What Is Hair Slip and How Can Curly Hair Get More Slip?

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Conditioners and oils help keep your hair feeling soft and make removing annoying tangles and knots easier. That’s because they create slip, which decreases friction between the strands and reduces the risk of damage. 

But why is slip so crucial for curly hair, and how do you know which products to choose?

This guide will help you understand what slip means and what to look for on your hair product’s ingredient list. We’ll also share some recommended products to help you find the slip your curls need.

What Is Hair Slip?

Slip describes how slippery and lubricated your hair feels after you apply a product. It’s usually used to describe the effects of moisturizing and detangling products like a rinse-out conditioner, leave in conditioner, and deep conditioner. The more slip a product has, the easier you’ll find it to brush or detangle your tresses. 

Whenever you lather your locks with shampoo or run a brush or comb through them, the hair fibers rub against each other, causing friction that leads to damage and breakage. The detergents that help your shampoo remove dirt, oil and product buildup also remove the natural lubricating oils from your scalp. So, it’s vital to replace these natural oils with other moisturizers.

It’s even more crucial for curly girls because wavy, curly, and coily hair types are more prone to knots and tangles than straight hair types. That’s because your curls and coils can easily twist around each other, creating a tangle or knot. 

Without regular, gentle detangling sessions, these knots and tangles can get worse and eventually form hair matting, which needs much more drastic treatment.

Curly hair also tends to be drier than straight hair, because the bends and twists make it harder for your scalp’s sebum to travel all the way down from the roots to the ends. 

So, if you have hair type 2-4, your hair care regimen should include products with plenty of slip.

having slip in hair to use brushes to style curls

What are the Benefits of Slip for Curly Hair?

Here are some other reasons why curly hair loves slip so much.

Make wash days easier

Shampooing, conditioning, and detangling can make washing curly or coily hair a pain, especially if your hair is longer than shoulder-length. Incorporating pre-poos and oil rinses and choosing products that give plenty of slip makes the detangling stage much quicker and easier to deal with.

Style with ease

Do you long to try a wash-and-go style but worry about developing knots or spending hours detangling? Choosing the right hair care products will make detangling effortless, so that gorgeous wash-and-go style becomes a real possibility again. 

Achieve your hair length goals

Detangling can be a bore, but so is waiting for your hair to grow. Knots, tangles, and snarls all cause breakage, which makes it harder to grow your hair longer. Don’t forget that long hairs are even more prone to tangles and breakage, so adding slip is essential to achieve a long, luscious mane.

Cut the cost of hair care

If you have to use half a bottle of conditioner each time you wash your hair, that conditioner doesn’t have enough slip. Once you find great conditioning products that give your curly hair the slip it needs, you won’t need to apply so much of it. That will help you save money on natural hair products, which is always good news!

Behentrimonium Methosulfate

Signs That Your Hair Needs More Slip

Dull, dehydrated strands are one of the main signs that your hair needs more slip. Dry hair can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:

  • Lack of regular conditioning treatments
  • Rough brushing and harsh styling techniques
  • Heat damage from blow dryers and hot styling tools
  • Chemical damage from hair colors, perms, and relaxers
  • Exposure to UV from the sun or chlorine in swimming pools
  • Buildup of product residue or minerals from hard water

As your tresses become more dehydrated, you may notice that they develop split ends and start to break more easily, especially when you brush or style them.

Rough brushing and poor detangling technique can lead to mechanical damage. This causes the cuticle layer to lift when your hair is wet, so your mane becomes even more prone to tangling and breakage. 

In extreme cases, you may even start to see increased shedding, your hair may begin to look thinner, and your scalp might be more visible in patches.

How to Choose Products with Good Slip

A wide range of ingredients can add slip to curly hair in order to reduce friction and prevent damage. 

Here are some of the most popular types of ingredients and examples of each group. 

