The best shampoos for curly hair: for types 2A to 4C

Curls, coils and kinks - we've got you covered with the best shampoos to shop.

The best shampoos for curly hair

by Ruby Barry |

We here at heat take curls very seriously, and our top picks for the best shampoos for curly hair are here to save the day. If you're reading this, we're guessing you are blessed with curls, coils or kinks, and are looking for the best shampoos and conditioners that enhance your natural hair pattern, not diminish it. Whether you have 2A waves or 4C coils, we've got the best right here for your hair type.

Our favourite celebs, such as Amber Gill and Selena Gomez, are all embracing their curls and wearing them with pride, and we have no choice but to stan. Keep reading to not only find our comprehensive list of the best shampoos for different curls but also our FAQ section where we break down how to find your hair type, as well as your hair porosity.

So what makes a shampoo ideal for curly hair? Well, curls, above all else, need hydration. Look for ingredients such as oils (rosemary, shea coconut and so on), beeswax, manuka honey and more. Hydration gives your curls enough buoyancy to spring and bend with ease, whilst looking silky smooth and not like a frizzy mess. Pair this with a leave-in conditioner, and your curls will thank you for a lifetime.

heat's best shampoos for curly hair, at a glance:

Editor's Choice: Only Curls All Curl Cleanser, £16 on Only Curls

Best shampoo for curly afro hair: HASK CURL CARE Shampoo, £6.99 on Amazon

Best shampoo for thick, curly hair: Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo, £10.99 on LookFantastic

Let's start our guide to curly hair shampoo. With each pick, we mark what the product is best for in terms of hair type, as well as features that stand out and make us go "Umm you're coming home with me." We also look for products that are vegan and cruelty-free, and those that contain no sulphates. We begin with a product tested by our own team, the Only Curls Cleanser...

SHOP: The best shampoos for curly hair

Editor's Choice

Only Curls All Curl Cleanser 300mlOnly Curls


If you want a high-quality shampoo you have to go with Only Curls All Curl Cleanser. After we were


  • Ideal for all curl types (curls, coils and kinks)
  • Blend of Avocado Oil and Kukui Nut Oil naturally hydrates curls
  • Fresh citrus and coconut fragrance


  • Works better as part of the Only Curls set

Best shampoo for curly afro hair

HASK CURL CARE Shampoo 335mlamazon
Price: £6.99


For afro hair, the formula of a shampoo needs to be thicker to coat the strands, as well as remove


  • Ideal for hair types 3A to 4C (coils and kinks)
  • Coconut oil, argan oil & vitamin E protect against damage and frizz
  • Removes build-up without stripping away natural oils
  • Great for those who live in hard water areas


  • Formula too thick for those with waves or fine hair

Best for shampoo for thick, curly hair

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo 379mllookfantastic


Having thick and curly hair is a double challenge - how can you get hydration for your curls,


  • Ideal for hair types 2A to 3C (curls and coils)
  • Coconut oil, shea butter, rosemary oil and aloe vera hydrate
  • Hibiscus flower minimises risk of breakage


  • Runny formula

Best detangling shampoo for curly hair

Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Moisturising Detangling Sulphate-Free Shampoo 335mlamazon
Price: £14.24
Alternative retailers
Sephora£11.99View offer


Another issue those with type four hair may face is how to detangle one's coils without it being


  • Ideal for hair types 4A to 4C (kinks)
  • Detangles hair and conditions for ultimate slip
  • Honey and babassu oil lift dirt and oil whilst preserving moisture


  • Pump dispenser can be faulty

Best luxurious shampoo for curly hair

Kérastase Curl Manifesto Shampoo For Curly to Very Curly and Coily Hair With Manuka Honey and Ceramide 250mlamazon

Rrp: £27.15

Price: £21.70
Alternative retailers
Allbeauty£21.70View offer
Beauty Expert£22.40View offer£22.40View offer
Lookfantastic£24.44View offer


Using Kérastase always makes one feel a bit giddy because it's so darn fancy. With a luxurious


  • Ideal for all hair types (curls, coils and kinks)
  • Manuka honey and ceramide nourish, strengthen and soften hair
  • Fragrance of frangipani, tuberose and musk


  • Smaller bottle

Best shampoo for fine, curly hair

Davines Love Curl Shampoo 250mlcult beauty


How do you care for your curls, without greasing up your scalp? Enter the Davines Love Curl


