Best products for curly hair 2022: Maintain healthy and bouncy curls with bargain treatments

Lise Smith
12 Jul 2022

Curly, coily and wavy locks require a little extra care, so get ahead with the best haircare products for curly hair

If you have natural curls – or are rocking a permanent wave – then you’ll already know that curly and coily hair can present a very special set of challenges. Curly locks tend towards dryness and dullness, and can also tangle and frizz far more readily than straight hair. But treat your hair with the right products and you can enhance curls so that they look and feel soft and bouncy.

Shampoos, conditioners and styling products designed for curly hair typically contain gentle cleansing and moisturising ingredients that reduce frizz, keep curly hair nourished and hydrated, encouraging your natural curl pattern whether that’s a coil, a curl or a wave.

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 below, while scrolling further down you’ll find our favourite shampoos, conditioners and treatments at all price points to help your curly hair live its best life.

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Best products for curly hair: At a glance

How to choose the best products for curly hair

What are the essential products I need to buy?

The key thing to look for in any curl-friendly shampoo or treatment is moisture. Starting with your shampoo, look for a blend of gentle cleansing ingredients that won’t strip hair of its own natural oils. Frequent culprits here are sulphates, salts (such as sodium laureth sulphate) that are added to shampoos as a lathering ingredient; or parabens, which are often used as preservatives. Our picks include sulphate- and paraben-free shampoos that won’t strip the vital oils from your locks.

Cleansing, conditioning and styling products that are enriched with natural oils will help introduce moisture back into hair and spring into your curls. A good, hydrating conditioner will do the work of sealing in moisture, warding off tangles and defining the shape of your gorgeous curls. You'll need to look for a formulation that suits your texture and your lifestyle – a heavy conditioner will penetrate thick curls but will be far less suitable for finer hair, weighing it down. Our recommendations below include nourishing and hydrating conditioners and treatments.

Leave-in conditioners or curl creams are great for busy lifestyles and can be applied and forgotten about while you get on with your day. Even better, a good curl cream will help to define curls and 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 to soften and nourish curly hair, and make for a lovely Sunday night bathroom ritual too. Comb conditioners and treatment products through your hair with a wide-toothed detangling comb that won’t snag or break your delicate curls.

Styling products that promise to smooth can be a godsend for frizzy hair – but resist the temptation 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.

How else can I care for curly hair?

Just as curly and coily hair benefits from a gentle formula of shampoo, it will also benefit from gentle treatment when washing. Use the fingertips to massage shampoo into the scalp and avoid rubbing hair roughly. Wash curly hair every few days to minimise frizz and help keep your cuticle and curl structure intact; if you need to wash more frequently (in hot and humid weather, or after exercise, for example), try co-washing with conditioner only in-between wash days to gently cleanse hair without removing moisture.

Keep towelling to a minimum after washing curly hair – it’s best to wrap the hair in a towel or clean t-shirt without rubbing. Curly hair prefers to air-dry naturally; but if you want to blow in a more structured style (or are in a hurry to get your locks dry before work), then look for a curl-friendly hair dryer with cooler heat settings and ionic technology to preserve as much moisture in the hair as possible.

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The best products for curly hair

1. Paul Mitchell Spring Loaded Frizz-Fighting Shampoo: The best moisturising shampoo for curly hair

Price: £17 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

This hydrating shampoo protects against frizz and dryness as it cleanses and softens. Paraben- and sulphate-free, Spring Loaded gently lifts 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 Look Fantastic

2. Aveda Be Curly Conditioner: The best hydrating conditioner for curly hair

Price: £24 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

A nourishing conditioner that includes wheat protein and aloe vera to dramatically reduce frizz, leaving your curls soft and bouncy. Light enough to use every day, a little of Aveda’s conditioner goes a long way – so although it isn’t the cheapest on the market, you’ll find a 200ml tube will last 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

3. Curlsmith Multitasking Conditioner: The best leave-in conditioner for very dry curly hair

Price: £23 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

This protein-rich conditioner is full of nourishing and hydrating ingredients: babassu, jojoba and castor oils to smooth the cuticle, rice protein for strength, and shea butter to moisturise hair from the inside out. It can be used in three ways: simply massage in and rinse out as you would normally after washing; leave a good dollop in the hair for 30 minutes to use as a deep conditioning treatment; or smooth through a smaller quantity as a leave-in conditioner.

Curlsmith’s rich but lightweight cream works well for all three uses, and is especially good for replenishing parched or chemically-damaged hair. It leaves hair feeling exceptionally soft and shiny – and smells absolutely gorgeous too.

Key specs – Bottle size: 237ml

Buy now from Look Fantastic

4. Kérastase Discipline Maskeratine: The best weekly use hair treatment for curly hair

Price: £38 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Kérastase is the hairdresser’s brand of choice for dealing with dry, coarse and rebellious hair, and this salon-style masque brings intense nourishing hair care to your bathroom. Once a week, massage this rich cream through washed and towel-dried hair and leave for 10 minutes (or, if you’re like us, the duration of a short Sunday nap) before rinsing out. The inclusion of keratin and wheat protein makes this a great product for strengthening and de-frizzing brittle, damaged hair, and the smoothing action makes blow-drying a breeze.

Key specs – Bottle size: 100ml

5. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Smoothie: The best drugstore hair mask for curly hair

Price: £13 | Buy now from Boots

Like a green smoothie for 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 dazzling shine. What's better, this coil-boosting smoothie is formulated without the nasties that can damage our natural curls – that means no sulphates, 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: 326g

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

Price: £14 | 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: 25ml

Image of Moroccanoil Treatment, 25ml

Moroccanoil Treatment, 25ml

£13.85 (£55.40 / 100 ml) Buy now

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

Price: £8 | 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 folk there are products such as 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

8. Bouclème Curl Cream – The best curl cream for Type 4 hair

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

This super-hydrating and nourishing curl cream from curl-care specialist Bouclème is perfect for tighter curls and coils. Formulated with moisturising shea butter, coconut and kukui nut oils, this cream will easily penetrate even more dense coils to pep up your curl pattern and protect against humidity and frizz. The cream smells fresh, light and citrussy, resulting in soft, bouncy and touchable curls that remained defined all day, without any stickiness or crunchiness.

Key specs – Bottle size: 300ml

9. 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

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