Does Melanin Haircare *Really* Work on All Curly Hair Types? 3 of Our Editors Put It to the Test

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There are a lot of curly hair products out there, so when you find a collection that checks all the boxes (aka great ingredients, packaging and price, to name a few), you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Enter Melanin Haircare. In just five years, this Black-owned hair brand has grown to become a favorite among the curly hair community thanks to their toxic-free ingredients and an aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feed. Try to make a purchase, and you’ll likely find yourself on the waiting list for their products (because once they’re available they sell out within seconds).

The popular collection consists of a shampoo, leave-in conditioner, styling cream and hair oil. But to see if it really lives up to the hype, I knew I had to try it out for myself. I also enlisted the help of Nakeisha C. and Dara K., two fellow PureWow editors and curly gals, to find out if the collection really works on curly hair across the board (Nakeisha has 4C, Dara has 2C and I have 3B hair). To sum up the results in one quick sentence: It looks like Melanin Haircare may have just welcomed three new fans.

20 Black-Owned Hair Care Brands to Shop Now Before Your Next Wash Day

melanin haircare products review shampoo

African Black Soap Reviving Shampoo

  • Value: 19/20
  • Functionality: 20/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Curl Factor: 19/20
  • TOTAL: 98 /100

If we all had to agree on a favorite, it would be this soothing shampoo. The brand promises it’ll hydrate and condition hair while promoting a healthy scalp—and it definitely kept its word. The mix of cocoa butter, shea butter and a host of oils (aka argan, tea tree and turmeric, to name a few) made a great addition to all of our hair care routines. The common consensus is that it's a great starting point when testing the whole line.

Nakeisha: “Shampoos that effectively remove buildup without stripping my hair of its oils are a dime a dozen, but I feel like I hit the jackpot with this product. After wetting my hair, I followed the directions on the bottle and used the applicator tip to apply the shampoo directly to my scalp, and a little definitely goes a long way. I found that it lathered really well and fast (which is a huge plus, since I typically only see lather during my second wash). After rinsing, my scalp felt super clean and my hair felt soft. The best part? It didn’t have that squeaky-clean finish, which usually indicates that my hair has lost a lot of its moisture and natural oils.”

Dara: “First off, I love the packaging. It just looks so chic and salon-y on my shower shelf. Aesthetics aside, the smell is wonderful. It has more of an herbaceous, minty smell than most shampoos, which typically punch you in the face with a floral bouquet. This is definitely a more elegant, organic smell that I really like. As far as the product goes, it really lathers on silky smooth and a little goes a long way. When it comes to curls, I was worried that using shampoo instead of a co-wash would make my hair drier and less moisturized, but that really wasn't the case since the big culprits (sulfates, parabens, silicones) aren't on the ingredient list.”

Chelsea: “A nozzle on a shampoo bottle? Life-changing. The tip really helped work the product into my hair and I was able to see lather almost immediately using my scalp massager. While the scent took getting used to, it was the tingling sensation I felt all over my scalp that made me a fan of this shampoo. It felt soothing and really hydrated my curls for the next step in my wash. Plus, anything with tea tree oil, peppermint and shea butter is a win for me.”

melanin haircare products review leave in conditioner

Multi-use Softening Leave In Conditioner

  • Value: 19/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 19/20
  • Curl Factor: 20/20
  • TOTAL: 96/100

The major pro of the leave-in conditioner is how well it detangles and softens curls. If you’re looking to keep your hair moisturized after a wash, add product to your routine. The blend of vitamins, proteins and oils (baobab, argan and jojoba) increases shine and strengthens hair to avoid any breakage. It’s also a multi-tasker if you’re in need for a daily moisturizer, conditioner or styling cream.

Nakeisha: “Detangling my hair is typically super tedious and time-consuming, and oftentimes I shed a lot of hair. But this leave-in conditioner made getting my knots out a whole lot easier. After separating my hair into four sections, I applied this product liberally, one section at a time. I started from the ends of my hair and worked my way up as I slowly detangled the strands with my fingers. Then, I used a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute the leave-in conditioner—and the comb easily glided through my strands. My only turn-off is that the product didn't seem to absorb easily into my hair after I applied it, so in the future, I may try mixing it with another product.”

Dara: “I LOVE the leave-in conditioner. The push pump makes it super easy to use and it smells like a mint dream. My hair gets TANGLED and matted, and you can feel this stuff softening your hair almost instantly. Plus, you can use it in more ways than one. I used it both as a conditioner and leave-in conditioner (my hair can really eat up a lot of moisture). You can also just apply it on your dry hair to rehydrate between washes.”

Chelsea: “I really don’t like the smell. It’s overpowering and reminds me of toothpaste mint so that was a major turnoff for me. I usually detangle my hair in the shower, but I enjoy that the leave-in kept it tangle-free and hydrated. I worked about a quarter-sized through each section and it left my strands looking and feeling soft. I can definitely see myself also using this as a daily moisturizer since it’s not too thick.”

melanin haircare products review hair oil

Multi-use Pure Oil Blend

The smell was the first thing that we noticed when using the hair oil—thanks to oils like baobab, argan, sweet almond, jojoba and sage. It’s also worth noting that this is not your average thick, greasy hair oil. The lightweight product actually does the job at locking in moisture that can give 2nd, 3rd and maybe 4th day curls. As for the packaging? They nailed it once again.

Nakeisha: “As soon as I opened this I was obsessed with the smell. The lightweight oil carries a faint, sweet aroma and it worked so well on my hair. After adding my favorite deep conditioner to my strands, I added some of the product to my scalp and did a hot oil treatment because my scalp is pretty quick to get flaky and dry. I used my heating cap for about 20 minutes. Then I used it again as a sealant while styling my hair. The oil treatment left my scalp feeling healthier and very moisturized, and when I added the oil again as a sealant (after using the leave-in conditioner), it left my hair looking shiny.”

