Finding an all natural routine for my zero waste curly hair was TOUGH. In fact, finding any routine for my curly hair was hard. Tack on being eco friendly and it felt impossible.
After a lot of research I’ve found lot of options to share with you, but like many curly girls, I grew up absolutely hating my natural hair. All I wanted was pin-straight, silky-smooth locks.
I would constantly brush out my curls and straighten them which only damaged my hair in the long run. It was a vicious cycle creating more frizz, damage, and breakage.
Finally, I decided to embrace my curls, and my entire outlook changed. I started noticing all the people in my life with gorgeous textured hair.
I fell head-first into the curly girl community around the same time I became interested in zero waste living.
For the first time, I was proud of my hair, but I didn’t want to buy overly-packaged products or support companies actively harming the environment.
RELATED: 10 Surprising Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Bathroom
I spent hours researching and trying to find people rocking sustainable curls. It took me a full year to find out a routine that worked for me, and I wanted to share my experience.
So I started YouTube channel called Zero Waste Curls to show the world how to take care of curly hair in an all natural way that’s good for the planet.
Here’s all my secrets so you can find a perfect eco friendly hair care routine for your wavy, curly, kinky, and/or coily hair!
shampoo and conditioner bars:
Shampoo bars are great planet friendly option because you don’t have to pay for water or the plastic bottle.
As a general rule, the tighter your curl pattern, the more moisture and less protein your hair needs.
If you have coarse or damaged hair, you should focus on hydration even more, so here are some of the most hydrating shampoo and condition bars on the market for your zero waste curly hair.
RELATED: 20 Organic and Zero Waste Skincare Brands
My personal favorite conditioner bar is Bar None. It packs a protein punch with hydrolyzed wheat protein, so high porosity or protein-loving hair, this is the bar for you.
Plus, it has the best slip out of any bar I’ve ever tried and penetrates the hair shaft all the way to truly absorb.
A great option for kinky or coily hair types would be Tree Naturals. Tree Naturals is all about deep conditioning and moisture, which is especially important for these curl types.
Though they aren’t a completely zero waste brand, the company is both Black-owned and woman-owned and is clearly operating with sustainability in mind.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap Bar is extremely gentle, making it great for all curl types – almost like a low-poo.
Besides being an absolutely incredible company with a fantastic commitment to both sustainability and giving back, Dr. Bronner’s is also a great affordable option. Castile soap can even give your hair a little bit of extra moisture!
more shampoo bars for zero waste curly hair:
- If your hair has normal porosity and doesn’t mind a little bit of protein, check out HiBar
- Chagrin Valley has a great variety of shampoo bars, conditioners, and hair treatments
- Lush offers sustainable versions of some curly girl staples, like co-washes, low-poo, and leave-in conditioner
- The Afro Hair + Skin Co. and Meow Meow Tweet sell nourishing shampoo bars that won’t strip your hair, especially for kinky/coily types
shampoo bars curly hair should avoid:
You’ve probably heard J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bar recommended at some point. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of curly girls, it is not a good choice.
It can be extremely harsh and drying without giving any of the benefits of a clarifying shampoo – I learned the hard way.
liquid shampoo and conditioner:
When you have curly hair, there are far more options shampoo and conditioner bars, but some brands sell eco-friendly liquid shampoo and conditioner too if that’s more your style.
RELATED: My Top 5 Zero Waste Shower Essentials
a simple planet:
A Simple Planet is completely zero-waste and all their products are meant specifically for curly hair!
They use a similar model to Plaine Products, meaning that their products come in aluminum containers which can be refilled or recycled.
Their products are lightly moisturized so it’s best to use with fine hair or looser curls. Their products are especially good if you’re looking to achieve more volume.
I love their protein spray, which can be added to almost any other product or DIY.
For tighter textures, check out Ecoslay. Their products currently come in plastic, but they have made some amazing sustainability commitments, such as significantly reducing their plastic packaging, using green shipping materials, and recycling any empties customers send back to them.
They have a lot of practical products for wavy, curly, and especially kinky/coily hair. My current favorite is their heavenly Banana Split Deep Conditioner.
As I mentioned before, castile soap is a lovely, moisturizing shampoo option.
Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap comes in 100% recycled plastic packaging or in bulk.
The liquid option is easily customizable too! Try adding peppermint or lavender essential oils to boost hair growth.
RELATED: 15 Simple Swaps for a Zero Waste Bathroom
styling products for eco friendly curls:
Many of the curly hair routines you see on YouTube or Instagram involve a lot of products. I can hardly keep count.
Even if you can’t find zero-waste stylers that work for you, by simply minimizing the amount of products you use will greatly reduce your environmental impact.
Of course, there are a few natural alternatives for zero waste curly hair!
diy flaxseed gel:
DIY flaxseed gel has a weak hold, but with a few easy add-ins it can actually give you a strong cast, moisture, and protein!
Check out this video to learn how to make the perfect flaxseed gel for your hair type while sourcing all the ingredients sustainably.
store bought flaxseed gel:
If DIY isn’t your style, both A Simple Planet and Ecoslay sell a few different stylers.
A Simple Planet’s flaxseed styling gel has a pretty light hold. I prefer to use it for touch-ups throughout the week, to add a little extra hold to my hair.
On the other hand, Ecoslay’s famous (okay, okay, only a little bit famous) Orange Marmalade gel is absolutely deserving of its reputation.
It has all-natural ingredients and a very strong hold, plus aloe to add moisture.
They also sells several other styling products for all hair textures, such as curl creams and edge control.
Another option is Dr. Bronner’s Hair Creme, a leave-in conditioner. It can be a little on the heavy side for some curl types, so dilute it with water in order to make it perfect for you.
don’t forget secondhand:
Try looking for curly hair products secondhand. After all, we buy so many other things secondhand: books, clothes, furniture… why not hair products?
There are several websites that make it easy and safe to buy resold products, most of which are unopened or barely used.
The one thing to look out for is people who simply buy products in order to sell them for a markup.
A seller like that is not a sustainable choice since it’s essentially still giving money to large corporations.
Besides just product you can actually find a ton of useful items like stylers, diffusers, and brushes at great prices. My top three favorite sites are Mercari, Poshmark, and Ebay.
Miriam is the creator of Zero Waste Curls, a YouTube channel focused on sustainable curly hair care. She is committed to making the zero waste movement accessible for everyone and recognizing each person’s unique needs. Miriam is also part of the Sunrise Movement.