Every naturalista knows that picking the right shampoo is a very serious practice. The wrong formula can cause dryness, frizz and shrinkage which may then lead to breakage and that’s a big no-no—especially for those of us whose coils take forever to repair and grow. With that in mind, we consulted an expert and compiled this list of the 18 best shampoos for natural hair. For those just beginning their natural hair journies to the people who’ve color-treated their ‘fros, there’s a shampoo here for you.
18 of the Best Shampoos for Natural Hair to Keep Your Coils Bouncy and Voluminous
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Meet the expert
Ghanima Abdullah is a natural hair expert and cosmetologist at therighthairstyles.com
What should you look for in natural hair shampoo?
Natural hair can be quite sensitive. Minor things such as changes in weather, wearing it out for too long or sleeping without a scarf on can easily make your coils dry and brittle. So when selecting a shampoo for your crown, it’s paramount that you choose a formula that prioritizes hydration.
“Moisturizing shampoos are great. If they can also help strengthen the hair, that’s even better,” Abdullah explains. “Hydrolyzed proteins are used in hair products to add strength, but they can be drying. For natural hair, the protein should be balanced with moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera or shea butter.”
To make sure that your hair keeps its bounce and luster, Abdullah urges that you go for shampoos that have aloe vera as one of the primary ingredients since it’s a major hydrator. However, if the formula you like doesn’t contain aloe vera, that doesn’t mean it’s no good. Other hydrators such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin will also get the job done. Abdullah also recommends that you be on the lookout for shampoos with essential oils like coconut oil and jojoba oil as they provide restorative and strengthening properties.
What products should people with natural hair stay away from?
Anything with sulfates. It may seem obvious because the natural hair movement has flagged sulfates and parabens as a major enemy to the well-being of our ‘fros, but that doesn’t mean the beauty supply store is void of products that contain those ingredients. Be sure to read the label and ensure your choice contains neither because they’re not only bad for your hair, but can also be bad for your overall health.
“Be wary of shampoos that have sulfates, and that includes clarifying shampoos. These are typically much too harsh for our fragile tresses,” advises Abdullah. “Stay away from sulfate-free shampoos that don’t say moisturizing on the label. These can also dry out your hair.”
18 Best Shampoos for Natural Hair at a Glance
- Most popular shampoo: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo
- Best for damaged hair: tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo
- Best clarifying shampoo: Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo
- Best for tight curls: Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Shampoo
- Best for dry hair: TRESmmé Rich Moisture Shampoo
- Best for treated hair: Mixed Chicks Sulfate-Free Shampoo for Colored and Chemically Treated Hair
- Best for detangling: Mielle Organics Pomegranate and Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo
- Best-smelling shampoo: Oway Frequent Use Hair & Scalp Bath Shampoo
- Best sulfate-free shampoo: Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Moisturizing & Detangling Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Best protein-infused shampoo: Nexxus Curl Sulfate Free Curl Define Shampoo
- Best for all hair types: Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse
- Most gentle formula: Kinky Curly Knot Today + Come Clean Shampoo Combo Set
- Best for fine hair: Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Best moisturizing shampoo: SheaMoisture Power Greens Sulfate Free Shampoo for Curly Hair Moringa and Avocado
- Best scalp treatment: Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Strengthening Shampoo
- Most splurge-worthy: Kérastase Nutritive Shampoo for Dry Hair
- Best for thinning hair: Pura D'or Anti-Thinning Biotin Shampoo
- Most 4C-friendly shampoo: Oyin Handmade Honey Wash Hydrating Shampoo with Pure Honey
18 Best Shampoos for Natural Hair
Most popular shampoo
We’d bet good money that every naturalista has had this shampoo in their arsenal at some point. And with good reason. This formula is loaded with reparative omegas that not only benefit the tresses, but your scalp too. It also has rice protein that helps add thickness and strength so your ‘fro grows nice and voluminous.
Best for damaged hair
For the girls whose coils have sustained some serious damage, this offering from tgin is a good place to start. It’s sulfate-free and contains coconut oil, which is renowned for its moisturizing, repairing and dandruff-relieving properties, among many more.
Best clarifying shampoo
Great for when you’ve had your protective style for way too long and you need a seriously deep clean. This clarifying shampoo seamlessly removes buildup and other impurities from your hair and promises to bring back some volume, softness and luster to your curls.
