Found: The Most Nourishing Conditioners for All Types of Curly Hair

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Those of us with curls know that picking a conditioner for curly hair is practically a science. Too oily, and curls can get heavy and weighed down, losing their shape by day's end. Not hydrating enough, and dry, coarse strands are left begging for even the slightest bit of moisture. Whether you have fine, delicate curls, or a head of natural coils, the best conditioners for curly hair have to be juuust right for your locks.

Best conditioners for curly hair at a glance

Experts In This Article

Do you need a different conditioner for curly hair?

The truth is, wavy, curly, and natural hair requires a bit more maintenance compared to straight hair. Why? According to Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and hair specialist at Visage Dermatology in Maryland, explains that curly hair usually requires a bit more moisturizer than other textures.

"Straight hair grows straight out of the scalp, having ample opportunity to be bathed by the oil secreted by sebaceous glands in the scalp," she explains. "Curly, coily, kinky, or textured hair on the other hand, twists, turns, and coils, so the entire hair shaft doesn't make contact with the sebum secreted. This is why these hair textures require added hair moisturizers, leave-in conditioners, and oils."

That's why conditioner is so important for curly hair. However, too much moisture can leave the hair droopy and oily, so it's important to pick the right product.

Ingredients to look for

Generally, Dr. St. Surin-Lord recommends looking for all-natural ingredients in both your shampoos and your conditioners to avoid risk of over-and-under-hydration. Ingredients like avocado oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, Argan oil—these are all a good bet.

Those with natural, Black hair, may have to double-down on moisture with a super-hydrating conditioner. "Having thicker coiled hair means more time detangling, more hair product, and more elbow grease," Dr. St. Surin-Lord says. "Some products for curly hair include DermHairDoc—an all-natural line, and yes, a shameless plug by yours truly—Design Essentials, QP Elasta, and Bronner Brothers Curl Enhancer. These product lines enhance moisture. Remember, that the onus is on you to read the labels to avoid harmful chemicals."

What to avoid:

"Stay away from sulfate as it will cause dryness," Dr. St. Surin-Lord says. "Avoid phthalates and siloxanes (a type of silicone) as they are hormone de-stabilizers and endocrine disrupters."

13 of the best conditioners for curly hair

Want some more suggestions for keeping your curls happy, healthy, and hydrated? Scroll to find quality conditioners for all curly hair types.

Best conditioners for dry curly hair

A bottle of maui moisture, one of the best conditioners for curly hair
Best for thick hair: Maui Moisture, Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Conditioner — $11.00

Curl types: Wavy to tight curls

Maui Moisture’s ultra-hydrating curl conditioner is practically a tropical fruit smoothie for dry, thirsty curls. Made with ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera juice, papaya butter, and plumeria extract, your hair will relish in the extra moisture and bounce back to life in just a wash.

Size: 13 oz

Smells like: Coconut oil, orange, and tonka bean

Key ingredients: Coconut oil, papaya butter, aloe vera


  • Moisturizing
  • Defines curls
  • Silicone-free


  • Too heavy for thin hair
A bottle of authentic beauty concept conditioner for curly hair
Best lightweight: Authentic Beauty Concept, Hydrate Conditioner — $31.00

Curl types: All curls (and straight hair, too)

This lightweight, yet hydrating pick is great for all types of curls. Authentic Beauty Concept’s Hydrate line uses antioxidant rich ingredients, like basil and mango extract, to rejuvenate tired locks. It also uses guar instead of silicone for naturally sleeker, shinier hair. It’s free of parabens, silicones, pthalates, sulfates, animal byproducts, micro plastics, and is available in three sizes.

Size: 8.4 oz

Smells like: Basil and mango

Key ingredients: Guar, basil, and mango extracts


  • Moisturizing
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


  • Smaller bottle
A bottle of oribe intense conditioner for curly hair
Best deep conditioner: Oribe, Intense Conditioner for Moisture & Control — $52.00

Curl types: Wavy, curly, coily

Like its name suggests, Oribe’s conditioner is intense. It’s formulated with natural butters, oils, and keratin proteins to nourish dry and damaged curls by sealing in moisture for instant rejuvenation post-thermal or chemical treatment. While some deep conditioning conditioners can be too heavy for daily use, Oribe’s is lightweight enough to be used every wash or just occasionally—whatever your curls prefer.

Size: 6.8 oz

Smells like: Light floral and citrus

Key ingredients: Shea butter, illipe butter, olive oil, plum seed oil, vegetable protein, keratin protein


  • Helps repair damage
  • Good for thick hair
  • Detangles


  • Pricier option
A bottle of verb leave in conditioner for curly hair
Best leave-in conditioner for curly hair: Verb, Curl Leave-In Conditioner — $20.00

Curl types: All curls

This leave-in option from Austin-based brand Verb is a great pick for all curl types seeking a more hydration. It is a sulfate- and paraben-free formula that includes nourishing and detangling sunflower seed extract, as well as strengthening vegetable protein. To apply, Verb recommends patting this cream on wet hair with “prayer hands” and scrunching the ends—you can then either air dry or use a diffuser to boost your curlies.

