Best Conditioner for Curly Hair: 8 Options to Nourish Curls of All Types

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Dr. Jennifer Hughes, MD
Nutritional Reviewer

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Curly-haired people know that even the top product on the market may not be the best conditioner for curly hair. Not every hair product is suitable for those ringlets, curls, and coils—especially when it comes to conditioners.

Curls are more susceptible to dryness than straight hair because the shape of the curls makes it more difficult for naturally produced oils to travel from the scalp down the length of the hair.

But not all curly hair is alike—from curl types to thickness to frizz factors, choosing the best product for your locks is challenging as it’s essential to find a highly hydrating and nourishing conditioner best suited for you.

In this article, we’ll detail the eight best conditioners for curly hair, including drugstore picks for our curly girls on a budget, the top curly hair masks and leave-in conditioners, and the best options for thick, dry, and frizzy curls.

TNI Main Logo 700x432 1 Best Overall
A bottle of SheaMoisture Conditioner Curl and Shine against a blank background
Best Drugstore
Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Sulfate-Free Moisturizing Conditioner
Natural
Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Detangling Conditioner
Product SheaMoisture Garnier Mielle
Type of Curly Hair All All/Dry All
Cost $10.99 for 13oz
($0.85/oz)
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$10.41 for 36oz
($0.29/oz)
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$12 for 12oz
($1.00/oz)
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Best for: Anyone with curly hair or coily hair that needs a nourishing conditioner for dryness or damage. 

Shea Moisture Conditioner Curl and Shine is one of the best conditioners for curly hair—and it also works for people with coily hair, a hair type that is even more tightly curled, producing small coiled strands that are more fragile and prone to breakage. 

The deeply moisturizing ingredients like fair trade shea butter, neem oil, silk proteins, coconut oil, and aloe vera help to penetrate the curly or coiled strands deeply. 

We also love that it’s affordable, ethically and sustainably produced, scented with essential oils (no synthetic fragrances!), and contains some Certified Organic and fair-trade ingredients. 

However, Shea Moisture coconut curl conditioner is best for thick or coarse hair, as people with fine curls may find the oils too heavy.

Best for: Curly-haired people looking for an affordable and accessible budget conditioner.

Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Sulfate Free Moisturizing Conditioner is one of the best budget conditioners for curly hair—just $0.29 per ounce and easily accessible at drugstores and big box stores. 

Unlike many other drugstore curl conditioners, this product is sulfate- and paraben-free—two ingredients detrimental to curly hair because they cause dryness and strip the hair of its natural oils. 

Some beneficial ingredients in Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish include coconut oil, macadamia oil, jojoba seed oil, and lemon peel extract, which moisturize and hydrate the hair and provide natural scents. 

However, it also has synthetic fragrances, which some reviewers report being a bit too strong.

Best for: People with thicker curly hair looking for a conditioner with natural and organic ingredients. 

Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Detangling Conditioner is one of the best natural conditioners for people with curly hair, but it also works for those with thick, tangle-prone, or coarse hair.

Some of the detangling, nourishing, and moisturizing ingredients in this conditioner include pomegranate extract, honey, silk protein, almond oil, and murumuru seed butter, which acts as an emollient to lock in moisture.

This Mielle detangling conditioner also contains unique oils like the Amazonian babassu seed oil, Brazilian buriti fruit oil, Sacha Inchi oil, and sub-Saharan African mongongo oil, which work together to naturally hydrate the hair and moisturize curls. 

However, this abundance of natural oils may weigh down fine-haired curls.

Best for: Curly-haired people with thick, coarse, or color-treated hair who need a more hydrating conditioner. 

Thicker hair can stand up to heavier conditioners—and PUREOLOGY Hydrate Conditioner is our top choice for people with thicker curls or natural hair. 

In this creamy formula, you’ll find green tea to support scalp health, jojoba to add moisture, sage leaf to nourish hair follicles, and multi-weight proteins to target damaged hair repair and support healthy hair growth. 

It uses synthetic fragrances but also adds natural ingredients like rosemary, menthol, and mint for a refreshing scent and tingly feeling. 

