Best shampoo for curly hair?
December 30, 2018 10:44 AM   Subscribe

What’s your favorite shampoo for curly hair? I’ve been using DevaCurl low-poo shampoo and the matching conditioner, which work pretty well, but I’m out. My salon uses Aveda, which is *so* expensive, but...they’re $24 for 8.5 oz, and the DevaCurl is $24 for 12 also not cheap. Are there other shampoos I should be considering?

I have access to Ulta Beauty, Fred Meyer, and the internet (although I’m a little hesitant to buy shampoo over the internet because (1) I’ve heard there’s a bunch of counterfeits on Amazon and (2) it might freeze sitting in my mailbox and that would be annoying). Pretty much, $24/bottle is the very high end of what I can deal with paying. (And how much does it matter? I know that some shampoos make my hair feel gross, but I’m not sure which ones or what the magic ingredients are that are good for curls.)

I tried no-poo and that doesn’t work for me; my hair ends up feeling all buildup-y and nasty. I use Aveda Style Prep after I wash it and that has been working well to keep the curls looking nice (and resurrectable on day 2).
posted by leahwrenn to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good luck with L'Oreal's EverCurl HydraCharge Shampoo & Conditioner. It generally runs about $7-8 per 8.5 ounces.

I would not say it's the absolute best (and I tend to alternate between those & Nature's Gate's Daily shampoo & conditioner) but the EverCurl is a good balance of price & quality for something that's specifically for curly hair (I tend to dislike spending too much money on things like this so my budget is more like ... $12 at most per bottle, though).

(I also liked the one-step EverCurl Cleansing Balm, but I found it wasn't the best for regular use. I still need to add use shampoo every few washings.)
posted by darksong at 11:34 AM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always recommend Loma shampoos. They have a good moisturizing shampoo, and a good daily shampoo. The internet will sell you 12 oz for $18 or thereabouts, but it is one of those products you are only supposed to get through a salon. I buy the big bottles of the shampoo and conditioner with the pumps from my hairdresser.

I like how it maintains my color (I dye my hair), has a light scent, and keeps my curly hair shiny and healthy.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:43 AM on December 30, 2018

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle shampoo is the best budget low-poo I've found - and it's cheap (I don't know off the top of my head but it's less than $5 for a pretty big bottle.) At that price, definitely worth a try at least.
posted by mosst at 11:44 AM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I really love Not Your Mother's Naturals.
posted by neushoorn at 11:50 AM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is your hair pretty dry? If so, Shea Moisture is my go to brand. If your hair isn't super dry it might be a bit overkill. Their curl cream is really nice too, and you can thin it out with water or a bit of argon oil.
posted by ananci at 12:05 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Came to suggest the Shea Moisture line. It’s available in most drugstores/grocery stores, but you might need to look for it in the ridiculous “ethnic haircare” area/shelf.

(The fact that they’re separated is ridiculous, not the products)
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:15 PM on December 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have very curly, very fine hair, and I've found Kristin Ess Extra Gentle Shampoo to be an excellent low-poo. Ten ounces for $10, it has a subtle scent and no sulfates; in the U.S., it's available at Target. (Canadians can buy it on
posted by virago at 12:28 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been using Bounce Curl clarifying shampoo (pricey, best bought directly from their website), and Tresemme sulfate-free conditioner (cheap, which is good cause us curlies use a lot of it). Every other wash I use As I Am co-wash, so it's not every time, and seems to be a good balance.
posted by reksb at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2018

Response by poster: (For what it's worth, I have no access to either Target or Trader Joe's, although others might...and I guess that is an option. I don't think there's a Trader Joe's in the state.)
posted by leahwrenn at 12:38 PM on December 30, 2018

reksb makes a good point -- I, too, rotate my shampoos. I do the full wash-condtion-curl defining cream-air dry routine only once a week.

So I use Kristin Ess for my weekly shampoo once a month. Most often, I co-wash with John Masters Organics Citrus Neroli Detangler (I'm not sure if it's available at Ulta or Fred Meyer ) or As I Am co-wash if my hair has been particularly dry.
posted by virago at 12:48 PM on December 30, 2018

I am also a former Deva product user--the expense eventually got to be too much for me.

These days I use L'Oreal's EverCurl Cleansing Balm as both a cleanser and a conditioner. I wash my hair as soon as I step into the shower and then don't rinse it out until the last minute, so it stays on my hair for a while. I then use a teeny dollop (like, the size of a pencil eraser) as a leave-in conditioner /detangler. I wash my hair every three or four days and it doesn't seem to build up.

(The only Deva product I can't quit is B'Leave In, which my hair thinks is magic; I scrunch it in and diffuse and I get these lovely, frizz-free, non-crunchy ringlets that just stay where they're supposed to stay. It's the only styling product I use, and I've never found a substitute that my hair likes as much.)
posted by jesourie at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Just checked and discovered that Ulta no longer sells the John Masters detangler -- which is just as well, because it's not cheap, at $18 for 8 oz. (I stocked up when there was a 30% off sale this summer at the only Whole Foods in my state, which happens to be a couple of miles from me.)

