This post is for everyone in search of some Curly Girl approved products but doesn’t know what products to start with!
Here are some tried and true favorites from the curly girl community. Many I’ve tried and use myself, but any I haven’t I’ve seen recommended multiple times by other curly girls.
If you’re just starting the Curly Girl Method, you’ll likely have to buy a bunch of new curly girl approved products, so everything listed here is inexpensive! Most are under $10 and all are under $15 with the exception of the blowdryer options.
(If these links take you to anything over $15, it’s likely for more than one product.)
Without further adu, here are so awesome Curly Girl method products for beginners.
This page does contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase something using the product links on this page, I may get a small commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps keep this site running. Thank you!
Also, I follow the simplified version of the Curly Girl Method most directly derived from the Curly Girl Handbook. This means the only ingredients I look to avoid are sulfates, silicones, and drying alcohols. If you have more ingredients that you look to avoid, it would be a good idea to check the ingredients for yourself before making a purchase.
Overwhelmed or in a hurry? These curly girl approved products are for you!
If you want to know exactly what to try, here are tried and true favorite curly girl approved products to get you started.
Here’s what you really need to start:
- Suave Essentials Tropical Coconut – Co-wash conditioner
- Cantu Hydrating Cream Conditioner – Rinse out Conditioner
- Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel
- T-shirt for drying
Here are some other products you may want:
(You don’t necessarily need all or any of these to start, but you may want to add them in overtime.)
- Cantu Sulfate-Free Shampoo (This may be a good idea if you want to ease into your transition)
- Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hair Mask – Deep conditioner
- Mielle’s Hawaiian Ginger Leave-in Conditioner (you can also leave a little of your rinse out in instead)
- Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- Microfiber towel for drying (instead of a t-shirt)
- Diffuser and blow dryer (for drying, on a low heat setting)
- Wide tooth comb for detangling (or you can also use your fingers)
- Satin Pillowcase (for sleeping)
Everyone’s hair is different, so your hair’s response may vary. But everyone has to start somewhere. These products come out on the top of a lot of curly girl’s lists!
You can read on for more information and options for each category.
Curly Girl Approved Products
Curly Girl Approved Products: Sulfate free shampoo (optional)
- Cantu Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Shampoo
- L’Oreal EverPure Scale Care Shampoo
Shampoo is an optional part of the Curly Girl Method, so feel free to skip this.
According to the method, most curly girls can get by with just conditioner-washing (aka co-washing).
But if you’ve been reliant on shampoo, you may want to take time to transition and/or occasionally give your hair a good wash.
If that’s the case, you can use a shampoo that’s sulfate free.
Curly Girl Approved Products: Co-wash
In place of (or in addition to) shampoo, you’re going to co-wash your scalp to remove any dirt and product build up.
There are a few conditioners that are specifically designed to be co-washes that you can check out if you want, but you should really be good with an inexpensive lightweight conditioner.
Curly Girl Approved Products: Rinse out (may be the same as co-wash depending on hair type)
- Tresemme Pure Pro Conditioner for Daily Moisture
- Cantu Hydrating Cream Conditioner
- Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus
If your hair gets enough moisture from your co-wash, feel free to use the same product for your rinse out.
If you have thicker, more damaged, and/or curlier hair, you should probably go for something heavier and more moisturizing.
I strongly suggest going with an inexpensive conditioner when you’re just starting out. Your hair usually needs more moisture at this stage, so you’ll likely need a LOT of
A curly girl classic used to be Tresemme Botanique Nourish and Replenish, but they have since changed the name and formula. The new version is still Curly Girl Approved, but people who used both aren’t fans of the new version. I’m going to leave this link here in case you can get your hands on the old version.
If you’d like to try the new version–which might be good for you–you can find it here.
Curly Girl Approved Products: Deep Conditioner
- Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hair Mask
- Garnier Fructis Goji Extract 1-Minute Hair Mask
- Flawless by Gabrielle Union Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment
You’ll probably use this 1-2 times a week at first. As you get deeper into the Curly Girl Method, you’ll likely be able to cut back. But in the beginning when your hair is drier, you may find you benefit from more regular deep conditioning.
It’s a good idea to stick to the directions on the package, so you don’t run the risk of over-moisturizing your hair.
Here are those curly girl approved products one more time: Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hair Mask, Garnier Fructis Goji Extract 1-Minute Hair Mask, Flawless by Gabrielle Union Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment.
