Shopping

The 7 Best Kids’ Shampoos For Curly Hair

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

A little girl with light curly hair is laughing and sitting in the bathroom. Close-up portrait. Chil...
Shutterstock

Curly hair on kids is adorable, but as you know, those lovely ringlets require the right maintenance and care. Finding a shampoo that cleans without drying out those curls can be just as challenging as trying to get kids into the bath (or shower) — but not if you know what to look for. Scary Mommy reached out to dermatologist Dr. Nava Greenfield, M.D., to better understand ingredients and what to look for when seeking the best kids’ shampoos for curly hair.

The Expert

Dr. Nava Greenfield is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a mom of four young children. Dr. Greenfield’s work has been published in several medical journals, including The Journal of Dermatological Treatment.

What To Consider When Shopping For The Best Kids’ Shampoo For Curly Hair?

Ingredients

Because curly hair is prone to drying out, which can lead to unwanted frizz, Dr. Greenfield advises looking for ingredients that are intensely hydrating. “Mango and shea butters, jojoba, and primrose oil are some of the ingredients that can make a product work well and stay hydrated,” Dr. Greenfield says. She also recommends using gentle products that are naturally sourced and have few preservatives. That means trying to avoid sulfates, parabens, and other harsh ingredients that can be drying.

Toddler Vs. Big Kid Hair

If you’re shopping for a younger kiddo, know that toddler hair differs from older kids’ hair, so that’s something to keep in mind when you’re shopping for shampoos. “Toddler scalps are more sensitive and their hair has not fully grown in,” Dr. Greenfield says. “I stick with recommending products that have minimal fragrance and have more hydrating versus soapy ingredients [for this age group].”

And because getting your kid in the bath in the first place — and to later sit for detangling hair — can feel like enough of a victory, it might be worth seeking out a gentle shampoo that keeps bath a no-tears zone.

“Most shampoos labeled for children contain a chemical that minimizes the burning sensation if the suds run into the eyes. [...] Not all adult shampoos contain this ingredient, so they might cause a bit more stinging if they get into children’s eyes,” according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, in an interview with our sister site, Fatherly. For your convenience, we’ve noted below which picks are formulated to be tear-free.

With all that in mind, it’s time to find the kids’ shampoos that will keep your little one’s curls as bouncy and full of life as they are.

01

The Overall Best Shampoo For Curly Hair

  • Tear-Free: No

This kids’ shampoo is ultra-gentle and ultra-hydrating for curls. It restores and hydrates curls with powerful ingredients, like keratin to add a protective barrier, plum seed oil to bond and seal hair cuticles, watermelon seed oil to add shine and soothe scalps, and olive oil to protect and strengthen hair and reduces breakage. And it’s made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, gluten, and synthetic colors or dyes. This shampoo also maintains an impressive 4.5-star rating with over 4,500 reviews on Amazon.

Helpful review: “My daughter has really curly hair and regular shampoo would just make it frizzy. Enter So Cozy Curl Shampoo! Her hair is soft and her curls are so pretty with this shampoo! It smells lovely too!”

02

The Best Drugstore Shampoo & Conditioner Set

  • Tear-Free: No

This Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner set is a fan favorite that contains mango butter, carrot oil, coconut oil, olive oil, organic shea butter, and vitamins B-5 and E to intensely moisturize, soften, and protect curly hair. It gently cleanses and detangles, so your kiddo’s curls stay bouncy and defined. It’s free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicones, too.

Helpful review: “This is perfect for thick wavy/ curly hair! My sweet girls curls are always tangled. She absolutely hates having her hair brushed. I used the shampoo then conditioner and she did not complain much about me brushing it while wet. She then let me blow dry it and out came the softest curls ever! The real test is the next morning. She did not wake up with matted hair this morning like she typically does. I love this stuff!”

03

The Most Affordable Shampoo For Curly Hair

  • Tear-Free: Yes

For a bigger bottle (the largest one on this list by three to five ounces) at a lower price, pick up this budget-friendly curl-defining shampoo. The tear-free shampoo is designed to be gentle on little eyes, and the hypoallergenic formula contains shea butter to moisturize curls and waves, which helps detangle and add definition. And has no parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or dyes.

Helpful review: “Love this product. My daughter has real curly hair and I love it. This product helps maintain those curls. Awesome price and product well worth it”

04

The Best Shampoo Set For Coily Hair

  • Tear-Free: Yes

For tight curls and coils, this shampoo set has everything you need from cleansing to conditioning. The set includes a tear-free shampoo, a nourishing conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and a conditioning detangling spray. The products are all made with shea butter, coconut oil, and honey for deep hydration, and they are free of harsh ingredients like sulfates, gluten, parabens, and mineral oil.

Helpful review: “My daughters hair is WAY more manageable since I have been using these products. I am not familiar with taking care of tight, curly hair, so I needed products that did the work for me. The leave in conditioner in the tub is worth its weight in gold. It leaves her hair wayyyyyy less frizzy and the curls don’t may on her head. The spray conditioner is awesome when I’m trying to leave her hair down and get rid of the snarls.”

05

The Best Curly Hair Shampoo For Sensitive Skin

  • Tear-Free: Yes

For curly-haired kids with sensitive scalps, try this gentle curly hair shampoo from Aveeno. It’s made with oat extract and shea butter to hydrate while cleansing, leaving curls more manageable and defined. The tear-free formula is hypoallergenic and free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and dyes.

Helpful review: “I felt like this was a gentle cleanser no scent and my son's curls were poppin and soft. He has eczema and sensitive skin so gentle is a must.”

06

The Best Shampoo For Multi-Textured Hair

  • Tear-Free: Yes

Designed by two women of mixed race who struggled to find the right products for their curls, they designed this shampoo for kids with curls, twists, and waves. Sulfate-free and specially formulated for kids, this gentle shampoo for curls will clean hair, reduce frizz, and maintain curl definition. It won’t weigh down curls and will leave hair soft and moisturized.

Helpful review: “Works great for my kids hair, no tears and they are doing well being able to start washing on their own since they aren't afraid of the shampoo. It cleans well but doesn't strip too much oil which is perfect for their hair types. I can tell it is clean but it doesn't do any damage in the process. We have multiple types of hair that we wash from super kinky with very very tight curls, to almost straight but very coarse and then a slight curly with just a little coarseness to it. Works for everyone. The conditioner is great too!”

07

The Best Travel Shampoo Set For Curly Hair

  • Tear-Free: No

Maintaining your child’s curls is just as important when you’re away from home, and there’s the travel curl shampoo kit with everything you need for curl care on the go: shampoo, conditioner, and styling spray gel. Fairy Tales delivers deeply hydrating products made with quinoa, avocado butter, and jojoba oil to nourish curls and leave a rosemary and aloe scent. The formula is free of sulfates, parabens, gluten, and nuts. It’s also available in several standard-sized sets, too.

Helpful review: “I now use this on my 11 month old via the recommendation of my amazing hair stylist and am SO impressed... It has pleasant smell. It kind of reminds me of a green apple in a way. Very moisturizing and I noticed a difference after just ONE wash. After 3 washes, I have noticed her curls are so much softer, more loose instead of smashed against her head. Which is exactly what she needed being in a car seat and stroller from time to time. Definitely recommend.”

The Expert:

Dr. Nava Greenfield, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.