The Best Deep Conditioners for Curly and Natural Hair, According to Hairstylists and Editors

Keep your crown shiny.

A guest wears Dior sunglasss, a yellow and pink pleated dress, outside Dior, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021, on February 25, 2020 in Paris, France.
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

If you care for your hair with the best curly hair products, you know that the best deep conditioners for curly hair deserve a place in your wash day routine. Shampoo and conditioner can’t always solve frizz, split ends, and dullness on their own. For curly and natural hair, lathering on a deep conditioner is essential for restoring and moisturizing curls, says celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble. "Natural hair tends to be a little drier than naturally straight hair, so using a deep conditioner helps hair gain those essential oils and minerals that it needs to be smooth and moisturized," she tells Marie Claire.

"Curls need more moisture than straight hair because the natural oils produced by the scalp cannot travel down the length of the hair due to its shape," adds Larry Sims, long-time hairstylist for Gabrielle Union. "The twists and bends in curly or coily hair can create areas where moisture can escape, which is why curly hair usually requires more moisture to help preserve the integrity of the curls." Fellow celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway agrees, adding that the tighter a person's curl pattern is, the more moisture they'll need.

Whether a deep conditioner is used in 15 minute intervals or applied overnight, "it brings moisture back to the hair and helps reduce hair breakage,” Kimble explains. In the long term, it defends against dry, brittle hair while making it shiny, bouncy, and soft.

Ahead, these hair experts share the best deep conditioners for curly and natural hair and tips for achieving the shiniest, most moisturized results.

The Best Deep Conditioners for Curly Hair

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What To Look For in a Deep Conditioner

  • Curl Type

"Looser curls should look for humectants, like honey and aloe vera, and lightweight oils like argan or jojoba oil," says Sims. "Tight curls and textured hair types thrive with ultra-moisturizing and protein-rich ingredients like biotin, keratin, and rich oils and butters." Redway adds jojoba oil and sesame oil are great for wavy hair.

  • Ingredients

If your hair has severe damage from heat or color treatments, deep conditioners infused with protein can close up holes in your hair's cuticle. Across the board, Kimble advises looking for natural ingredients like coconut oil and honey for all the hydrating benefits without harsh minerals or chemicals. "Staying away from deep conditioners that have sulfates and parabens is also a really good idea," she adds. "Sulfates and parabens are known to strip vital oils and minerals away from hair and will continue to make hair dry and brittle."

How to Use a Deep Conditioner

Deep conditioners should be applied to freshly cleansed hair after your usual shampoo and conditioner routine. Unlike your typical in-shower conditioner, these deeply moisturizing products can stay on for up to 15 mins, and in some cases overnight. When opting for an overnight treatment, Kimble recommends sleeping in a shower cap or bonnet to minimize mess while keeping conditioner in place. Then, wash out the product in the morning. "The amount of time your curls may require could vary based on your experience after the first use," says Redway. "The density and length of your hair also play a part in the length of time the product should be left in."

If you're concerned about a hair mask resulting in buildup and weighing you down, Sims advises "using a clarifying shampoo before deep conditioning to remove any existing build-up, so you’re starting with a cleaner slate."

When to Use a Deep Conditioner

Since the best deep cleansing conditioners are so hydrating, they can be used much less frequently than a normal conditioner. Kimble recommends taking a moment to deep condition once a week, or once every two weeks. “People with natural hair should deep condition on their wash days to regain those vital minerals," she adds.

If your hair is really fine, try using a deep conditioner once a week. Sims also recommends applying product sparingly to fine hair, primarily focusing on the ends, to prevent weighing down the hair.

Meet the Experts

Kim Kimble
Kim Kimble

Kimberly Kimble, better known as Kim Kimble, is a celebrity hairstylist, beauty expert, and business owner who has styled the likes of Shakira, Rihanna, Halle Berry, Beyoncé, Zendaya, and others. She also owns her own beauty brand, Kim Kimble, which provides high-quality haircare, extensions, and more—with a focus on keeping natural hair healthy and well-styled. Originally from Chicago, she is now based in Los Angeles. 

Ryan Babbitt
Ryan Babbitt

Ryan Babbitt is a hairstylist with a passion for educating his clients about how to keep their hair healthy and well-maintained. Comfortable with both cutting and coloring, he is particularly enthusiastic about creating lasting, structured looks. He is currently based in Chicago, where he has worked for 15 years, and can be booked via the Klicked Salon.

Priscilla Alves
Priscilla Valles

Priscilla Valles is a celebrity hairstylist and extension expert. She has worked with a number of high-profile celebrity clients, including Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Chrissy Teigen. She is currently based in Los Angeles. 

Lacy Redway
Lacy Redway

Lacy Redway is a New York-based hairstylist. After studying at The Aveda Institute in Manhattan and assisting many of the legendary hairstylists of our time, her career quickly took off. A combination of Lacy’s proficiency with all hair textures as well as her magnetic personality has earned her an esteemed roster of clients including Tessa Thompson, Anne Hathaway, Elizabeth Olsen, Ruth Negga, Amanda Stenberg, Andra Day, LiL Nas X and Diane Kruger, among many others. Lacy has collaborated with respected photographers and Her work has appeared a multitude of publications.

Larry Sims
Larry Sims

Larry Sims is a celebrity hairstylist who has styled the likes of Zendaya, Regina King, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gabrielle Union, and others. A recipient of several beauty awards, he has also been featured on television, including on Bravo's "Invite Only Cabo."

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at