Size: 6 oz

Smells like: Light citrus

Key ingredients: Vegetable protein, sunflower seed extract


  • Good for all curl types
  • Detangling sunflower seed extract
  • Lightly scented


  • Pricey for size

Best conditioners for natural curly hair

A bottle of carol's daughter goddess strength conditioner for curly hair
Best for reducing breakage: Carol's Daughter, Goddess Strength Fortifying Conditioner — $10.00

Curl types: Wavy, curly, coily (types 2B-4C)

For only $10, Carol’s Daughter’s strengthening conditioner is a budget-friendly option for fortifying weak, brittle strands. It’s formulated with both castor oil and black cumin seed oil that rejuvenate weak or broken strands from the root, without leaving it greasy or weighed down. This deeply moisturizing pick is great for all types of curls and can be used either as a regular conditioner or as a mask.

Size: 11 oz

Smells like: Earthy herbs with a hint of flowers

Key ingredients: Castor oil, ginger, black cumin seed


  • Made with castor oil to fortify hair
  • Vegan and sulfate-free
  • Affordable


  • Scent may be strong for some
A pump bottle of shea moisture coconut and hibiscus conditioner for curly hair
Best moisturizing: Shea Moisture, Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner — $11.00

Curl types: All curl types

This luscious conditioner is designed to deeply condition hair, leaving it smoother, more moisturized, and healthier. As its name suggests, its packed with coconut oil and hibiscus extract, as well as other naturally soothing botanicals like olive oil, mango seed butter, and shea butter. SheaMoisture’s formula is free of sulfates, parabens, and silicone—just note that it is on the thicker side, which is great for detangling but can clog the pump bottle.

Size: 13 oz

Smells like: The beach

Key ingredients: Coconut oil, olive oil, mango seed butter, hibiscus extract


  • Helps repair damage
  • Tames frizz
  • Cruelty-free


  • Formula is thick
A bottle of pattern intensive conditioner for curly hair
Best for natural hair: Pattern, Intensive Conditioner for Tight Texture — $28.00

Curl types: Curly, coily (types 3B-4C)

Tracy Ellis Ross’ extra-hydrating conditioner is designed specifically for tight, natural coils. It’s loaded with seriously nourishing ingredients, like avocado oil, safflower oil, and shea butter, that seep deep into hair follicles and nourish from the inside out. Available in three sizes: three, 13, or 29 ounces.

Size: 13 oz

Smells like: Neroli, rose, and patchouli

Key ingredients: Avocado oil, safflower oil, shea butter


  • Made for tight textures
  • Moisturizing
  • Protects from breakage


  • Formula may be too thick for some

Best conditioners for fine curly hair

A bottle of ogx lightweight coconut fine curls conditioner for curly hair
Best budget: OGX, Lightweight Coconut Fine Curls Conditioner — $9.00

Curl types: Wavy, curly, thin hair

This budget-friendly conditioner is a great pick for those with thin curly hair. It’s moisturizing enough to define and condition delicate curls, but light enough to not weigh them down. It’s infused with airy hydrators, like flaxseed oil, coconut water, and a touch of citrus oil, leaving fine curls happy and healthy, never oily or lackluster. Best of all, this pick from OGX is widely available at drugstores and is the lowest-priced option on our list.

Size: 13 oz

Smells like: Coconut and citrus

Key ingredients: Coconut water, citrus oil, flaxseed oil


  • Lightweight and non-oily
  • Promotes curl volume while defrizzing
  • Affordable pick


  • Not as moisturizing as some others on this list
A bottle of odele volumizing conditioner for curly hair
Best lightweight conditioner for wavy hair: Odele, Volumizing Conditioner — $12.00

Curl types: Wavy, loose curls

If your wavy locks have trouble holding volume, check out this formula from Odele. Like all of the brand’s products, it’s made with all-natural, sustainable ingredients that are designed to give your locks a weightless boost of volume and shape. It’s also fortified with amino acids, strengthening your strands as you wash. Just note that this option is best for waves and looser curls, and may not be moisturizing enough for those with tight coils.

Size: 13 oz

Smells like: Cucumber, oakmoss, and ylang-ylang

Key ingredients: Amino acids from amaranth and rice proteins


  • Fortified with amino acids
  • Sulfate-free
  • Natural fragrance


  • Not as moisturizing as some others on this list
A bottle of ouidad curl shaper cleansing conditioner for curly hair
Best cleansing: Ouidad, Curl Shaper Double Duty Weightless Cleansing Conditioner — $34.00

Curl types: Loose curls, waves

If there’s any brand known for its curl savvy, it’s Ouidad. This featherlight formula replaces greasy oils with lighter, gentler ingredients for effortless curls that’ll stay light and bouncy, even if you skip a wash. It can also be used as a shampoo that removes dirt and grime without ever stripping your natural oils.

