When you have curly hair, finding the right shampoo is crucial to bringing your healthy, soft, and luscious curls back to life. Sulfate-free shampoos are the best option for people with naturally curly hair, but finding the best curly hair brand for you can be difficult. Without sulfates, your curls get clean without losing those natural oils that keep your hair moisturized, help retain length, and encourage growth – all of which are struggles for curly hair.
What Is Sulfate?
Sulfate is a chemical compound that gives shampoo that satisfying foamy, sudsy texture. It’s a common ingredient in many shampoos and other personal care products. The downside for curly-haired people is that sulfates can be ultra-drying and cause breakage to our naturally fragile hair. Using a sulfate-free shampoo can still give you that clean feeling without your scalp drying out or your hair feeling like a straw and losing its bounce. It’s also an ideal choice for color-treated and damaged hair. If you want more information, you can ask a stylist or dermatologist for more information on how sulfates may affect your hair and skin. For now, check out the best sulfate-free shampoos for your curly hair.
Jump To Your Sulfate-Free Shampoo:
- GIOVANNI Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo
- OGX Renewing+ Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo
- KRISTIN ESS HAIR Moisture Rich Curl Shampoo
- OLAPLEX No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
- Nexxus Curl Define ProteinFusion Shampoo
- PATTERN Hydration Shampoo
- Briogeo Curl Charisma™ Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo
- BREAD BEAUTY SUPPLY Hair Wash Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser
- Curlsmith Curl Quenching Conditioning Hair Wash
- Living Proof Curl Shampoo
- Verb Curl Shampoo
- Bumble and bumble Bb. Curl Moisturizing Shampoo
- Ouidad Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo
- Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Pantene Gold Series Infused With Argan Oil from ProV
Let’s start with an OG curl-friendly sulfate-free shampoo from when it wasn’t as common to find one in a drugstore. GIOVANNI created their Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Line to increase scalp circulation and alleviate itchiness and flakiness. Tea tree oil is a natural disinfecting essential oil with years of study supporting its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Other botanical oils add to your scalp health, like peppermint for circulation, rosemary for hair growth, and eucalyptus for scalp conditioning. It’s vegan, color-safe, Leaping Bunny Certified, cruelty-free, and comes in recyclable packaging.
Cold-pressed Moroccan argan oil is a phenomenal natural oil that conditions your curls with high levels of essential fatty acids. When OGX created their Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco line, they made their most popular sulfate-free products to date. If your curls are drier or more brittle, this hydrating sulfate-free shampoo helps soften your curls, improve elasticity, and strengthen your hair. Bonus point: If you like a subtle woodsy scent with light citrus and floral notes like you’re walking into a Moroccan garden, this could be your new favorite moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo.
Kristin Ess is on a mission to bring an affordable haircare and styling products collection to the masses. This sulfate-free formula was made with curly hair in mind with their moisture-conscious and high-lathering Curl Hydration Complex. The vegan signature moisture-infusing complex is designed to reduce frizz and spring your coils back while removing product buildup and protecting against environmental stressors. The spout top makes it easy to apply directly to your scalp, so you don’t waste any product.
If you’ve never heard of bonding before, you’ll want to listen up! OLAPLEX is the haircare standard of bonding technology to repair and maintain the bonds in your hair damaged by rough styling, harsh products, and normal wear and tear. Curly hair is particularly susceptible to damage since the same coils that make your crown unique create bends in your hair shaft. You can start your haircare routine with a patented pH-balanced bond-building shampoo that rebuilds the broken bonds and strengthens the weak spots. This gluten-, nut-, and sulfate-free shampoo is excellent for extremely damaged curls that need extra help during your first haircare step.
Nexxus is known for salon-quality products, and its Curl Define line is no different. Their exclusive ProteinFusion blends silk proteins and marula oil to give your coils a nice balance of moisture and strength. The sulfate-free formula is specially crafted for types 3A to 4C curls with shea butter and castor seed oil to lock in all the moisture. When used alongside the Curl Define conditioner, users have said they saw healthier-looking and more defined curls after just one use.
