When wash day rolls around, you need a shampoo that's going to give you the best curls of your life. Period. And in the over-saturated land of shampoos, that is not easy—especially for women with natural hair. Fun fact: no one curl is the same—even you have several different curl patterns on your head of hair. It's important to find the right shampoo that caters to various curl types and deeply nourishes hair with hydration to keep dryness, damage, and breakage at bay without weighing your curls down. I know, that's a lot of asks, but the right shampoo will exceed these expectations. And who says you need to lower your shampoo standards? Absolutely no one.
Whether you're looking to hydrate your hair in preparation for a protective style or you're cleansing your hair in between a heated style, skipping shampoo is not an option. To save you time and the stress that comes with testing every shampoo under the sun, I tapped trusted celebrity stylists to share what they love using on their textured hair clients. From drugstore gems, eco-friendly faves, to shampoos worth splurging on, click on for the absolute best shampoos for natural hair, recommended by the pros.
This gorgeous bottle does more than look pretty. "It helps reverse damage, boost scalp circulation, smoothes down the cuticle for ultra-soft hair, and it’s sulfate free," explains Michelle Dixon, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. "It’s great for those who need strengthening or have damage, and it’s very gentle, which is important for textured hair. It has a secret weapon, bromelain, a natural enzyme derived from pineapple, which gently exfoliates and balances the scalp to cultivate the most optimal environment for healthy hair. I love that it helps with scalp health."
This sulfate-free shampoo is full of botanical oils to strengthen brittle hair. If you're looking for a shampoo that'll give your curls a nice slip for easy detangling, Dixon recommends this. "It increases moisture retention and smoothes the surface of the hair, which is essential for textured hair," she explains. "It really helps to hydrate and you instantly feel softness after use. I use this on myself and my daughter."
CurlMix is a clean beauty brand that caters to various curl types with strengthening, mosturizing, softening, and growth shampoos. "You fill out a quiz to determine which shampoo is best for you and it even shows a picture of curls, so you can easily match your curls to the appropriate curl pattern," Dixon describes, adding that it's a plus that this brand is natural, vegan, handmade, cruelty free and organic. "Aloe vera is gentle for the hair and this shampoo elongates the curls, so it can really show the length of your hair," she says. "It also doesn’t make the hair crunchy or flaky and smells really good."
Leigh Hardges, who is also a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, also recommends CurlMix for textured hair. "It's a low-sud shampoo that still leaves the scalp feeling clean and the hair uber-hydrated,"
If you haven't heard, Gabrielle Union has a line for natural hair with her long-time celebrity stylist, Larry Sims, who also counts Danai Gurira, Kiki Layne, Lynn Whitfield, and Tessa Thompson among his clients. "Gabrielle Union and I formulated this shampoo with a fusion of brazilian bacuri butter, rice oil complex and acai palm oil," Sims shares. "Beyond smelling so good, it gently removes dirt and buildup without stripping the hair of natural moisture."
Looking for moisture that lasts? This shampoo is praised for drenching the thickest of hair types with hydration that holds on. Michelle Obama's hairstylist and owner of Aesthetics Salon, Yene Damtew, is a fan, so you know it's real. "This is my go-to shampoo for all hair densities," she explains. "It's moisturizing for my curly hair clients and is infused with jojoba oil."
If your scalp is on the sensitive side and you're in search of a gentle, yet effective shampoo, this is what Damtew recommends. "It's an eco-friendly, green shampoo made of chestnut protein to strengthen the hair, and aniseed extract, which promotes a healthy scalp," she explains. "I use this with my clients who have a more sensitive scalp but need some TLC because it's a great way to add protein to the hair without a heavy treatment."
Try switching to a solid shampoo and watch the wonders it'll do to your hair when it comes to moisture. Oyin Handmade is Damtew's favorite: "This sulfate-free shampoo bar doesn't lather and cleanses without strippng the hair of its natural oils. It's very moisturizing as well," she explains.
All naturalistas know this: dryness is the enemy. Name a better natural duo than honey and avocado when you're looking to up your hair's moisture levels. "This shampoo smells so good and it's very hydrating on natural textures," Damtew cosigns. In other words, the scent and the texture provides all the sensorial feels.
If you have colored, straightened, or chemically treated hair this moisture-booster, full of the rare moroccan argan oil ingredient, is what you need. "This softening and moisturizing shampoo adds moisture into the hair, without leaving any dry or brittle feeling," stylist and salon owner Annagjid "Kee" Taylor shares. "It's great for soft curls and extensions, and leaves the hair feeling soft and shiny."
Protective styles are cute and all—until buildup creeps in, which is why you should cleanse with this rinse. "I love Jamaican Black Castor oil, especially for braided and protective styles," says Taylor. "This rinse is great for cleansing and conditioning the hair, edges and scalp during braided styles and under weaves without creating any frizz. It also soothes scalp and calms itching; leaving hair refreshed and styles lasting longer."
If you love a creamy, curl-separating lather, look no further than this sulfate-free shampoo loved by Ulta Beauty Pro Team Member, Pekela Riley."I particularly love this shampoo because it’s so hydrating that it literally can save you up to 20 minutes of detangling time just by starting with this shampoo," she says.
Celebrity stylist Cliff Vmir, who has worked with Cardi B. and Blac Chyna, is also a fan: "[This shampoo] is everything and works so well on textured hair because it hydrates and moisturizes to perfection," he says. "It's an intense shampoo that will bring textured hair back to life, and it is best for 1A to 4C curl types."
When you want weightless, moisturized curls call on none other than Ouidad's Curl Quencher. It coats your curls in hydration without weighing them down, which is why Riley's using it right now in peak summer season. "It carries a balance between moisturizing tight curls without a heavy feel," she confirms. "With the weather being so hot, perspiration and buildup can be a factor—this cleanses the hair without stripping."
Sometimes, your curls simply need a reset, which is where this clarifying shampoo comes into play. Textured hair specialist and Oribe brand ambassador, Stacey Ciceron, recommends this shampoo for removing dirt, oil, build-up from the hair and scalp without stripping your hair of essential moisture. "This is especially helpful during summer when you’re exposing your hair to chlorine, salt water, sweat and probably tons of gels or mousse," Ciceron notes.
This two-in-one acts as a shampoo and conditioner if you're on a co-washing kick. Hence its gorgeous green bottle, it has a minty scent that feels soothing on the scalp. Ciceron recommends this for a gentle cleanse. "Co-washing is a good alternative if you do not have a lot of product buildup or cleanse your hair regularly," she adds.
Oh, the things mint can do. "What I love about this shampoo is that it thoroughly cleanses your scalp," Vmir says. "The mint is so tingly and refreshing—it removes any and all buildup. I also love that it is infused with biotin, which aids in hair growth and rejuvenation. This shampoo will revive damaged textured hair with continued use—I use it on my natural hair and even on some of my wigs."
When you want to fight frizz to make your hair more manageable, use this smoothing shampoo. "It's a dream of a shampoo for hair that is dry and in need of some tender loving care," Hardges says. "It works well for straightened or curly hair because the polymers coat each strand to ensure a soft, smooth finish even before applying conditioner."
Besides being a straight-up sensorial experience, cleansing oils can actually be really detoxifying, like this innovative formula loved by Hardges. "Instead of using harsh surfactants to remove oil, Shu Uemura uses neroli, rice bran, and olive oils to cleanse the hair and soothe the scalp," she explains.