If you use regular shampoo on African American hair, it’s likely to leave it dry, frizzy, and unmanageable. So, which is the best shampoo for Black hair?
We recommend sulfate-free shampoo with plenty of moisturizing oils and conditioning ingredients. The first clue is that the shampoo looks creamy, not clear.
Next, the best shampoos and conditioners for African American hair are pH-balanced to protect the scalp and hair from moisture loss. This means the products are slightly acidic (with a pH of around 5) to keep the cuticle of the hair sealed and shiny.
Still, shampoo for natural hair needs some sort of surfactant to remove impurities and oil buildup. If you co-wash, you may still need a clarifying shampoo once in a while. That’s why we’ve included rich, hydrating conditioners to keep your curls defined and soft.
We took a close look at dozens of products recommended for washing African American hair and narrowed down the list. We gave a preference to Black-owned businesses since they have personal experience in this area. Here are our top picks:
|The best shampoos and conditioners for African American hair||Why we love them|
|As I Am Leave-in Conditioner and Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner||
|Cantu Moisturizing Shampoo + Rinse + Tea Tree Oil + Grow Strong Treatment Set||
|Carol's Daughter, Coco Creme Shampoo and Conditioner Set with Hair Butter||
|Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner||
|Design Essentials Honey Creme Moisture Retention Super Detangling Conditioning Shampoo||
|tgin Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner Duo For Natural Hair||
|African Pride Moisture Miracle Honey & Coconut Oil Set||
- 1 Best Shampoos and Conditioners for African American Hair in 2021
- 1.1 As I Am Leave-in Conditioner and Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner
- 1.2 Cantu Moisturizing Shampoo + Rinse + Tea Tree Oil + Grow Strong Treatment Set
- 1.3 Carol’s Daughter, Coco Creme Shampoo and Conditioner Set with Hair Butter
- 1.4 Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner
- 1.5 Design Essentials Honey Creme Moisture Retention Super Detangling Conditioning Shampoo
- 1.6 tgin Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner Duo For Natural Hair
- 1.7 African Pride Moisture Miracle Honey & Coconut Oil Set
- 2 Conclusion
Best Shampoos and Conditioners for African American Hair in 2021
As I Am Leave-in Conditioner and Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner
The best daily shampoo for Black women’s hair might not be shampoo at all, but co-wash. It’s a step up from washing hair with only conditioner because it gently cleanses while it moisturizes. It makes for an excellent 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner for Black hair.
This one might be a drugstore product but it won a Best of Beauty award from Allure in 2017. It’s from a company based in Illinois that donates $1 of every unit they sell to organizations like Black Lives Matter and the NAACP.
The set includes co-wash and leave-in conditioner that won’t upset the natural balance of the scalp. The co-wash makes just a little lather to cleanse excess oil and styling product build-up. It never strips moisture from curls or the skin. Instead, it’s packed with natural ingredients to strengthen each strand and stimulate hair growth, too.
Both products are sulfate-free and paraben-free with no phthalates, either. They’re safe for natural hair and keratin-treated styles because they don’t damage cross-links.
If you’ve never tried co-wash, here’s how it works. First, wet your hair completely. Dispense a quarter-sized amount (or more if you have long hair) and spread it across your hands before massaging it through the hair. Don’t scrub. Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle before rinsing. For ultra-soft hair and extra shine, apply the leave-in conditioner while the hair is damp.
- Sulfate-free co-wash that won a Best of Beauty award from Allure
- Comes with leave-in conditioner for shiny, defined, manageable curls
- Safe for natural and keratin-treated styles
- Brand donates a dollar from each sale to Black Lives Matter and other essential organizations
- None, but might leave low porosity hair limp
Cantu Moisturizing Shampoo + Rinse + Tea Tree Oil + Grow Strong Treatment Set
Here’s a set with shampoo, conditioner, and two types of leave in-treatment that promote hair growth. It’s made for natural, chemically relaxed, pressed, permed, and colored styles.
The shampoo should be safe for most people to use daily if needed. Cantu neatly sidesteps the sulfate problem by using milder surfactants like ammonium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate as well as coconut-based cleanser. The creamy formula is enriched with shea butter, which is an outstanding moisturizer for Black hair and skin.
Then, there is a rinse-out conditioner that detangles and leaves hair shiny. It’s designed to defend against breakage and split ends.
If you have locs or you heat-style, you’ll appreciate the scalp oil with tea tree and jojoba. It soothes the skin and protects brittle hair against thermal damage.
Last, the strengthening treatment is a leave-in conditioner specifically for strengthening fragile curls.
Reviewers say these products smell wonderful and leave their hair thicker, stronger, and shinier.
- Set with shampoo, rinse-out conditioner, scalp oil, and leave-in conditioner
- Safe for relaxed, permed, pressed, and color-treated styles
- Promote growth and protect against damage from heat-styling
- Not everyone will need all four products, but the shampoo and conditioner are sold separately
Carol’s Daughter, Coco Creme Shampoo and Conditioner Set with Hair Butter
This brand started in a kitchen in Brooklyn almost 30 years ago. It’s known for products that take good care of curls and coils. Since it offers a variety of shampoos and conditioners, we selected one of the most moisturizing options.