Size: 16 oz

Smells like: Clean, fresh powder

Key ingredients: Rice bran oil, resurrection flower, butylene glycol (a moisturizer)


  • 4-in-1 formula softens curls while minimizing frizz
  • Cruelty-free formula


  • Doesn’t lather, so can be harder to rinse out

Best conditioners for thick curly hair

A bottle of pacifica pineapple conditioner for curly hair
Best scented: Pacifica, Pineapple Curls Defining Conditioner — $9.00

Curl types: Curly, coily

Pacifica’s hydrating conditioner is an affordable option for taming thick, curly or coily manes. It’s infused with all the goodness your hair wants for effortless shape and volume, like argan oil, hyaluronic acid, and of course, pineapple. Added bonus: it smells like a day at the beach.

Size: 8 oz

Smells like: Juicy pineapple

Key ingredients: Argan oil, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C


  • Lightweight and reduces frizz
  • Clean formula
  • Affordable price


  • Scent may be too strong for some
A bottle of OUAI thick hair conditioner for curly hair
Best for frizz: OUAI, Thick Hair Conditioner — $32.00

Curl types: Wavy, curly, coily, thick hair

OUAI’s ridiculously hydrating conditioner is formulated specifically for thick hair, aiding in detangling without stripping away the natural oils or damaging the follicles. Even the thickest, densest curls can’t resist its all-natural, vegan ingredients, like detangling marshmallow root, strengthening avocado oil, and moisturizing shea butter. Yum.

Size: 10 oz

Smells like: Lemon, musk, and fresh florals

Key ingredients: Avocado oil, shea butter, marshmallow root, hydrolyzed keratin


  • Locks in moisture
  • Doesn’t weigh curls down
  • Sulfate-free


  • Scent may be strong for some
A bottle of briogio curl charisma conditioner for curly hair
Best for color-treated hair: Briogeo, Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Shea Curl Defining Conditioner — $30.00

Curl types: Curly, wavy, coily

Briogeo’s silky conditioner is great for wavy, curly, and coily hair types. It’s a favorite amongst W+G editors for its superpowers on thick, frizzy curls. Thanks to its natural ingredients, like rice amino, tomato ferment, and mollis leaf extract, moisture gets locked in, keeping frizz out while promoting full, flawless curls.

Size: 8 oz

Smells like: Crisp tropical fruit

Key ingredients: Rice amino, shea butter, sweet almond oil, tomato ferment, mollis leaf extract


  • Hydrating on color-treated hair
  • Enhances curls
  • 96% naturally-derived and cruelty-free


  • Pricier pick

Things to consider before buying

Know your curl type

Some cleansers, conditioners, and even hairsprays market toward curly-headed folks using terms like "curly" or "wavy." These general terms may be enough for you but, if you're hoping to get even more specific, a good way to identify your curl type is by using the Andre Walker Hair Typing System. This alphanumeric system helps identify your hair type based on its texture and behavior. Types 2a-4c are used to identify wavy (type 2), curly (type 3), or kinky-coily (type 4) hair and, within those groups, there are subcategories to get even more specific. Ready to learn more? We've got a handy guide to help you learn your hair type.

Know your styling goals

What are you looking for in a conditioner? A heavy-duty moisturizer or detangler? Something lightweight to keep your curls bouncy and free? Take stock of your current hair regimen to avoid over- or under-moisturizing your locks.

Consider your budget

The conditioners on our list come at a pretty wide variety of prices. It's helpful to consider how often you wash your hair and how much product you use per wash before splurging on a more expensive product. If you've got a schedule in place where you're only washing once or twice a week, it may be worthwhile to spend on a pricier conditioner, assuming it's right for your hair type.

Frequently asked questions

What is the healthiest shampoo and conditioner to use for curly hair?

While there isn't just one shampoo and conditioner that's best for curly hair (because curls aren't one-size-fits-all!), there are certainly ingredients to look for and those to avoid. As Dr. St. Surin-Lord tells us, formulas to look out for include natural ingredients like argan oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil. And, wherever possible, avoid formulas with drying phthalates, sulfates, and other unnecessary filler ingredients.

What conditioner is good for frizzy curly hair?

If you're hoping to de-frizz your mane, opting for a thicker conditioner is best. Our list contains a handful of moisturizing options that aim to tackle frizz, such as OUAI's Thick Hair Conditioner and Shea Moisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner.

What is the best conditioner for thick curly hair?

Thick, curly hair often requires more detangling power (as well as the right brush for curly hair!). If you're someone with dense tendrils or close coils, opt for a thicker pick like Pacifica's Pineapple Curls Defining Conditioner, or Briogeo's Curl Charisma.

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