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How To Select The Best Shampoo For Your Natural Curls

How To Select The Best Shampoo For Your Natural Curls

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When it comes to cleansing, your curls deserve the very best. That means looking for curly hair shampoo formulas crafted with gentle, nourishing ingredients that penetrate the hair shaft for a deeper clean & long-lasting hydration. 

If you’re left wondering, “What shampoo should I use?” stop searching for a one-size-fits-all solution. By understanding the distinctive beauty & needs of your cascading curls , you can give your tresses tons of moisture.

Read on to explore how to uncover your curl type & search for the best shampoo based on your hair’s porosity. We’ll help you consider factors like scalp health & moisture balance to ensure you find the right hair-washing formula for your curls. 

Understanding Your Curl Type

Before you can find the best shampoo for your strands, it’s important to analyze your curl type so you know just what your crown needs. Whether your hair goals include maintaining  the volume, stimulating hair growth or locking in essential hydration, knowing your curl pattern can help you achieve & sustain  healthy, thriving strands.

So, what is a curl pattern? It’s a simple classification that helps you determine whether you have tight coils, loose waves or something in between. Every curl type has a letter (A through C) & a number (2 through 4—type 1s have straight hair rather than curls or waves). Here’s a breakdown of the primary curl types, to help you decode the joyous mystery of your strands:

Type 2 Hair

If you have type 2 hair, your strands are full of romantic waves, identified by their distinct S-shape. Here’s a look at the sub-categories of type 2 waves:

  • 2A – 2A waves offer a featherlight, subtle texture that’s versatile, allowing for effortless natural styling or gentle transformation into a blowout  (using PATTERN’s Heat Protectant, of course). When you want to embrace your soft 2A waves, look for a gentle cleanser that penetrates the scalp, like PATTERN’s Cleansing Shampoo. Not only does a clarifying shampoo help remove any excess sebum (the natural oil your scalp makes), it can also encourage volume & lift at your roots. 
  • 2B – 2B waves are slightly thicker than their 2A sister & may be more prone to holding their shape. You’ll notice their S-shape takes form about halfway down your strands, offering an effortless beach-babe vibe. 
  • 2C – If you have 2C hair, your tresses are somewhere between waves & curls. You’ll want to look for hair products that support the sky-high volume you’re after, while keeping your strands hydrated so they maintain their flawless shine & definition. 

This versatile texture calls for light styling & hair care products that don’t weigh down their juicy shape, & instead offering enough hold to encourage their natural texture to bounce & play.

Type 3 Hair

The quintessential ringlet curl, type 3 hair varies from looser, thicker curls to tight & bouncy curlicues . Here’s a look at the three sub-categories of type 3 curls:

  • 3A – 3A curls form dense , shiny loops, creating curl clusters  that are about an inch in diameter. To embrace your natural 3A pattern, focus on products that support & emphasize the texture of your strands without weighing them down. Besides a hydrating shampoo & conditioner duo, opt for nourishing styling products like PATTERN’s Styling Cream & Curl Gel.
  • 3B – If you notice that your curls are packed with bounce & have the circumference of a marker, you probably have 3B strands. To love on their springy texture, give your 3B crown  some TLC with products that contain humectants, which can create a barrier on the surface of the hair to lock in moisture & keep your curls thriving.
  • 3C – If you have 3C curls, you’ll notice that your strands form a distinct corkscrew pattern & are about pen-sized in width. With this curl pattern, you have no shortage of volume (we’re jealous!), so you’ll do well with products that hydrate your hair  & cleanse without drying out your luscious curls.

No matter where your tresses lie on the curl spectrum, the right shampoo & styling products can give you definition for days (without weighing down your locks)!

Type 4 Hair

With coils galore, you can bet you have a type 4 curl pattern. Easily identified by their S or Z-shaped pattern, type 4 coils & hydrating shampoos are a match made in heaven. Here’s a breakdown of the coil sub-categories, so you can uncover the products your strands need:

  • 4A – If you have a head full of 4A coils, your curl bundles  are probably about the width of a crochet needle & rock plenty of wash ‘n go styles effortlessly. For added ease while styling, use a product like PATTERN’s Hydration Shampoo, coupled with other products that contain hydrating oils, like a Leave-In Conditioner, to define your curls while still leaving them soft & voluminous. 
  • 4B – Tight, zig-zag-shaped coils are a hallmark of the stunning 4B hair texture. These shape-shifting tresses lend themselves to an array of stylish looks, including braids, locs & twists. When you’re shopping for hair products for 4B coils, opt for thicker styling creams & a nourishing shampoo & conditioner duo.
  • 4C – The tightest coiled strands are 4C. Bountiful & tightly textured, 4C coils are guaranteed to turn heads. Happy to spring to life with a breathtaking afro or sport sleek braids, 4C curls thrive when met with a moisturizing shampoo & styled with gentle, consistent moisturizing hair products.

