The truth is, there's no single product that can erase frizz just like that [snaps fingers]. And if you're following the Curly Girl Method, as outlined by the great Lorraine Massey, you know that frizz can definitely be a fierce monster in need of equally fierce taming for wavies. Truth be told, I have a nice long list of 18 Curly Girl Method-friendly frizz fighting products for you to consider trying this year, but let it be known, there's more to fighting frizz than just products. So here are the techniques and products that will banish frizz for you, for good.
Why do I have frizz? And what can I do about it?
At the root of frizz is dry hair, especially if you're new the the Curly Girl Method. Hair needs water and for that water to be sealed in with the right techniques and ingredients. But if your hair is coated with product buildup, it becomes unable to absorb water.
So the goals are to achieve hydration and to preserve that moisture! You can achieve deep hydration over time using techniques like squish to condish which means you squeeze in your conditioner, and deep conditioning weekly. If you're a wavy girl like I am, you may find your locs become limp a few weeks after a terrific hair day—that's always my dead giveaway it's time to clarify. I use a sulfate-heavy shampoo like Suave Daily Clarifying monthly to remove buildup, and then follow up with a good, long deep condition. My favorites are Curl Junkie Curl Rehab or Jessicurl Deep Treatment, they set me straight every time!
Now, before I dive into my favorite frizz-fighting styling products, let's discuss the order to apply them, especially if you're layering. For me, leave-in conditioner is always an essential base to lock in moisture, and gel always comes last to lock in hold. Any other way equates to frizz in my book! If I'm using a cream and/or enhancer as well, those go in-between—with my cream under my enhancer. This is called the LCEG method (Leave-in, Cream, Enhancer, Gel). Of course, you can apply products in any order you want, but that's what works best for this wavy girl. There are definitely some products that can do it all (moisturize, enhance, and add hold) without the need to layer multiple products…but before I digress, let's talk about them all! Here are 18 products you should definitely consider trying in 2018.
Leave-in Conditioners: Seal in Moisture
On the rare day I forget to apply my leave-in, I pay for it dearly. Even though I have mostly low-porosity hair, I lose so much moisture as the day goes on, it's a must that I wash the next day just to infuse some water back into it. With each of these leave-in conditioners, I always apply on dripping-wet hair.
It's lightweight, moisturizing, contains soothing botanical ingredients and phytosterols, and is protein-free and low in glycerin—making it great for all hair types. Everyone I've recommended it to adores it. I smooth over and squish in about a dime-sized amount.
It's dense, incredibly moisturizing without being too heavy, and smells unbelievably good. Fatty alcohols, organic coconut oil, organic aloe and small-molecule proteins ensure your hair will retain moisture all day (and multiple days after that). A little goes a very long way, so it's an excellent value. I use about a green-pea sized dollop. Love it best under my Bounce Curl gel, mentioned later on in this article.
Intensely moisturizing without adding weight, this leave-in contains nothing but clean, ethically sourced ingredients—putting it at a 0 on the Think Dirty app, and putting your mind at ease if you're ever concerned about the ingredients you're putting on your body. Proteins and honey lock in moisture and strengthen hair, while soothing and fragrant ingredients like lavender, rosemary and lotus flower oil make it a dream to use. It comes with a spray top, but I like to have more control over application, so I spray 5-7 pumps in my hand, emulsify, and then smooth over and squish in on dripping hair.
Technically not a leave-in conditioner, I know, but it's literally the only conditioner I've EVER used that can do double-duty without weighing my on-the-fine-side waves down. Just a pea-sized dot will do, and it pairs well with the Bounce Curl gel. More on that later. Safflower and broccoli oils are natural frizz inhibitors, as they mimic the properties of silicones while still being easy to remove. The smell is completely natural (bergamot/citrus/lavender) and slightly sweet, without being over the top. I'd like to eat it, please. One of my favorites.
Is there any detangler or leave-in conditioner out there that has more slip? I think not. I know of several curlies that don't even bother with a rinse-out conditioner, and go straight to this. I can see why. For me, this one is a little on the heavy side, but for someone with especially tangle-prone hair (my 4-year old!), or with higher-porosity hair, it detangles and locks in moisture like nothing else. It's so concentrated, I think between the two of us, my daughter and I have been nursing our bottle of it for almost a year!
Creams: Add definition
I don't always use creams. In fact, I probably use them only in summer at this point in my two-year Curly Girl Method 'journey.' They are invaluable for adding definition and as an additional second step for locking in moisture to prevent frizz. For my low-porosity hair, I really only need them in our swampy Texas summers, when the heat and dew points fry the moisture from my hair. For those of you new to CG or with higher porosity hair, you may want to use creams year round. I always apply these on very wet hair, after my leave-in conditioner.
Balanced in proteins, humectants, and emollients, it's moisturizing but light, and just does the job. Smells clean, like soap. I use about a chickpea-size dollop, smoothed over and scrunched in.
