Curl Question
March 11, 2010 11:26 AM   Subscribe

What styling product should I use for my curls?

My hair is probably a 2C or 3A according to I have a lot of hair and I wear it a couple of inches past my shoulders. I haven't used products in years but would like to try something really, really light to maintain the shape of my curls all day long. A spray would be great because I don't like the feel of gel on my hands. All suggestions welcome!
posted by rglass to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I've recently started using Deva's Angel curl definer. It's a gel, but it's really, really light, and it works very well. I combine it with Biosilk Therapy, and the two together make my hair look better than it ever has.

I live in Houston, btw, which is extremely humid and has extremely hard water, as well, but these two products work wonders on my very fine, very thick, medium-curly hair.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:48 AM on March 11, 2010

3A male following thread with interest.
posted by flippant at 11:49 AM on March 11, 2010

I've got 3b type curls and I use a leave-in hair moisturizer. I've found that this product works very well. I do not have split ends, but it is the only leave-in cream moisturizer I could find where I live. It shapes my curls and leaves them frizz-free for the entire day. It also reduces the crazy volume my hair has got to normal proportions. Without this product my hair would be a shapeless messy fro.
posted by carmel at 11:57 AM on March 11, 2010

Mr. zooropa has 3a/3b hair and has been using Biolage Gelee for years and years. It's not a spray, but it is a very thin, clear gel.

She used Deva's Angell for a while, but found that she had to use a TON (at least 3x more than the Biolage) to get any results and because of that it ended up being much more expensive.
posted by zooropa at 11:57 AM on March 11, 2010

Shoot. That should say MS. zooropa.
posted by zooropa at 11:58 AM on March 11, 2010

Bumble and bumble surf spray is good for this. It's a light spray that has a pleasant scent. It does make my hair feel a little grubby, though -- not oily but salty -- but I think that is kind of what makes it work.
posted by k8lin at 12:00 PM on March 11, 2010

I've done the curly girl thing for 8+ years now, and the giant vat of L.A. Looks, applied when wet, with air dry, is as good as anything else.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:04 PM on March 11, 2010

I'm a fellow naturally very curly haired person and here's what I use every AM. Sounds like a lot but my hair drinks product, it all takes maximum 5 minutes, and I get a lot of compliments:

1) A shampoo and conditioner. Trichomania and Coolaulin are both specifically for curly hair
2) A leave in conditioner. I like American Cream.
3) Dry hair by wrapping it briefly in microfiber fleece number like one of these.
4) 4 squirts of this DHC product, worked into hair with hands, then 4 squirts of this one, worked into hair.
5) A little glop of Goth Juice hair gel, worked into hair, then a little glop of King of Mods hair stuff, worked into hair, and finally a little glop of The Big Tease, worked into hair.

That's it, I'm done. It air dries and looks great. It smells nice too. All these products are kind to your hair too -- no dried out chemical feeling.

I also think a good hair stylist, preferably one who has curly hair themselves, is a great to have, as healthy hair needs to get cut now and then.
posted by bearwife at 12:25 PM on March 11, 2010

I just started using Living Proof, and I think it's great. Their products are extremely light, because they're not made of silicone or oil. The only downer is that they're on the pricey side, but you can pick up sample sizes at Sephora.
posted by ourobouros at 12:27 PM on March 11, 2010

I looked at that website and wasn't sure where exactly my hair fell into their range - it's very fine, curly/wavy, easily frizzed but not dry or coarse feeling. I don't like gels that give it a wet look or make it feel crunchy, but I need something to give the curls shape and definition. My favorite product for a basic air dried curly look is this: Giovanni's Direct Leave-In Conditioner.

It's more of a cream than a gel, and you have to wash your hands after applying, but it makes my hair shiny and nice, with curls that have a good shape to them. If you apply too much it can make the hair feel stiff when it dries, but if that happens I just run my hands through it a few times and it loosens right up while not exploding into a definition-free bush. And I like that it doesn't dry out my hair like some other styling products do.
posted by wondermouse at 12:33 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a 3A/3B type. I really hate most gels, because they really weigh my hair down a lot and if I thin them out enough so that they don't weigh it down, they basically do nothing.

