredient too.
To top it all off, the ingredients are 98% naturally reived, cruelty-free, and specially formulated, not to include all the nasty chemicals that are a no-no for curly hair. I’m proud to say Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair is a winner for nourishing curls.
- Packed with b-vitamins including biotin
- Free of all the nasty ingredients like silicones, parabens, and sulfates
- Ideal for dry curls
- Helps tame frizz
- None so far
Latest deal: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!
Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly
best styling gel for curly hair
Are you looking for a gel that defines your curls without leaving them dry and flaky? This curling jelly by Curls is a product every curly girl dreams of. This ultra hydrating jelly eliminates frizz and elongates the curl leaving them soft to touch.
It contains raw castor oil, which nourishes the hair and promotes hair growth. It even has ingredients like shea butter, argan oil, Jojoba esters, and more critical ingredients in moisturizing and retaining moisture in the hair.
Plus, the blueberry extract has a super addictive smell.
You can use it on wavy, curly, very curly, and even kinky hair from wavy type 2A to coily type 4C. This should be your go-to for long-lasting, shiny curls– plus, say goodbye to frizz!
For best results, you should apply to sopping wet hair (not damp hair) until you feel there is a little “too much” in there, and trust me, it will feel weird at first, but once your curls have dried, your hair will transform.
Plus, unlike other gels I’ve tried, this one is surprisingly not sticky. Once you’ve tried this gel, you will be hooked!
- Eliminates frizz
- Contains raw castor oil, shea butter, argan oil, and aloe vera
- Non-sticky formula
- Addictive smell
- None so far
Latest deal: Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly
Moroccanoil Treatment Oil
best hair oil for curly hair
Here is yet another Moroccanoil product that I cannot wait to tell you about; Moroccanoil is a renowned brand in the curly girl industry, and their treatment oil is one your need in your curly girl routine.
Formulated with antioxidant-rich argan oil and linseed extract, this iconic hair treatment instantly nourishes hair, leaving it healthier looking and feeling after every use. This fast-absorbing formula also smooths frizz and flyaways.
Those with curly hair really benefit from using this oil for touchups or from rehydrating the ends of their hair, but it can even be used on straight hair, too; it even speeds up blow-drying too.
It gently detangles hair and pairs well with other styling products, plus it doesn’t leave a greasy residue which is a huge bonus.
But wait, get this.
This treatment increases hair’s shine by up to 118%, according to a study! All you need to do is apply on the mid-lengths to ends on damp hair as a foundation before blowdrying or pair with a gel while styling.
For dry hair, you can use a bit of serum once the gel has dried in your hair; this should help smooth out all the crispy bits caused by the gel drying, leaving your hair looking silky and curls defined.
Plus, the sweet floral notes blended with spicy amber aromas give this oil n indulgent fragrance.
- Eliminates frizz
- Pure argan oil
- Detangles, smooths without leaving a greasy residue
- Can be used on curly and straight hair
- Doesn’t work for all curls
Latest deal: Moroccanoil Treatment Oil
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Refresher Spray
best curl refresher spray
Do your curls need that little refresher and renewing boost with a lightweight mist that remoisturizes, redefines, and renews your curls without weighing them down? Well, you need Carol’s Daughters Hair Milk.
This styling pudding helps prevent frizz, softly define curls, and hydrate hair without the crunch or residue.
This hair milk was created for naturally curly hair, from the short-cropped 4c curly hairstyle to 2a waves; this refresher spray has everything you need to revive those curls, such as Agave, Nectar, Cocoa Butter, and Shea Butter.
But that’s not all.
This refresher is ideal for all hair types, whether you have coiled, kinky, or lose curls. Your hair can easily get into dry, frizzy situations from the environment like humidity, rain, or even just taking a nap.
It will give your curls the renewing boost they need with a lightweight mist that moisturizes, redefined, and renews your hair without weighing it down.
Agave isn’t the only incredible ingredient in this refreshing spray. Still, it is also packed with wheat protein and sweet almond oil, which softens and detangles your hair making your curls easier to manage than ever.
- Prevents frizz, softly define curls, and hydrate
- Helps tackle environmental conditions like humidity
- Boosts and redefines curls
- Lightweight and grease free
Latest deal: Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Refresher Spray
AQUIS - Original Hair Turban
best microfibre towel for curly hair
The products you use on curly hair are not the only important factor of the Curly Girl Method; the towel you use also has a lot to say. Many curly girls use a towel or a cotton t-shirt to dry or plop their hair to prevent frizz.
