Monday, 11 February 2019

curly haircare products i've tried - a working list : shampoo & conditioner

someone on Instagram asked if i had a working document of products i’ve tried and my thoughts on them. so, today i thought i’d start it, for you to reference whenever you like.

if you’ve got similar hair to me then you’ll know that products can be hit or miss, and that a lot of them can weigh it down or make it feel greasy.

if you don't know what type of hair you have, then check out my YouTube video about figuring out my hair porosity, density, thickness and curl type, because all of these play a factor in which types of products work for your hair - and if you're similar to me then you'll find this list super useful, and i hope you save it somewhere so you can keep it as a reference guide (i'd also love for you to recommend products that might work in the comments below!).

i've also added links to where you can pick them up, just to make it a bit more convenient for you to find the exact thing i've tried. some of these are affiliate links, which means they throw me a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to yourself, and that enables me to continue making content for you.

for each product, i'll give it a star rating, tell you if it's 100% Curly Girl approved (i've put it through, and also give you my opinion + thoughts based on using it with my hair type. i've ordered them by my most favourite to my least favourite, so if you want to know my HG, you'll find it at the top of each list!

ps. HG stands for 'Holy Grail', and I've listed which my current top HG products are in the mini reviews ;)

below you'll find my favourite and least favourite shampoos and conditioners, i've now separated (because it was getting SO long) the other products into new pages:
  • Calia Purifying Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    Cleanses beautifully, lovely ingredients and fab brand, my HG shampoo - a little pricey but worth the investment, also a little hard to source in the UK (I get it shipped from the continent).
  • Rye Flour Hair Wash - see my Youtube video for rye flour shampoo tutorial
    *****, CG approved
    I love this easy-to-make, DIY natural hair wash, made simply out of rye flour and water. It gets my hair as clean as a standard shampoo but at a fraction of the cost, plus it's zero waste.
  • Not Your Mother's Naturals (NYM) Blue Sea Kale & Coconut Water Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I love how this doesn't strip the hair, but yet gets it feeling really clean. The smell is divine too. It lathers great, much like a conventional shampoo, and adds great shine.
  • Bentley Organic HydraVitality Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (sodium coco-sulfate, alcohol)
    This is a cheaper option for those who still want a 'natural' brand - it cleanses well, lathers a good amount, and doesn't leave a residue at all. My hair loves it. The only problem is that the pump dispenser doesn't work perfectly.
  • Shea Moisture Black Castor Strengthen & Restore Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (hydrolyzed vegetable protein pg-propyl silanetriol - a silicone)
    This works great for my hair, and is so easy to find around the globe. The silicone included is one that is a protein and silicone blend that helps fortify and strengthen the bonds in the hair - so if you don't mind silicones (and your hair doesn't) then this is a great one.
  • Only Curls All Curl Cleanser - (International)
    *****, CG approved
    This is a fab cleanser, not cheap, but it cleans without stripping the hair, and doesn't leave any frizz.
  • Childs Farm Strawberry & Mint Sensitive Shampoo - (US/UK)
    ****, not CG friendly (sodium coco-sulfate, alcohol)
    I find this shampoo works beautifully on my hair as a clarifying shampoo (which I use most wash days tbh), but it got demoted for its ingredients list - it will likely dry my hair over time.
  • Beauty Kubes Shampoo for Normal to Dry Hair - (US/UK)
    ****, probably CG friendly (sodium cocoyl glutamate)
    I actually love these shampoo cubes for washing my hair. They're light and portable, easy to use and plastic free.
  • Boucleme Curl Cleanser - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I don't find this washes deeply enough, but it's certainly better than the below Boucleme alternative. High cost-per-use.
  • Rhassoul Clay - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I did a video with my brother and niece where we washed our curly hair with just plain clay - one of the best things to remove product build up and give some definition to your curls, plus it absorbs oils really beautifully afterwards. But it's hard to use and can be drying for the hair.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    Left a residue that meant that my hair needed to be washed more regularly, but looked great on wash day.
  • As I Am Coconut CoWash - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    When I used to straighten my hair I really loved this cowash, but now I'm curly I actually really don't love it. I find it doesn't clean well, sits heavy on my hair and is a bit too chemical smelling for me.
  • Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    I've also tried the 50/50 Balancing Shampoo, and I regret to say they're similarly bad, although the smell of the Tea Tree is much better. They leave hair frizzy, and none of us curly girls want that.
  • Boucleme Hydrating Hair Cleanser - (US/UK)
    ** , CG approved
    Did not cleanse my hair well at all, would perhaps work for someone who doesn't use much product or who has very fine hair, or who has the patience to scrub it into their roots for 5 whole minutes.
  • Tabitha James Kraan Hair Cleanser - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    The most expensive hair cleanser I've tried, and I really didn't think it was worth the pricetag (thankfully I only bought a trial size). It says 'It's not a shampoo' on the website, and it's right that it doesn't lather, but it also doesn't really clean...
  • Not Your Mother’s Naturals (NYM) Blue Sea Kale and Coconut Water Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    This is my new fave, because it's reasonably priced, has lots of slip, smells amazing, and it's only flaw is that the pump dispenser isn't that great. I love this conditioner.
  • Only Curls All Curl Conditioner - (International)
    *****, CG approved
    This conditioner doesn't weigh down hair, instead it super hydrates the hair. It's only downside is the price tag.
  • Inecto Naturals Coconut Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, not CG friendly (isopropyl alcohol)
    Demoted for it's one drying alcohol ingredient, but my hair seems to love it anyway and this is also the cheapest conditioner on the list. It's also my HG.
  • Tresemme Botanique Nourish & Replenish Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I used this in my recent 'Trying Curly Susie' routine' video, as I probably wouldn't have reached for it otherwise. But it's a lovely conditioner, lots of slip, and washes out without leaving residue. You can't get much better for the price (and Susie agrees with me).
  • Bentley Organic HydraVitality Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    This conditioner doesn't have huge slip, but always makes my curls look healthy and shiny anyway.
  • Boucleme Curl Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I like this product, but I don't love it. It's ok, but it's a little bit heavy. I wanted more from it for the price that I paid.
  • Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    Not as bad as their 50/50 Conditioner in terms of the smell, but literally doesn't seem to do a thing for your hair - no hydration, no moisture, no definition. 
  • Bar None Hydrating Conditioner Bar - (US)
    **, CG approved
    I was supposed to love this bar, it's zero waste and easy to travel with. BUT, it just doesn't do anything for my hair but weigh it down. It is possible to use it though, that's why I gave it two stars, because if you're desperate for a bar conditioner, this does work better than some others, and at least it's easy enough to use.
  • Tabitha James Kraan 4 in 1 Conditioner - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    I really found this conditioner had no slip, and I needed a lot of product to coat my hair. It also left a residue on my hair.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    Leaves too much product residue in my hair, so it gets weighed down easily. Not great for fine hair.

