The 13 best products for curly hair

17 January 2020

curly haired woman

Curly hairstyles have come a long way from the perms of the 80s (move over, Dolly Parton). That said, curls still aren't the easiest hair texture to manage - but never fear, we've got you covered with the very best curly hair products, as chosen by Mumsnet users.

How are curly hair needs different to straight hair?

Curly hair is more delicate than dry hair, and tends to need a bit extra TLC. The first thing you should do is figure out your curl type. This will be the biggest determining factor in how you should look after your hair.

If there's one rule, it's that curly hair needs more moisture. Oils don't travel as easily down the hair shaft, so it can dry out more easily. This also means you might need to be more careful about the products that you use and your routine. If there's one thing for curly hair that Mumsnetters suggest time and time again, it's The Curly Girl Method.

What is The Curly Girl Method?

The main principle of The Curly Girl Method is to avoid certain ingredients that can be drying for curly hair:

  • Sulfates
  • Silicones
  • Drying alcohols
  • Fragrance

It works by trying to accentuate, rather than disturb, the curl pattern – and Mumsnet users have seen some excellent results. The Curly Girl (CG) method largely involves avoiding shampoo – so you might see lots of seemingly unnerving references to 'poo' – but don't worry, not that sort of poo. You will need to remove buildup with a clarifying wash first, and then move on to “co-washing”, which means washing your hair with CG-friendly conditioner, or “low-poo” – washing your hair with a gentle CG-friendly shampoo.

What do Mumsnetters have to say about The Curly Girl Method?

Those who encouraged me to go for the Curly Girl Method, thank you very much! Look – I have curls! Well, waves really. But not just a ball of frizz for once.

I've been doing Curly Girl for about 18 months now and I love it! It's a real trial and error process though, because what works for one person might not necessarily work for someone else.

It's working out really well for me – just following the book. My hair looks fantastic in comparison to a few weeks ago, and I must be saving a fortune!

My hair is much more manageable and healthy-looking than it's ever been and, once I found the products that work for me, I now spend far, far less on haircare products than I used to.

The CG method was an absolute godsend for me. I'm five years strong and my curls are in wonderful condition. I will warn you not to expect an instant result – your hair will look shit initially while you're transitioning but bear with it.

1. Best high end shampoo: Aveda Be Curly

1. Best high end shampoo: Aveda Be Curly

Aveda products are super popular with curlies, and it's easy to see why. This shampoo is part of a four-step curling system consisting of shampoo, conditioner, curly style-prep and curl enhancer, which has a wonderful scent with notes of citrus and bergamot. The shampoo contains wheat protein and aloe to help your hair stay curly.

The Curly Girl Method status: Not approved

“Aveda Be Curly is fab – it's the only thing that's allowed me to not straighten my hair.”

Buy now from Amazon

2. Best natural shampoo: Lush Fairly Traded Honey

2. Best natural shampoo: Lush Fairly Traded Honey

Packed with fairly traded honey (surprise!), geranium oil, bergamot oil and rose, this Lush option does a great job of replenishing moisture – absolutely crucial to making sure curly locks stay healthy and don't frizz – as one Mumsnetter found.

The Curly Girl Method status: Not approved

“Lush Fairly Traded Honey shampoo. I've tried everything over the years for my very curly and frizzy hair but nothing stopped it frizzing up at the slightest hint of humidity.”

Buy now from Lush

3. Best mid-range co-wash: As I Am Coconut

3. Best mid-range co-wash: As I Am Coconut

This super gentle cleansing conditioner, or co-wash, is raved about by curlies. If you're new to the world of co-washing, it's essentially using a cleansing conditioner which doesn't lather to wash your hair, so it's much more gentle on curly textures.

Curly Girl Method status: Approved

“The best co-wash I have found is As I Am Coconut Co-wash . It smells wonderful but the smell doesn't linger on your hair. It leaves your hair super squeaky clean and shiny. About £10 for a big pot (about a month's supply).”

Buy now from Amazon

4. Best co-wash for coily hair: Palmer's Olive Oil Co-Wash

4. Best co-wash for coily hair: Palmer's Olive Oil Co-Wash

This budget cleansing conditioner has a surprisingly short list of ingredients, including real olive oil and aloe vera juice. It smells great (not of olive oil, don't worry). It might be a bit heavy if your curls are loose, but for coily or dry hair types it's an excellent choice.

Curly Girl Method status: Not approved, but probably OK

“The Palmers Olive Oil Co-Wash and Replenishing Conditioner work wonders for me. "

Buy now from Amazon

5. Best vegan conditioner: Garnier Hair Food Banana

5. Best vegan conditioner: Garnier Hair Food Banana

This absolute bargain is somewhat of a wonder product. Made of 98% natural ingredients, completely vegan, with a scent to die for (like real bananas, not the nasty artificial scent) and it comes in a massive tub, so nothing gets wasted. As if that wasn't enough, it triples up as a regular conditioner, mask, and leave-in conditioner.

