top of page

Curly Hair Conditioners - Regular, Leave-in, Deep Treatments & Pre-poos

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Many would argue that a good curl conditioner is one of the most important things in your curly routine, I describe it as the food for your hair, where your curls get their nutrition so they can grow strong, healthy and happy. But there's so many available, with so many uses - from your everyday curly hair conditioner, to leave-in conditioner and then deep treatments, and then there's moisture vs protein treatments for curly hair too - so how do you know what you need?

Let's start with Pre-poo conditioners & Treatments (yes, we're talking Poo with curls again 🤣 sounds dirty but it's simply a shortened version of ShamPOO)

A pre-poo is a treatment or product (usually a liquid oil or solid serum, thick conditioner or bond builder) applied to the hair BEFORE shampooing or cleansing. Seems a bit backwards right? But pre-poo treatments have a very important place in some curly hair routines.

For fine hair, a regular deep conditioner may weigh the hair down or leave it limp. By using the conditioner BEFORE cleansing, you can reap the benefits, give added moisture and avoid the weigh down.

For dry and thirsty curls, a pre-poo can provide protection by providing a barrier between the shampoo and the cuticle layer. This allows your scalp to get the benefits of a good thorough shampoo, while your ends are kept hydrated. The pre-poo will help prevent the over stripping of natural oils.

Apply to unwashed, dampened hair, give yourself a lovely massage, leave for desired time and then continue your wash day as usual.

Benefits include:

Easier detangling

More hydrated and moisturised hair

Hair Growth (especially with a good, long massage)

Less Frizz & More Shine

HOT TIP - If you're a curly who needs a medicated shampoo for dandruff, sebborrheic dermatitis or other scalp condition, try using a Pre-poo on your ends before shampooing your scalp, your ends will thank you for it. TRUST ME.

Regular, everyday curl conditioner

These are the most common curly hair conditioners used. There's a huge range available with varying benefits. The most important thing to consider is "do I need lightweight moisture OR rich, hydrating, gimme-all-the-heaviness conditioners".

If you find your hair is often flat, gets oily easily or drops it's curl easily (fine hair, soft wavy hair etc), you'll be looking for more lightweight moisture. My favourites include EverEscents Bergamot Conditioner, Innersense Pure Inspiration , Jessicurl Aloeba Daily Conditioner and Curlsmith Hydro Creme Soothing Mask.

If you find your hair is always dry, fluffy, feels like hay or loses definition/'puffs out' easily (thick hair, bleached curls, damaged curls etc) you'll more likely need a richer conditioner. Something to provide hydration, moisture and weight. My favourites include Curlsmith Double Cream Deep Quencher , EverEscents Berry Blonde or Moisture Conditioners and Innersense Hydrating Cream Conditioner

Leave-in Curl Conditioner

These are conditioners created specifically to leave in your hair as part of the styling process. They provide ongoing moisture, help to even porosity and help to keep hair soft and frizz free. Many curly hair folk happily use theire regular conditioner as a leave in, though some prefer a stand alone product.

For finer hair that needs less moisture I love Giovanni Direct Weightless Leave in, Treluxe Untie the Knot and Curlsmith Weightless Air-Dry Cream.

For those with dry curly hair, you may find your regular conditioner works well as a leave in. Alternatively I also love Treluxe Untie the knot, Ecoslay Rice Pudding and Flora & Curl Hydrate Me Leave in Conditioner

Curly Hair Deep Conditioners / Deep Treatments

These are extra rich products, usually used weekly or fortnight to give your curly or wavy hair a deep moisture and/or protein boost.

Curly Hair Treatments are often formulated with more nourishing ingredients, they're thicker in texture and will usually penetrate further into the hair shaft, especially when used with a Hot Head Heat Cap .

If your hair is fine and easily weighed down, but desperately needs moisture, I recommend using your treatment of choice as a pre-poo. While some finer curls handle deep treatments ok, many don't. So it's worth playing around to see which your hair enjoys.

My favourite treatments for Extra Dry curly hair are EverEscents Berry Blonde Treatment, Ecoslay Banana Cream, Clever Curl Treatment and Innersense Hydrating Hair Mask (fun fact! You can add a blob of Innersense Hair Mask to your regular conditioner to act as a power booster!)

HOT TIP - If you find your hair goes too fluffy and soft after deep conditioning, look for a treatment product with more protein. If your hair isn't holding it's curl well on regular wash days either, is drying out quickly or your curls seem to be becoming more unstrcutured, these are all signs you may need a protein boost too! Curlsmith Multitasking Conditioner is a great option for finer curlies, EverEscents Remedy is my favourite protein treatment for curly hair and Ecoslay Rice pudding is a great leave in option.

Handy Hints when conditioning your hair:

Don't towel dry your hair before conditioning - you want allllll the water in there (it's ok to squeeze some out to stop drips though!)

Apply a small amount of conditioner at a time. Many people take a HUGE handful and apply it all in one whack. This can mean you're using more products than needed (wasting $$), not getting even distribution and possibly losing a heap down the drain! Uh-oh!

After applying your small amount, splash or sprinkle some more water in. Work this through and then add more conditioner if needed. You should notice that your curls become more slippery and easier to detangle when you add water! I often go conditoner, water, conditioner, water, conditioner, water many times until the tangles start to melt away. You'll use less product and give your curls a really good drink while you're at it.

Try one of our Tangle Teezer Wet Detanglers after finger detangling. I find these save me so much time getting my curls to clump together. They also help distrubute the conditioner easily. Win!

You can mix your conditioners and treatments together! My hair loves rich moisture AND protein so I'll often mix the Remedy and Berry Blonde Treatments together to get the best of both worlds!

Want to help a curly out? Leave a comment with your hair type and what your favourite conditioner is!

This Little Curl is proud to be the curl store of choice for curly hair products in Australia and New Zealand. We've got what a curl wants.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page