Best Sulfate-Free Products for Naturally Wavy Hair — Worthy Pause

Shampoos + Conditioners

I wash my hair infrequently, to say the least. Maybe thrice a week… sometimes more if I get some extra workouts in, but usually just the three times (in fact, I once lied to my husband about the last time I showered, #marriage). 

When I do bone up and wash it, I use shampoo and conditioner like humans do. A lot of the sulfate-free shampoos I tried a while back were disappointing. Many didn’t suds up well, and I wound up shampooing twice or even three times before my head felt clean. Not fun or resourceful.

I’ve since found so many better options though—the industry is shifting and the performance is getting solidly better with the more natural-leaning hair care brands. I have finally settled on some favorite sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners that actually work.

R+Co is one I use most of the time for my non-color-treated, combination (sometimes oily and sometimes dry—WHAT FUN!) hair. This shampoo and conditioner smell (and are) amazing and the packaging is beautiful. Extra kudos to R + Co for being sulfate-free and still making actual suds… yes, that white whale exists!

N4 and Living Proof also have some great shampoos and conditioners, if you need additional worthy options. Neither are as sudsy as R+Co though.

Everyday Hair Oil

For my most basic level of styling, I let my hair dry about halfway and then add a little hair oil to tame the beast and get out ahead of any frizz. Sometimes it’s just a bit of sweet almond oil (I also use this on my face and I’m obsessed with it). However, I also love, love, love Verb’s Ghost Oil and it’s quite affordable in comparison to other hair oils out there.

Wave + Curl Enhancers

If I’m leveling up just a little bit, I’ll add a curl enhancer after the oil. My go-to is Kevin Murphy Motion.Lotion, a Aussie curl enhancer made with sesame oil, orange peel and bergamot (it smells lovely). It’s paraben-free, includes UV protection and it works well without heat. A lot of curl enhancers out there — including the Aveda stuff I used forever — aren’t as effective without heat. R+Co’s Aircraft Pomade Mousse is another nice one that smells delicious.

Then I twist the hair into a few pieces to enhance the curly/wavy mess and let it air dry. That drying process takes about half the day. Or I sleep on it while it’s wet and just hope for the best.

Salty Spray

I was really curious about texturizing sprays so I recently splurged for one so that my Sephora cart would qualify for free shipping. So now if I want to zhuzh (I just had to look up how to spell this word) second or third day hair beyond the roots, I use Verb’s Sea Spray and kinda scrunch and twist it all around again. It has a very slight hold to it as well, which is nice. I also use it after the hair oil for everyday styling in the summer. It smells awesome (very fresh and light).

Curling IRON

If I’m getting done up for a wedding or something, I use this extremely cheap curling iron and create a more polished version of my normal hair—and kinda 1970s, if I’m being honest. I removed the clamp so it’s like a wand, and it’s very easy to use. I learned on YouTube. Or you could buy yourself a real wand and then you don’t have to get out a screwdriver.


That Farrah Fawcett is one of two hairstyles I can accomplish without assistance. The other is an easy, twisty up-do that’s too hard to explain without pictures. I think I learned it from a teen magazine (at age 29). If I’ve done either of those nicer things to my head, I set it with Living Proof Flex Shaping Hairspray. It’s lightweight to avoid hair helmets and crunchiness, but still keeps things in place on the dance floor.

Pomade Stick

If you have flyaways or a cowlick or I-had-a-baby bangs (post-partum women, I see you), this is one of my favorite products I never would’ve found on my own: R+ Co Dart Pomade Stick. This little pomade stick is super easy to use, very portable and lasts a long time despite the tiny package that’s like a baby stick of deodorant. My hair stylist recommended it while my post-partum hairs were starting to grow back in wild tufts near my temples. All silver, of course. And all shooting in every direction except the direction I wanted them to go.

Dry Shampoo

I sometimes struggle with root volume issues, and dry shampoo helps. Between shampoos, I like Aveda’s Hair Potion, which is this miraculous dry shampoo-like substance. It’s a powder that sort of disappears when you sprinkle it on and work it into your scalp. It feels creepy but is effective in getting the volume back to level 10 (or at least 6 or 7?). It’s particularly nice if you wake up late and don’t want to shower before you have to see people.

Blow Dry Stuff

Blow drying almost never happens at my house. It’s cold in Minnesota and sometimes the winter forces me to do it. When I do, I use this $30 Conair blow dryer.

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