With a head full of 4 coils, you wear a crown of volume & vivacious life. Whether you wear your coils down or rock a beautiful protective style, hydrating formulas containing some of the best shampoo ingredients, like PATTERN’s gentle Hydration Shampoo are made just for you.

Matching Shampoo to Your Curl Porosity

After demystifying your curl pattern, you may still be left wondering “What type of shampoo should I use?” Fortunately, understanding your hair type as well as its porosity can help you find products that are a perfect curl match. So, what is porosity (& what does it reveal about your glorious hair texture)?

Your strands may be low, medium or high-porosity, which is an indicator of how open your hair cuticles are & their ability to absorb moisture. Here’s a look at what your hair may need based on its porosity:

Low Porosity 

Low porosity curls typically need products that can penetrate the hair shaft, since its cuticle layer tightly overlaps. If you have low porosity tresses, you may notice that some products rest on the surface of your hair & that your strands take longer to dry once they’ve absorbed moisture. 

Low-porosity hair is more prone to buildup (since products may sit on the scalp & surface of the hair rather than penetrating the cuticles). In this case, you may want to reach for a clarifying shampoo, like PATTERN’s Cleansing Shampoo, that offers your scalp a deep, revitalizing cleanse.

Medium Porosity

Somewhere between low & high porosity, medium porosity hair typically absorbs moisture & products pretty easily. With a regular clarifying routine & other moisturizing formulas, you can’t go wrong. Look for a shampoo that removes buildup to encourage volume & maintain your curls’ stunning definition. 

High Porosity

If your hair is highly porous, you may notice that it takes a good amount of conditioning & moisturizing products to satiate your curls. While this is normal for your highly porous strands, you also want to make sure you’re using the right products for them. Look for formulas with rich, nourishing key ingredients like Shea Butter & Coconut Oil to penetrate the cuticle & lock in moisture. 

When you’re on the hunt for the right shampoo for your high-porosity curls, go for a product like PATTERN’s Hydration Shampoo, which will give your strands a deep cleanse without stripping them of their natural oils. 

Considering Your Scalp Health

For thriving strands from root to tip, it’s crucial to prioritize the health of your scalp. But what does a healthy scalp look like? Ideally, your scalp should be free from cracks, noticeable irritation & product buildup, all of which may be an indicator your scalp needs some TLC. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of curly hair cleansers & scalp treatments that can restore healthy, well-balanced skin. To avoid over-cleansing, you’ll want to look for formulas that can strip away buildup while moisturizing your scalp, leaving it feeling fresh & hydrated. 

Products like PATTERN’s Scalp Serum contain a variety of key ingredients (like Lavender Oil, Peppermint Oil & Rosemary Oil) with potentially anti-inflammatory properties that can lead to improved circulation & blood flow. 

Choosing the Right Formula for Your Curls with PATTERN

So, what’s the best shampoo for curly hair? There isn’t one (or rather, there isn’t only one). 

Finding the right formula depends on your hair needs, which can be determined by factors like your curl pattern, hair porosity & even your environment. Learning more about your hair can kick-start your curl journey & help you level up your hair game with formulas crafted for your natural texture.

While there are many types of shampoo, not all options cater to curly hair. Fortunately, PATTERN has your multifaceted beautiful texture in mind. Whether you’re after a shampoo that hydrates & nourishes or fully cleanses & clarifies, you’ll find the hair washing formulas that bow down to your curls, coils & crown.


Allure. How to Figure Out Your Curl Type. https://www.allure.com/gallery/curl-hair-type-guide#:~:text=Identifying%20your%20curl%20shape%20and,wave%2C%20curl%2C%20or%20coil

HeyCurls. How to Care for 4C Hair Texture? https://www.heycurls.com/blogs/thehue/how-to-care-for-4c-hair 

WebMD. What Is a Humectant? https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/what-is-a-humectant 

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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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