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Best products for curly hair 2022: We pick the best shampoos, conditioners and treatments

Lise Smith
13 Apr 2021

Looking to treat, tame, preen and pamper your wavy locks? These are the best haircare products for curly hair

Whether you have tight coils or a looser wave, curly hair comes with a special set of challenges. Curly locks tend towards dryness and dullness; they also tangle and frizz much more readily than straight hair. But treat your hair with the right products and those curls can be luscious, soft and bouncingly beautiful.

Here you'll find our guide to the best curl-care products on the market, with a range of budgets in mind. We'll explain the key products you need, and why, in the bite-size buying guide below, or you can scroll straight past and check out our favourite shampoos, conditioners and treatments. With prices starting from as little as £3, you won't need to spend a fortune to give your hair a boost.

READ NEXT: Best hairdryers: Pamper your locks with the best blow dryers

How to choose the best products for curly hair

Are there any essential products I need to buy?

When it comes to curly hair you should never go in all guns blazing from the start, so find something gentle to incorporate into your routine at first. Perhaps moisturising shampoo that doesn't strip the vital oils from your locks, or a product that's actually enriched with natural oils and doesn't include drying parabens and sulphates - no-nos for curls.

How often should I wash my hair?

You'll have seen a lot of debate on this topic. but ideally, it's best to wash curly hair every few days. Washing it every day, even with a gentle shampoo, can wreak havoc with your hair type and is a recipe for frizz.

What kind of conditioner should I use?

A good, hydrating conditioner will do the work of sealing in moisture, warding off tangles and defining the shape of your gorgeous curls. To find this you'll need to look for a formulation that suits your texture and your lifestyle - a heavy conditioner will penetrate thick curls but is far less suitable for finer hair, weighing it down. Leave-in conditioners are great for busy lifestyles and can be applied and forgotten about while you get on with your day. Even better, it helps to hold your style in place while it does the work of conditioning your tresses.

Are there any other products I should consider?

It’s worth investing in a good repairing hair treatment for extra care once a week (or more frequently, if your hair is suffering). Hot oil, treatment masques and overnight leave-in products will all help soften and nourish curly hair, and make for a lovely Sunday night bathroom ritual too. Comb conditioners and treatment products through with a wide-toothed detangling comb that won’t snag or break your delicate curls.

Finally, smoothing styling products can be a godsend for frizzy hair – but resist the temptation to slap on too much, or to layer up too many products at once. Pick one serum, balm or styling wax suitable for your hair type and use it sparingly to promote bouncy ringlets and control frizz and flyaway hair.

READ NEXT: Best hair straighteners: Tame your locks with superb hair straighteners

The best products for curly hair

1. Paul Mitchell Spring Loaded Frizz-Fighting Shampoo: Best moisturising shampoo

Price: £17 | Buy now from Feel Unique

This hydrating shampoo protects against frizz and dryness as it cleanses and softens. Paraben- and sulphate-free, Spring Loaded gently cleanses away dirt and oil with a rich lather that won’t cause frizz by roughening the cuticle. Like all Paul Mitchell products, it also smells fantastic in the bottle and in the shower. Part of the Curls range of shampoos, conditioners and treatment products, this is your first step to smooth, shiny, healthy-looking locks.

Key specs – Bottle size: 250ml

Buy now from Feel Unique

2. Catwalk by Tigi Curls Rock Amplifier: Best hair cream for intensified curls

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

While many of us want to tame our curls, others want to embrace their natural hair, even boosting it further. For those people, there are products like the Catwalk by Tigi Curls Rock Amplifier, which steps up the natural texture of hair to create defined curls and waves you can't miss. The formula is infused with essential oils so it won't dry out your hair, and you can also say goodbye to frizz. Apply a small amount to ends or all over to get a truly show-stopping look. 

Key Specs - Bottle size: 150ml

3. Aveda Be Curly Conditioner: Best hydrating conditioner

Price: £23 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

A nourishing conditioner with wheat protein and aloe vera to dramatically reduce frizz and leave your curls soft and bouncy. Light enough to use every day, a little of Aveda’s conditioner goes a long way – so although it’s not the cheapest one on the market, you’ll find a 200ml tube lasts you a while. Rich and strengthening, Be Curly has a pleasant, refreshing citrus scent and is lovely to use in the morning.

