The 4 Conditioners That Keep My Curly Hair Happy

I alternate them, mix them together, leave them in--whatever it takes to keep my curls under control.

Curly hair can be mad finicky. The deep conditioner your hair loved a month ago could be a disaster today. The leave-in that was perfect when your hair was long sucks as soon as you get a haircut, and so on. It can be hard to suss out exactly what your hair needs on a daily basis.

So, as anyone with their own head full of curls can understand, I’ve amassed quite the collection of conditioners in an effort to figure it all out.

I’ve finally toyed with and tested them all to narrow it down to a collection of four tried-and-true products that I can mix and match based on my hair’s needs on that particular day. Here’s how it shakes out.


My absolute favorite conditioner for every day (more like every three days, when I wash my hair) is Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner. It's marketed for dry hair, a common curlyhead problem, because it contains coconut oil to give your hair serious moisture. It isn’t enough oil to make your hair heavy or greasy, though.

In fact, this conditioner is surprisingly light for how well it moisturizes. I love that it won’t weigh your hair down and take the bounce out of your curls.


Sometimes, my everyday favorite doesn’t provide quiiiiite enough hydration. That’s where Shea Moisture Raw Shea Restorative Conditioner comes in.

This conditioner packs a serious punch with shea butter and argan oil. It doesn’t spread through hair well and its too heavy to use on its own, but it’s brilliant when mixed in with other conditioners.

In the winter (or any time my hair feels extra-dry) I add one to three pumps of this stuff to my Desert Essence conditioner to soften and smooth frizz. This is especially helpful when your curls are disintegrating into a limp pile of fuzz from winter static and dryness. The extra moisture will perk everything right back up.


So what about those weird in-between times where your hair is feeling dry and damaged but a heavy-duty conditioner is too, well, heavy? Aubrey Organics Sea Buckthorn Leave-In Conditioner is the Goldilocks for these situations: just right.

It has aloe and oat protein to soften and keep damage at bay. It adds just a little extra oomph in the hydration department, and it helps to prevent tangles--extra important for curls prone to major rattiness. And I love that its one of these hippie natural products that provide great results without all the questionable ingredients.


If you’ve tried all the above and your hair is still acting fussy, it’s time to bring in the big guns.

The Best Deep Conditioner Of All Time is the Generic Value Products Conditioning Balm. You can find it in a nondescript bottle at Sally’s, but the blah-ness of the packaging is inversely proportional to how it will make your hair look.

This product is an exact ripoff of the glorious Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm, but much easier on the wallet. It comes out in an almost Vaseline-like texture and spreads through the hair like a dream. It’s the silkiest conditioner I have ever experienced that doesn’t contain those nasty silicones us curlies usually avoid.

Used once every week or two, it will smooth all tangles and banish frizziness straight to hell. I would profess my love of this conditioner for everyday, except it's just a bit too thick and heavy for daily use. But the results are so magical you'll wish you could use it every day.

What are your favorite conditioners for curly hair? How do you mix and match them?