Best Curly Hair Conditioners To Try The ‘Squish To Condish’ Technique

Since we swapped straighteners and smoothing treatments in favour of embracing our curls, we’ve been on quite a journey – and discovering the best curly hair conditioner has been a key stop along the way.

Ask most curl experts their thoughts on ingredients to avoid if you have curly hair, and you’ll almost definitely hear sulphates come up. Sulphates (like sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate) are cleansing agents that do an outstanding job of lathering up and lifting away oil, grease and product build-up. The problem is, they can be kind of harsh and stripping, particularly on hair that’s not very oily to begin with.

The spiral structure of curly hair can make it tricky for the natural (read: good) oils on our scalp to make their way all the way down the hair shaft, which is why curly hair is often thirstier than straight and wavy hair types. Adding sulphates into the mix can dry things out even further, which is why the viral ‘curly girl method’ calls for sulphate-free products.

The decision to abandon sulphates may be hard at first, but when your childhood curls resurface shinier, stronger and more defined than ever, you know it’s worth the effort. It can require you to become a bit of a label detective, though. But, if you find the long ingredients lists on the back of bottles overwhelming, fear not, that’s what we’re here for. We’ve put together a list of curly conditioners that will save you time and effort. Their function? To soften, moisturise, seal the cuticle and help define your curls.

Plus, if you’re interested in trying the curly girl method to enhance your curls, you’ll want the right conditioner for it…

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What is the best curly hair conditioner if I use the ‘curly girl method’?

It’s a tall order to find a conditioner that can nourish, detangle and seal in moisture without weighing down curls, however one tip can make the choice easier. As as with any hair product for curls (whether it’s a shampoo, mask or curl activator), when it comes to curly hair conditioners, you might find it helps to skip those containing sulphates (for the above reasons), silicones, parabens, alcohols and waxes (which can weigh curls down).

How do I use conditioner in the curly girl method?

STC (squish to condish)

The STC technique is most commonly used with the ‘curly girl method’ – which involves applying a generous amount of conditioner and leave it on while kneading your curls for two or three minutes. Then, you rinse little by little, continuing the squishing movement while there is still conditioner in the hair. Devotees say this helps achieve a more intense hydration and better definition.

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We’ve rounded up some of the best conditioners for the curly method below…


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