When your is wet, the cuticle swells, causing the strands to become weak and result in breakage. Curly hair is the most brittle, especially if it is dry, and since you have to wash your hair while wet, you’ll need to prevent as much breakage as possible.
This microfibre towel by AQUIS wicks away water faster than a regular cotton towel, bringing your hair to a damp state without damaging your hair. It also minimizes damage caused by friction of bath towels and substantial heat damage from blow dryers.
Whether you’re scrunching the excess water out of your hair before using a gel or cream or looking to plop your hair, AQUIS is ready to do it all. It keeps water out and moisture in.
But here’s the kicker:
The technology used to create this turban has been proven to help hair become more resilient over time, making it look softer and shinier. Plus, thanks to the no friction, it helps keep hair looking smooth and frizz-free.
All you need to do is scrunch the ends of your hair, flip your hair over your head, place the button on the tape of your neck, wrap all the hair in the turban and secure with the button and leave until dry.
Say hello to frizz-free hair ladies!
- Prevents frizz, softly define curls, and hydrate
- Helps tackle environmental conditions like humidity
- Boosts and redefines curls
- Lightweight and grease free
Latest deal: AQUIS – Original Hair Turban
The Best Products For Curly Hair - A Buyer's Guide
When it comes to taming curly hair, it is no easy task. Still, after years of research, professionals have finally found the trick to taming unruly curls with the “Curly Girl Method” developed by Lorraine Massey. It is the key to luscious curls that everyone will be jealous of.
Certain ingredients that may be okay for straight hair are the death of curly hair. Since curly hair is slightly drier than regular straight hair, it is more difficult to retain moisture; the natural oils struggle to travel through every twist of the curls to reach the bottom.
Ingredients like sulfates, silicones, parabens, mineral oils, phthalates, and many more can really damage natural curls causing messy frizz. Some people may think they have wavy hair, but after trying the curly girl method, they actually have 3b curls!
Whether you’re looking to start the curly girl method or just looking for the best way to care for your curls, then upgrading your hair care routine will work wonders for your curls.
But don’t worry, you’re not alone girly, I’m here to guide you through all the necessary information for the best way to take care of your curls. You can also check out my guide on how to look after your curls here for the full rundown.
Chemicals To Avoid With 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 ‘ahhh’ 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 hair drier.
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.
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, make your hair feel softer reduce 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 a lot of hair products to prevent and stop the growth of bacteria in your hair, but there are far more negatives than positives to using parabens.
Check out the full rundown of ingredients to avoid in my guide explaining the Curly Girl Method.
How To Apply Your products:
Now you’ve got all the products, brilliant but you may be looking at the wide array of products you’ve just purchased with no idea where to start. Trust me; you’re not alone.
The Curly Girl Method can be quite daunting at first, but don’t panic. It’s more simple than it seems.
It’s all about finding what works for your curls, but you may be asking how the hell do you wash your hair with conditioner?? Do you put it on the scalp or…? How do you plop your hair??
Don’t worry; I’m here to guide you through all the basics.
How To Wash Your Hair With Conditioner:
Getting rid of your shampoo from your hair care routine requires adjustments to how you rinse and condition your hair, completed your reset shampoo? Great! Then you’re ready for the plunge, don’t worry. It may seem daunting at first, but you’ll be amazed by the results.
Fully drench your hair with water: Before you go in with the cleansing conditioner, you’ll need to soak until it is sopping wet; this should help loosen debris, making it easier to rinse out dirt and grime.
This should also help distribute the product evenly throughout the hair to prevent any greasy spots where you may have gone overboard with the conditioner or accidentally missed it.
Coat your hair with conditioner: Forget the BS about how you need a dime-size amount of conditioner; when using a cleansing conditioner, you need enough to cover the root of your hair to the tip.
For some people, if it can be as much as a golf-ball-size amount, don’t be shy with the conditioner as remember you’re not just conditioning your hair but also cleansing.
Massage, massage, and massage some more: You want to massage your scalp like no tomorrow to help evenly distribute the conditioner from the scalp to the ends. This should help break down any residue leftover from your styling products.