  • Ideal for hair types 2A to 2C (curls)
  • Noto almond extract filled with hair-strengthening proteins and moisturising healthy fats
  • Davines’ signature ‘shape definer’ smooths hair and makes it controllable


  • Strong fragrance

Best budget shampoo for curly hair

OGX Coconut Curls Shampoo For Wavy and Curly Hair 385mlnotino


Sometimes, ya'll, we just wanna save some cash. With the OGX Coconut Curls Shampoo, you can do


  • Ideal for hair types 2A to 3A (curls)
  • pH balanced formula
  • Banishes frizz from thick and thin hair


  • Chemical-heavy ingredients list

Best anti-frizz shampoo for curly, coloured hair

Coco and Eve Super Hydrating Shampoo 250mlcoco & eve


Those of us curly girls who have messed around with bleaching and colouring in the past know the


  • Ideal for all hair types (curls, coils and kinks)
  • ResistHyalTM Hyaluronic Acid technology hydrates 26 times more
  • No silicones or sulphates
  • Infused with fruit enzymes for a super clean wash 


Best shampoo for curly hair with itchy scalps

Matrix Total Results A Curl Can Dream Manuka Honey Infused Shampoo for Curls and Coils 300mllookfantastic


Used by Love Island winner and all-around icon Amber Gill, the Matrix Total Results A Curl Can


  • Ideal for hair types 3A to 4C (coils and kinks)
  • Used by celebs such as Amber Gill
  • Cleanses scalp - gets rid of itching and dandruff
  • Manuka Honey preserves curl pattern


  • Not SLS free
  • Too heavy for fine hair/type two waves

How to find out your hair type/curl pattern

There are four main hair types: type 1: straight, type 2: wavy, type 3: curly, type 4: coily/kinks. Each of these hair types is then broken down into letters to further differentiate them. Curly hair can be type 3a: soft curls, 3b: curly or 3c: tight curls. From Healthline's in-depth analysis of each hair type, we can see the difference in curl pattern below. Where do you sit on the table?

Credit: Healthline

The types of curly hair you can have...

Type 1 - Straight hair

Curl and waveless. Easy to manage but tends to be the oiliest, because the natural oils from your scalp can easily glide down the hair shaft causing your hair to appear greasy.

Type 2 - Wavy hair

From beach waves to defined waves. Forms an ‘S’ shape in the hair and the stronger that is, the curlier the hair. It can sometimes be mistaken as frizzy hair as it can easily lose shape if not using the right products.

Our guide to caring for 2B hair is here.

Type 3 - Curly hair

The most common curly hair type. The curls are more defined and springier. Known to be dryer as the natural oils find it harder to travel down the shape of the hair shaft. This type needs proper curly hair products and shampoos for dry hair.

Our guide to caring for 3B hair is here.

Type 4 - Coily/kinky/afro hair

Can sometimes have a mind of its own, but with the right products and practice the tight, zig-zag curl pattern can grow and stay healthy looking. It is the most fragile hair type and is prone to tangling.

Our guide to caring for 4C hair is here.

What is hair porosity?

Your hair porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb and maintain moisture and products. It is dependent on the number and size of gaps or tears in the cuticle layer – your hair’s protective layer. These are caused by heat damage and/or chemical treatments. The bigger the gaps and tears the more porous your hair is.

On the other hand, if the porosity levels are low that means the gaps and tears are a lot smaller, resulting in moisture and products not being absorbed and maintained as easily. It can cause products such as dry shampoos to sit on the hair and cause a longer wait time for the hair to dry. Ultimately medium porosity is the ideal level as the moisture is absorbed and doesn’t escape quickly. It’s the easiest porosity type to manage. But do not fear as porosity levels can be reversed with the correct haircare.

Tip: Find out your porosity level by laying a few strands of hair in a bowl or glass of water for a few minutes. If the hair sinks, it has high porosity, if it floats, the porosity is low and if your hair sits in the middle this is medium porosity.

Different hair types can have different levels of porosity. It’s usually down to genetics or hair damage, but luckily this can be changed. If your hair is coily or curly use hydrating and nourishing products to combat further damage. Lower porosity is generally more common in straighter hair. So if this is you, there will be a lack of moisture being absorbed into your hair. To avoid this, stay clear of heavy products and use a sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner. Find out how often you should wash hair here.

Ruby Barry is a Product Writer for heat, specialising in fashion and beauty. The team has nicknamed her "dupe queen", as there's not a product in the world she can't find a cheaper alternative for.

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