These 17 Shampoos and Conditioners Contain the Secret to Incredible Curls

As anyone with curly hair knows that not just any shampoo and conditioner will do. Plus, no two curls are alike, so it’s important to find the right formulas for your curl type. According to Sanda Petrut, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, the key ingredients to look for in a curly hair shampoo are amino acids, which "provide moisture to the hair and scalp, strengthen and repair,” as well as a polymer complex for shine, detangling, and anti-static properties. Finally, it should have a microemulsion smoothing system (a.k.a. a blend of oil and water) "to provide softness, control, and moisture by bonding to the cuticle for deep conditioning,” says the hairstylist. 

In conditioner formulas, it’s all about moisturizing the curls on a deeper level. "Look for hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, mango oil, and hydrolyzed protein like oat, wheat, silk or milk that penetrates the hair shaft to increase moisture content and smooth and prevent frizz,” says Petrut. "Rice protein is great because it strengthens hair fibers from oxidation caused by UV exposure, and soybean has essential fatty acids that boost moisture retention and add shine and softness.” 

To help guide you and your curls in the right direction, we’ve rounded up the best shampoos and conditioners—including drugstore options!—formulated just for curly hair.


Sandra Oh
(Image credit: @iamsandraohinsta)


Tracee Ellis Ross
(Image credit: @traceeellisross)


Ilana Glazer
(Image credit: @ilana)

Up next: 10 Common Curly Hair Mistakes and How a Celebrity Hairstylist Avoids Them

Freelance Contributor

Lindy Segal is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. She's originally from Atlanta, but she's sorry to report she doesn't have an accent. However, she does still have her taste for carbohydrates, love of losing sports teams, and fear of driving during rush hour. She's been in editorial for over eight years as a social media manager and writer covering beauty, fashion, and lifestyle at Glamour and People. Most recently, she was the women's editor at Express. These days, in addition to Who What Wear, you can see her byline at places like Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Ipsy, and WeWork. Both a skincare obsessive and a minimalist, she keeps her routine short, sweet, and effective—and she doesn't go a day without sunscreen. She's also deeply passionate about sustainability, and she strives to recommend products she truly believes are worth the investment. When she's not writing about the best and brightest beauty finds, she can usually be found hunting for vintage and secondhand treasures, attempting to find zen at a yoga class, bingeing Bon Appétit YouTube videos, or napping under her weighted blanket.