Hold and definition are a matter of personal preference when it comes to curls, coils and waves. Some women love a big, voluminous look while others prioritize definition. Some rock twist outs and others swear by their wash and go. Your hair type, the hairstyle and your personal aesthetic all play a role in determining what styling products work for you. Whether you're a devoted cream girl, a gel girl, or even a cream gel girl, we've tested all the options.

Every year in the NaturallyCurly offices, the Editors spend months diligently testing all of the new releases, the old tried and true Holy Grails, and the new-to-us products that we receive from over a hundred different brands. As you can imagine, the testing gets pretty intense. Our team of 13 editors ranging in hair type from Type 2a-4c divide into groups of wavy, curly, curly coily, and coily and passionately deliberate on the standout products that have earned their spot on our crowded bathroom shelves. In some cases the winners have dethroned our Holy Grails, while others have entered the Hall of Fame for products that win year after year.

What we look for

Here are a few (but not all) of the criteria we used to make our decision:

  • Does the product provide the hold and moisture needed for your hair type?
  • Would the product replace your Holy Grail product in that category?
  • Ingredients
  • Does the product do what the packaging claims it will do?
  • Does the product have added benefits not listed? What are they?
  • Ease of use and product distribution
  • Packaging and product functionality
  • Innovation
  • Scent

If you're on the search for a styler that will work for your curl pattern, check out our 2016 Editors' Choice award winners - and what we loved about them.

Best Styling Cream

Wavy - Kevin Murphy Killer.Curls

I first discovered this product when I curly coily Editor Devri came to work with amazing looking hair and I asked her what she used - Killer.Curls. Our hair types are so different that you wouldn't think it would give me the same results, but this product consistently delivers curl definition with just the right amount of hold. Plus it smells like men's cologne, which I love. - Cristina, Type 2c

Curly - Kevin Murphy Killer.Curls

Hands down, I legit get “killer curls” EVERY TIME I use the product. I don’t know what’s in it, but my curls love it. The perfect cream based product to give me just the right amount definition every time. - Fran, Type 3b

Curly Coily - Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Curl Defining Creme

This cream has great hold and moisture. I'm really happy when I use this because the ingredients again are simple and I can feel good about what I am putting on my hair and not worry about sacrificing the quality of the definition and hold. Love this - Nikki, Type 3c

Coily - Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

This is by far one of my favorite moisturizing stylers! I don't need to use a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer before applying this product. It provides great slip for shingling your curls without friction and yields soft, touchable twist outs. - Amanda, Type 4a

*Not sure what Type 2c or Type 4a means? We know that all waves, curls and coils are unique so we have a Texture Typing system that helps you find a category that most closely fits your curls. If you want to know yours, here is a helpful guide to finding your curl pattern

Best Styling Gels

Wavy - Raw Curls Medium Hold Gel

It's hard to find a gel that has enough hold to last a couple of days without being too crunchy. But this gel is it! And I love that I get so much out of this bottle. It will last me forever! - Susonnah, Type 2a

Curly - Ouidad Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel

I typically don’t use gels, but this is the one gel that I do use. It helps keep my curls frizz free with the right amount of hold. - Fran, 3b

Curly Coily - Kevin Murphy Killer.Curls

It has my favorite fatty acids, which give my curls a lot of body and no frizz for days at a time. Perfect for a low-maintenance wash-and-go routine. - Devri, Type 3c

Coily - Design Essentials Natural Honey CurlForming Custard

Curl definition, moisture, no crunch -- what we all want in a styler, right? Slippery, moisturizing ingredients help smooth down the hair's cuticle which means shiny, juicy twist outs! - Evelyn, Type 4c

Best Cream Gel

Wavy - Jessicurl Spiralicious

My go to Gel-Cream! It gives my hair, a hold of gel, but leaves my waves soft, and frizz-free, with no crunch. - Julissa, Type 2b

Curly - Matrix Biolage Defining Gel Cream for Curly Hair

Love, love, love this gel cream. It is the perfect consistency and gives me great curls without crunch. Smells incredible! - Michelle, Type 3b

Curly Coily - Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

This product does it all. It applies like a moisturizer but essentially is a styler because of its ability to hold and define. For those with that annoying frizz halo who need something to prevent excess moisture from entering your hair shaft, as well as seal the existing moisture from co-washing for days on end, invest in this butter-gel. - Devri, Type 3c

Coily - Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

This is by far one of my favorite moisturizing stylers! I don't need to use a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer before applying this product. It provides great slip for shingling your curls without friction and yields soft, touchable twist outs. - Amanda, Type 4a

Best Frizz Fighter

Wavy - TréLuxe ReFlex Curl Styling Serum

This serum actually gave my waves a gorgeous shine. I love how it smoothes out frizz and acts as a styler all in one. It's super light weight and glides on like serum, but acts like gel. Amazing. - Susonnah, Type 2a

Curly - Alikay Naturals Glazed Argan Oil Silkener

Helps tame frizziness and adds that extra shine without all the greasy-ness! And it smells amazing too. - Jamie, Type 3b

Curly Coily - TréLuxe Curl Supreme Styling Cream

I didn't think I was that much of a cream girl. I definitely thought I was more of a leave in type of curly but turns out I can be both. I really like this cream because of its moisturizing properties, creamy consistency, and it works really well on styles. - Ellery, Type 3c

Type 4 editors do not use styling cream

Best Refreshers

Wavy - Obia Naturals Curl Hydration Spray

I first fell for this refresher when my hair was bleached platinum blonde and I was very ingredient-focused. It gives me the moisture that my hair needs with a light formula that won't weigh down my waves. - Cristina, Type 2c

Curly - Garnier Fructis Curl Renew Reactivating Milk Spray

I love this product. It perks up my curls and refreshes them. I use it for 2nd-day hair as well as after a workout. It smells amazing! - Michelle, Type 3b

Curly Coily - Au Naturale Dark and Lovely Anti-Shrinkage Twice As Nice Curl Refresher Spray

This no-fuss refresher gives me the slip and moisture I need to perk up my curls on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th day. It always leaves my hair feeling soft and rehydrated. - Ellery, Type 3c

Coily - G'Natural Herbal Products Caribbean Coconut Milk Black Honey Leave-in Conditioner Spray

This isn't just hyped up water. It's packed with ingredients that help me re-moisturize and finger detangle my hair when it's thirsty. Smells delicious and helps me extend my wash days for those times I'm feeling lazy! - Evelyn, Type 4c

We voted on products in every category from cleansing conditioners to edge tamers, to see the rest of the Editors' Choice winners click here for a full list.

What's your favorite styling product of 2016? Share yours in the comments below!