Let's be honest: Finding products that work with your curls is a journey of trial and error that is never, ever fun. So we've compiled this list of curl-loving products—from heavy creams to oils to leave-ins, drugstore finds to high-end purchases—that will address every curl need out there. But first, let's talk about the science of curly hair. There are so many factors that play into our curls looking their best, and lot of that has to do with our hair porosity.
What is hair porosity?
Porosity has to do with how hair absorbs water and hydration. Low porosity hair doesn't absorb water very well, which can lead to dehydration and frizz. High porosity hair absorbs water very quickly, but can also break more easily and take forever to dry. Want to know your porosity levels? Pluck a few hairs and drop it into a glass of plain water. If it sinks to the bottom immediately, you may have high porosity hair. Low porosity hair will float on top of the water for a while. If your hair sinks a little then hovers in the middle, you probably have normal porosity hair. Well, congrats on being perfect, I guess.
What products does my curly hair need?
Low porosity hair won't react very well with heavy creams and butters, and prefers products that the hair cuticle can absorb better, like serums and sprays. High porosity hair can handle heavier products, which should include some protein treatments to strengthen your strands. But even with these guidelines, it can still be difficult to find products that are your holy grails. Ahead, our editor-approved guide to curly hair products, no matter your hair type.
There's a reason this curl cream has a cult following—it works. For curls, coils, and even waves, this smoothie adds softness, definition, and hydration to your hair. A little goes a long way, so for hair that can get weighed down, start with a small amount and work in more if needed.
On wet or dry hair, this spray revitalizes curls that need some extra encouragement to take shape. It adds a healthy bounce to your hair without weighing it down or creating extra unwanted frizz.
All of Bounce Curl's products are top notch, but this hair butter is packed with hydration. For curls and coils, this cream adds definition and hydration for 4C hair. For type 3 curls, this cream can still work for you if used sparingly.
Curly hair is notoriously dehydrated, which is why this oil is an essential part of the routine. It is a one-product oil that adds moisture, tames frizz, and softens hair. Plus, it can also be used on the body for all-over hydration.
If frizz is the bane of your existence, reach for this serum by John Frieda. It helps form curls into spirals and also adds heat protection before styling with a diffuser. The result is soft, cared-for curls that retain moisture.
Whether you're creating a slicked back look or are looking for a gel to add definition and keep frizz at bay, this gel does it all. It's infused with hydrating olive oil for curls that have never been softer, but also doesn't skimp on definition.
Detangling curly hair doesn't need to be on par with a high-intensity workout. This conditioner makes it easy to detangle hair in the shower. It is ultra hydrating without weighing down hair, and adds volume and softness with every wash day.
For waves or loose curls, this hair balm makes air drying a breeze. It's a one-step wonder to create soft, touchable locks without spending years styling. Say goodbye to fuzzy, frizzy hair.
This curl cream is perfect for anyone who tends to think their hair is too fine for creams. With both a perfumed and fragrance-free version, this cream adds hydration and volume but never feels sticky or greasy.
If your goal is boosted, DNA-spiral curls, this gel will get you there. It has a serum-like consistency which wards off some of the common issues with gel, like excess crunch or flaking. Used on wet hair, it locks in moisture and leaves you with enviable, defined spirals.
Are your day four curls falling flat and no longer bouncy? This mist revives those unwound curls and gives them back that definition you love so much. Simply spritz it onto sections that need extra encouragement, scrunch, and watch your curls come alive again.
In order for hair to be healthy, the scalp needs to be healthy too. SEEN was founded by dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin who created every product in their hair line. This curl cream uses only skin-loving ingredients for less frizz, more hydration, and healthier curls.
Beyond the unbeatable $7 price tag, this curl cream actually works. It's a vegan formula full of shea butter and pequi oil, with a creamy, pudding-like consistency that will drench your hair in moisture. Work this through your hair in sections before styling for a touchable, shiny finish.
Another scalp savior to offer you some sweet relief. If you're dealing with a dry, itchy scalp, take your time while moisturizing with this serum. Made of vitamins A, C, D & E, it will hydrate your hair from root-to-tip and stimulate hair growth overtime.
The one and only Tracee Ellis Ross, who has a powerful curl story, dropped new styling products to extend her haircare line on Juneteenth. This gel, created with nourishers like aloe vera, coconut oil and cacay oil, will give your curls the bounce and definition it's craving...without the crunch.
Get your hair ready for outside again with this new strengthening shampoo that'll shield it from the bad stuff. Its star ingredient, venus bark extract, is rich in antioxidants. It also has kanka extract, biotin, and vitamins to promote healthy hair growth and soothe your scalp.
Oftentimes, prestige haircare brands miss the mark when they tread into the land of textured hair. Oribe changed that when they launched their line of natural hair products. This sleek emerald tube carries a styling cream, blended with shea butter and avocado oil, to hydrate and define curls. Apply this on damp hair for the best results.
When it comes to curls, dodging dryness is the number one priority. When your hair needs more than a shampoo or conditioner, add this intense moisture mask into your wash day routine. It deeply conditions coarse curls, minimizes frizz and coats each strand with a creamy, rich lather that won't weigh your hair down.
If you want a way to make styling your hair more manageable, employ this smoothing lotion. Treat is as a leave-in product on damp hair and allow the good-for-you ingredients to do the heavy lifting. It makes detangling, protecting your hair from the heat and fighting frizz feel like a breeze.
This reparative mousse will give your hair a comfortable hold with the help of blueberry extract, a powerful antioxidant we don't get enough of in our diets. Apply this before styling as a sculpting, smoothing treatment to keep your curls in place.
Every curlista knows they can count on Carol's Daughter to come through. If you're already a fan of the cult-loved Monoi line, it just got three new additions featuring this strengthening leave-in cream. If you're dealing with serious damage, monoi needs to be your hair's BFF to bring it back to life. Liberally apply this on damp hair, letting it fully absorb to reap all the hydrating and strengthening benefits.
Co-washing, a.k.a conditioner-only washing, takes the guesswork out of things when all you want is hella hydration. It enhances curl retention and has the purest ingredients, which is what this Black-owned brand is praised for, like coconut water and ghee butter to get your curls soft and squeaky-clean.
This new superfoods mask will act as the ultimate gulp of green juice for your hair. Your curls need a boost of protein every so often and these potent ingredients are all you can ask for: kiwi, avocado and spinach for extra fatty acids and antioxidant benefits. Consider your healthy hair journey thriving, if you do this once per week.
African Pride knows how to do your curls justice on the moisture front. This heavenly-smelling leave-in is not only a delight to apply because of the scent, it will give your hair added shine and bounce with literally no residue left behind. Let flakes from products be a thing of the past.
Yes, your curls are the main attraction, but it's important to show your scalp some love too, which is where most of the damage, dandruff and dryness starts. Protect your canvas with this soothing, no-rinse elixir that not only feels refreshing because of the cooling menthol and peppermint oil, but will also restore your scalp's health.