The sulfate-free shampoo starts with gentle cleansers and adds ingredients that hydrate every curl and manage frizz. Highlights include murumuru butter, mango, and coconut oil. These rich botanicals also appear in the conditioner.
Everything is paraben-free and designed to leave hair shiny, soft, and defined. Reviewers say they’re perfect for taming frizzy, coarse, dry hair. You should be able to see a positive difference after the first use.
- American-based brand with three decades of experience caring for curly, coily hair
- Sulfate-free shampoo and paraben-free conditioner enriched with coconut oil, mango, and murumuru butter
- Fixes frizz and leaves curls defined, soft, and shiny
- Contains a type of silicone that conflicts with the Curly Girl Method
Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner
At the time of writing, we didn’t see any sets with shampoo and conditioner from this woman-owned brand, so we selected the deep conditioner by itself. Although it’s likely to work even better in collaboration with the matching shampoo, it’s an exceptional standalone product.
An enthusiastic reviewer gushed about how the conditioner worked wonders on her high-porosity hair after only one treatment. It’s enriched with proteins and has a clean mint fragrance. Just one bottle is good for several applications.
The protein-packed formula is fortified with Amazonian palm fruit called babassu. It’s packed with natural oil and fatty acids that fix damaged hair. It also has amino acids derived from wheat and soy to seal in moisture and prevent frizz.
One thing to note: babassu isn’t one of those afterthought ingredients listed at the end of the label. Too many brands highlight botanicals in their formulas when there’s only a minuscule amount. But here, it’s the fifth ingredient, and it’s in good company with other names you might recognize like murumuru butter, rosemary, lavender, peppermint, and geranium oils.
However, if you have low-porosity hair, be sure to check the brand’s other options that include shampoo, conditioners, leave-in conditioners, and detanglers.
- Rich conditioning treatment for high-porosity hair
- Features babassu from Amazonian palm fruit as well as murumuru butter and essential oils
- From a woman-owned brand that makes shampoo, conditioner, and treatments for low and high-porosity hair, waves, curls, and coils
- Too rich for low-porosity hair
Design Essentials Honey Creme Moisture Retention Super Detangling Conditioning Shampoo
This sulfate-free shampoo is perfect if you need a way to cleanse and manage your teeny-weeny Afro. It leaves the hair softer and with fewer tangles (if any). It will feel strong and clean and the scalp will be happy, too.
The brand calls it “moisture maintenance for dry hair”. We agree because it doesn’t strip the natural oil, but it definitely leaves the hair and skin clean and balanced. Go ahead, take it to the gym because it’s mild enough to use every day on textured hair. It’s also safe for relaxed hair and locs.
The only downside is that if you go a few days between washes, you’ll probably need to use it twice in the shower.
Pair it with the Almond Butter Express Instant Moisturizing Conditioner to keep curls satiated and smooth. If you use styling products, the Oat Protein and Henna Deep Cleansing Shampoo is a clarifying shampoo that’s safe for Black hair.
- Moisturizing, sulfate-free shampoo that’s mild enough for daily use on textured hair
- Safe for natural and relaxed hair as well as locs
- Reduces tangles, it leaves hair soft and manageable
- Don’t forget the conditioner – it’s sold separately
tgin Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner Duo For Natural Hair
A two-time cancer survivor founded this brand and it’s 100% Black-owned. Women make up most of the team, too. And the brand name (Thank God It’s Natural) hints at its goal to use pure ingredients to promote wellness. We also like that it’s cruelty-free.
But what we’re interested in is how well the shampoo and conditioner work for African American hair. If you have type 4c coils and you hate tangles, you’re going to love these products. They will save you tons of time.
The gentle shampoo contains no sulfates, petrolatum, parabens, artificial dyes, or lanolin. On its own, it smooths the hair’s cuticle and boosts the moisture level.
Then, the conditioner stimulates growth while preventing breakage and split ends. It restores the hair’s natural oil to leave it extra manageable and soft.
- Hydrate and smooth hair, leaving it manageable and soft
- Simplify detangling to save time
- Conditioner promotes growth
- From a Black-owned brand run by women
- Guys may not like the fragrance as much as women do
African Pride Moisture Miracle Honey & Coconut Oil Set
Let’s face it, hair breaks. But this doesn’t have to be the natural state if you’re conditioning it with the right shampoo and conditioner. These products are color-safe and sulfate-free for natural hair. They contain no artificial colors, mineral oil, petrolatum, or parabens, either.
Instead, they are formulated with potent conditioners like coconut oil, cacao, and honey. They specifically address the needs of textured, coily, and curly hair. It’s a promise you can count on because this is a brand operated by Black and Brown women.
- Prevent breakage with shampoo and conditioner formulated for textured, curly, and coily hair
- Color-safe, sulfate-free, with no artificial dyes, petrolatum, or parabens
- Infused with coconut oil, honey, and cacao
- Black and Brown-operated brand
- Not the least expensive option, but it’s from a brand that donates to disaster relief
At last, natural Black hair shampoo is easy to find. It’s time to try one of these praiseworthy shampoos and conditioners for African American hair. You deserve to look and feel as beautiful as you are.
We hope our reviews helped you find the best hair care products for your needs today. Feel free to tell us about your experience with them in the comments below.