Best for tight curls
Summer heat can leave your hair feeling icky and frizzy, so if you’re looking for a shampoo that can be used on a daily basis without stripping your hair of its natural moisture, look no further than this formula by Maui Moisture. It’s made with 100 percent aloe to help detangle, along with shea butter to seal in all that moisture and coconut and macademia oils for a growth and hydration boost.
Best for treated hair
This gentle formula for color-treated or permed hair boasts avocado, sweet almonds and aloe as its key ingredients. “I am someone currently transitioning from relaxer to natural hair who had super dry hair and didn't realize it,” admits one reviewer. “This shampoo helped tremendously. It's also perfect if you are someone who suffers from an unbearably dry scalp.
Best for detangling
“This shampoo is a great detangler for type 4 hair,” says Abdullah. “It contains honey to hydrate, and the vitamin C content of the pomegranate closes the hair cuticle to help prevent frizziness.” *Adds to cart. *
If you’re searching for a shampoo that’ll have your hair looking and smelling like you just walked out of the salon, Oway’s shampoo is the way to go. Reviewers rave about the “mind blowing” scent as well as its kindness to color-treated hair.
Best sulfate-free shampoo
Avocados: They’re not just a superfood for your body. Turns out they also do wonders for your hair. This sulfate-, paraben- and mineral-free shampoo is infused with green fruit, which strengthens the hair shaft, prevents breakage and provides intense moisture. It’s also made with almond oil which nourishes your curls and gives them a luminous shine.
Best protein-infused shampoo
This entire product line has been carefully crafted to cater to 3A to 4C curls. That means whether your hair has loose curls or the tightest coils, this formula can penetrate the hair shaft and thoroughly cleanse. The best part is, it’s infused with protein which helps keep your hair strong and healthy and prevents breakage.
Best for all hair types
“This shampoo is gentle enough for all curly hair types. The ginger extract makes it a good choice for growing your hair out,” explains Abdullah. “The scent is a very pleasant combination of citrus and ginger. It leaves your hair feeling clean and fresh.”
Most gentle formula
“If you need a clarifying shampoo to get rid of hard water deposits and product buildup, don’t just grab something from the drug store,” advises Abdullah. “Your hair might have a hard time recovering from how it strips. This shampoo will remove those minerals without stripping your hair of its natural oils.” This shampoo boasts purified water, organic mandarin orange fruit, organic marigold flower, organic white willow bark and organic sea kelp as some of its top ingredients.
Best for fine hair
Made with monoi oil—a nourishing ancient Tahitian recipe of Coprah Coconut Oil and Tiare gardenia flowers—this shampoo will revive your hair so it looks healthy and radiant. It’s ideal for the girlies who have fine hair and don’t want a shampoo that’ll weigh down their strands.
Best moisturizing shampoo
With moringa, avocado, kale, matcha tea and green algae as its top ingredients, this shampoo promises to leave your hair as squeaky clean as power greens leave your insides. Unlike most shampoos that need to be followed up with a deep conditioner to truly leave your hair fluffy and soft, this formula can work just as well as a standalone because of gentle and deeply hydrating properties.
Best scalp treatment
Everyone knows the key to healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp, and the rosemary mint in this shampoo delivers on that front. It’ll leave your scalp feeling all tingly and fresh after every wash, while the biotin will soothe and promote growth in the long term.
Spending $35 on a shampoo may seem a bit over the top, but users of this formula say it’s well worth it. “I have dry hair, and with just one use my hair felt soft and moisturized. I have used other Kérastase shampoos but this is my favorite,” raved one reviewer.
Best for thinning hair
Thinning hair can be frustrating, but this biotin-infused formula may be the saving grace. Though results may vary, of course, Pura D’or’s Original Gold Label Anti Hair-Thinning Shampoo and Biotin Conditioner Combo has been tested and proven to reduce hair thinning, so it’s not a bad duo to add to your regimen. Other appealing ingredients include aloe vera, argan and tea tree oils as well as Vitamin E.
Most 4C-friendly shampoo
“Most Oyin products work great on 4C natural hair. This shampoo contains superfood extracts like acai berry and goji berries which help to moisturize your hair naturally. It smells lovely and leaves your hair soft and shiny,” says Abdullah.