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10 best shampoos for afro and multi-textured hair that nourish and cleanse

·7-min read
We picked products that avoid sulphates which dry out hair  (The Independent/ iStock)
We picked products that avoid sulphates which dry out hair (The Independent/ iStock)

Wash day can be a complex moment for anyone with afro, curly or multi-textured hair. Whether you have undergone “the big chop” or love to heat style your curls, finding products that work for what is likely to be three or more hair strand structures on your head used to feel almost impossible.

Luckily, over the last decade the online curl care community has come out in force with techniques and tricks on pretty much all things kinky, coily and curly hair.

Do I have to swear off heat completely? Which heat tools can I use? What exactly is the L.O.C method?

For those of us with deliciously textured hair, the rise of the natural hair movement has given answers to these questions and pushed forward the conversation about product accessibility.

Nonetheless, when it comes to the basics, like a great shampoo, this plethora of online knowledge can sometimes feel overwhelming or even worse, you find the perfect fit only to see that it’s not available for purchase in the UK.

To ease this dilemma, we tried the best shampoos on the market right now with formulations packed with moisture to get in and around coils, leaving them clean but equally nourished as well as formulas that cleansed the scalps of even the most dense head of curls.

We focused on looking for a shampoo with all of the suds minus the sulphates that are typically drying for both afro and multi textured hair.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Charlotte Mensah manketti oil shampoo

Every bit of award winning hair stylist Charlotte Mensah’s years of experience is evident in this shampoo. Silky in texture and heavenly in scent, anything that features manketti oil is worth a try in our books, and it delivered. Less is certainly more with this oil shampoo – gone are the days where we had to douse our heads with product in order to rehydrate our kinky hair. This shampoo is a brilliant deeply nourishing all-rounder, whether you’re cleansing from scalp to tip after wearing a wig or simply looking for a regular wash day hero.

Buy now £24.00, Space NK

Oribe Shampoo for moisture and control shampoo

Curly, kinky and thick coily hair is not always seen as synonymous to luxury, however Oribe’s shampoo for moisture and control marks a fragrant end to that. This shampoo is formulated without sulphates or sodium chloride and instead contains a micro emulsion smoothing system that helped to nourish and smooth our curls, and provided a strong base for a straight blow dry on day three of a twist out. We love this shampoo for its sudsy feel and ability to keep hair clean and nourished through various styling.

Buy now £43.50, Cult Beauty

Boucleme hydrating cleanser

UK based curl brand Boucleme has been taking up space and redefining curls since 2012, and is fast becoming a curly household staple. The brand’s hydration cleanser is unlike most shampoos due to its gentle and low lather and almost water-like consistency. We tried this as a midway refresh for braids and cornrows and the formulation made it a perfect, no residue addition to our rotation.

Buy now £15.00, Bouclème

As I Am Jamaican castor oil shampoo

Jamaican castor oil in its purest form is one of the oldest ingredients touted as a way to promote hair growth for natural hair. Most people who are blessed with afro hair will fondly remember whipping out of the potent oil’s dark bottle before it was slathered across our scalps and ends. As I am’s Jamaican castor oil shampoo takes it just that one step further by introducing the oil into the first step of your wash day routine. We loved how easy the shampoo made detangling our curls for deep conditioning and the creamy texture of the shampoo itself felt as nostalgic as its central ingredient.

Buy now £11.50, Antidote Street

Big Hair Clean SLS free shampoo

Big Hair is yet another innovative UK multi-textured focused brand and its sulphate-free shampoo is sure to become a coily hair approved. We tested this on afro hair that had been styled using gel and hairspray, so we were looking for a formula that could cut through product build up without stripping the strand. It did not disappoint. We loved that it was gentle on the scalp and that it cleaned the hair thoroughly, but it did require more than a few lathers to get our desired results.

Buy now £14.00, Big Hair

Aveda nutiplenish shampoo

Aveda has long been at the forefront of universal haircare, so it is unsurprising that this shampoo works perfectly on coily, kinky and even dense afro hair. We tested it with the full “nutriplenish” range to see if we could hit the curl jackpot and find one brand for all our moisture needs. The creamy yet lightweight formula was a welcomed surprise, but in terms of scalp cleansing it wasn’t a standout for us, nonetheless it’s one we will be definitely be reaching for again.

Buy now £25.00, Aveda

Dizziak hydration wash

Dizziak’s deep conditioner is the stuff of multi-textured hair legends, second only to a good microfibre towel and wide tooth comb. The brand’s hydration wash may not have garnered as much lip service yet, but with its scalp friendly, PH balanced formula and ingredients like babassu oil, we simply had to try it out for ourselves. We loved the fact that the product is vegan and suitable for all hair textures, but we found that it worked best on the scalp and was a little low on the moisture for the ends of our curls.

Buy now £20.00, Dizziak

Davines love curls shampoo

We were sold by this shampoo’s lavender blue colour but we stayed for its hair strengthening noto almond extract. We tested this shampoo on looser curls and loved the way it left them feeling bouncy and springy. It was a perfect base for a deep conditioner and curl cream powered wash and go, but for denser and kinkier curls it worked best as a hydration wash to rinse out masks and deep conditioner rather than a cleansing shampoo.

Buy now £17.00, Liberty London

Ouai medium hair shampoo

Iridescent in the bottle and hydrating in the hair, Ouai’s medium shampoo is perfect for thinner afros and previously lacklustre curls. Instagram’s favourite hair care brand is not just a grid worthy purchase, the shampoo was not only hydrating but also excellent for cleansing gel and styling sprays from the hair midweek. If you have more dense curls or are looking for an even deeper clean, the brand also has a thick hair version in the range.

Buy now £22.00, Look Fantastic

We Are Paradoxx volume shampoo

Circular beauty and afro products are at the forefront of haircare trends more so than ever, with an increased focus on back to basics and natural formulas after decades of harsh chemicals and scents being marketed as the only way to “tame” afro and multi-textured hair.

The dispelling of this myth has paved the way for many brands to search for more natural ingredients, but We Are Paradoxx has brought this over to packaging as well. Don’t let the “all hair types” branding scare you, when testing this shampoo on afro and multi-textured hair we found that it left hair clean, hydrated and nourished. The brand’s refillable bottles make it a welcome change from the cluttered bathroom cabinets, for those of us unwilling to compromise on waste, but are still longing for great hair.

Buy now £18.00, We Are Paradoxx

The verdict: Shampoo for afro and multi-textured hair

We adored the Charlotte Mensah manketti oil shampoo. Its manketti oil shaped nod to Accra and ability to hydrate even the driest of coils made it the obvious favourite. Close second however, is Boucleme’s hydrating cleanser, as it’s a super handy buy due to its versatility.

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