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Do curling shampoos really work?

Charlotte Comments: I’d love to believe that those curling shampoos will really shape my thick hair. What do the Brain’s Believe?

The Right Brain Responds:

Well, Charlotte, this is an easy one. Curling shampoos do NOT make your hair curly. In fact, if you read the labels carefully, some of them don’t even SAY they’ll make your hair curly! Let’s take a look, shall we?

What do curling shampoos claim?

Even the most flagrant offender of the truth, Wash n’ Curl shampoo, only IMPLIES that it will make your hair curly just from shampooing. Read the label carefully – it says it provides “the most beautiful curls with body, bounce and resilience after styling.” Well, duh! If the shampoo only makes your hair curly AFTER you style it, it’s not really doing much for you is it?

What else does Wash n’ Curl say? “Your hair will be extremely curl responsive…Even dry, damaged, color treated hair will have the staying power of thick curly hair… Its special Curl Enhancers infuse hair with the Holding Power of naturally curly hair.”

The chemistry of curling shampoo

The only piece of truth in this claim is that the shampoo does contain something that could be called a “curl enhancer.” Looking at the ingredient list we see that it does contains a polymer (Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer), that COULD provide some styling benefits. But that would only work if it wasn’t rinsed out! Remember, just because a product contains an ingredient that does something, it doesn’t mean that it does something in that product!

The rest of the claims are pretty much made up, as far as we can tell. There is no shampoo technology that will measurably improve the holding power of your hair.

What about other products, you ask? Well here’s two more:

KMS Curl Up Shampoo and Marc Anthony Strictly Curls. Neither of these shampoos make strong curling claims. KMS only promises to be your “curl’s best friend, ” to ” start your style in the shower,” and to “boost boisterous curls while adding moisture and shine.”

Marc, on the other hand, offers to protect color; repair dry, frizzy areas, and repel humidity to define shiny, soft, curls. (“Define” curls is not really a very emphatic claim.) Aside from a little polyquaternium (a conditioning ingredient) neither of these products have any curling technology either.

We could go on and on, but you get the picture. These shampoos don’t have anything in them to make your hair curly. They don’t even really do anything to prepare your hair for styling, other than getting it clean. If you want to see more, click the carousel below.

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The Beauty Brains Bottom Line:

If you really want curly hair, go buy some mousse. Or, God forbid, get a perm!

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Ellie Sampson December 22, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Why wont my hair curl?

    • Randy Schueller December 22, 2014, 4:40 pm

      Hey Ellie. That’s a bit of an open ended question!

      Is your hair so fine that it won’t keep a curl?
      Is it so coarse that it’s touch to curl in the first place?
      What styling tools are you using to create curls?
      What products are you using to lock in your curls?

      If you can give is some additional details maybe we (or someone else in the Beauty Brains community) can help.

      • Blonde Brain July 30, 2015, 5:08 pm

        Wash ‘n curl is very effective for straight, thin, blonde hair, but it was marketed to thick straight asian hair, which is very hard to curl. Too bad it is not made anymore. Natural Blondes are left with nasty mousse type additives.

  • Luciano D. Muzzatti October 9, 2015, 5:20 pm

    You mentioned some curling shampoos with the “curl enhancer” contains a polymer (Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer).
    I was using Puritan’s Pride Hair Curling Shampoo by Temptique. I would only use this for “special occasions” because it did give my wavy hair some curl and bounce but now they stopped carrying this. Can you tell me where I can get this product or would you suggest any similar product with the above ingredients. Thank you. Luciano

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