Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021

Having a perfect hair day is #goals for many people. But finding the right products to meet that goal can be a challenge. Most hair care aisles offer hundreds of different products and formulas, all promising perfect tresses, which is why it’s difficult to know what will work and what will leave your hair lifeless or too frizzy.‌

‌Knowing your hair type is the key to knowing what to use on your hair. Certain ingredients work best with straight hair, while curly hair needs a whole different menu of products. Learn more about hair types and what ingredients you should use for styling your specific type of hair. 

‌Type 1 hair is straight hair with virtually no curl. It can range from stick-straight to a pattern of very loose S-shaped waves. The straight shaft of the hair allows your scalp oils to coat the hair easily, so it stays well-conditioned naturally and it isn’t prone to frizz.

  • Salt spray: Straight hair can look limp if it’s too smooth and flat. Sea salt spray adds a light film of salt to the hair shaft. That little bit of texture bulks strands up and makes them hold a style better.
  • Rice water: People in parts of Asia have used rice water on their hair for generations. Researchers have found that it contains an element called inositol that can penetrate the hair shaft and repair damage. You can use it as a rinse or look for products that contain rice extract.
  • Honey:Honey is an ingredient in shampoos and conditioners. Honey retains moisture in the hair, so it will keep strands silky and conditioned without the need for heavy oils or butters. It also contains antioxidants that are good for scalp health.

Type 2 is wavy hair that is in between straight and curly. It falls in S-shaped waves and may twirl into spirals at the ends. It can get greasy at the roots while remaining dry at the ends if oil doesn’t distribute well. It might get slightly frizzy or poofy. 

  • Aloe vera: Aloe, as a gel, a liquid, or as an ingredient in other products, is great for hair. It’s not heavy, so it won’t weigh down waves. It’s also highly moisturizing for both hair and the scalp.
  • Glycerin: Glycerin, which is derived from vegetables, is a humectant ingredient in hair products. It binds to water, so it locks moisture into your stands. Be cautious with it, though. In humid climates, it can pull too much moisture from the air and cause serious frizz.
  • Argan oil: Argan oil is a lightweight oil that smoothes the surface of the hair and provides moisture to the hair and skin. It can add shine and combat frizz. It doesn’t weigh hair down, so waves stay bouncy and light.

Type 3 is curly hair that falls into a pattern that looks like a series of S’s or Z’s. Type 3 hair can also curl into corkscrews. It tends to be dry and susceptible to breakage at the ends. It gets very frizzy, especially in inclement weather.

  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is rich enough to combat dryness but not so heavy that it weighs down curls. It’s loaded with amino acids that can help repair dry ends and prevent frizzing. You can find it in styling products and conditioners.
  • Avocado oil: Avocado oil is moisturizing — and it’s also packed with nutrients. It’s loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and more potassium than a banana. It’s easily absorbed, so it makes a good treatment for your scalp as well as your hair.
  • Marshmallow root: This is a botanical product that provides slip to styling products. You find it in gels and conditioners. It’s a good product to use for detangling hair without damaging delicate ends.

Type 4 is the hair that is coiled into tight spirals. It can be very dry and fragile. This kind of hair has a lot of shrinkage, which means the tight coiling makes it look much shorter than the actual length of the hair shaft.

‌Type 4 hair requires a lot of moisture to stay healthy and avoid damage. Products with rich emollients often work best for coils. Butter and oils keep strands well-moisturized and lower the risk of breakage or tangles.

  • Cetyl alcohol: Despite the name, this ingredient isn’t drying. It’s a naturally fatty type of alcohol that coats the hair shaft. It can leave strands well lubricated and moisturized.
  • Shea butter: Shea butter is ubiquitous in moisturizing hair care products. It’s a strong but gentle emollient that seals moisture into the cuticle of the hair. It’s used in conditioners and styling products.
  • Castor oil: Pure castor oil has been a staple in hair care products for generations. This oil is good for scalp health as well as for moisturizing hair strands. Some people also find that it promotes hair growth, especially around the edges of the hair.

Show Sources


‌Cosmetics Info: "Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice," "Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter," "Cetyl Alcohol," "Glycerin." 

‌Harley Street Hair Clinic: "Hair Types."

Journal of Cosmetic Science: "Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage."

Menopause Review: "Skin hydration in postmenopausal women: argan oil benefit with oral and/or topical use."

Molecules: "Avocado Oil: Characteristics, Properties, and Applications," "Hydration and Barrier Potential of Cosmetic Matrices with Bee Products.”

PubChem: "Castor oil, hydrogenated."

‌Wimpole Clinic: "4 herbs you never knew would give you healthy hair."

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