Luxurious oils and subtly warm floral notes make this sulfate-free Hydration Shampoo a treat on wash day. The gentle formula moisturizes with a soft lather that removes buildup on the scalp as it replenishes moisture in your curls. The secret to Pattern’s rich hydrating lather is a blend of aloe vera, coconut oil, and honey that pull moisture into your strands and keeps it there all day long. It’s color safe, cruelty-free, and comes in recyclable packaging. Purchasing a Pattern Beauty product also supports organizations to empower women and people of color, so your shampoo helps more than your curls on wash day.
The Briogeo Curl Charisma line has a proprietary NOVA Complex, which stands for Natural Oils, Vitamins, and Antioxidants in their signature hair formulas to fortify, nourish, and protect your hair. They refuse to use harsh ingredients and are proudly vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. The acidic tomato fruit ferment seals the hair cuticle to enhance curl formation as rice amino acids lock out the excess moisture that causes frizz. The shea butter gives rich moisture and antioxidants to keep your curls hydrated and protected throughout the day.
Bread Beauty Supply is a newer brand but has already gotten a solid social media following for its minimalistic branding and eco-conscious packaging. Their gentle sulfate-free formula gives a semi-sudsy lather with natural oils to leave your hair softer than when you started. Vitamin E-rich Argan oil makes your curls silky, while the Aloe Vera juice balances the pH level of your scalp. Not to be outdone, the vegan formula also includes lemon tea tree oil to clean and soothe your scalp naturally and without that squeaky drying feeling. Curly customers can’t stop talking about the compliments they get from the subtle scent of a fruity cereal milkshake after using it.
This gentle formula is a two-in-one hair wash that cleanses and conditions your curls simultaneously. It could be an excellent alternative for sensitive, dry scalps that needs more moisture than clarifying. Avocado is the star ingredient in this sulfate-free cleanser, delivering essential fatty acids to your scalp, while shea butter locks in moisture and aloe vera provide pH-balancing benefits. It’s also great for those who need an added detangler bonus, frequently wash their hair, or want to prolong their color treatment.
This creamy low-lather shampoo is said to make your curls three times stronger after one use of the Living Proof Curl line. The Healthy Curl Complex delivers methiopeptides to strengthen curls and natural conditioning agents to eliminate frizz. The slippage in this conditioning shampoo formula gives you easier manageability in the shower and continues after use for better health, definition, and shine.
The Verb Curl line is a vibe! Their sulfate-free formulas start with this curl-enhancing shampoo to clean and hydrate your coils. Sunflower seed extract nourishes your curls with fatty acids and provides UV protection to protect your hair and any color treatment you may have. The glycerin in this lightweight cleanser adds softness to hair by binding moisture to your strands. The Curl line does have water-soluble silicones that protect the hair and prevent buildup and is PETA Certified cruelty-free, paraben-free, and made without mineral oil or formaldehyde.
Jojoba, coconut, avocado oils, and a shea-cocoa butter blend make this Bumble and bumble Bb. Curl shampoo rich in plant omega-fatty acids. From 2A to 4C hair, this sulfate-free shampoo gives your hair the benefit of a rich moisture mix of humectants that deeply hydrates, adds shine, and reduces frizz. Luckily, Bumble and bumble has a whole line of moisturizing sulfate-free Bb. Curl products to choose from for your curls.
Ouidad has held the title of ‘The Curly Hair Expert’ for decades. The Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo is ideal for tighter curls and corkscrew curls with a restorative blend of active botanicals that cleanse without stripping healthy oils from your hair. Chamomile flower extract prevents split ends, corn oil keeps moisture in your strands, and wheat amino acids protect against breakage.
If you’ve struggled with dandruff in the past, you know how important it is to keep your scalp’s pH balanced and moisturized. Head & Shoulders created their sulfate-free Royal Oils shampoo to provide curly and coily crowns a way to cleanse and balance the scalp with Apple Cider Vinegar and coconut oil. You won’t have to sacrifice dry hair for a dandruff-free scalp, and consistent use can get you healthier locks within three weeks.
The Pantene Gold Series is available in most in-person and online drugstores. Known for being “developed by Black Ph.D. scientists and perfected by Black hair stylists,” this sulfate-free shampoo has a creamy lather that clarifies the scalp while hydrating the rough cuticles that cause brittle hair. It’s dye-free, paraben-free, and silicone-free. Pantene made this Gold Series line with natural, relaxed, or transitioning hair in mind.