If you’ve gone through your whole life with a head full of curls, you’ll have learned the dos and don’ts of haircare and styling by now. You’ll know that curls are famously dry and thirsty, hence heat treatments are a big no-no.
You also will have recognized that natural products and no-poo shampoos and conditioners work far better for curls – particularly dense locks – than those featuring a lot of chemicals and drying alcohols.
Maintaining healthy and beautiful curls is a lifetime commitment. It takes more than just a good lather, rinse and comb-through. They are incredibly needy, rebellious and prone to breakage; hence you need to tend to them every day for a harmonious relationship.
Many people from the curly community have spent their lives avoiding all types of styling products including mousse, gels and creams, for fear of being left with high levels of build-up, a crunchy feeling and visible flakiness.
While this can be true for cheap brands, there is a wealth of quality hair styling products available that are specifically designed for curls. In other words, they are made up of ingredients that will leave you with all the benefits and none of the nuisances.
For many curly women and men, gel has revealed itself to be the holy grail of styling products: the one thing that keeps fly-aways from taking flight keeps unruly coils in check and adds volume to tired curls. All that without leaving a flaky residue or an unpleasant touch.
If you’re finally ready to embrace hairstyling products for your tresses, check out our list of the best gels for curly hair.
Cantu Shea Butter’s Moisturizing Twist & Lock Gel
In the last seventeen years, one brand in the world of hair and beauty products has established itself as one of the most trusted names among the curly community: Cantu Shea Butter’s range of award-winning, ultra-moisturizing products for textured hair.
Made with 100% pure shea butter, Cantu’s products are filled with the hydrating, nourishing goodness needed to bring out the very best in your curls: volume, softness, strength, overall health and an unignorable look.
Winner of the 2015, Naturally Curly Editor’s Choice Award, Cantu’s Moisturizing Twist & Lock Gel has become a true favourite for all curl types.
Offering ultimate frizz-control and a silky-smooth hold, this gel works for wavy as well as super kinky hair – it’s all about adjusting the quantity to your hair’s needs.
This gel feels much more creamy than sticky and you can immediately notice its hydrating properties when it comes in contact with your skin – let alone your curls!
This gel is a real winner for touching up twist-outs and locks after deep conditioning, enhancing both definition and shine.
Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Elongating Flaxseed Curling Gel
You might have been using flaxseeds to enrichen your diet with Omega-3 fatty acids by pouring some on your granola or mixing up your pancakes with flaxseed flour, but did you know it’s just as beneficial to your curls?
Flaxseeds are a great remedy for hair that is prone to breakage, frizz and dryness. The fatty acids present in this superfood nourish your hair from the hair shaft right down to your tips, leaving it feeling soft and smooth and looking at its healthiest.
Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Elongating Flaxseed Curling Gel is exactly what you need for root, shaft and scalp health. Free of sulphates, parabens, mineral oils and petrolatum, this Omega-rich styling gel elongates shrivelled curls, giving them perfect definition whilst keeping them moisturized.
This gel is superlight weight, bringing a nice bounce to your curls without making it feel straw-like or crunchy. Alcohol-free and featuring vitamin E, Aunt Jackie’s Elongating Flaxseed Curling Gel keeps your hair happily hydrated with a no-shrink policy.
Twisted Sista’s Amazing Coconut, Avocado & Almond Oil Dream Curl Gel
Thin and brittle curls can be particularly difficult to work with as they are more sensitive to hair products and easily break, leaving it brittle and dry.
To combat the problem, you must be very careful in your selection of hair products to ensure you are not adding extra stress on your curls. This means steering clear of products containing drying alcohols, sulphates, phthalates and parabens.
Twisted Sista’s Amazing Coconut, Avocado & Almond Oil Dream Curl Gel works magic on thin and wavy curl textures by infusing them with moisture and the vitamins and fatty acids present in avocados, coconut and almond oil.
Avocado oil is full of phytosterols and vitamin E which your curls will gladly suck up and absorb into its follicles, encouraging new growth spurts and added strength. Think of this oil as a protective layer, shielding your hair from free radicals and dryness.
Curly Girl Method approved and fairly priced, this Twisted Sista Curl Gel fits into any haircare routine and budget perfectly. It’s effects on your curls are very pleasing, offering maximum hold, a lightweight feel and a lovely sheen.
Max Green Alchemy’s Scalp Rescue Styling Gel
Are you dealing with a sensitive scalp, dry curls and untameable frizz? Not to worry – this quality styling gel from the Max Green Alchemy brand will come to your rescue and free you from your itchy scalp and keep your curls in check – all day long.
Max Green Alchemy’s Scalp Rescue Styling Gel only features the good stuff, none of the synthetic silicones, PVP and parabens that contribute to dry and unhealthy hair in the first place.
It’s organic formula acts like an herbal infusion on your hair and scalp: soothing and invigorating at the same time. It provides a flexible hold without weighing your hair down, allowing you to re-style throughout the day without issue.
This vegan product will get your curls through all weathers, particularly their greatest enemy: humidity. No fly-aways, no flake, no tack – just a long-lasting hold, a wonderful look and an incredible feel that is soft to the touch, even in tropical climates.
Eco Styler’s Olive Oil Styling Gel
Olive oil is so much more than just a kitchen staple. While it makes for delicious salad dressings and tasty tostadas, it also works wonders for the skin and the hair. Even in its pure form, it can be directly applied to the hair and body for nourishing, moisturizing effects.
Therefore, it is hardly a surprise that the Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel has become a staple haircare product within the curly community: made with 100% pure olive oil, it is the healthiest, frizz-taming treat you can offer your tresses.
The Eco Styler hydrates dry curls and locks in the moisture, giving your hair a healthy shine and a fantastic hold all day long without weighing down your hair.
Frizz will become a thing of the past with this styling product and you won’t have to worry about visible or tangible tack or flake either. This gel – appropriate for men and women – feels great and soothing on the skin and guarantees a non-itch experience.
There are three other gels available from the Eco Styler brand, all of which come highly recommended for curly and wavy hair:
Eco Styler Curl and Wave Gel
The alcohol-free Eco Styler Curl and Wave Gel is the ideal product for defining scrunch waves.
Eco Styler’s Moroccan Argan Oil Styling Gel
Eco Styler’s Moroccan Argan Oil Styling Gel, on the other hand, is particularly beneficial to dry curls that are prone to frizz and fly-aways, leaving your hair UV protected and with a beautiful shine.
Eco Styler Black Castor and Flax Seed Gel
The brand’s latest product, the Eco Styler Black Castor and Flax Seed Gel, repairs and restores damaged hair with a natural dose of wheat proteins and black castor oil, which is known to promote hair growth and prevent hair breakage and skin issues such as dandruff, eczema, etc.
Make Sure Your Curls & Your Chosen Product Are Gelling
It’s easy to be put off by bad experiences with hair products that did not have the desired effect on your curls – or worse yet, quite the opposite.
While this can be down to poor ingredients and minimal quality, it can also be a matter of your hair and your chosen product simply being a mismatch – i.e. too heavy or light on your curl type – and you two just weren’t properly gelling.
Base your gel choice on your hair type. If you have wavy or loosely curled hair, stick to products that are lightweight and as natural as possible. This will ensure a bounce in your tresses and a natural look.
For tight and textured curls, you’ll need something with a stronger hold and extra moisture for an optimal styling and wellness experience. Keep this in mind and you’ll be sure to find a product you gel with!