As someone with thin, curly hair, buying shampoo can feel like having to choose between the lesser of two hairy evils: Buy products made for thicker curly hair—which will likely weigh my strands down—or buy products that will strip my hair of all moisture and leave it frizzy and straw-like.
Then there’s the idea that if you have thin hair, your shampoo’s job is to “volumize," which isn't necessarily the case for everybody. “There’s this feeling of lack,” says Ramòn Garcia, a stylist at Andy Lecompte Salon in Los Angeles. “With the way the beauty industry works, we don’t ever see inspiration from people with that hair texture. It creates this whole movement of people not loving what they have and embracing their natural texture and always chasing what they see in photos.”
If you want to celebrate your fine curls, get your hands on one of the best shampoos for thin, curly hair, which won't leave your strands feeling weighed down, dried out, or boosted with volume (unless you want that, that is.)
Best shampoos for thin, curly hair, at a glance
- Best overall: Christophe Robin Delicate Volumizing Shampoo, $38
- Best drugstore: OGX Lightweight + Coconut Fine Curls Shampoo, $8
- Best on Amazon: Iles Formula Haute Performance Shampoo, $42
- Best splurge: Leonor Greyl Bain Restructurant À La Banane Restructuring Shampoo, $45
- Best hydrating: Innersense Hydrating Cream Hair Bath, $28
- Best volumizing: Amika 3D Volumizing and Thickening Shampoo, $26
- Best for damaged hair: Davines NaturalTech Replumping Shampoo, $36
- Best anti-frizz: Aveda, Smooth Infusion Anti-Frizz Shampoo, $31
- Best for everyday use: Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo with Aloe Vera, $34
- Best dry shampoo: Milbon, Refreshing Dry Shampoo, $40
What to look for in shampoo for thin, curly hair
As Garcia mentions, those with thin curly hair are often drawn to volumizing shampoos—which Katie Cooke, owner and lead stylist at Mirror and Mantel Salon in Philadelphia, says is usually a mistake. “They’re just so damaging,” she says. “They pull all the moisture out. Curly hair is dry anyway, so if you pull all the moisture out of it, it’s flat, it’s lifeless. You have this full, frizzy head of hair without the moisture it needs to form a curl.”
She recommends staying away from harsh ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate that strip the hair or swapping with natural volumizing shampoos (which don't pose the same issues). Cooke even warns against detox shampoos for curly hair, “because you can pull all the moisture out of it that you want to build up.”
Additionally, keep an eye on the hydrating ingredients. Moisture is indeed key for soft, bouncy curls—but so is finding a product that’s light enough to not weigh those curls down, says Elisabeth Leary, owner of Whiteroom in Brooklyn. She recommends aloe and banana extract as light moisturizing ingredients and says to avoid products with oils that contain dense molecules, like coconut oil and argan oil, which are often found in curly hair products but are typically too heavy for fine curls.
But it also depends on your hair priorities, says Garcia. Going out on the town and hoping for bounce and movement? Opt for something light. But if you’re having a self-care day, he says, “I would go for something on the heavier side to add more moisture to the hair, because clients who have that sort of texture, the hair just doesn’t feel as soft.” That might include something with shea butter, or avocado oil, which Cooke recommends for the moisture punch they pack.
If you do opt for a super-moisturizing shampoo, pair it with a lightweight conditioner, suggests Cooke, rather than the more common route of “using a shampoo that’s going to strip your hair and then try to use conditioner to fix what you just did.”
Size: 8.3 fl. oz.
For everyday volume that doesn’t strip the hair of moisture and leave it frizzy, Leary recommends this gel-textured shampoo that is specifically designed for thin, delicate hair. Its emollient musk rose oil infusion and baobab leaf extract will leave curls soft and bouncy, she says. It’s light enough to hydrate hair without leaving it greasy or weighed down, and it’s powerful enough to cut through grease and grime without drying it out. Bonus: It smells heavenly, like a bouquet of freshly plucked roses that could double as perfume.
- Provides volume without frizz
- Specifically designed for fine hair
- Appropriate for daily use
- Safe on color-treated hair
Size: 13 fl. oz.