Curly Girl Approved Products: Leave in (start with your rinse out)
- Cantu’s Creamy Hair Lotion
- Mielle’s Hawaiian Ginger Leave-in Conditioner (You can check out my product review here)
- Curls Blueberry Bliss Leave-in Conditioner(You can check out my product review here)
I would honestly suggest just using a little extra of your rinse out conditioner as a leave-in in the beginning.
This usually adds enough moisture and eliminates an added purchase. (I used this as my leave-in for the first two years following the Curly Girl Method).
However, if you find your rinse out is too heavy, or you struggling with finding the right amount to leave in, then a desginated leave-in might be a good option for you.
Curly Girl Approved Products: Cream (optional)
- Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- Cantu’s Moisturizing Curl Activating Cream (Check out my product review here.)
The official Curly Girl Method doesn’t have a cream component but a lot of curly girls find the extra moisture and definition helpful, especially in the beginning when your hair is recovering from dryness and/or damage.
Side note: If your cream is heavier, you may not need both a cream and a leave-in.
Curly Girl Approved Products: Gel
Gel is one of the most important Curly Girl Method products. It’s also the key styling product.
Gel is what will lock in moisture as your hair dries and leave you with beautiful curls that hold throughout the day.
How much hold you need will depend on your hair type and how damaged it is.
In the beginning, you’ll likely need a fair amount of a hard-hold gel. But you’ll have to play around with the amounts to see what works best for you.
Also, don’t forget to scrunch out the crunch when your hair is dry!
Bonus! If those gels end up with too hard of a hold, you can try:
It’s a medium/hard hold, that’s my absolute favorite, but it wasn’t enough for me in the beginning.
Curly Girl Tools
Cloth for drying
- A T-shirt (any old one will do, but if you don’t have one laying around, grab a cheap one here.)
- A microfiber towel
Ditch your towel and dry your hair with a t-shirt to dry your hair. Regular towels pull a lot of moisture out of hair, which is what we’re trying to avoid.
Instead, use a t-shirt to get rid of any excess water.
If you really aren’t a fan of the towel-free lifestyle, you can get a microfiber towel.
Blow dryer and diffuser (optional)
Air drying is best for the Curly Girl Method, but that’s not always an option for everyone. Plus, you’ll likely get more volume if you dry it with a blow dryer.
If you go in this direction and already have a hairdryer, make sure you have a diffuser! This will help keep your curls in place while you try your hair, which reduces frizz.
The linked diffuser is an example so you know what you’re looking for. If you already have a blowdryer, make sure you get a diffuser that fits your dryer.
If you don’t have a blow dryer but are thinking you might want one, there are plenty that come with the diffuser attachment.
Also, make sure you use your dryer on lower heat and air flow settings.
If you don’t have a dryer or diffuser and are looking for something compact, Bed Head makes an inexpensive, lightweight diffuser dryer. I don’t diffuse often, but when I do, this is what I use.
- Your fingers
- Wide tooth comb
An important step to the curly girl method is detangling your hair in the shower.
This can really be done with your fingers, but some people like a little more help.
I’d suggest starting with your fingers, but if you feel like you want to give a comb a try, you can get a wide-tooth comb for pretty cheap.
Satin for sleeping
Regular pillowcases pull a lot of moisture out of your curl,s which causes frizz.
To cut down on this, you can either sleep on a satin pillow case, or wrap your head in a satin scarf.
If you’re just trying this curly girl thing out, the scarf will likely be cheaper, so that may make the most sense. However, in the long run, I find the pillow cases to be more comfortable.
You can find a satin scarf here.
And a satin pillow case here.
For more on the basics of the Curly Girl Method, check out the Curly Girl 101 post!
Looking for more guidance on your curly hair journey?
If you’re new to curly hair care and looking for some help, you should check out the No-Stress Guide to Curly Hair Care!
After spending two years learning and caring for my curly hair, I wanted to create my own, in-depth guide to help fellow curlies create incredible curls in the easiest way possible.
It took me a while, but I eventually found an approach that helped me create a curly hair routine that fits into my life in the simplest way possible. And now I want to help you do the same!
For more intermediate/advanced guidance
If you’ve been on your curly hair journey for a while but still have some struggles, check out Curly Hair Problems!
After spending hours scouring the internet looking for solutions to my own curly hair problems, I found myself wishing for an easier, more comprehensive guide to the most common problems.
So that’s what I created!
Curly Hair Problems offers you 78 total solutions to the five most common curly hair care problems, including frizz, curl clumps, limp curls, product issues, and scalp issues.
Sound off: What curly girl method products are you most excited to try? Do you have recommendations of your own to share?