For better or worse, I’ve had naturally curly/wavy *cough*FRIZZY*cough* hair all my life. In my teens and college (in the 90s) I was not able to choose from a plethora of curl tamers when you’re growing up in the post-Aqua Age era. My only option was moose or gel, and while both helped contain the frizz it would also leave my hair crunch-i-fied.
But after college, I have found that the beauty industry has developed tenfold when it comes to providing products for the wild Lion-King hair that I have. While I’m not an official Hair-Curlologist, I’ve tested many, many products over the years to get the best frizz-free, natural looking curl out there. I am your curlology guinea pig – I’ve got different kinds at different price points.
Bumble & Bumble also has a specific “Curl Creme” but I have found that the Styling Creme is far more what I’m looking for when it comes to my curls. While on the expensive side, over $20, this is my go-to product that won’t leave my curls weighted down but will have them frizz free. The bottle usually lasts a good 2 months if I’m usually it pretty much every day, so in that perspective it’s around $0.30 / use. The best too is that it doesn’t have a strong scent and really all I need is to put it in my damp hair, hand crunch my curls once or twice and let it air dry. BAM! Off to the rest of my day.
Herbal Essences has two products I love and this is because usually you cannot find the Curl Define & Hold Creme. But if you can, this is my preference. And at under $5, this is a better option for those looking to save a few pennies. This creme is also an apply & go – I never need a hair dryer or curling iron to help define the curls better. Plus it also leaves the hair light weight. Not as light weight as the B&B Styling Creme, but a good alternative.
For stores that don’t carry the Curl Define & Hold Creme, my recommendation would be to seek out the Touchably Smooth Anti-Frizz Creme. Usually at around $4 – $6, this product also leaves your curls defined without hurting your wallet. However, this creme product I have found to weigh down the curls a bit more. And a little goes a long way because it does weigh down the curls much more. However, it still gets the job done. At times this product does well with a hair dryer with a diffuser, so that can help you achieve the curl bounce you desire when using this product. But there are plenty of days I put this product into towel-dry hair, crunch up the curls and let it air dry.
This isn’t a product I’ve used in the last couple of years, but prior to discovering Bumble & Bumble and Herbal Essences, this was my go to product. The Rusk Curl Silk is a mousse but don’t let that start any 80s mall-rat hairstyle nightmares. This mousse I found to not only be light weight on my curls but also didn’t result in the crunchy-crunchy curls (unless it was wicked cold and then that just can’t be helped). But for the summer and getting wavy loose curls, this product was fantastic. And i usually found it under $10 – Cha-Ching!
Typically I use an anti-frizz serum at the end of the styling and TRUST a little goes a LOOOOONG way. But occasionally when I am out of styling creme (gah!), I will use anti-frizz serum to get my curls through the day. (Do what you gotta do, gurl!) I’ve used a variety but the best I have found is BioSilk Therapy. It typically comes in a small bottle and is on the high side at $14+ per bottle, but as I mentioned above a little goes a long way.
Here are some other products that can help define your curls further if you are looking just for that extra pop.
1. Mini Curling Iron
I learned this trick from the hair stylist of Sex and The City on some behind the scenes special years ago. I was fascinated with how Sarah Jessica Parker could always have curls that looks all over the place but in a controlled fashion. The stylist’s trick was that after they had product in her hair dry, she would take a small mini curling iron and curl up any fly-aways or curls that had gone a bit straight. In fact, she said at times she used up to 5 different curling irons. However, the mini curling iron was the best at getting those too-loose curls back into place. I use a 1/2-inch curling iron but you can also probably use a 3/8-inch curling iron as well. Every time I do this, it always (literally, ALWAYS) makes my curls look that more defined. It is by far one of the best styling tips I’ve ever picked up.
2. Hair Dryer with a Diffuser
I had never even heard of a diffuser, or it’s purpose, until a stylist who was so much $$$ I could cry used it on me to dry my hair. I guess that the last two $$ were for him educating me on proper beauty tools. Anyhoo, I’ve since became a huge fan of the blow dryer. Gone are the “most” of the days I just blow out my lion mane into holy frizz heaven and I actually use the dryer as part of my styling arsenal. For curling my hair I use a dryer that has a diffuser. My biggest tip with this is to buy a dryer with a diffuser included. DO NOT fall for buying a diffuser separately and assume it will fit – trust me, it won’t. I’ve tried it twice and it never fits even if it’s the same brand (Revlon I’m side-eyeing you!). The hair dryer / diffuser combo I use is the Infiniti by Conair 223XR. However, there is also the Hot Tools Professional Ht1044 Ionic 1875 Watt Travel Dryer for those who travel a lot and this dryer offers a more compact option.
Well, that’s all the advice I have right now about curling. I’m not balding anytime soon (knock on wood) so I’m sure I’ll continue to test out more curling products in the days to come. I’ll be sure to keep the top picks coming and until then Happy Curling!