The Curly Girl's Guide to Shampoo and Conditioner Bars for Curly Hair

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Curly hair is gorgeous - but it can take some trial and error to manage properly. If you’re looking to add more bounce and shine to your natural curls, it’s important to understand proper curly hair care, and to know about the best shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair. 

With curls, the products you use can make or break your week. And what seemed to work one month might stop working the next! 

Your hair health can move in seasons, just like your moods, and it’s important to understand what your curls need so you can provide them with the proper TLC. 

That’s why I have a range of shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair - because sometimes you need to switch up your routine to get the best results. 

That being said, if you know proper curl care techniques, and understand which ingredients to reach for (and avoid), you can have a guaranteed “good hair day.” So, are you ready to demystify the perfect curl routine? 

Let’s dive into some quick tips for healthy curls, before learning about the best shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair. 

How to care for curly hair

Curly-haired woman in white holding Bars Over Bottles conditioner bar and hair mask bar

Here are my top tips for curly hair care: 

Avoid products that will dry out your hair

As any curly girl knows, curls crave moisture. Unfortunately, there are a lot of products that label themselves as hydrating - when in reality, they will dry out and damage curly hair. 

Because of these, many people with curly hair have shied away from shampoo altogether and have changed to a cowashing or no poo shampoo method. 

But shampoo itself is not the enemy - in fact, shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are specially formulated to be safe for curls. But, some commonly used ingredients in liquid shampoos (and surprisingly, conditioners) are often the culprit for damaged curls. 

Here are some ingredients to avoid:

Sulfates:

Sulfates are surfactants used to give a deep cleanse to your hair. Unfortunately, they can be TOO drying and irritating for curly hair. Instead, you should switch to a sulfate-free conditioner and shampoo. 

Parabens:

Parabens aren’t bad for everyone, but for some people they have been shown to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

This potential for irritation is especially concerning for people with curly hair, as curls tend to be more fragile, and the inflammation and irritation from parabens have even been linked to hair loss

Silicones:

Silicones may seem like they are great for your curls at first. They make your hair smooth and separate out beautiful curl spirals. Unfortunately, they work by forming a thin coating around your hair shaft, and over time, that coating builds up.

Silicone build-up can weigh down your curls and even prevent moisture from reaching them. And, in order to get the silicones off, you’ll probably have to resort to a harsher clarifying shampoo that can damage your hair. 

Alcohols:

Some alcohols are perfectly fine for curls - these are called fatty alcohols. Fatty alcohols include cetyl and cetearyl alcohols, which keep your curls soft and hydrated.

Drying alcohols, on the other hand, are the enemy of curls. These leave your curls brittle and frizzy, and can even cause scalp irritation.

Some drying alcohols to avoid include:

  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Propanol
  • Isopropyl alcohol (also called IPA)
  • Denatured alcohol 
  • Ethanol
  • Isopropanol
  • And Propyl alcohol

As long as you avoid these ingredients, and don’t overwash your hair, you should still be safe to use a shampoo product. That’s why my shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are sulfate, paraben, alcohol, and silicone-free.

Try a pre-shampoo

If your hair is very coarse or curly, you may want extra protection against shampoos. That’s when a pre-shampoo treatment comes into play.

Believe it or not, you don’t have to wait until after shampooing to condition your hair - you can also conditioner in advance!

While your hair is still dry, apply a conditioning oil or hair mask - working it through each section of your hair with your fingers. Then, wrap your hair in a towel or shower cap and leave the product to sit for about 20 minutes. Doing this will trap in heat and help to open up your hair cuticle to ensure deep moisturization.

This pre-shampoo treatment will protect your curls when it’s time for shampooing - so your shampoo can remove dirt and impurities without stripping your hair of all its oils and moisture.  

Use curly hair washing techniques

If you don’t use a pre-shampoo, it’s important to completely soak your curls before applying shampoo. When using shampoo, use a gentle back and forth motion to avoid crunching up your curls. If you use a circular motion, you can end up with unwanted tangles. 

For conditioner, the application depends on how tight your curls are. 

If you have loose or classic curls, you can apply your conditioner from the mid-lengths to the tips. If you apply a moisturizing product too close to your scalp, it can weigh down your roots and give you a triangular hair shape. 

If you have coils or tight curls, you can add conditioner much closer to your scalp. Adding some extra weight to your curls will elongate them and give them more structure. 

You can use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to work the product through your hair and let it sit for three to five minutes. And, if you want extra-elongated curls, you can leave a bit of product in your hair, or use an actual leave-in conditioner. 

Comb - don’t brush - your hair 

Because curly hair is more brittle and delicate, you should never dry brush your hair. This is a sure way to snap off your pretty curls!

Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to work out any tangles, starting at the bottom and slowly working your way up. Combing your hair while it is wet and conditioned will help to prevent breakage. 

If even a comb is a bit much, you can use your fingers to carefully break up tangles instead. 

Try to stay away from heat styling 

Heat can easily damage your curls. If you want to straighten or blow dry your hair, I recommend doing it twice a month at most - and always using some type of heat protecting product on your hair before you do.

If you want to keep your curls as healthy as possible, it’s best to let them air dry. Of course, you can plop your curls in a t-shirt or towel to help them dry more quickly. 

Perfect your sleep routine

Finding the right night-time routine can take a bit of trial and error when it comes to curls. In general, it’s best to sleep on your side or stomach, as sleeping on your back can affect your hair shape and leave you with a mess of knots come morning. 

You can also “pineapple” your curls on top of your head and wrap them in a bonnet or head wrap before bed. This will help to protect your curls if you toss and turn. 

For added protection, you can purchase a silk pillowcase, which will create much less friction against your curls than the average cotton sheet set.  

