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12 Shampoos for Soft, Frizz-Free Waves

An editor shares her favorite formulas.

By: Hannah Baxter
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

Up until I was 15, I didn’t realize that I had wavy hair. My mom has never been into beauty, especially for hair, which meant that my routine consisted of using bulk nondescript shampoo and conditioner in the shower and brushing it out wet. More than half the time, it went straight up into a ponytail. It was bushy and unmanageable, and until I became an angsty teenager with a job (meaning I could afford to buy my own beauty products), I’d somewhat accepted that that was how my hair would look forever. Then I picked up a magazine and found out that there was a whole wide world of products manufactured specifically to tame frizz and define textured hair.

From that moment on, I’ve spent *years* searching for the perfect shampoo to help protect, hydrate, and contour my waves. And with thick but fine hair, it’s a constant battle to keep it from feeling weighed down while still maintaining a clean and healthy scalp. Of course, cleansing your hair is only half the battle—using the right styling products for your hair type is a whole other saga. But if you find a shampoo that agrees with your texture, it can enhance the rest of your routine so you always have a killer hair day. Here are my 12 favorite shampoos for wavy hair that I’ve used in the past 15 years.

Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curls & Waves Shampoo, $12

This was my first-ever foray into curly or wavy-specific shampoo, and I’ll still go back to it in a pinch. It smells *divine*, and it always leaves my waves with a nice S-shape definition after towel-drying. You also can’t beat the price.

Virtue Recovery Shampoo, $15

This celebrity favorite is formulated with keratin derived from human hair. It will help keep your hair hydrated (a must for any texture) and fortify it against breakage. No fried ends here.

DevaCurl Low Poo Mild Lather Cleanser, $16

Any girl with textured hair knows about DevaCurl, and for good reason—they make gentle, effective products that leave your curls looking bouncy and soft. This has a mild lather and low foam, so your waves aren’t stripped by the time they dry out.

Kérastase Discipline Sulfate-Free Smoothing Shampoo, $33

Frizz is a constant battle with waves and curls—anytime I use this Kérastase, my waves come out silky and defined. Bonus points for using a microfiber towel with this line.

Rene Furterer Sublime Curl Activating Shampoo, $30

Getting definition in waves is crucial so they don’t fall by the end of the day. I adore this shampoo for the added evening primrose oil and acanthus extract, which keep the shapes smooth and contoured.

Aquis 02 Prime Rebalancing Hair Wash, $26

The last thing you want to do is strip your hair from washing or stretch the strands when they’re wet (and wind up with extra fluff à la preteen me). This gentle hair wash keeps your pH balanced to keep the hair as healthy as possible and helps smooth the hair without the use of sulfates.

Redken All Soft Shampoo, $17

If poofy waves are your enemy, but you don’t want anything oily to slick them down, the RCT protein complex in this shampoo will help make your hair manageable. Plus, you’ll have tons of shine, and yes, it will feel silky-soft.

Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo, $28

Before I got an undercut, I adored this shampoo for my extremely thick hair. It contains olive oil extract and vitamin E to nourish and smooth my waves without weighing them down.

Oribe Shampoo for Moisture & Control, $46

This shampoo is technically marketed for tighter curls than what I have, but in the summer, when humidity has my waves especially unruly, I want all the moisture I can get. It even takes down the volume slightly.

Bumble and bumble Surf Foam Wash Shampoo, $26

I like my waves best when they resemble a surfer-girl, fresh-out-of-the-ocean texture. Enter the iconic surf shampoo from Bumble and bumble. It adds a bit of grit and texture to the waves without feeling dry or chunky. The hint of separation is ideal for especially fine hair.

Aveda Cherry Almond Softening Shampoo, $17

Whenever I get my hair cut, it’s washed with this Aveda shampoo and dries with soft, defined waves. It gets rid of any lingering product, so it feels clean but has plenty of bounce to the subtle S-waves.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Hydrating Shampoo, $24

This is my latest shampoo tester, and I’ve been pleased with how consistent my hair has turned out after I towel-dry. My waves aren’t too separated, but they still feel hydrated and smooth. Plus, it’s safe on my dyed blond hair.

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