Hair oils 

Oils are some of the most popular ingredients in hair care products. Penetrating oils deliver moisture into the hair shaft while sealing oils lock in moisture and smooth the cuticle layer:

  • Argan oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Jojoba oil 
  • Olive oil

Plant-based butters

These are solid at room temperature and melt around body temperature when applied to wet hair. They’re a great addition to shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks, where they help provide moisture to dehydrated tresses:

  • Cocoa butter
  • Mango butter
  • Shea butter

Herb-derived products

These tend to have a slimy or slippery texture, which makes it easier for tangles to be removed:

  • Marshmallow Root
  • Okra Gel
  • Slippery Elm

Hydrolyzed Proteins

These small units of proteins are easily absorbed into the hair, helping to fill in gaps in the cuticle layer:

  • Hydrolyzed collagen
  • Hydrolyzed keratin
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Hydrolyzed silk protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein

Fatty Alcohols

Unlike dehydrating alcohols such as ethanol, fatty alcohols help lubricate hairs and smooth the cuticles, adding slip to curly hair:

  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Myristyl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol

Other Ingredients

These can help smooth your cuticle layer and make your hair easier to detangle. Don’t be put off by the long names, these are all great for increasing slip:

  • Behentrimonium methosulfate – an oil derived from canola seed
  • Behentrimonium chloride – a plant-based conditioner with antistatic and detangling properties
  • Guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride – use this with caution as it can cause buildup
  • Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine – adds shine and helps repair damaged hairs, easily rinsed out


Polymers coat the hair shaft to make it feel soft and smooth, and they are some of the most effective conditioning agents. The most common polymers in hair care products are silicones and polyquats, which make your hair shiny, keep colors vibrant for longer, and protect against heat damage.

However, they can also cause product buildup, eventually leaving your hair dry, dull, and brittle. If you choose to use products containing silicones or heavy polyquats, remember to use a clarifying shampoo regularly to remove the buildup.

squish to condish

How Can Curly Hair Get More Slip?

The best way to give curly hair more slip is to use moisturizing hair care products that contain the ingredients listed in this guide. These will help your strands glide against each other and make it easier to detangle.

It’s also essential to help your hair retain moisture, as dehydrated tresses are more likely to snag on each other, causing damage and breakage. Some of the ways you can help your hair retain moisture include:

  • Minimizing exposure to blow dryers and heated styling tools
  • Sleeping on silk or satin pillowcases or wearing a silk sleep bonnet
  • Wearing protective hairstyles like braids or bantu knots 
  • Regular clarifying treatments to remove product buildup and mineral residue

Regular trims to remove split ends and gentle detangling will also help keep your hair healthy. 

The best way to deal with a knot or tangle is to apply plenty of leave in conditioner or detangler, and then use your fingers or a wide tooth comb to gently work the knot or tangle out. Detangling regularly will make the process easier and quicker in the long run.

Recommended Products for Adding Slip to Curly Hair

It’s always essential to select hair care products that suit your hair type, porosity, and density. Check out our Curly Hair Type Quiz if you’re unsure what hair type you have, and find out more about porosity in our Guide to Hair Porosity.

Here are a few products that can help give your curly hair some extra slip:

  1. Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Conditioner
    $15.25 ($1.91 / Ounce)

    KCKT is a cult favorite because of its great slip for detangling and softening, while not being heavy.

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    03/08/2024 07:18 pm GMT
  2. Jessicurl, Deep Conditioning Treatment
    $18.85 ($1.18 / Fl Oz)
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    07/15/2024 04:13 pm GMT
  3. Curl Keeper Slip Hair Detangler Spray for Curly Hair
    $23.00 ($2.88 / Fl Oz)
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    06/27/2024 09:13 pm GMT
  4. Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk | Leave-In Conditioner
    $14.79 ($1.85 / Ounce)
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    03/09/2024 11:57 pm GMT
  5. Ecoslay Banana Cream Deep Conditioner
    $21.74 ($1.36 / Fl Oz)
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    06/27/2024 09:20 pm GMT
  6. Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Hair Mask
    $10.79 $9.49 ($0.79 / Ounce)

    Ideal for coarse hair, this intense hair mask moisturizes and nourishes dry, damaged hair.

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    03/06/2024 06:02 pm GMT
  7. SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Treatment Masque
    $22.99 $16.99 ($1.42 / Ounce)
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    03/04/2024 05:47 pm GMT
  8. Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave In Conditioner
    $12.99 ($1.62 / Ounce)
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    07/15/2024 04:15 pm GMT

The Bottom Line: Hair Slip for Curly Hair

Choosing products with plenty of slip is one of the best ways to avoid the tangles and knots that lead to damage and breakage. They’ll also keep your hair soft and moisturized, help you achieve your hair length goals, and make wash days simpler.

You should always choose products that suit your natural hair texture, porosity, and density. By ensuring they include some of the ingredients listed in this guide, you’ll help keep your curly hair healthy and looking fabulous.

"what is hair slip" text overlay on 3 images of a woman with dark hair shampooing, combing and showing off her curls

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