If your curls still feel a bit dry and frizzy, you might consider using a leave-in conditioner or hair mask before bedtime so your hair can hydrate and heal while you sleep. 

Switch to natural hair products

If you’re searching for the best hair mask for curly hair, or the best leave-in conditioner for curly hair, you should be looking for natural products. Look for products with:

  • Essential oils
  • Natural oils like coconut oil, sunflower oil, or buriti oil
  • Keratin (or phyto keratin)
  • Plant extracts
  • Shea butter or mango butter

Many shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are made from natural ingredients, which makes them a great place to start when looking for the right curly hair products. Of course, you may be wondering, do shampoo bars work for curly hair? Let’s quickly answer that question. 

Do shampoo bars actually work for curly hair?

Three women holding different types of Bars Over Bottles shampoo bars

Yes! As long as you are using the correct shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair, they will absolutely work. Read over the ingredient list carefully when looking at shampoo bars, and ensure they don’t contain parabens, silicones, sulfates, or drying alcohols. 

And, of course, making sure you know how to use a conditioner bar or shampoo bar will go a long way towards the health of your hair. So…how DO you use shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair? 

How to use shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair

Even if you have the right shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair, you still need to know how to get the most out of them.

When used properly, shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are not only great for your curls, but will last you two to three times longer than liquid products.

To protect your delicate curls, I recommend wetting down your shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair and rubbing them in circles in your hands to pick up an ample amount of product.

Then, use your fingers to gently work the product through each section of your hair. After it sits for a while, you can rinse it out. 

As long as you understand what the best shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are, and you know how to use them, it can be an absolute game changer in your curly hair routine. So let’s dive into which shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are the best - and why. 

The best shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair

Here are my top recommendations when it comes to shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair:

The Moisturizing Shampoo Bar

Bars Over Bottles Shampoo Bar with box on a white background

My Moisturizing Shampoo Bar was specifically formulated with dry, curly hair in mind. You don’t need to be scared of this shampoo bar drying out your curls or leaving your curls frizzy and frazzled - this little beauty bar is ultra-hydrating to leave you with gorgeous, clean curls. 

How does it work?

Well, instead of using sulfates to clean your hair, it uses Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate. This gentle cleansing agent removes impurities without stripping away the natural oils. In fact, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is derived from coconut oil, so it’s naturally hydrating, too. 

On top of that, this amazing shampoo bar for curly hair contains buriti oil and shikakai oil, which help to protect your curls, infuse them with nutrients, and provide a natural “curl memorizer” effect.

If that weren’t enough, my Moisturizing Shampoo Bar even contains phyto keratin, which helps to repair any internal or external damage your curls may have suffered.

The Nourishing Shampoo Bar

Bars Over Bottles nourishing shampoo bar with box on a white background

If you’ve noticed your curls are feeling a little weighed down and lifeless, it might be time for a deeper cleanse. While I don’t recommend deep-cleansing shampoos all the time, it can be great to clear off product buildup every few weeks or so.

But don’t reach for the average clarifying shampoo. That can be too harsh on your curls. Instead, I recommend a more gentle option, like my Nourishing Shampoo Bar.

Designed for balanced to dry hair, the Nourishing Shampoo Bar is still plenty hydrating, but provides a slightly deeper cleanse for the days you need it. It does so with white clay.

White clay can lift product build up and impurities from your curls, leaving them as good as new - and still amply moisturized. In fact, this beauty bar contains nourishing copoasu butter, so you won’t have to worry about it drying your curls out.

The Curl Definer & Leave-In Conditioner Bar

Bars Over Bottles Curl Definer & Leave-In Conditioner Bar with box on a white background

No curly hair routine would be complete without some conditioning, and that’s where my curly hair conditioner bar comes in. This beauty bar isn’t just any conditioner bar either, it’s a Curl Definer & Leave-In Conditioner Bar!

This curly hair conditioner bar can be used as a normal conditioner during your shower, or as a leave-in product for extra hydration. It contains nutrient-packed mango butter to battle dryness, and phyto keratin to keep your strands smooth and strong.

Plus, with pracaxi oil added in, your curls will be beautifully shiny and frizz-free. What more could you ask from a curly hair conditioner bar!?

The Curl Defining Hair Mask Bar

Woman with long wavy curly hair holding Bars Over Bottles Curl Defining Hair Mask Bar and Hydrate & Repair Hair Mask Bar

Sometimes, your curls need a little extra definition and hydration. And on those days, it’s a great idea to use a hair mask like my Curl Defining Hair Mask Bar

You can apply the hair mask as a before-bed moisturizer, or you can use it in between your shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair. You can even use my hair mask as a pre-shampoo product!

My Curl Defining Hair Mask Bar is made with bacury and shea butter for deep moisturization, shikakai for curl definition, and beetroot amino acid to strengthen your hair fibers and assist with moisture retention. 

It’s the perfect pick-me-up for out-of-sorts curls. 

The Perfect Curls Value Set 

Bars Over Bottles Perfect Curls Value Set on a white background

If you’re a big fan of solid shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair, why not buy a Perfect Curls Value Set? You’ll get the best shampoo bar, conditioner bar, and hair mask bar for curly hair - at a major discount!

Then, you’ll be all set with the perfect curly hair care set. Best yet, all my shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair are 100% plastic free, so you can feel good about your purchase. You’ll be saving your curls AND the Planet! 

After switching to the best shampoo and conditioner bars for curly hair, I’m sure you’ll see a difference in the health of your curls. And you’ll absolutely make a difference in the health of the environment. 

So there you have it! You know all about the best shampoo and conditioner for curly hair and how to use them to the best effect - so you can enjoy your bounciest, lushest curls yet.

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