Curl and moisture? It doesn’t have to be a head-scratcher. You can activate your curls, coils, and waves without flaking out or adding crunch. Here’s a hot list of 10 curl activators that define and hydrate.

What is a Curl Activator?

A curl activator can be applied to wet hair as a moisturizing step before your styling product. It won’t give your waves, curls, or coils much hold, but it can help prevent frizz and add shine, moisture, and softness to the hair. Many curl activators contain glycerin, a common humectant ingredient that attracts moisture to the hair strand. 

Can a Curl Activator Make Your Hair Curly?

Curl-activating products are formulated to enhance your natural curl pattern. They don’t have the power to turn straight or wavy hair into curly hair, but they help temporarily activate your naturally occurring curls (this is not a perm!).  

1. AG Hair Curl Re: Coil Curl Activator

“Like Abracadabra,” the “Holy Grail!” and “gold!” — NaturallyCurly members give this product high praise for curl definition, frizz control, and hold without added weight or greasy feel. AG Hair Care claims that “nothing defines, maintains and moisturizes curls” like their activator. No salt, PABA, parabens, gluten, DEA, or animal testing.

2. Cantu Shea Butter Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream

10 Curl Activators That Won't Dry Out

This is another fan favorite because of its satisfying results and low price. Users report amazing curls that move, reduce frizz, and improve hair health. It’s made with pure shea butter and no mineral oil, sulfates, parabens, silicones, phthalates, gluten, paraffin, or propylene.

3. SoftSheen-Carson Care Free Curl Gold Instant Activator

Users are quite satisfied with the curl definition this activator delivers, its lasting power, and its “round-the-clock” moisturizing. No dry, greasy, or stiff curls or coils. Hair is silky smooth.

4. Luster’s S-Curl Activator and Moisturizer

10 Curl Activators That Won't Dry Out

With this activator, you can define your curl and condition it. It contains glycerin, vitamin B5, and botanical conditioning agents like argan and olive oils to help eliminate breakage and add softness and shine. Users are pleased with its moisturizing might. It has an anti-frizz formula without heaviness or crunch. No parabens or mineral oil.

5. Creme of Nature with Argan Moisture & Shine Curl Activator Creme

One user said that her natural hair loved this highly concentrated product. The rich, creamy formula revives and transforms dry curls into soft, flexible, defined ones. It also keeps the frizz down. No sulfates, silicones, mineral oil, or petrolatum.

6. Twisted Sista Curl Activator Creme

10 Curl Activators That Won't Dry Out

“No crunch, just soft curls,” said a user. The manufacturer touts that their non-greasy formula instantly activates curls and defines them, adding volume and shine. Contains glycerin, but no sulfate or protein.

7. Aveda Be Curly™ Curl Enhancer

This enhancer, which contains wheat protein and organic aloe, expands on wet hair and retracts on dry to help bring out the curl. Users report curls that are smooth and frizz-free. It’s also free from parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, formaldehyde, and synthetic fragrance.

8. CurlSmith Moisture Memory Reactivator

10 Curl Activators That Won't Dry Out

CurlSmith has a little dose of magic with their curl activator that can help refresh and revive curls between wash days. Whether you have dry hair or it’s slightly damp, this can easily rejuvenate your curls, coils, and waves with just a few spritzes.

9. SheaMoisture Smoothie Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

10 Curl Activators That Won't Dry Out

This has been a fan favorite for years and has won multiple awards due to its dual properties as an all-natural leave-on styling cream specially formulated for wavy, curly hair. This enhancing smoothie bottles the benefits of Silk Protein, an important ingredient that softens unruly locks, making them irresistibly smooth and easy to manage.

10. Ceremonia Pequi Curl Activator

10 Curl Activators That Won't Dry Out

Ceremonia is bringing the heat with a curl activator that is weightless and helps to improve the wellness of your curls, coils, and waves. This curl-boosting serum contains Brazilian super fruit, Pequi, Castor Oil, and Murumuru Butter. It can help provide essential conditioning and hydration for a nourishing styling ritual.

Are curl activators a part of your regimen? Tell us about your favorite hydrating curl activators in the comments section below.

If your waves, curls, or coils are needing some deep conditioning, check out this article.

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