Key specs – Bottle size: 250ml

4. Kérastase Discipline Maskeratine: Best hair treatment for weekly use

Price: £25 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Kérastase is the hairdresser’s brand of choice for dealing with dry, coarse, rebellious hair, and this salon-style masque brings intense nourishing haircare to your bathroom. Once a week, massage this rich cream through washed and towel-dried hair and leave for ten minutes (or, if you’re like us, the duration of a short Sunday nap) before rinsing out. With keratin and wheat protein, this is a great product for strengthening and de-frizzing brittle, damaged hair, and the smoothing action makes blow-drying a breeze.

Key specs – pack size: 100ml.

5. Body Shop Rainforest Radiance Detangling Spray: Best leave-in conditioner for detangling hair

Price: £12 | Buy now from The Body Shop

Part of the Body Shop’s Rainforest range for dry and curly hair, Rainforest Radiance is a spray-in conditioner and detangler that softens and adds shine without stickiness. The spray can be used on damp hair after a wash, or on dry hair that needs a quick pep in the mornings. Containing Fairtrade pracaxi oil and aloe vera, Rainforest Radiance has a distinctive sweet smell that will put your hair in a tropical mood for the rest of the day. It’s also gentle enough to be used on children and safe for coloured hair.

Key specs – Bottle size: 250ml.

6. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Smoothie: Best drugstore hair mask

Price: £7 | Buy now from Boots

Like a green smoothie but for our hair, this Shea Moisture treatment uses a coconut-rich formula to treat dry and dehydrated locks. Trust Silk Protein and Neem Oil to condition and add definition to your curls without weighing them down, while the coconut oil helps your strands to lock in moisture and deliver a dazzling shine. What's better, this coil-boosting smoothie is formulated without the nasties that can damage our natural curls; that means no sulfates, no parabens, and no mineral oils. For a drugstore option, this Shea Moisture hair mask packs a real punch for a great price.

Key specs – Bottle size: 340g

7. KMS CurlUp Perfecting Lotion: Best curl-defining lotion

Price: £15 | Buy now from All Beauty

A little of this concentrated styling lotion goes a long way. Work two pumps from the bottle into damp hair in the morning and you’ll enjoy defined curls for the rest of the day – and if your curls need a boost, you can just scrunch again without reapplying. CurlUp creates smooth, shiny ringlets without the stickiness of serum or the drying crunchiness of a gel. Suitable for all curl textures, this lotion has a pleasant smell and will help you achieve your 80s big-hair dreams with a minimum of fuss.

Key specs – Bottle size: 100ml

Buy now from All Beauty

8. Moroccanoil Treatment Oil Original: Best hair oil for dry locks

Price: £13 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Nowadays, every second product on the shelves now seems to contain argan oil in some concentration – but Moroccanoil remains the original and best brand using this traditional product. The Original Treatment Oil (also available in a light variant for those with fine hair) is a fantastically versatile all-in-one product: you can apply it to damp hair after washing for a conditioning treatment, or apply it as a finishing product to dry hair after styling. For a weekly treatment, you can even wrap a hot towel around your head for 20 minutes to intensify the effect on damp hair.

Key specs – Bottle size: 100ml

Image of Moroccanoil Treatment, 25ml

Moroccanoil Treatment, 25ml

£13.45 (£53.80 / 100 ml) Buy now

9. Bumble and Bumble Straight Blow Dry Balm: Best heat protectant for straightening curly hair

Price: £24 | Buy now from Amazon

Hopefully, the great products above have given you the confidence to rock your natural curls in style; but sometimes it’s nice to go straight for a change. This gorgeous-smelling blow-dry balm from Bumble and Bumble protects the hair from heat damage and loosens curls effortlessly, leaving you with the glossy shine you want from a straightened style. Work a little of this lightweight balm into rough-dried hair before blow-drying flat in sections for a straight style with some movement; finish with straightening irons if you want a really poker-straight look.

Key specs – Bottle size: 100ml

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