If you have curly hair, your relationship status with shampoo is most likely: “complicated.” But clearly you haven't sworn off shampoo altogether, or you wouldn’t be here searching for the best moisturizing shampoo for curly hair!
The good news? A moisturizing shampoo for curly hair DOES exist, and it is absolutely curly-girl approved. But if you’ve navigated years of drying products that leave your curls feeling parched and brittle, I understand if you’re feeling a bit skeptical.
Perhaps you’ve been firmly in the co-wash only camp, or you have dabbled in a few no-poo shampoo products, and that’s totally fine! Only you know what is best for your hair on any given day.
Of course, when you have the right product, shampoo is actually beneficial for curly hair.
So, that begs the question, what IS the right product?
Today, I will be helping you learn what to look for (and avoid) when finding a moisturizing shampoo for curly hair. Then, I will introduce my absolute favorite shampoo for curls, so your hair can live its very best life.
How to choose shampoo for curls
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’ve had negative experiences with shampoo in the past. Because, quite frankly, most shampoos are NOT made for curls.
The average bottle of shampoo is way too drying and harsh for curly hair, and that is especially true if it’s a clarifying shampoo.
Unfortunately, some conditioners contain cloying silicones and other heavy ingredients that coat your strands and weigh down your curls - and clarifying shampoos are marketed as the only thing that will remove that buildup.
Don’t believe that myth!
If your curls are limp and lifeless from product buildup, you can opt for a curl-friendly hair detox shampoo instead. This won’t be your regular shampoo, by any means, but it can help to reset your curls without stripping them of their natural oils.
On other days, you’ll want to use a moisturizing shampoo for curly hair. This shampoo should not contain any dying alcohols, silicones, sulfates, or parabens. For these reasons (and more), I always recommend a shampoo bar for curly hair.
Now you might be wondering: “Do shampoo bars work for curly hair?” And the answer is: absolutely!
Shampoo bars for curly hair are made with nourishing natural ingredients and formulated specifically with curls in mind. They don’t use harsh surfactants, and instead of drying out your curls or coils, they can legitimately hydrate while cleansing.
And, when you pair the best shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair together, you will have a fool-proof hair routine that will help your curls stay soft, defined, and healthy between your washes.
So what is the best moisturizing shampoo for curly hair? If you hadn’t guessed already, it's a shampoo bar! And the best thing about this shampoo bar for curly hair? It’s 100% plastic-free, making it just as friendly for the environment as it is for your curls.
Meet the best moisturizing shampoo for curly hair
Meet my Moisturizing Shampoo Bar, the perfect moisturizing shampoo for curly hair. This waterless beauty bar doesn’t have any silicones, sulfates, parabens, or harsh chemicals - it’s just beautiful natural ingredients that are geared towards curls.
This powerful little shampoo bar is as refreshing as it is hydrating. With cedar and may chang essential oils, it gives a lush woodsy and citrusy scent to your strands.
Not sure what may chang is? That’s okay! It’s an essential oil from the Chinese Pepper tree, also known as the Litsea Cubeba plant. This plant has peppercorn-shaped fruits that give off a wonderful lemony scent with a hint of sweetness.
So now that you have an idea what this moisturizing shampoo for curly hair smells like, what does it actually do for your hair? Let’s break down some of the important ingredients in this shampoo bar for curly hair.
Sodium cocoyl isethionate
The base of each shampoo bar in my collection starts with sodium cocoyl isethionate. This fine white powder is derived from coconut oil. Sodium cocoyl isethionate is a natural surfactant that mixes oil and water to lift dirt and impurities out of your hair.
Of course, like coconut oil itself, sodium cocoyl isethionate is deeply moisturizing, so it will leave your hair and scalp feeling soft and hydrated without stripping your natural oils whatsoever.
Best yet, sodium cocoyl isethionate produces a luxurious, silky lather that feels great in your hands and spreads easily over your curls. Making every shower feel like you’re treating yourself to a spa day.
The next important ingredient in my moisturizing shampoo for curly hair is pracaxi oil. Pracaxi oil has the highest known concentration of behenic acid in nature (at 19%). The large amount of this fatty acid is what makes this shampoo bar so deeply moisturizing.
When you treat your hair with pracaxi oil, it not only keeps it hydrated for long periods of time, it also improves the manageability and shine of your curls.
The fatty acids like behenic acid and legenic acid can also protect your scalp against environmental factors and enhance the strength of your strands.
Speaking of protecting your strands, buriti oil is the next ingredient that comes to the rescue in my Moisturizing Shampoo Bar. Buriti oil is derived from buriti nuts that grow naturally in Amazonia. These nuts are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, as well as vitamins E and C.
The high antioxidant levels can fight premature aging of your hair, combating graying and keeping your curls soft and shiny. In fact, the buriti plant (called Mauritia flexuosa) has been used to fight many diseases caused by oxidative stress!
And, because there are so many vitamins and fatty acids in buriti, it can also hydrate and tame dry, frizzy hair - making your curls more beautiful and easy to manage.
The next ingredient in my moisturizing shampoo for curly hair that deserves the spotlight is shikakai. Shikakai oil comes from a spiny shrub that grows in China, India, and Brazil - among other countries.
Shikakai shampoo has an incredible host of benefits, but it’s especially fabulous in shampoo for curls.
Well, shikakai is a natural “curl memorizer.” This means it will help to keep your curls defined and frizz-free for long periods of time, which is why I’ve also added shikakai to my hair mask for curly hair.
Last, but not least, I need to mention phyto-keratin. “Phyto” is a prefix that means “of a plant,” and it explains exactly what this ingredient is! (Hint: It’s vegan keratin.) Phyto-keratin is exactly like regular keratin, except it is derived from plants like wheat, corn, or soy instead of from animals.
So rest assured, this keratin is 100% ethically sourced. In fact, all my shampoo and conditioner bars are cruelty-free and vegan, so you never need to feel conflicted about pursuing the health of your curls with my beauty bars.
You’ve probably heard all about keratin benefits for hair, and phyto-keratin shares all those same benefits. It can help to repair external damage caused by the sun, blow dryers, chemical treatments, and more.
And it can even rebuild your strand structure from the inside out! (Talk about a powerful product.) In fact, keratin was originally studied for wound healing, but when the test animals started to experience better hair growth and regenerated hair follicles, scientists turned their attention to keratin’s benefits for hair.
Phyto-keratin works by smoothing down the cells that overlap on your strands, and absorbing into your hair cuticles to increase the strength and elasticity of your curls.
Find the hair routine that makes your curls sing
Hopefully by now, you’re convinced that my moisturizing shampoo for curly hair really IS the best shampoo for curls. And, if you’re interested in taking your routine a step further, you can pair your Moisturizing Shampoo Bar with my leave-in conditioner for curly hair too.
At Bars Over Bottles, I’ve got the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair that will take all the guesswork out of your hair routine.