PUREOLOGY Hydrate Conditioner is also great for color-treated hair, as it utilizes a patented Antifade Complex to preserve hair color and has SPF protection to block harmful UV rays from damaging your hair.

Best for: People with dry hair or damaged curly hair types looking for a highly hydrating conditioner to smooth and moisturize hair.

With its ultra-hydrating ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and macadamia nut oil, Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate is one of the best conditioning treatments for dry curly hair, as it can deeply repair and soften hair.

We also love that it uses aloe vera juice as the first ingredient in its formula, adding to the hydration factor.

While this conditioner is great for dry, damaged, and thick hair, people with fine curls may find it too heavy.

Plus, Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate is affordable, vegan, sulfate-free, silicone-free, and has a top-rated coconut scent—however, although the coconut oil adds some of the scent, it also contains artificial fragrance.

Best for: Curly-haired people with dry, color-treated, or damaged hair looking for a deep-conditioning hair mask. 

Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Hair Mask is the best deep conditioner for curly hair, as it’s been clinically proven to strengthen hair two fold after three uses and decrease hair breakage after two uses.

Some of the key ingredients in this hair mask include rosehip oil, aloe leaf juice, argan oil, proteins, B vitamins, and algae extract to nourish, moisturize, and strengthen brittle hair.

This Briogeo hair mask is also free of sulfates, silicones, and parabens, making it safe for curly hair.

While this Briogeo hair mask is expensive, it’s designed only to be used once per week, so it will last you longer than a typical curl conditioner.

Best for: People with frizzy curly hair or those who have trouble taming their curls. 

Briogeo Curl Charisma Hydrating Conditioner is an excellent frizz-fighting conditioner, as it contains a combination of ingredients to tame frizz and nourish hair, including:

  • Aloe leaf juice to hydrate hair 
  • Rice amino acids to strengthen damaged hair and seal the hair cuticle to lock out frizz
  • Shea butter to soften and moisturize hair
  • Tomato fruit ferment to seal the hair cuticle to ensure consistent curl formation and define curls
  • Mollis leaf extract to ensure hair dries consistently, allowing for uniform curl formation

Briogeo also has a “6-free” methodology, which means their products are free from harsh sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, DEA, and artificial dyes. 

Although this Briogeo conditioner is expensive, many frizz-prone curly-haired people think it’s worth it for taming their frizziness.

Best for: Anyone with curly or coily hair looking for a leave-in conditioner to deeply hydrate the hair and manage curls. 

Redken All Soft Mega Curls Hydramelt Leave-In Treatment is a top-rated leave-in conditioner for people with curly or coiled hair (curl types 3A-4C).

This leave-in conditioner treatment contains hydrating and nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, cactus flower extract, and inca inchi oil, which reduce frizz, enhance shine, and improve curl manageability for 72 hours.

Also known as Sacha inchi, inca inchi is a Peruvian superfood rich in hair-loving vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, locking in moisture and keeping the scalp and hair conditioned and nourished. 

While the container is on the smaller side, a little goes a long way with Redken All Soft Mega Curls, making it our top choice as the best leave-in conditioner for curly hair.

Curly Hair Conditioner FAQs

Does It Matter What Conditioner You Use on Curly Hair?

For most people with curly hair, a thicker conditioner containing oils and ingredients like shea butter works best.

Curls are more prone to dryness than straight hair, so more nourishing and moisturizing ingredients are typically recommended.

Plus, most people with curly hair also have thick or coarse hair, so a deeper conditioner can help to hydrate the hair.

What Does Over-Conditioned Curly Hair Look Like?

Over-conditioned curly hair may appear limp or greasy-looking, and the curls may lose volume and definition.

When Should You Deep Condition Curly Hair?

It’s typically recommended to deep-condition curly hair once per week.

Using a hair mask too often can cause heaviness, greasiness, or product buildup.

If you have extremely dry hair, you may be able to increase the hair mask or deep curl conditioner to twice per week. You can also use a leave-in conditioner once per week.

What Products Ruin Curly Hair Growth and Moisture?

Avoid buying conditioners with sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, or petroleum, as these ingredients can disrupt hormones, strip hair of its natural oils, and irritate the scalp.

As curls are more prone to dryness, these ingredients can further dry out curly hair.



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