Growing up with Shirley Temple-level curls as a kid left me with a sense of appreciation for curly haired people of the world. You put up with a lot, from strangers touching your hair in grocery stores to exhausting searches to locate the best curly hair products of all time. Whether you're rocking tight coils or flowy ringlets, it feels like experimenting with the self-touted life-changing curly hair shampoos, conditioners, and styling creams can be such a hit-or-miss.
Though my curls have since turned into loose waves, I consider the crusade for curl friendly hair products a noble one, and sought to find some solutions for the curly hair woes. Namely, I wanted to know more about the products that fight frizz, add curl definition, and moisturize hair without weighing it down. I reached out to several Bustle staffers with curly hair, in order to learn about their favorite curly hair routines and products that don't just talk a big game, they actually deliver.
Whether you're working on your post-shower curly hair routine or you're just tired of waking up to a bad hair day, read on to check out what's working for fellow curly haired people in real life.
1Alyssa Brides: DevaCurl ArcAngel Gel & Silk Pillowcases
Recommended By: Alyssa Brides, Bustle Video Intern
"This gel addresses the most basic concern of having curly hair, and that's frizz," Brides said. "It cuts down the frizz to curl ratio by an astronomical amount, but it doesn't make my hair into a Chamber of Secrets Malfoy monstrosity."
She also pointed out how effective silk pillowcases have been in combatting bad hair days. Brides said of the overnight trick, "The other biggest lifesaver that I have found to combat horrible hair days is to sleep at night with a silk pillowcase."
Why She Loves Them:
Brides first discovered DevaCurl's ArcAngel curl gel at age 10, when her hairdresser (a curly hair specialist) told her she swore by it. "It turns my hair from Cousin It-levels of frizz to Princess Merida-levels of shine, without getting into Ross Gellar-levels of crunchy," Brides said.
She scrunches the gel into her curls right after a shower, and then sleeps on a silk pillowcase. "It sounds very fancy-shmancy, but they're not too pricey and they cut down on most if not all of your frizz," she said.
2Carrie Hawks: Kinky Curly Custard
Recommended By: Carrie Hawks, Bustle Motion Graphics Designer
Getting curl definition and keeping frizz at bay are two of Hawks's curl concerns, and they said Kinky Curly helps with both of them. The formula also helps to stretch out their curls, they said.
Why They Love It:
Hawks said the long-lasting formula joined their post-shower routine after they stumbled upon it on a black natural hair blog. "Right after I wash my hair, I put a little oil on it, then get a dab of Kinky Curly and smooth it through my hair, root to tip," Hawks said. "Afterwards, I pull it into a wrapped coil and fasten it with a bobby pin."
They also love that the product isn't tested on animals and uses natural ingredients, too.
3Erin Mayer: DevaCurl NoPoo, Microfiber Towels & L'Oreal Mythic Oil
Recommended By: Erin Mayer, Bustle Associate Fashion & Beauty Editor
Mayer said cutting down on frizz and getting curl separation and definition were the main concerns she looks to address when adopting new products into her curl regiment.
Why She Loves Them:
"DevaCurl NoPoo has been a game-changer for me because it lets me really clean my hair without weighing it down," she said. While Mayer acknowledges the trepidation in cutting shampoo out of one's routine, "this product makes the transition easier," she said.
Mayer only recently found L'Oréal's Mythic Oil, which she said has transformed her hair. "I apply it before I step out of the shower when my hair is still sopping wet, and it prevents frizz and makes my hair super-duper soft."
Mayer's last defense against frizz? DevaCurl's microfiber towel. "It mostly cuts down on frizz and helps better define curls," she said.
4Hannah Caldwell: Kérastase Cleansing Conditioner, Macadamia Oil Treatment & DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel
Recommended By: Hannah Caldwell, Bustle Associate Social Media Editor
Caldwell reaches for her favorite products to counteract fuzzy curls, in order to get definition and a frizz-free finish.
Why She Loves Them:
The Macadamia Healing Oil leaves Caldwell's hair feeling soft, and she said it even helps decrease drying time. "The number one way to make my hair happy is moisture, and this oil treatment does just that," she said.
Caldwell also softens her curls and holds them in place with DevaCurl's Ultra Defining Gel, which she said doesn't feel sticky or crunchy at all. "After an oil or serum, I like to scrunch this gel through my hair," she explained.
After ditching shampoos, Caldwell has come to rely on cleansing conditioners as her next-favorite curl essential. Her favorites? Kérastase Cleansing Conditioner, Hairstory's New Wash, and DevaCurl's Low-Poo and No-Poo are all great options, she said.
5Jackie Bernstein: Sebastian Potion 9, Rusk Flexible Styling Cream & Kérastase Discipline Masque
Recommended By: Jackie Bernstein, Bustle Deputy Branded Editor
"I have a lot of hair, 'big' hair, so people tend to assume I have thick hair," Bernstein explained. "In reality it's actually on the finer side, doesn't absorb moisture readily, and tends to get bigger/curlier at the bottom and fall flatter on top (i.e., Alice from Dilbert and the dreaded pyramid)."
Bernstein said her hair dries the minute she gets out of the shower, so her biggest challenge is finding "something that can treat my hair, be applied while wet, and give me some control and hold when air-drying, so things don't get out of hand."
Why She Loves Them:
Bernstein was first introduced to Sebastian Potion 9 by her hairdresser around 2006. "It doesn't weigh my hair down, it's not sticky, and it provides hold without being crunchy," she said. For more definition, Bernstein works the product into her hair by twisting around her finger, and she said the fragrant formula garners plenty of compliments from friends.
Bernstein uses RUSK's Flexible Styling Cream alongside Sebastian when she needs a little more hold on occasion. "It's a bit stickier, so if you need more hold, this is a good curl cream option," she said.
The Kérastase Discipline Masque has only recently been added to Bernstein's curly hair routine, but she says it's worked pretty well. "I've been experimenting with this hair mask, and it does make my hair softer and tamer afterwards," she said. "Besides, I've been obsessed with sheet masks, so you might as well do a hair mask simultaneously."
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