Yes, you can find good shampoo in the drugstore aisle—and at an incredibly affordable price point. OGX’s formula is specifically made to address the challenges of thin curls, with light moisturizing ingredients like flaxseed oil, coconut water, and citrus oil that will keep hair shiny, hydrated, and bouncy. And no—it won’t leave curls greasy or heavy, despite the coconut oil-infused formula.
- Lightweight moisturizing ingredients
- Volumizes without weighing hair down
- Not as moisturizing as the brand’s other coconut oil shampoo
Size: 6.8 fl. oz.
This option from Iles checks all the boxes: It’s sulfate- and paraben-free, adds volume at the root without drying the hair out, and moisturizes without weighing curls down, says Garcia. The formula also contains B5, which helps protect against breakage, and a pleasant, allergen-free white tea flower scent. At $42 a bottle, it’s definitely a splurge, but given how well it nourishes curls, it’s worth it.
- Hydrates without weighing curls down
- Color- and extension-safe
- Protects against breakage
Size: 7 fl. oz.
Speaking of splurges, this luxurious shampoo strikes the right balance of light and hydrating, says Leary, and contains natural ingredients like banana and hibiscus extract. “It won’t weigh the hair down,” she says, “but will leave curls shiny, and easy to comb and form into perfect tendrils.” Aside from curlier and bouncier, hair is left shinier and softer with every wash. The light banana scent doesn’t hurt either (although some shoppers say it’s a bit overwhelming.)
- Almost exclusively natural ingredients
- Softens and detangles
- Moisturizes without weighing hair down
Cooke says this is the only shampoo she’s ever used on her daughter—“and she’s got these Shirley Temple, bouncing curls,” she says. “It’s very natural, but it also gives people the suds they’re looking for.” The ingredients are rich—shea butter, avocado oil, sage oil—which Cooke says helps restore the outside cuticle of the hair, “and gives those ends a good bounce to them.”
It’s so moisturizing that you don’t really need conditioner, she says, but if you want to use one, definitely opt for something light.
- Natural ingredients
- Super moisturizing
- Cleanses scalp without stripping it
- No conditioner needed
- A bit heavier than others on this list
Size: 9 fl. oz.
True to its name, Amika’s 3D volumizing shampoos gives you plumper, fuller hair in a single wash. Albeit weightless, the shampoo cleanses strands from root-to-tip while giving you instantly fuller, thicker-feeling hair. Even better, it’s cruelty-free, made without any harmful chemicals, and comes in a refillable bottle.
- Instantly volumizes
- Hydrates without weighing hair down
- Refillable bottle
- Some shoppers say the scent is polarizing
Size: 8.45 fl. oz.
Cooke recommends this one for clients with damaged hair that no longer properly forms the curl pattern. “I’ll say, get one bottle, use it through to the end, and it’ll really repair the elasticity in the hair,” she says. Designed to boost hydration and shine, the formula contains antioxidants that prevent breakage and ward off free radicals that can damage the hair and scalp.
- Natural ingredients
- Repairs and nourishes hair
- Hydrates without weighing hair down
6.4 fl. oz.
Aveda’s anti-frizz shampoo will leave your mane feeling like a smooth criminal. Made with hair-nourishing botanicals, this smoothing shampoo coats hair for a shinier, softer, (non-greasy!) finish. And with less flyaways, to boot.
- Natural ingredients
- Moisturizes and smoothes without weighing hair down
- Tames frizz
Size: 8.4 fl. oz.
If you’re someone who feels like you need to shampoo on the daily, opt for something super gentle like this recommendation from Leary. Both light and hydrating, she says this formula—which includes aloe vera, flaxseed oil, and derivatives from plant amino acids—leaves hair shiny and curly without adding too much slip or weight.
- Gentle enough for daily use
- Moisturizing without being heavy
Size: 5.6 fl. oz.
Most stylists agree that washing your hair every day isn’t ideal. But thin hair can be especially grease-prone, making it feel impossible to skip a wash. One strategy: Use dry shampoo to refresh strands between washes. Garcia recommends this one for those with thin, curly hair, and says it’s one of his favorite-smelling products, ever.
- Eliminates odors rather than masks them
- Instantly refreshes flat, greasy hair
- Slight green apple scent
- Hard to find
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