If conditioner is king to curly hair, then gel has got to be the queen. A good gel can make all the difference in your hair’s mood and look for the day. Gel takes on a whole new meaning when you are discussing curly and coily hair in comparison to relaxed hair. Gels were used when relaxed women wanted to slick down edges or to put their hair in a ponytail. For curly or natural hair it has a far less dramatic usage (well, not using gel on a rainy day will get pretty dramatic, trust me!), because gel on curly hair is for fighting frizz and flyaways and enhancing your curl definition.
Curlies are always looking for moisture in hair products and any ingredients that will have drying effects to your tresses are products most of us tend to steer clear of. Alcohols, all types really, are considered bad for having drying properties, but not all alcohols are the same. There are good and bad alcohols and curlies just need to be aware of the differences.
Top 20 Curl Friendly Gels
Short-chain alcohols like ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol are the alcohols that curlies shouldn't use. They tend to dissolve naturals oils, which curly hair needs. They also evaporate quickly and that may seem good since your hair will dry quicker, but they tend to create frizz in curly hair.
The good alcohols for our hair are derived from natural sources and are long chain alcohols that act like oily moisturizers. Examples of these would be lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and behenyl alcohol.
Not all gels are created equally and many will have you with a head full of white flakes and so crunchy that you are afraid to touch it. No, that is not what a curly girl wants or needs so check out our list of the best gels for curly girls and see how many are your favorites!
A gel made for dry, frizzy hair, Mop Top Anti-Frizz gel is infused with sea botanicals and honey. It’s silicone-free and alcohol-free so say bye bye to white flakes! All ingredients are water-soluble.
You want to elongate your curls, coils, and waves? Then try Curl Junkie’s Pattern Pusha Hair Styling Gel. This gel can work in two ways: Scrunch it in to get your curl definition and smooth it in to stretch out those curls. Either way it’s naturally derived and friendly to your tresses.
With the initials “OMG” it’s got to be amazing! This gel is oil free and has a highly concentrated humectant that revives your dry curls no matter the texture. With such a powerful humectant (sodium lactate) you will have tons of moisture attracting to your hair and keeping those strands hydrated and soft.
This gel made the list of the Best of the Best on NaturallyCurly.com for a reason! Moisturizing and giving a light hold that dissolves instantly in your wet hair. Once dry you get a moisture-protective barrier between your tresses and the world that is soft to the touch and flake-free.
On the list of 2014 NaturallyCurly.com Editor’s Choice for having only the good stuff, this gel with the cute name is water-soluble and will keep your hair super soft. No parabens, sulfates, or silicones, but chock-full of sea botanicals and honey. Its citrus blend will have you intoxicated, figuratively speaking.
Another best of the best, Jessicurl Spiralicious Styling Gel is thick and has a strong hold. Don’t worry because you won’t shed flakes with this one. It dries crunchy, but it will scrunch out easily and leave you with softer curls and frizz-free. All day hold with this one.
We’ve got a smart one here curlies. Ouidad’s smart gel is heat-activated with wheat protein that sucks in humidity while protecting the hair shaft. This water-soluble adds shine without the nasty build-up. If you are into taming your curls, then this gel is for you because your style will last. This is also great for protecting your tresses when blow-drying or straightening your tresses.
Want to smooth frizz? Want to define your curls? Well, then pick up a jar of Curly Kinks Coil Jam Styling Gel! This gel will also add moisture and shine to your curls. It has medium to firm hold without the nasty crunch or white flakes we hate.
Another 2014 Editor’s Choice, the honey and shea butter in this product come together to give your coils nourishment, shine, and a serious hold.
Water based and alcohol-free, this curling spray puts moisture back into your strands and will protect them during heat styling. This gel will leave your hair smooth and shiny with a good hold that will last.
Made to de-frizz and add manageability to your twists or locs, Cantu Shea Butter Moisturizing Twist & Lock Gel is made with 100% pure shea butter and does not contain harsh chemicals. Your moisturized locs and twists will shine through with this lightweight non-flaking gel that has no silicone, parabens, sulfates or even gluten.
Get tons of shine without the oily feeling, this aloe whipped butter gel is all natural and will leave your hair in place without leaving it hard and oily. Your hair will thank you for all the nourishing shine and softness from the exotic oils and vitamins.
Even curlies want the hair to lay down sometimes and this is the product to do it. No harsh ingredients and made with organics, you get secure hold along with hair that will shine and have more moisture than before. No fear of a build-up here as it rinses out easily.
A creamy gel on the list that adds definition to your waves and curls using a botanical and vitamin enriched complex. You get moisture to the hair shaft while maintaining your curls pattern. Non-sticky and soft to the touch, you won’t have weight down hair with this styling gel-cream.
Another creamy gel, Darcy’s Curling Cream Gel is great for setting your curls, twists, or braids. You get moisture and definition to your curl pattern and no parabens, silicones, or sulfates in this gel.
A favorite for many curlies, this gel goes a long way and can hold your curls without the flakes or build-up. You get shine, moisture, and hold all the while your curls get better hang time. It’s made with an advanced botanical formula from natural ingredients that nourish your tresses.
You get a lot of good gel for your money with this one. No flaking, no tacking, and it contains pure 100% olive oil. If you want your hair to have amazing hold with no white residue, then this is your product. It’s great for all hair types.
Here is a low-price flexible cream gel that’s big on conditioning. It’s for smoothing, and controlling those curls and flyaways without weighing your hair down. Water, glycerin, and soybean oil are high on the ingredients list so you get moisture with no build-up.
Curls in a bottle will enhance your curls each and every day. Lightweight and gentle, this product is for all hair types to control frizz, add shine, and make those curls pop!
A favorite two years in a row on NaturallyCurly.com, this Curl Keeper will fight the frizz and give great curl definition. Since it is water based there are no worries on product build-up and it is great for all hair types. This product does not contain parabens, protein, silicones, or sulfates.