Black hair, or hair of those of African-American ethnicity, typically has a curly texture and tends toward the drier side. It has a lot of different classifications under it, making it a highly nuanced hair type. It includes several levels of curls, the variations of which having been famously categorized into a hair chart system and spanning from 3B (loose curls) to 4C (very kinky z-coils). This has sparked some contention on what the best shampoo for black hair should really target, seeing as there is clearly a wide variance from one type to the next.
Black Hair Shampoo: For the Dry, Drier and Driest of Them All
One thing different African-American hair types can all agree on? Dryness. That it’s definitely a concern, first and foremost, and that resolving it is oftentimes a Catch 22. Finding the best shampoo for black hair that moisturizes just right is usually a real-life Goldilocks situation, with most products either doing too much or too little. Either way, a bad hair day’s result is almost always the same: unmanageable curls that are either frizzy beyond control, or limp, flat and undefined spirals that have no rhyme or reason. Below, we break down the most common concerns of this hair type and offer up suggestions for each:
Hair gets its natural slip and moisture from our scalp oils, which make its way from the root down till the ends, coating the entire strand. It’s a more zigzagged process in curly hair, which means that the curlier your hair is, the harder it is to coat and the drier it can get. The best shampoo for black hair is a shampoo that takes into consideration your curl level and adjusts accordingly. For the most part, you’ll never go wrong with a moisturizing shampoo tailored specifically for curly locks. Dove Absolute Curls Ultra Nourishing Shampoo is a creamy yet fast-absorbing formula that, when used with the conditioner, revives and nourishes hair to reveal shiny, bouncy ringlets.
A lot of African-American women also rely on hair extensions, weaves and protective styles like braids that can leave their natural hair brittle and prone to breakage, especially upon removal. The best shampoo for black hair that’s been woven or otherwise heavily styled or processed (i.e. relaxed) is one that also strengthens the strand. The efficient fortifying properties in Suave Professionals Honey Infusion Strengthening Shampoo, when used as a system with the conditioner, protects against damage and breakage and leaves hair 10x stronger (!) and more resilient after just one use.
A shampoo that gently cleanses while still keeping the shape of each curl intact—not to mention shiny and well-hydrated, without losing lift—is key. Body and bounce is the cornerstone to a healthy, volumized curly hairstyle, and a shampoo that gives you both without a small sacrifice on the other is hard to come by. Keep your eye out for natural infusions, which have moisturizing oils that are more lightweight in look and feel. We love the botanical blend of shea butter and hibiscus in TRESemmé Botanique Curl Hydration Shampoo, which gently cleanses then restores the shape of your ringlets after washing.
Looking for hairstyle inspiration for African-American hair? Check out our roundup of fun twists.