I shower and scrub my head with conditioner every day, and I follow it up with Redken Curl Refiner (leave-in detangler). I find that for me (very curly, extremely fine, tends to be dry, short haircut), this is all I need to avoid the frizzies and keep a decent shape to my hair. Redken Ringlet 07 Curl Protector (more of a serum or lotion than the Curl Refiner) is also a good light-feeling product for the extremely fine-haired among us.

I'm probably going to switch to the Aveda Be Curly line -- my hairstylist runs an Aveda salon, and I really like the way that the aveda shampoos and other stuff smells. My hairstylist uses the Aveda Curl Protector on me, and it seems to work really similarly to the Curl Refiner that I'm still finishing off the last bottle of.

(All these products are things you shouldn't use if you're doing the whole Curly Girl routine -- I tried that and it made my scalp and neck break out horribly, so I will happily continue to use things that contain all manner of silicones.)
posted by kataclysm at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have 3a/3b hair, and the one I keep going back to is Aveda's Confixor, which is a liquid gel. Last time I got a haircut, the stylist used some of the Flaxseed spray gel as well as Confixor, and that seemed nice too, but maybe a little bit heavy.

I tried the Be Curly line and it broke me out along the hairline something fierce. But alot of people like it.
posted by cabingirl at 12:49 PM on March 11, 2010

Another curly girl here... I can't afford OUIDAD, but wish I could as I've never used its equal. I use Paul Mitchell Super Charged conditioner ; Samy Big Curls Curl Defining Cream (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!); Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Spray (after it's dry to prevent flyaways).

I am also a fan KMS curl up conditioner and curling balm, although that is a gel-like product but doesn't dry stiff if you work it in well.
posted by goml at 1:40 PM on March 11, 2010

Bumble and Bumble Defining Creme

I use this on damp/wet hair and the spray k8lin linked to to refresh curls when my hair is dry. There is one for coarser curls too. But the most important thing for me is a really good hair cut, with the right kind of layers by a stylist who has curly hair (they just GET it!) or has a lot of curly specific training. It really really makes a difference. And pay attention to how much and how thoroughly you get the product into your hair. When I finally found a curly specialist he taught me to section my hair for product placement, to really make sure I get just enough product into the back and underneath first and move forward with the product. The last thing he said, during our first cut, was to stop touching my hair. Once I styled it to NOT touch/fiddle it and let the product work. Hands off, at least while your hair is drying, and preferably all day, to let the product keep working.
posted by Swisstine at 1:40 PM on March 11, 2010

Seconding the Aveda Be Curly line. Everything works wonderfully. I use the Curl Enhancer exclusively. It's like lotion for your curls. I put it on when my hair is still wet and it dries beautifully with no crunchiness or weight whatsoever (my hair loses curl really easily with most other products).
posted by a.steele at 1:45 PM on March 11, 2010

I use Toni & Guy's Twist-It Curl Balm - it's not a spray, it's a cream in a pump that i just lightly scrunch my curls with in the morning, and they stay defined all day. It works on dry hair if you want just a little definition but you can build it up for more dramatic curls with wet hair. I like it because it's also a good frizz controller, and it's super-easy to apply. I do have to wash my hands afterwards though!
posted by ukdanae at 1:54 PM on March 11, 2010

Here's something to try: plain water. I have type 3a (according to the website you listed) hair. To get nice solid curls that will last all day, or longer, I do the following:

1. Give hair a good shampooing (no conditioner)
2. Get hair completely dry (like frizzy dry)
3. Using warm water, wet your hands and scrunch the water into your hair until wet curls start to form
4. Let your hair dry normally

The whole process take an hour or two, depending on how much hair you have, but I find the curls last for days. I usually start this process the night before so that my hair can dry out over night and is ready for some scrunching in the morning.

The trick is to use water to hold clumps of curl together. When they dry clumped together they naturally hold the same shape even without product or more water and you don't have nasty products in your hair all day.
posted by talkingmuffin at 2:57 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

OK this is weird but I just use a dab of regular conditioner. I condition my hair in the shower, rinse well, pat it dry with a towel, comb, apply a dab of cheapo Suave conditioner, and air dry. I started doing this a few months ago and, for pretty much the first time in my life, I am really loving my curls.
posted by beandip at 3:13 PM on March 11, 2010

You sound like you've got pretty similar hair as I do (except I can get pretty frizzy depending on the weather). I've been using DevaCurl "One Condition" conditioner for a while, as a styling cream. I've noticed my curls are more defined and less frizzy, and generally require less fussing. I also noticed a big difference in my hair when I switched to detergent free shampoo.
posted by inertia at 3:40 PM on March 11, 2010

While Ouidad is pricy, as goml said, a little goes a long way and you don't have to use all the products. I live in a humid climate and have thick, wavy/curly hair and use a mix of the Tress F/X and Climate Control gels (not too heavy, though yes, they're gels) after towel drying my hair. Then I let my hair air dry whenever possible. After a little trial & error, you'll get the right mix/amt that defines your curls without being too heavy.