You should be massaging your scalp for at least 60 seconds to help stimulate the blood flow and remove all dirt and grime from your roots; you need to work it more than shampoo to notice the most benefits.
Once it has been evenly distributed and you have a spare few minutes, I would reccomend leaving it for 3 to 5 minutes (especially if your hair is particularly dry or damaged), and then it will act as a mask.
Then after those 5 minutes are up, I would reccomend giving the ends of your hair a little scrunch, then rinse, dry with a microfibre or cotton t-shirt, and apply styling products. The key is to scrunch styling, cream, gel, serum, etc., upside down to ensure the cuticles are absorbing the product.
Using clarifying shampoo once every 2-4 weeks: Buildup from sweat, stylers or conditioner is inevitable even when avoiding all the harsh chemicals; sometimes co-washing or shampooing your hair with sulfate-free shampoo is bound to happen.
Once or twice a month, you should clean your hair with a clarifying shampoo to cure your dullness without drying; if you’ve noticed your hair lacks volume or feels like it’s been weighed down, this is your sign that it needs it washing with clarifying shampoo.
Check out my full guide of how to wash curly hair here.
How To Plop Your Hair:
So you’ve mastered co-washing, applying all your products, and scrunching? Brilliant, the next task is plopping your hair; you can either diffuse your hair or plop it.
You may have heard of lots of curly girls “plopping their hair” and have no idea where to start, and don’t worry; I’m here to show you.
So there are a few ways you can plop your hair depending on the item you’re using, i.e., a T-shirt, microfibre towel, or a pillowcase. The easiest method is definitely the t-shirt, and it is my favorite as you get the best results.
Step One: Grab a big T-shirt: I would recommend grabbing yourself a men’s XXL tee with long sleeves; it was the easiest to use, especially if you have long, thick curls.
Lay your t-shirt upside down with the sleeves and the neck hole closest to you on a chair or bathroom counter.
Step Two: Wrap the hair: Once you’ve applied your stylers, such as a lead-in conditioner or gel, to your sopping wet hair, flip your hair over the center of the t-shirt pressing your head down on the curls.
Reach up and grab the bottom of your shirt (with your head still upside down) and lay it over your head so it is touching the nape of your head and completely covering your hair.
Think of it as creating a protective bag over your curls.
Step Three: Grab the sleeves and tighten: While still holding the edges of the shirt, grab the sleeves and twist them to tighten the t-shirt around your head. (See why I recommended using a long sleeve tee?)
Then wrap the twisted sleeves around your head and tie them in place to keep the shirt from sliding or falling off; if it looks like a wet helmet, then you’ve done it right.
I would reccomend wearing this for like 10-20 minutes, and then you’ll open the shirt to voluminous, frizz-free curls as the hair begins to dry– it’s pretty cool!
Check out my full guide about plopping curly hair here.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should you wash curly hair?
While as a general rule of thumb, most guides will tell you that you should only ‘shampoo’ or cleanse once a week; this all depends on the texture of your hair.
The main idea of cleansing your scalp once a week is to train your scalp to look less greasy, but it’s not as easy as bish bash bosh and just jumping straight to washing your hair once a week; it takes time to train your scalp.
Instead of “trying to train your scalp,” these guides should promote that as long as you’re using gentle, moisturizing products, it shouldn’t matter how often you cleanse.
If you have coiler hair, you should try co-washing once a week, but if you have thicker, coarser curls, then cleansing 1-3 times a week will do you good. And if you have fine oil-prone waves, then you should wash them every other day.
What is the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair?
While this is mainly down to personal preference and curl type, as a general rule of thumb, you should only use sulfate shampoo as your ‘reset’ shampoo before starting the curly girl method; after that, use a sulfate-free shampoo or cleansing conditioner.
These products should be free of silicones, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and waxes to prevent buildup and protect the curl.
I would reccomend either investing in a bonnet, silk pillow, or twisting your hair and tieing it up with a silk scrunchie. Either of these methods should help protect your luscious curls while you sleep.
I would definitely invest in a silk pillow; it keeps hair shiny and prevents frizz.
So there you have it, the best products to use on curly hair. Looking after our curls will help tame the frizz and transform the overall look of our hair.
It’s time for us to upgrade our curl game, and today, it has never been so easy; give some of these products a go today!
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.