The 10 Best Sulfate-Free Shampoos & Conditioners For Curly Hair

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If you were to make a list of the pros of using shampoos and conditioners that contain sulfates, it would only consist of one item: They produce a satisfying lather. But according to Hair Professional Elvin Arvelo, owner of Oon Arvelo Salon in New York City, curly hair types would be better off avoiding them entirely. The best sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners for curly hair will still lather well and they won't strip your hair of essential oils, moisture, and the expensive dye or highlights you worked so hard to perfect.

While hair products that contain sulfates aren't going to do you any favors if you have dry, damaged hair, even people with a healthy head of curls have good reason to avoid them: "Curly hair tends to be on the drier side so it takes longer for natural oils to reach the ends. Using sulfate shampoos will have the results of taking too much oil out of curly hair," Arvelo says. "The sulfates in shampoos can dry curly hair, making the cuticle layer stand up, causing hair to become more frizzy, dry looking, and damaged looking on the ends.” In other words, the best shampoos for curly hair — damaged or not — will arguably be sulfate-free, any way you slice it.

When you use products without sulfates, Arvelo believes that over time your curls will be softer, bouncier, shinier and more manageable. And, if you're worried about sulfate free formulas lacking the bubbles you've become accustomed to, he noted that this "is no longer the case."

These 10 highly rated sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners work wonders on curly hair, and can help prevent your hair from drying out and frizzing up every time you shower.


An All-Natural Shampoo & Conditioner Duo With Argan Oil

Infused with keratin, shea butter, and nourishing argan oil, this shampoo and conditioner duo from Botanic Hearth helps moisturize curls, repair damage, and smooth out frizz. This combo of natural invigorating and moisturizing ingredients can even help strengthen hair and promote fullness and growth. Both the shampoo and conditioner come packed in huge, 16-ounce bottles, so you won’t have to restock any time soon.

According to a reviewer: “The products left my hair soft, curly, moisturized. It felt strengthened. I really like it.”


A Shampoo & Conditioner With 48-Hour Frizz Control

If you’re looking to reduce frizz, L’Oréal’s EverCurl shampoo and conditioner can prevent it for up to 48 hours. The creamy formula is made with moisturizing coconut oil, so your curls will get tons of definition and shine, but your hair won’t be weighed down. Plus, it’s color-safe, so you can use it on natural and dyed hair alike.

According to a reviewer: “My stylist has been telling me to get a sulfate-free shampoo and I have not been listening until now. This EverCurl shampoo really does keep my ringlets in ringlets most of the day. Even the humidity doesn’t have as much impact as it used to. The shampoo smells great and is not drying out my hair.”


A Shea Butter Set For Dry Or Damaged Curls

Deep clean, nourish, and repair your curls with the shea butter, peppermint, apple cider vinegar, and keratin you'll find in the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. This set is perfect for permed, color-treated, or generally damaged hair to remove product buildup and promote a healthy scalp (which is responsible for healthy hair, after all) without stripping it or drying it out. Plus, these huge bottles will last you ages.

According to a reviewer: “Love this shampoo and conditioner, doesn't strip my hair, doesn't make it greasy, it's perfect. Makes my curls more defined! Will continue to use.”


A Vanilla-Scented Conditioner Infused With Silk Amino Acids

Thanks to 18 different silk amino acids, this Maple Holistics Silk 18 Conditioner helps prevent static and frizz while promoting generally smoother, healthier hair. Best of all, it doesn't contain any artificial fragrances, colorants, sulfates, or other common irritants. That amazing vanilla scent you detect? Totally natural. Perhaps most impressively, over 13,000 reviewers gave this conditioner an impressive 4.5-star rating, and countless uses credit it for giving them soft, bouncy, more defined curls that air dry beautifully.

According to a reviewer: “Keeps frizz at bay and doesn’t weigh down my curls at all. My curls are definitely more bouncy and well defined too! This is the only conditioner I’ve ever used that I really love.”


An Avocado And Almond-Based Shampoo For Curly Hair

This sulfate-free shampoo is lauded as creamy, gentle, and moisturizing, thanks to a formula rich in deeply-nourishing avocado and almond oil. Ideal for thick and/or very curly hair, it is also praised for its detangling abilities. This pick has more than 3,000 reviews.

According to a reviewer: “I [first] tried it on my 4c hair and was blown away, I had no tangles and it made the process quick!!! Next was on my 5yr old who hates wash day this cut time dramatically down and kept her from tangling. She told me she loved this product and to buy more which I will be getting the larger bottles.”


A Shampoo & Conditioner Duo That Help Promote Fuller, Thicker Hair

If you're concerned about thinning hair or have noticed your curls are so damaged that breakage has become an issue, the DermaChange Organic Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner will help by using botanicals like aloe vera, coconut extract, and vitamin B5, all of which combine to help create stronger hair and a healthier scalp. Reviewers say it works wonders in helping hair shedding and breakage — it has over 3,000 reviewers.

According to a reviewer: “I've been using this product for a few months. My hair feels thicker, and my natural curls are even more curly.”


A Sulfate-Free Take On A Classic Drugstore Favorite

For a budget-friendly pick, drugstore favorite Herbal Essences recently came out with this sulfate-free take on their classic shampoo and conditioner. This set uses honey and vitamin B to restore moisture — always essential for curly hair — and it also smells delicious. The big bottles are long-lasting, and the nostalgic packaging will look a treat in any shower.

According to a reviewer: “The smell is clean and fragrant without being overpowering. My hair is dry and curly and I have to be careful of shampoos & conditioners that are too heavy and weigh my hair down. This one is perfect and I highly recommend for both dry and normal hair.”


A Thirst-Quenching Shampoo Made Specifically For Dry, Curly Hair

Made from a beloved Brooklyn-based brand, this yummy-smelling shampoo was formulated with dry, curly hair in mind. It contains a blend of coconut oil, coconut milk, and mango butter to deeply nourish and soften all types of curls, but uses no harsh ingredients, like parabens and sulfates.

According to a reviewer: “Gives you shiny bouncy curls! My mane was dry and brittle. After a week there was a visible difference my hair was silky smooth and shiny!”


An Under-$4 Shampoo That's Free Of Silicones, Too

It doesn't get much better at this price point: Garnier's Curl Nourish shampoo is free of sulfates and silicones, it's full of moisturizing ingredients (like coconut oil and glycerin), it smells delicious and fresh, and it boasts rave reviews from Amazon customers. Pair it with the matching conditioner, found here.

According to a reviewer: “My curls have never looks so good!! A must buy!!”


A Deep-Conditioning Hair Mask With A Heavenly Scent

If you have curly hair, here's a tip: You might want to consider using a hair mask in place of conditioner. (Hair masks are basically just super-powered conditioners, which is exactly what curly hair types need.) This conditioner, from Brooklyn-based brand amika, is made with a blend of antioxidant-rich botanicals and vitamins to restore, moisturize, and detangle dry, damaged, or generally unruly hair. In addition to leaving hair silky-smooth, manageable, and soft, this mask smells delicious. It's pricey, sure — but a little goes a long way, and reviewers say it's well worth the splurge.

According to a reviewer: “This has made such a difference in my hair it's almost unbelievable. It toned down the frizz and brought back my curls. I have fine curly hair and this stuff works like a dream.”


Hair Professional Elvin Arvelo, owner of Oon Arvelo Salon in New York City