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How to Find the Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Curly Hair

BY Felicia Ler

From Ulta and Sephora to Amazon and Target, it seems like you’ve been seeking the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair since … forever. After all, those luscious swirls and ringlets can be pretty high-maintenance. Some days, you’re dealing with dryness and breakage; other days, it’s droopy curls and flat hair. So, what shampoo and conditioner should you get?

Well, it turns out your search may soon come to an end. Below, you’ll learn the five things that the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair have in common and how to integrate both products into your haircare routine.

Choosing the Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Curly Hair

If you feel overwhelmed by the endless products for your curl type, you’re not alone. Just keep in mind that the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair are the ones that address your curl pattern and unique characteristics. Here are some top tips for choosing the best products for your mane.

1. Go Sulfate-Free

You’ve probably heard how curly and coily hair types like to go sulfate-free — and for good reason. Hailed as some of the most powerful surfactants (translation: cleansing agents) in hair products, sulfates are so good at clearing away the buildup that they can put your strands at risk of dry hair.

Given that your loops and spirals are already on the drier side, you can understand why a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner may be better for curly hair. If you’re having a hard time locating such products — most drugstore formulations are sulfate-based — Function of Beauty’s custom shampoo and conditioner duo may be just what you’re looking for. (Psst, we don’t include parabens, phthalates, and other potentially harmful ingredients either.)

2. Decide If Silicones Are for You — Or Not

Silicones have long been one of the most debatable ingredients in the world of hair care. Advocates love them for their shine-enhancing and frizz-reducing properties, which incidentally, tackle some of the complications that come with curly hair. You can look upon silicones as the all-in-one ingredient to improve the look and feel of dry, damaged hair for softer, smoother tresses.

On the other side of the haircare coin, some people prefer silicone-free curly hair products, for fear of artificial buildup and the resulting flat hair. But a clarifying shampoo from time to time takes care of these issues. If you still wish to leave silicones out of your shampoo and conditioner, no worries. All you have to do is check off the silicone-free option when you take our hair quiz.

3. Moisturize With the Right Ingredients

Because your curl pattern requires hydration by the boatload, it’s vital to choose the right product formula to keep dryness at bay. Look for a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner infused with rich ingredients such as coconut oil and shea butter. These occlusives (aka moisturizing agents) create a protective barrier on your strands to minimize moisture loss.

If your frizzy mane gears toward oiliness, try a hydrating shampoo that contains lightweight yet moisturizing ingredients, like aloe vera, argan oil, and jojoba oil.

Pro tip: Our “deep condition” and “hydrate” hair goals are the perfect additions to your curly hair shampoo and conditioner to amp up the moisture factor.

4. Protect Curl Definition and Volume

Among curly-haired folks, it may seem like full-bodied, well-defined curls are a given. But some people with this natural hair type still struggle with flat curls, no matter how much scrunching and blow-drying they have done. If that’s the case, a curl-defining shampoo and conditioner may help promote a more voluminous ‘do.

With Function of Beauty, you can do just that by adding the “curl definition” and “volumize” hair goals to your next shipment. The former helps enhance and define your natural curls for a smoother texture while making your mane more manageable. Meanwhile, the latter helps rejuvenate limp, lifeless hair and cleanse away any buildup that may be weighing down your locks.

5. Nourish and Strengthen Hair Fibers

We all know how curly hair can turn into fragile hair — cue the tangles that break off in clumps and strands that turn straw-like after heat styling and chemical treatments.

Yet, brittle, damaged hair need not be your life story with a nourishing curl shampoo and conditioner, courtesy of these Function of Beauty hair goals:

  • Strengthen: Helps boost your hair’s resilience and elasticity while, stimulate healthy hair growth, and protecting your hair from breakage.
  • Rejuvenate: Helps revitalize and strengthen your hair to prevent premature aging caused by environmental stressors, heat and chemical styling, and nutrient loss.
  • Nourish roots: Helps stimulate your hair roots and facilitate the transport of key nutrients to your hair bulbs and shafts for healthier, fuller-looking hair.

All you have to do is pick the hair goals that best resonate with you and your mane when building your haircare formula.

How to Use Shampoo and Conditioner for Curly Hair

Finding the best hair products for your curls isn’t the endgame. Remember, curly hair isn’t built like straight and wavy hair types. Just like coily, kinky hair, your spirals and swirls need slightly different hair-washing techniques in the shower.

Without further ado, here’s how to shampoo your curls for minimal tangles and maximum polish:

  • From lukewarm to cold: Hot water is notoriously drying on all hair types, curly hair being no exception. Start with lukewarm water when you shampoo your hair to let your scalp get used to the temperature. Then, switch to cold water near the end to smooth down your cuticles and keep moisture in.
  • Concentrate on the scalp: Thanks to the unique anatomy of loose and tight curls, scalp buildup is real. To get the most out of your shampoo, apply most of the cleanser to your scalp and roots, and work it in to dislodge the grime.
  • Go back and forth: Instead of using circular motions to lather up your shampoo, gently massage your scalp in a back-and-forth motion. Doing so dials down the formation of knots and snarls, which translates to less breakage.

Once you’ve washed away the shampoo, apply conditioner to your hair from the mid-lengths to the ends. Use your fingers to gently comb through your mane and smooth out any tangles. Make sure to avoid your roots so that you don’t risk an oily scalp. Let the conditioner sit for the recommended time before rinsing it off.

Ta-dah! Your curls are all set to face the world.

How Often Should You Shampoo and Condition Your Curls?

After living with your curls for so long, you’ve probably nailed the perfect hair-washing and conditioning frequency to maintain them in tip-top curlicue shape. But in case you need more help, here’s our advice.

As a general rule of thumb, curly hair types should wash with a clarifying shampoo once or twice a week, if styling products regularly appear in your routine or you have an oily scalp. Remember, product buildup is not your BFF, given its propensity to weigh down your curl type.

If your curls are on the drier side, frequently exposed to hot tools, or chemically straightened, limit hair-washing to no more than twice a month. For more details, check out our tell-all guide to “How often should you wash your hair?” But remember, not all curly hair types are created the same, so feel free to tweak as you see fit!

In between your wash days, try the no-poo method with our custom co-wash (aka cleansing conditioner) to gently cleanse and condition your tresses. Keep in mind, though, a co-wash is not a substitute for the good ol’ conditioner, which is integral to every curly girl‘s routine.

In which case, it’s good practice to follow up with a conditioner every time you use a clarifying shampoo. That’s because shampoos — particularly those with sulfates — can strip away the natural oils and create a negative charge on your hair shafts. This leads to uneven cuticles that increase your hair porosity, giving rise to roughness, frizz, and dryness.

Applying conditioner to your locks right after shampooing neutralizes the negative charge to slick down your cuticles. This helps your hair appear smooth and frizz-free, making it easier to detangle before styling.

The Best Shampoo and Conditioner Promotes Hair Wellness

As you can see, hair needs vary from person to person, even within the subset of curly hair. What works for your parched 3a curls may not be the right match for 3c ringlets struggling with breakage. This is why one-size-fits-all drugstore formulations often fall short of what your hair requires.

That’s where Function of Beauty comes in. Thanks to our 100% customizable formulation, you can create the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair, based on exactly what your mane needs. What’s more, our haircare range is entirely free of sulfates and, parabens, and silicones if you prefer leaving these ingredients out of your hair products. For our shampoo and conditioner duo, you can opt out of silicones, too.

To meet your perfect match in haircare heaven, take our hair quiz today.