This cream—I mean, wow! I know it's not formulated specifically for curly hair, but it gives me excellent definition, no heaviness, moisture, and a style that lasts for at least one extra day. I LOVE it. Just a dime-size drop is all I need. Maybe a tad less. It's my favorite complement to my Boucleme gel, which is also mentioned below.
Glycerin - and protein-free, it's a basic cream that adds a little tooth to my too-soft hair, and a little hold so my gel doesn't have to work so hard. When the dew points are hovering around 70 degrees, it's the first product I reach for on wash day. The fragrance is a little sweet and perfume-y, but it doesn't linger.
Released in February of this year, the Only Curls brand of hair products cream and a gel, which is also just terrific is manufactured in the UK and as of right now, are available only on their website. The cream contains marula oil, which I haven't seen in too many other cream formulations—and it's an incredibly moisturizing ingredient that's great for hair and skin as well. A tiny bit goes a long way in softening my waves without adding heaviness, so it's a great value. Smells incredible. Like you're sitting in the nicest spa, on the most expensive beach vacation, ever.
Enhancers: Make Those Waves and Curls Bounce!
I almost always use an enhancer between my leave-in and gel, even if I don't use a cream. They give my hair a little extra hold, shrinkage, and if I'm using a foam enhancer, some lightness and bounce. For my hair, enhancers do what they do—enhance—through the use of ingredients such as protein (which lends each hair more strength/structure/rigidity), humectants (which draw moisture to the hair and/or seal it in), marshmallow extract, and polyquaternium-69, among others.
It contains a wonderful range of moisturizing, strengthening, nurturing, and plumping ingredients for hair. Its key ingredient is extracted from the Larch tree, which is known for being especially durable and waterproof. This foam also contains film-forming ingredients to battle frizz, including aloe juice and hydrolyzed rice protein.
If you're looking for something to enhance, moisturize, and add hold, the will be your BFF. Honey deeply moisturizes, silk amino acids add structure and hold, and nettle extract adds shine. For some reason, this one pairs with Innersense I Create Hold in a way that feels that were meant to be used together.
This family-owned brand out of California has a solid lineup of salon-level products, at completely reasonable prices. This glycerin-free foam also contains polyquaternium-69 and hydrolyzed corn to prevent frizz and lock in moisture, while also adding curl enhancement and hold. Absolutely necessary on the hottest dog-days of summer in the south! And bonus, it's also fragrance free for those of you sensitive to perfumes. Love love love.
This low-glycerin, low-protein foam adds a lightness to my hair unrivaled by any other product I've used. So if your hair is thick and/or coarse, this would be a great pick to add bounce and weightlessness. But for my medium density, fine-ish hair, it also adds a volume. Great formulation all around—and guess what, it's another great fragrance-free option.
Gels: Provide Hold
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, for wavies like me, using a gel as the last step is essential in lending my texture hold and cutting down on frizz. My pro tip: I apply two layers of just about every gel I use for added hold. Layer one gets smoothed on and scrunched into dripping wet hair, then I plop my hair on top of my head with a tshirt or my trusty Hair RePear towel. Then, smooth over and scrunch in a second layer in sections with wet hands after taking off my plop towel.
I probably use about a nickel-size dollop of this gel because it's so thick and concentrated—and I always use more than that of any other gel! Creates a soft cast that's easily scrunched out, but lends hold for multiple days. Plus, it smells like an orange creamsicle. YUM.
I first heard about this brand from my British friends on Instagram, and boy were they on to something. Full of good-for-your-hair ingredients like aloe, coconut oil, argan oil, flaxseed, rosemary, magnolia and more, it also smells good enough to eat!. Works great on its own, but I also really love the added definition and lasting style I get when I pair it with my Living Proof Prime Style Extender underneath.
Bounce Curl Gel
If you're looking for a one-and-done product, is IT. Curl enhancing, defining, lightness, and great hold without crunch. For me, it needs a little moisture underneath, and I've found either a dot of Bounce Curl conditioner or Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave-In to do the trick best. Where fragrance is concerned, this is my absolute favorite: Mango, pineapple, and something a little floral underneath (just can't put my finger on it!), without being too over-the-top tropical. It's completely dreamy.
If my hair gets maxed out on the protein in any of my other gels (if it's not obvious already, I LOVE gels), this is usually the first one I reach for. Polyquat-69 makes it especially curl enhancing and frizz-fighting. It's one of my very favorite ingredients of all time. In fact, it's such a good ingredient, Naturally Curly has an entire article dedicated to it, here.
Kenra 17 Styling Gel
This gel lends outstanding hold with very little crunch, and is glycerin-free—the perfect combo on crazy high or low dew-point days. It also contains very little protein (hydrolyzed silk is the next-to-last ingredient), so it's a great option for those with coarse hair who need solid hold. Smells clean and fresh. It's one of my very favorite gels when I need great hold.
Which of these Curly Girl Method-friendly products have you used? What are your frizz-fighting holy grails? Let me know in the comments below.