Dara: “Again, I really like the packaging of this product. It just looks fancy and nice....and it is fancy and nice! I've used oils with much more potent smells, so I actually appreciate that Melanin's Hair Oil is very subtle compared to its other products. The oil also absorbs really well, which means your hands will be moisturized instead of covered in a greasy mess. The same goes for your hair. I've used other oils that kinda just lay on top of the hair and look greasy. This one is so lightweight, you almost don't notice it—even though it really helps keep my hair hydrated for longer periods of time. As for price, a little goes a long way. You probably won't have to restock this product for a year.”

Chelsea: “Another nozzle to obsess over. The applicator makes it easy to work through my scalp with ease. The smell is also fantastic—thanks to the argan and baobab oil mix. It was very lightweight, more so than the other oils I’m used to, which is refreshing since I’m prone to buildup and an itchy scalp. It didn’t feel like it was weighing down my hair and I enjoyed working it through without feeling like I was using too much. I also love that I can use it as a treatment or a great addition to my bath.”

melanin haircare products review style cream

Twist Elongating Style Cream

  • Value: 18/20
  • Functionality: 17/20
  • Quality: 17/20
  • Aesthetics: 18/20
  • Curl Factor: 18/20
  • TOTAL: 88/100

If we were ranking all the products, the styling cream might be on the bottom of the list. The product certainly does have its pros, but it wasn’t an all-around favorite for us. If you’re looking for a quick absorbing cream, this might not be the one for you. But a plus is that the butter blend—shea, mango, cocoa, kokum and cupucau—keeps curls hydrated and defined, especially for protective styles. As a result of the consistency, a little goes a long way, so you’ll have this in your routine for a while before heading to the beauty aisle again.

Nakeisha: “I'll be honest: I was initially concerned that this cream would weigh my hair down because it has such a rich and thick consistency. So, for my hairstyle, I used only a little of this product, paired with the multi-use oil blend (for sealing). Even though I didn’t use much while twisting my hair, I saw that some of the product sat on top of my strands and didn’t absorb easily. However, when I left it overnight and undid my twists the next day, the residue was gone and the results were AMAZING. The cream totally exceeded my expectations because the curl pattern was so defined and my hair looked vibrant and healthy. I kept my hair in the same twist-out updo for an entire week and was surprised to see that the definition still held up. This product definitely does what it says it will do!”

Dara: “So, as much as I loved the other Melanin products, I'm not really obsessed with the Styling Cream. While most of my curly hair products tend to come in tub form, considering its higher price point, I found the wide tub a little annoying to open—especially when you're still dripping after a shower and it's too slippery to grasp. Scent-wise, there's not much to write home about. If you really dig your nose in there, it has (maybe) hints of chocolate...but I might be reaching. Finally, the product left my hair with build-up and feeling kinda greasy, which I wasn't expecting.”

Chelsea: “I’ll admit it’s not my favorite. The cream was too thick for my 3B curls. I also tried using it with wet versus dry hair and I personally prefer using it on wet hair. When it came to using it as a daily moisturizer, it felt like it sat on my head and took a while to absorb. It can definitely be a go-to if I’m working on an overnight wet style. I do enjoy that I don’t have to use a ton of product to keep a section moisturized. With all their products, but specifically this one, a little goes a long way. I actually enjoy that it doesn’t quite have a scent and it was easy to work through and keep my hair tangle-free.”

melanin haircare products review
Melanin Haircare

The Collection Overall

Whether you have 2A or 4C hair, the line really does cater to all curly hair types. The true winner was the shampoo for a clean wash, but the hair oil a really close second, and the least favorite had to be the styling cream. Overall, you don’t want to pass up on this affordable line. Between the price and the amount of product you get (and don’t get us started on the great packaging), the line is perfect for wash day or daily use. But Melanin Haircare wasn’t kidding when they said a little goes a long way. If you’re using the shampoo, leave-in, hair oil and/or styling cream, work small amounts on your hair for best results.

So, do we think you should buy it? Absolutely.

melanin haircare products review nakeisha
Peter Afriyie

Nakeisha: “I’m very impressed with this line of products! I used them all to prepare for a photo shoot that I had the following day and I got so many compliments on my hair. Overall, I'd say that a little goes a REALLY long way with all of these products, which says quite a lot about their quality. But the one standout product for me is definitely the multipurpose oil. Not only does it smell great, but it also works perfectly as both a hot oil treatment and a sealant, leaving my scalp moisturized and my hair full of shine. And as for the styling cream, I was honestly floored at how well it kept my thick hair in defined twists for days–even when there was humid weather! These products worked so well together on my low porosity hair and they will definitely be staples in my routine going forward.”

melanin haircare products review dara
Dara K.

Dara: “As a whole, Melanin's product line is a really nice variation on curly hair care. From its packaging to its smells, the products look salon-quality and, for the most part, deliver on their promise. Since I've tested all of the products, I've continued using the shampoo, leave-in conditioner and oil religiously, and left the styling cream on the shelf.”

melanin haircare products review chelsea
Chelsea C.

Chelsea: “The packing and natural ingredients are by far my favorite things about the collection. I really feel like I can work the product in and get the nutrients I need for my curls. The way all the products come together to keep my hair feeling moisturized all day is a major plus in my book. And the definition! It really defined my hair even after wash day. My go-to will definitely be the shampoo and hair oil in my haircare routine. I highly recommend this line especially for the winter.”

about face matte fluid eye paint review chelsea candelario
Chelsea Candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...
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