Choosing a styling product for curly hair is completely different than shopping for other hair types, because curly hair varies so drastically from person to person. What works for one curl pattern may not work for another, which is why finding the right products typically takes a lot of trial and error. Instead of just guessing and filling your cart up with creams, gels, and lotions that may or may not work for your specific curl pattern and texture, stick with the best styling products for curly hair, which I researched and compiled, ahead.
To narrow down the products on this list, I took to Reddit, beauty blogs, and Amazon reviews to find out what worked best for other curly-haired people. Everything on this list boasts killer reviews and even more killer formulas — and they tackle a wide range of concerns, from dry hair and split ends to tangled knots and a lack of definition. And remember: if you have curly hair, it's better to invest in a sold wide-tooth comb (instead of a brush) to help keep your natural curl pattern intact.
Whether you're looking for a custard-like gel that offers long-lasting hold, or a lightweight leave-in to add moisture back into your hair, you'll find six of best styling products for curly hair — according to the internet — below.
1. The Best Defining Gel For Enhancing Your Natural Curls
For seriously defined curls, reach for Kinky-Curly's Original Curling Custard. Made with all natural ingredients, this rich gel works to enhance your existing curl pattern by providing hold and definition while cutting out frizz. It also adds shine and softens hair, too, instead of leaving it crunchy or sticky, making it much more manageable to work with. The product is sticky when you apply it, which can seem scary, but once it's worked in, this custard will leave your strands touchable and soft.
2. Another Great Defining Gel For Soft, Manageable Curls
A lot of styling products don't provide a ton of hold. But Miss Jessie's Pillow Soft Curls offers up both softness and control, making it a win for folks looking to put the style in styling products. You scrunch it into freshly-washed, detangled hair, and your curl will dry into fluffy, voluminous coils. The brand actually calls this product a "fabric softener" for your hair, so unlike other gels, which typically leave hair feeling crunchy, your curls will feel smooth and soft.
3. The Best Leave-In Conditioner For Curly Hair
If you've got curly hair, you probably already know not to wash your hair every day. On the days where your curls need to be revived, reach for Oyin's Handmade Hair Dew. While it works as a lightweight moisturizer on wet, freshly-washed hair, it can also be applied to dry curls as a second- or third-day styler. It adds bounce and body back to curls, using castor oil and olive squalane to moisturize and protect. Curls immediately go from flat and flimsy to big and bouncy with just one application.
4. Another Great Leave-In For Curly Hair
Another great leave-in lotion option is SheaMoisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. You apply this leave-in product to damp or dry hair to hydrate just-washed strands or refresh day-old curls. The formula uses coconut oil to moisturize hair and protect against breakage, silk protein to smooth out curls, which makes them easier to manage, and neem oil for major shine, volume, and definition. It doesn't hurt that it also smells absolutely delicious.
5. A Near-Identical Formula With A Lighter-Weight Texture
SheaMoisture is one of the better products for curly hair, which is why I've also included the brand's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk as well. It utilizes a lot of the same ingredients as the smoothie, including neem oil for shine, coconut oil for moisture, and silk proteins for softness. The difference? The texture is much more lightweight, making it better for folks whose strands tend to feel weighed down by heavy creams and custards.
6. The Best Styling Product To Prevent Frizz
Curls are typically more susceptible to frizz and breakage than most other hair types, since they tend to be on the drier side. Briogeo's Curl Charisma Leave-In Defining Crème helps fight frizz and dryness by hydrating your curls using a blend of natural, mostly plant-based ingredients. Rice amino acids help seal the hair cuticle, which cuts down on frizz, while avocado and shea butter work to moisturize. The curl-defining formula helps keep your curls soft and touchable, instead of crunchy and stiff.
It doesn't offer intense hold, however, so you might need to layer in a gel or other lotion if that's what you're after. But if softness and hydration are your main hair goals, Briogeo's Curl Charisma Crème is a great option.
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