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10 best products for afro hair that hydrate all curl types

Using a regime that keeps your hair strong, healthy and nourished is a must

These products lock in moisture for voluminous, bouncy hair ( iStock/The Independent )

Those of us with curly/coily hair types will know that sticking to a good hair regimethat  keeps your hair strong, healthy and nourished is a must.

You’ll often find you have a number of hair textures fighting for domination on your crown (often tightly curled at the back, looser at the front), and your hair reacts to the weather, so there isn’t one magical product that will cater to all your needs.

A curly hair arsenal will most likely be made up of: a product to keep your hair hydrated, something to keep your curls shiny and defined (if you wear your hair natural), and a hair oil to repair brittle strands and lock in moisture.

It may seem like an endless task, but once you find a regime that works for your hair texture, you’ll become equipped to manage and style your hair more confidently and efficiently.

Curly and coily hair is often categorised into a typing system, which was designed to help us tailor the most suitable hair products for our curl/coil type.

Created by hairstylist Andre Walker in the Nineties, the curl type system categorises curly/coily/wavy hair textures as follows: type 3 is characterised as curly hair, which encompasses tight or loose curls, while type 4 hair is coily and zig-zagged in formation.

While not everyone agrees with curl categorisation (some feel it creates a hair texture hierarchy), some find it useful in helping to decipher which products are likely to work best for their hair type.

Here, we’ve featured testers with curl types 3 and 4, which will enable readers with similar hair textures to choose products most suited to them.

We also felt it would be beneficial to showcase products that run the gamut from leave-ins, curl creams, cleansers, treatments and oils – ensuring you have full options to curate the perfect haircare regimen.

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.

Camille Rose Naturals curlaide moisture butter: £12.50, Boots

We can just smell the natural goodness upon opening a tub of this. It’s full of quality ingredients, which includes shea butter, aloe leaf juice, castor oil and slippery elm, but it’s the fragrant smell of vanilla that really draws you in. The texture is creamy and buttery, and our tester said she really benefited from the concoction of natural ingredients, which really seeped through her low-porosity 4C coils hair, providing long-lasting moisture. Although it’s a moisturiser, it can also be used to seal double-stranded twists, as it provides a gentle hold.

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Charlotte Mensah manketti oil shampoo: £24, Charlotte Mensah

If you have curly textured hair you will know that finding a good nourishing cleanser is a seemingly unending task. It all starts with the cleanser – it really does form the foundation of your haircare. If your hair and scalp are cleansed, and your curls are hydrated, it will make the business of hair maintenance a lot smoother. With that said, Charlotte Mensah’s manketti oil shampoo is an excellent choice for those with damaged, moisture-starved textured hair. It’s formulated with enriching manketti nut, ximenia oils and citrus oil, and our tester stated that these rich quality ingredients really offered a deep, nourishing cleanse that left her sun-damaged 4C coils feeling soft to the touch and, most importantly, tangle free. It may seem a bit pricey for a shampoo, but it’s very rich in consistency and you will only need to use a pea-sized amount.

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Cantu coil calm detangler: £6.99, Superdrug

Curly/coily textured hair is often prone to dryness, and sometimes even if you apply copious amounts of oils, creams and nourishers to your hair to hydrate it, your efforts may lie in vain. Coil calm detangler by Cantu is a certified curl reviver. Don’t be fooled by the light textured consistency, this effective leave-in really does the job of bringing your curls back to life in just a few pumps. Our tester has type 4B curls, which she often wears in twist-outs and wash ’n’ gos. She cites Coil Calm detangler as her newfound essential that can be relied upon to instantly provide a shot of hydration, no matter how dehydrated and parched her hair is. It’s made with shea butter and has a high quotient of water, so it really softens and conditions the hair.

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Asiam coconut cowash: £8, Look Fantastic

Conditioner-only washing (cowashing) curly hair is a preferred method of cleansing for those who feel that traditional shampoos are too drying. Natural hair brand Asiam is famed for its coconut cowash, having been one of the first brands to launch a dedicated product of this nature. Our tester has 3C curls, which she wears both straight and curly. Her strands have recently suffered slight heat damage due to the use of straighteners, so she revelled in the nourishing ingredients of this product, which contains a dreamy combination of coconut oil, castor oil and amla extracts. Our tester said the no-suds formula took a bit of getting used to, but felt that her scalp and hair were adequately cleansed as well as nourished.

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Shea Moisture manuka honey and yogurt hydrate + repair protein power treatment: £10.99, Boots

We were a bit sceptical as to whether the modest size of this latest range from Shea Moisture would be adequate to condition and treat our curly/coily hair. How wrong we were. The thick, buttery texture of this product really works to penetrate the hair with powerful nutrients including mafura and baobab oils, which are both known for their superior moisturising qualities. As this is an intensive protein-based treatment, you only need to use occasionally (once or twice per month) to strengthen the hair when it feels dry, dull and weakened.

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Tangle Teezer thick and curly: £8.25, Look Fantastic

Tangle Teezer thick and curly is designed for afro hair, and we were elated with its effectiveness – the uneven teeth really allow the brush to glide through curly and coily hair, while gently removing knots and tangles. Our tester says it’s a godsend on wash day when her hair shrinks to even tighter coils and is most prone to tangles and snags.

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Pantene leave-on detangling milk: £5.32, Superdrug

A reliable, cost-effective leave-in product is a fundamental for curly girls and guys. Leave-ins are often used on a daily basis, and it’s easy to go through copious amounts. Pantene’s leave-on detangling milk is a gem. It’s super-lightweight, and in turn drenches your curls, leaving them feeling plump and smoothed out. Leave-on detangling milk is from the groundbreaking gold series range, a collection of innovative products which took 10 years in the making, created specifically for curly, coily hair textures.

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Bouclème curl cream: £9.50, Bouclème

In just a short period of time Bouclème has established itself as a frontrunner in textured haircare due to a winning formula of quality products, caring ingredients and affordable prices. Curl cream is a hero product from the brand. Our tester applied after shampooing and loved the slightly medicinal scent (perhaps a combination of spearmint and citrus oil), and the fact that it defined her curls without any of the crunchy effect that curl-defining products often leave.

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Afrocenchix seal: £15.99, Afrocenchix

The best way to ensure moisture gets locked into coily hair is to apply an oil to it during the styling process. We loved Seal by Afrocenchix because, unlike silicone-based oils, it doesn’t sit on the hair shaft, instead offering shine and softness due to its cocktail of organic natural ingredients including olive oil, castor oil, lemongrass oil, coconut oil and jojoba.

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Big Hair + Beauty deep conditioning mask: £20, Big Hair + Beauty

If you can resist eating this treatment conditioner – it looks and smells like a thick chocolate milkshake – you’ll be delighted with the results, as it revives dry, moisture-starved curls and brings them back to life. Our tester applied a liberal amount throughout her coils and left on for half an hour. She loved the satin-like finish she was left with and her curls were even more defined than usual. She also felt assured in the knowledge that Big Hair + Beauty is a small independent beauty brand with a holistic approach to Afro haircare and a commitment to sustainable beauty.

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The verdict: Products for Afro hair

Camille Rose moisture butter ticks all the boxes: it’s multipurpose, generously sized, affordable and made with quality natural ingredients. It’s quite dense in texture so perhaps suited more to coils and thicker hair types than those with loose curls. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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