things i've got sat on my shelf waiting to review:
  • Noughty Wave Hello Curl Shampoo & Conditioner
If you'd like to see more in-depth reviews and routines, please hop on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe.

Please feel free to make suggestions for other products I should try! The curly girl community on the web is INCREDIBLE and there are so many products T would never have found if it weren't for the recommendations of other people, so please let me know your favourites below…

Otherwise, have a lovely day and thank you for reading x


  1. Have you considered reviewing Aveda Be Curly line or the pomades? Some of the products are CG and some aren't, but for me I found out that my hair actually really needs and likes silicone (1.5 years of CG took my hair from 3A to a type 1) and I would be interested to see how you would use them. Disclaimer! They are pricey, however they are at the same price point as DevaCurl and I need significantly less product, so they have a better value (at least for me). CG isn't right for everyone, but I would completely understand if the silicone, sulfates, and/or price deter you from reviewing them though! (These are all valid pints, especially the price!)

  2. Thank you so much for creating this list, I've found it so helpful. My hair type is very similar to yours so I always come back to it ♥

  3. Hi, thanks for this resource, it's very helpful. I wanted to know whether you rate the calia purifying conditioner as highly as the shampoo..I want to order but I wanted to get your take on it first.

    1. I definitely don't rate it as well, I didn't feel like it was moisturising enough at the time, but I tried it very early on when my hair was super thirsty!


Thanks for leaving a lovely comment - have a wonderful day ♥