I've been dealing with a mess of curls, semi-unsuccessfully, for most of my life. It's only been a recent swap in my beauty routine that has me paying attention to the products, shampoos, conditioners, and gels that actually do my hair favors, rather than create frizz in the Southern humidity.
When it comes to shopping for products, you really have to rely on other curly girls' reviews to make sure that you're picking something that'll work. There are hundreds and hundreds of options to choose from, and it can be overwhelming. Three popular hair brands that have come up repeatedly through word-of-mouth recommendations and great online reviews are DevaCurl, Sachajuan, and Ouidad. So, I decided to put the shampoos and conditioners to a curly-headed test. I tried each line for three weeks, and kept everything else in my hair routine the same for fair results.
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I started with DevaCurl, who has a community of curly haired gals on YouTube creating and watching tutorials on how to use the products. One of their most popular – and unique – products is "No-Poo": an anti-shampoo cleansing conditioner that has "zero lather" made with hops, peppermint grapeseed oil, and wheat amino acids.
Products: Original No-Poo Cleanser and Original One Conditioner
What worked for me: I couldn't tell you my curl type before I dove in with DevaCurl. After just a few days, there were curls that appeared that I didn't even know I had. I was also weary about using "No-Poo" instead of a traditional foaming cleanser, but it actually worked really well; I could go three days without feeling greasy-headed. There is a good amount of product in the bottles, which is important to me, and this cleanser and conditioner pairing lasted the longest. I also fell in love with the line's light and ultra defining gel, which I still use every day.
What didn't work for me: I actually tried both the Original line and the Decadence line of the No-Poo and One Condition products. While I was a huge fan of the Original line, the Decadence line was a little too luxurious for my hair. It added too much moisture for my hair type and I ended up washing much more frequently to fight against an oily scalp.
I knew the least about Sachajuan, but our beauty editor convinced me it was a brand I needed to try out. Sachajuan was built on the premise of simplicity, going against the grain of a haircare routine requiring 5+ products (and a 0% humidity day) to look your best. This was the second line of products I tested.
Products: Curl Shampoo and Curl Conditioner
What worked for me: This product smells absolutely incredible. It's definitely the foamiest shampoo of the bunch, but it leaves curls feeling fresh and clean without any residue. I also loved how silky the conditioner made my curls feel; there was a notable softness after using the Sachajuan shampoo and conditioner. Plus, I got so many compliments on how wonderful my hair smelled.
What didn't work for me: These bottles are small, so I ended up going through both the shampoo and the conditioner very quickly. While the formulas worked effectively, my hair felt – albeit soft – a little puffier and frizzier than normal. I also wasn't a fan of using a shampoo with sulfates.
Ouidad is known for not only their hair products, but also their haircuts. There are Ouidad-trained stylists who specialize in cutting curly hair with a technique that's kept closely under wraps. The brand also has a handful of helpful how-to and tip videos on YouTube, including a video with Ouidad herself. These hair products came highly recommended to me from other curly-headed friends, and it was the third line of products I tested.
Products: Ultra-Nourishing Cleansing Oil Shampoo and Ultra-Nourishing Intense Hydrating Mask
What worked for me: My hair felt especially clean after using the two products together, and I didn't feel the need to wash as frequently to make up for a greasy scalp. I also really liked that the Ouidad products were free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates – so I didn't feel like I was doing my hair follicles a disservice.
What didn't work for me: I didn't get as much definition in my curls from the Ouidad products as I was hoping for. I had more frequent kinky pieces that needed to be fixed in the morning and my frizz was on higher alert than normal.
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Although there were aspects of each product line that I liked, my favorite of the three brands was definitely DevaCurl. My curls felt defined and nourished after using the No-Poo and the One Conditioner. Now, I add the light defining gel in the shower onto sopping wet curls, rake-and-shake, and air dry at night – and it does my curly hair good. So, if you're taking the plunge on upgrading your hair routine and need a little push from someone who was in exactly the same spot, swap your shampoo for No-Poo. You won't regret it!