And, if it's just the feel of the gel on your hands you don't like (as opposed to how it feels in your hair) then you might consider wearing latex gloves when applying it.

Oh, and even if you don't buy the Ouidad products, their website has a lot of good info/tips/videos for those of us with curly hair.

(I'm not affiliated with Ouidad in any way other than being a satisfied customer.)
posted by ourroute at 3:40 PM on March 11, 2010

I'm a 3B/3C, and I am in love with DevaChan. The haircuts I get there blow my mind, and I use their One Curl conditioner and Arc Angel gel every day.

You put the conditioner in, then basically just brush your hair with your fingers. Rinse it out partially and squeeze your hair dry. Then squeeze in the gel, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Get out of the shower. An extra squeezing round with a t-shirt or something similar.

My hair tends to get flat on top and wider near the bottom, so I put in a few clips to hold my top layers up near the roots as I finish my morning rituals. Right before I leave the house, I take out clips, lean forward, dig my fingers up through my hair from the bottom, and basically just shake it all out. Once it dries fully, I shake it out again.

This gets me livelier top layers with well-defined curls all around, and minimal frizz.

Remember, with curly hair you shouldn't use shampoo much at all. I shampoo once ever few months or so; the conditioner and rinsing gets my hair plenty clean without the damage shampoo tends to cause.
posted by Eshkol at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want cheap, Herbel Essense's Totally Twisted gel is just slightly too light for my 3a/3b hair, so it might do the job for you. There's nothing bad in it, and it washes out easy. It's the gel in the purple bottle.

My favourite is actually Fx's curl cream/gel (I can't remember the name, but it's in the yellow bottle). It might be too strong for you, though. This can also be bought at any drugstore.
posted by canadia at 6:03 PM on March 11, 2010

3a here. My hair is fine, although I have a lot of it and a good bit of body from the large curls, and I've come to realize that gels and hair creams just don't cut it. For one, they're messy to apply. In order to really get them applied universally, you frizz your hair up in the process, which totally goes against touching your hair as little as possible to keep the natural curls intact. Also, many gels and hair creams--along with most products containing silicone--weigh my hair down considerably...and seemingly were meant for curls much drier and kinkier than mine. So instead, I really like mousses. They're light enough that you can put some in your hand and just lightly scrunch it in while your hair is flipped over. For the last couple of years, I've used Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Volumizing Styling Foam (~$8). That, combined with combing my hair in the shower, airdrying it, and never brushing it, make for beautiful curls that are soft and don't feel weighed down. Interestingly enough, the Marc Anthony foam even contains two silicone relatives, dimethicone and cyclomethicone, which ordinarily would weigh my hair down in cream or gel format, but don't do so in this mousse.

I've tried the Aveda Be Curly was alright. That's all I remember. I got a "carve and slice" haircut at a salon, where the stylist was supposedly one of the first to be trained by Ouidad (and used her product line), and the whole experience was awful--my hair was crunchy, looked plastered to my head, and was absolutely the wrong combo of cut and style for my type of curly hair. I've also tried the Living Proof line at Sephora...bought the Curl Defining Spray for fine hair as well as the Curl Defining Cream for medium to thick hair (basically 3a and 3b, respectively). Nice smell to both of them, but WAY too expensive for their fancypants "technology" that didn't do any better than the Strictly Curls Styling Foam, and I had to use a lot of the product for it to work. When I was younger, I used Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam, which worked fairly well and was designed for fine hair...but expensive and, as I remember it, didn't work as well as the Strictly Curls does now.

Just FYI though, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my hair routine and don't always believe that more expensive is better. But I get good results from doing what I'm doing!
posted by trampoliningisfun at 12:09 AM on March 12, 2010

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