Curly Girl Method status: Approved

“I’ve recently bought Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food with banana & shea. It smells divine and was £3.49 for a huge tub! I slap it on my hair every day and just leave it in. The smell is lovely. I wouldn’t usually buy Garnier, but I love the smell of bananas and it caught my eye. I’m glad I bought it as it’s fantastic.”

Buy now from Amazon

6. Best conditioner for Afro hair: Cantu Shea Butter Conditioner

6. Best conditioner for Afro hair: Cantu Shea Butter Conditioner

Formulated for Afro hair, but suitable for any curly hair types, Mumsnet users love Cantu. It's cheap, free of any nasties and super moisturizing for any dry locks you might have. If that wasn't enough, it smells lovely too.

Curly Girl Method status: Approved

“CANTU – that's all I can say. It's changed my life, even before I had the haircut of a lifetime. The condition was terrible, and all these products are fab, smell of coconut and rarely full price in all shops.”

“Another vote for Cantu. We are a house of curly/wavys and it works great on all of us. No curls for him but it does leave his hair nice and shiny with no fluffiness.”

Buy now from Amazon

7. Best salon conditioner: Tigi Oatmeal and Honey Conditioner, £7.67

7. Best salon conditioner: Tigi Oatmeal and Honey Conditioner, £7.67

This salon standard conditioner is actually pretty good value, clocking in at £7.67 for 750 ml.. Oatmeal and honey are packed with nourishing properties, perfect for moisturising curls without weighing them down. To make sure your hair gets extra strength, it also contains wheat protein and vitamin E.

Curly Girl Method status: Not approved

“Tigi oatmeal and honey shampoo and also conditioner for dry curly hair is lovely”

Buy now from Amazon

8. Best deep conditioner: Shea Moisture Superfruit Masque

8. Best deep conditioner: Shea Moisture Superfruit Masque

Complete with marula oil, biotin and shea butter, this is a curly hair holy grail. It claims to have 10 different benefits, so a great all rounder even for non-curlies. Leave it on for at least five minutes, but the longer the better.

Curly Girl Method status: Approved

“I like Shea Moisture. I use the Superfruit Complex conditioner to co-wash and the masque in the same ‘blend’ as a deeper conditioner.”

Buy now from Amazon

9. Best high-street styling product: Boots Essentials Curl Creme

9. Best high-street styling product: Boots Essentials Curl Creme

If there's one product every UK-based curly needs in their arsenal – it's this. With a cult following so deep that curlies in other countries get it shipped to them at a massive premium, it really works. As if it wasn't cheap enough at £1.99, it's usually on 3 for 2 offers too. What more could you ask for?

Curly Girl Method status: Not approved but probably OK (though it does contain drying alcohols)

“Curl creme is my lifesaver . Make sure you rub the creme in your hands for about 10 seconds before applying . As others have said, leave to dry then scrunch the crispness away.”

“After a tip off on here about Boots curl creme (the cheap, pink tub) I've sworn by this product for my thick curly hair for ages.”

Buy now from Boots

10. Best strong hold gel: Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel

10. Best strong hold gel: Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel

Gel may conjure up images of the crispy, wet-look locks of the noughties, but honestly, if you've got curly hair, gel is a lifesaver. Eco Styler is great value for money, Curly Girl-friendly and comes in a range of holds for all hair types.

Curly Girl Method status: Approved

“A hairdresser recommended it to me and it's amazing! After co-washing and plopping, I smooth it through my hair, diffuse the roots and then let the ends air dry. Then I scrunch out the crunch and am left with well-defined curls.”

Buy now from Amazon

11. Best high-end curl creme: Bumble and Bumble Curl Creme

11. Best high-end curl creme: Bumble and Bumble Curl Creme

If you despise crispy, crunchy curls. this is the creme for you. Packed with nourishing, softening ingredients like Brazil nut oil and pracaxi oil, this product helps to clump curls, leaving your hair perfectly defined.

Curly Girl Method status: Not approved

“I love Bumble & Bumble curl creme: it's not cheap but it's the only thing that's really worked for me, and I've got a cupboard full of every single curl cream going.”

Buy now from Amazon

12. Best for frizzy hair: Frizz Ease Secret Agent Serum

12. Best for frizzy hair: Frizz Ease Secret Agent Serum

There's a reason the John Frieda Frizz Ease range has become a household name. It smooths down any flyaways and frizz, so it's great to pop in your bag on a humid day.

Curly Girl Method status: Not approved

“I love the Frizz Ease Secret Agent creme. I have tried many many things, but always come back to this one as it just seems to do the trick for my hair.”

Buy now from Amazon

13. Best brush: Denman D6 Shampoo Brush

13. Best brush: Denman D6 Shampoo Brush

A universal rule of curly hair is: never brush your hair when it's dry. However, if you're steering clear of harsh sulfates, it's definitely a good idea to invest in a scalp brush so you get a good clean when you're washing your hair. Scrub your scalp for at least a minute when you have co-wash, sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner on it to get a deep clean.

Curly Girl Method status: Approved

“Another fan here and I have very curly hair. This brush amazed me for how easy it is to gently de-knot hair.”

Buy now from Amazon