Looking for a product that will define your natural curl pattern?
There are so many gels, custards and curl creams, that it can be confusing and frustrating to find the right one, so we've put together a list of our favorite top curl definers. If you test any of these products out please remember: no two heads of hair are the same, even if they fall in the same curl category. What works for thin 4b hair may not work for thick 4b hair, and what you thought wouldn’t work on your hair texture may turn out to be a Holy Grail!
And keep reading for more information about each product.
Tigi's Curls Rock Amplifier has the texture of a creamy hair lotion. Curlies with different curl patterns love it and agree on one thing: you only need about a pea-sized amount to get defined hair. If you apply too much to each section, expect crunchy curls! Make sure to use your favorite leave-in conditioner underneath so the styler doesn’t dry out your hair.
Most naturals tell us that Kinky-Curly Curling Custard is a tough product to master. It’s full of nourishing botanicals like agave nectar extract, aloe vera juice and marshmallow, and has a very slippery and goopy texture. A little goes a long way, as it instantly clumps and smoothes your coils. Expect extremely shiny and springy coils. Although it works best on very tight, coarse coils in the “4” category, it might pack too much of a punch for loose curls. Be sure to pair it with a leave in conditioner like Kinky-Curly Knot Today.
The Ouidad brand is on many a holy grail list and it’s because their products don’t make you choose between defined and moisturized hair – you can have both! Meadowfoam seed oil helps hydrate and clump, leaving you with juicy curls. Ouidad Curl Quencher Moisturizing Gel is great for thick Type 3 curls.
It’s dense, rich, and packed with nourishing ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, and coconut oil. If you don’t like the crunch of gels, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie provides a more natural, touchable look. Since it’s not a gel, it might be difficult to define tighter coils and springs. Those with looser curls can expect soft, shiny, and light curls instead of the wet, heavy look that gels might give.
5. AG Re:coil
Re:coil is a creamy, lightweight frizz fighter. Those who’ve had great results gush about bouncy, shiny, carefree curls. Those who had to pass said it wasn’t heavy enough for coarser hair textures. In humid months, use it under your favorite gel to keep the frizzies at bay. As it gets colder, it’s great as a standalone product.
Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper is a water-based styler fights frizz and gently clumps curls, so those with thick, 3b and up hair may want to pair it with a gel for more definition and hold. It’s smooth like a serum, but creates definition like a gel. If you don’t like layering products or it doesn’t take much to define your waves or curls, give Curl Keeper a try. You can reactivate it with water as the week progresses!
Give Quick Curls a try if you have waves and loose curls or fine, thin curlier hair. It’s a light cream, so it won’t weigh down your hair. If your hair regimen has more scrunching than meticulous raking and finger styling, your hair might love this product.
Curl Junkie Coffee-Coco Curl Creme combines the moisturizing benefits of a leave-in conditioner with the smoothing and holding properties of a gel. It’s lighter than dense creams or stiff gels, and can act as your leave-in and styler in one! Those with 3c-4a hair seem to love this product. Give it a try if you want a light, bouncy wash and go.
A lot thicker than Quick Curls, Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue is meant for dense, thick heads of highly textured hair! The Miss Jessie’s website says this medium hold styling cream is perfect for “pogo stick oingy boingy curls”. Rake and smooth it onto your hair section by section and watch the curls bounce back!
Curls Curl Gel-les’C is a very lightweight, serum-like gel, perfect for preventing frizz on looser curls and defining fine (as opposed to coarse), tight coils. If you need high hold and staying power, this might be better to use on top of a conventional gel.
What's your favorite curl defining product?
This article was originally published in August 2010 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.