Apologies for the multiple comments! I've done a lot of experimenting, and I like to help steer my fellow curly-haired humans toward products that will benefit them if at all possible.
posted by virago at 1:27 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I get Deva cuts but abandoned the Deva products because I've been on a tight budget. I'm a 3a/b curl and I alternate between the Shea Moisture lines (I particularly like the Peace Rose shampoo and conditioner) and the Maui Moisture brand (especially the vanilla one). I get both at my local CVS/Walgreens. I've also had good luck going low poo (shampooing 2x a week) with these brands and just co-washing on the other days. And my hair definitely started feeling much better when I went no silicone/no sulfate for all products.
posted by TwoStride at 1:41 PM on December 30, 2018

A lot will depend on what kind of curly hair you have and how you style it. I think if the DevaCurl stuff works for you, it's worth it to keep using it. I used to have great results with the Low Poo and One Condition, but I moved a couple years ago and in my new location the Low Poo was leaving my hair looking dirty. Maybe something with the water?

I have very fine combination curly/wavy hair. What's working for me lately is to use shampoo only, with no conditioner most of the time. Once out of the shower, I comb through a leave-in product that detangles and keeps the curls nice and relatively neat. That product is Oribe Curl Gloss. It's very expensive, but a bottle of it lasts for months because a little goes a long way. I comb maybe a dime-sized amount of it through my hair and then let it air dry without touching it. Once it's dry, I just run my fingers through to separate the curls and poof it up a little bit. This works for my hair.

The bonus is that I've found I can be less picky about what shampoo I use most of the time when I follow it with an application of the Curl Gloss. The most important quality of a shampoo for me nowadays is that it leaves no buildup and doesn't irritate my scalp. Recently I've been trying out a couple different bottles of Suave Salon Professionals shampoos, which have been working well enough and are dirt cheap.

If you're interested in trying the Curl Gloss, you'd probably have to find a local salon that sells it or buy direct from Oribe.
posted by bananana at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2018

I love Shea moisture which I’ve found at local grocery stores, target, CVS and other drugstores. The Maui moisture was kind to my hair but made me break out at the scalp line and my back
posted by raccoon409 at 2:57 PM on December 30, 2018

I've been cowashing with Tresemme Botanique Nourish and Replenish Conditioner. $8 for 25oz. Note that I believe this is the only Curly Girl friendly Tresemme conditioner, so don't substitute.

I tried Devacurl and I'm pleased to report (because it saves me a lot of money) that Devacurl really weighed my hair down.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:25 PM on December 30, 2018

Nthing Shea Moisture; also the OGX line’s keratin focused shampoo is great. Both can be found at CVS (near me, at least.) You might also be able to find the Alba Hawaiian shampoo at Fred’s or a health food coop (not sure what’s by you), maybe at Ulta also.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:26 PM on December 30, 2018

If getting any Oribe products in your area is unreasonable, you could try the shampoo + leave-in conditioner technique with a different leave-in conditioner. I've used a few over the years with varying results. The trick (for me, anyway) is finding one that manages frizz without looking greasy or feeling crunchy. Bumble and Bumble's styling creme works well for me, and maybe Ulta sells it?
posted by bananana at 5:50 PM on December 30, 2018

I am a white lady with 2C/3A curls, and I'm currently using Shea Moisture's Strengthen and Restore shampoo (I don't have heat damaged hair, but I like the idea of something that supposedly helps with breakage) and I also use a dab of Miss Jessie's Creme de la Creme on the ends of my hair. Both are much more affordable than DevaCurl.
posted by mostly vowels at 6:07 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you have access to the new Costco? I have 2c/3a curls and I like the Orlando Pita Argan Gloss shampoo and conditioner sold at my Costco (used with a tiny bit of Aveda Be Curly or Bumble and Bumble Curl Conditioning Creme). My curls are shiny, soft and resurrectable via water spritzing on day 2. The price point is definitely acceptable. If you don’t like it, though, it’s a pretty big commitment sizewise.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:22 PM on December 30, 2018

I am happy with my Paul Mitchell Moisture shampoo and conditioner (blue lid), I also use the mousse (red lid). Lush makes an organic product I love called Curly Wurly but that’s a splurge... I find it’s best to rotate using different kinds so your hair doesn’t grow tired of the same thing. Good luck!
posted by oklahomie at 12:38 AM on December 31, 2018

My wonderfully frugal SO is quite happy with Herbal Essences' {Totally Twisted} shampoo and conditioner. Her salon uses other products which she deems too expensive and thinks overrated. She does color her hair and often adds a bit of (mousse? it is aerosol and foamy) product.

She has a head full of curly hair that generally acts as she wants. :-)

n.b. - I assumed European hair; my sincere apologies if that is not the case
posted by iStranger at 7:01 AM on December 31, 2018

I have 2b/c hair that is fine, long, and high density. I use a ton of conditioner so I can recommend a conditioner that comes in bulk on Amazon. Ginger Lily Farms Botanicals Green Tea and Lemongrass conditioner comes in a gallon bottle and has worked fine for my hair.

They also make a well rated shampoo but I can't personally vouch for it because I haven't used it. Both the shampoo and conditioner are paraben free and sulfate free.
posted by donut_princess at 10:00 AM on December 31, 2018

I like the Kirkland Signature (Costco line) shampoo in the purple bottle, and the Suave Aveda-rip-off conditioner. Significantly cheaper than salon stuff, which I used to use, and just as good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:37 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like the Cantu line, available at the drug store in the “ethnic” (really, drugstores?) section. There are both clarifying and moisturizing shampoos available. I alternate the clarifying one (sulfate and silicone free) with Shea Moisture conditioner.
posted by Red Desk at 9:10 PM on January 1, 2019

I use Renpure products. I shampoo / wash with Renpure Coconut Creme Cowash Cleansing Conditioner, currently about $9.50 on Amazon .. and I condition with Renpure Coconut Milk Nourishing Conditioner, currently $7.50 on Amazon (thru Prime).
posted by dwbrant at 11:55 AM on January 2, 2019

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