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Choosing the Best Product Ingredients for Your Curly Hair 

From the experts: The best (and worst) ingredients for curly hair + the best products for curly hair too!

From tight spirals to loose waves, natural curls are always in style. The first thing curl experts will tell you is that every curl is different, but there are certain botanicals and natural ingredients that every curl loves. Learn how to cure your curly hair of dryness and frizz with these all-star ingredients, and find out which hair serums, curl enhancers, and deep conditioners are the right curly hair products for you.

shea butter for hair

Shea Butter for Curly Hair

A rich natural emollient, shea butter seals moisture into hair. Comprised of a high-level of Vitamin E, it has anti-inflammatory properties which help with an itchy scalp and dryness in hair. In our Cubica® WAVE curl cream, shea butter was formulated to be a water-soluble ingredient, resulting in an ultra-rich, anti-frizz curl enhancer that doesn’t weigh down your hair.

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organic argan oil for hair

Organic Argan Oil for Curly Hair

The spiraled structure of curly hair means that less light refracts from it, meaning less shine. Lightweight and penetrating, argan oil seals moisture into hair, reduces flyaways, and calms down frizz—the perfect recipe for glossy curls. Because it is easily absorbed and non-greasy, argan oil is the ideal ingredient for nourishing styling sprays, bouncy curl creams, repairing leave-in conditioners, and glossy hair serums.

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glycerin for hair

Glycerin for Curly Hair

Moisture can be a challenge for curly hair. It is a little like Goldilocks—you don’t want too little or too much, you want it to be just right. Glycerin is a humectant that binds with moisture in the air, drawing it into your hair and keeping it in. The result is healthier, shinier, more defined curls. Glycerin-based products should be a go-to for defining curls on normal to humid days, but note that on super dry days the atmosphere can suck its water back.

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jojoba for hair

Jojoba for Curly Hair

Jojoba oil for hair is excellent for nourishing a dry scalp, balancing oil production, and sealing moisture into the hair shaft. Its composition allows it to easily penetrate the hair fiber, moisturizing, conditioning, and supporting healthy hair from its core. Additionally, jojoba oil is well known for being similar to sebum, the natural oil produced by your scalp. Sebum has a hard time traveling on the rollercoaster journey curly hair takes it from roots to ends. Luckily, jojoba oil for hair can easily step in to nourish and hydrate in its place.

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coconut oil for hair

Coconut Oil for Curly Hair

Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory oil that moisturizes and smoothes the hair follicle and improves the condition of the scalp. It can lead to healthier hair growth, and is one of the best oils for curly hair. For curls, coconut oil has the additional value of providing moisture balance. When curly hair is porous, it can take on too much water. Coconut oil penetrates the hair fiber and attaches to protein structures, preventing the hair from swelling with too much water. This makes DIAMOND serum, rich with coconut oil, useful throughout your curly hair regime. Mix it in with your conditioner for a homemade hair mask, use it on damp hair before your curls set, or use a pump or two of serum on dry hair for super glossy shine.

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abyssinian oil for hair

Abyssinian Seed Oil for Curly Hair

Abyssinian seed oil is a super light oil derived from the yellow mustard plant. It shares many benefits with its more popular cousin, argan oil, like detangling and moisturizing without any greasiness. They are both easily absorbed and high in omega-9 fatty acids which mimic the silky effect of silicones without causing buildup. That added slip means abyssinian oil is great for detangling hair and reducing hair breakage.

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castor oil for hair

Castor Oil for Curly Hair

Rich in ricinoleic acid, castor oil accelerates blood circulation to the scalp, protects hair follicles, strengthens hair, and adds shine. Its anti-fungal properties promote a healthy scalp, while acting as a humectant, drawing moisture from the air into the hair shaft. Castor oil for hair is ideal for moisturizing curl gels, repairing leave-in sprays, and nourishing styling sprays.

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What ingredients are bad for curly hair?

When choosing products that help you care for curly hair, take a close look at the ingredients. Just like there are ingredients that you want to seek out, there are a few styling and shampoo ingredients you want to avoid for curly hair. SEVEN haircare chooses to formulate its products without sulfates, parabens, or phthalates. Our haircare products are cruelty free, pH balanced, and safe for curly and color-treated hair. The following sections describe the ingredients we do and don’t recommend for maintaining healthy curly hair.

Choose sulfate-free hair products.

Sulfates like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are harsh sudsing agents that are simply too aggressive for most curls. To read up on sulfates and why SEVEN haircare chooses to be sulfate-free, click here.

Choose paraben-free hair products.

For their impact on hormone function linking them to certain cancers, parabens are also a hard no for curly hair, or any hair for that matter.

Learn more about alcohol in hair products.

It gets a little more complicated when we talk about alcohol in products for curly hair. One of the most commonly used alcohols in cosmetics is ethyl alcohol—also referred to as ethanol, SD Alcohol, or Alcohol Denat in its denatured form. Ethyl alcohols are fast drying, which make them essential for aerosol delivery. However, that same quality can make ethyl alcohols drying for your hair too, which means you want to use them sparingly with curly hair. Many hair gels also contain ethyl alcohol. SEVEN Cubica® NUVO gel is alcohol-free, which is why it’s such a successful hydrating curl enhancer.  

A second group of alcohols—classified as fatty alcohols—pretty much throws that “alcohol is drying” concept out the window. Fatty alcohols (such as: cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, stearyl or behenyl alcohol) are typically derived from coconut or other vegetable sources. They are gentle, excellent conditioners for both skin and hair.

Balance the use of silicones in your hair products.

Like alcohol, talking about silicones can get complicated. Silicones are large molecules that stay on the outside of the hair shaft, providing slip and shine. This is excellent the first time you use a product, but if formulated poorly, products heavy with silicones can leave buildup on your hair. Reading up on silicones, you will see some articles that praise them, and others that tell you to avoid them at all costs. The real answer is somewhere in between. 

Silicones should be used judiciously in a formula, always in concert with very small molecules that can absorb easily into the hair shaft to nurture before bigger silicones step in to detangle, add slip and shine.  And when appropriate, they should be swapped with nature-based emollients like abyssinian oil and argan oil.

One simple way to ensure hair and scalp stay clean and healthy is to add a clarifying shampoo to your hair regimen monthly. Cubica® CLARIFY shampoo is specifically designed to trap and gently rinse away residues left by silicones and minerals. 

Related products
LEAVE-In conditioner spray - detangles, fights frizz, and moisturizes
GAZAR® LEAVE-IN conditioner spray
WAVE curl cream - a sumptuous styling cream that provides definition and hydrated softness
CUBICA® WAVE curl cream
NUVO hair gel - moisturizing, alcohol-free styling gel for curly hair
DIAMOND hair serum – adds smooth gloss to curly or straight hair