Test and Review 10 Best Curly Hair Products of 2023

No comments

best curly hair products

AnnieRim.com - It's great to hear that you've put in the time and effort to test and review curly hair products, especially since curly hair can be quite challenging to manage. It's true that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for curly hair, and the products that work for one person may not work for another due to differences in curl type, texture, and individual preferences.

Your approach of consulting industry experts and updating your list with new products and advice is a fantastic way to provide valuable information to those with curly hair. Curly hair care is an ongoing journey, and staying up-to-date with the latest products and techniques is essential for achieving and maintaining beautiful, well-defined curls.

If you have any specific questions or need recommendations for curly hair products or routines, feel free to ask. I'm here to help!

1. John Frieda Frizz Ease Secret Weapon Touch-Up Crème

Most days, I genuinely <3 my frizzies, but some days, I'd also like to decide when I frizz out, you know? That's where this cream comes in. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had at least two tubes of this smoothing cream at my desk and in my car since 2015, because it’s that freakin’ good for immediately laying down frizz and flyaways without making my thin curls greasy.

Just know that it’s filled with water-insoluble silicones—which is exactly why it’s so effective—so you’ll want to clarify once a month with a sulfate-based clarifying shampoo to strip away any silicone build-up. But for me, especially in the summer months, it’s so worth it when I want sleeker, smoother curls.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? No
  • Moisture levels: Low-medium
  • Key ingredients: Phenyl trimethicone (smoothing silicone); avocado oil (moisturizing)
  • Hair type: Best for all hair types

THE REVIEWS: “I have very curly hair, and live in Florida,” one product tester writes. “Humidity and curly hair is a recipe for disaster! This product has been able to keep my hair styled AND protect it from humidity. I have used this product to style my hair both curly and straight, and it is truly a miracle.

Pros Cons
Adds a bit of shine while smoothing and moisturizing A little still goes a long way—using too much can make your hair look a little greasy 
Helps you re-define and re-clump your curls  

2. Best Serum for Fine Curly Hair

If your curls can’t handle heavy oils—or really any oils at all—then allow me to introduce you to my favorite oil alternative: this fragrance-free, silicone-free, three-ingredient serum. It uses a combo of lightweight moisturizers (squalane and fatty acids) in a silky solvent to smooth your curls and define your ends, without feeling as heavy as traditional hair oils (see: coconut and castor oils).

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Medium
  • Key ingredients: Squalane (oil-like emollient); ethylhexyl olivate (olive oil-derived fatty acids)
  • Hair type: Best for all hair types

THE REVIEWS: “Absolutely LOVE this,” one tester writes. “I have fine hair and it does not make it greasy. You can add more or less based on what you need [and] it can be used on wet or dry hair. I love how healthy it has made my hair!

Pros Cons
Most effective product I've ever found for smoothing frizzies Filled with silicones that can build up over time (so requires monthly clarifying rinses)
Helps you re-define and re-clump your curls

3. LUS Brands Love Ur Curls All-in-One Styler for Curly Hair

Okay, Lus has been one of my favorite curly-hair brands for years. Their products are simple, pared down, free of all the blah stuff (like silicones, sulfates, mineral oils), and exactly what I would make if I could formulate my own products. My newest fav? This all-in-one styler that's basically a happy medium between a leave-in conditioner and a curl cream, using moringa oil and shea butter to lightly moisturize, define, and ~enhance~ your curls.

Plus, it's hella customizable for different curl types: Try the fragrance-free version (here) or the original version. Need a lighter or heavier formula? Go for the wavy-hair version or the "kinky-coily" version. Told you—so good.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Customizable (depending on which version you buy)
  • Key ingredients: Shea butter, moringa oil (moisturize); glycerin (hydrates)
  • Hair type: Best for all curl and coil types, depending on the version you try

THE REVIEWS: “This is simply the best,” according to one reviewer. “Excellent hold, good weight and texture for finer hair, scent is mild, and the finished curl is defined but not crunchy.

Pros Cons
Moisturizes, defines, detangles, and smooths As with all products, can weigh down fine curls if you use too much
Testers love that it’s also available in a fragrance-free version  

4. Not Your Mother's Naturals Shampoo and Conditioner Set

Every time someone asks me what shampoo and conditioner to buy for their curly hair, I point them to Not Your Mother’s (i.e., a cult-favorite in Reddit’s r/curlyhair community). The majority of NYM’s Naturals line are Curly Girl Method-approved, meaning they’re free of silicones, sulfates, alcohols, and waxes, so even if you don’t follow CGM, you’re still getting a really high-quality formula for a drugstore price.

This moisturizing shampoo and conditioner set tends to be a good starting point for most curl types, but you can also try the brand’s lighter "dark-blue bottle" for super-fine waves/curls, or the richer “pink bottle” for thicker, drier curls and coils.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Light-medium (but can depend on the formula you choose)
  • Key shampoo ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, watermelon seed oil (moisturizers); sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, sodium cocoyl isethionate (sulfate-free cleansers)
  • Hair type: Best for wavy, curly, and coily hair (depending on the formula you choose)

THE REVIEWS: “Best curIy hair shampoo I have used!” one tester notes. “I love the scent of this product and how soft and curly it leaves my natural curls feeling!!! I recommend it to everyone that I know that has curly hair!

5. Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream

There’s a reason this cream has more than 16,000 glowing reviews on Amazon alone: This stuff works for the majority of waves and curls. While most creams tend to weigh down finer curl types, this lightweight formula has just a touch of argan oil that works to smooth flyaways and define waves and curls without ever feeling greasy, heavy, or sticky.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? No
  • Moisture levels: Medium
  • Key ingredients: Argan oil (moisturizes); hydrolyzed vegetable protein (strengthens)
  • Hair type: Best for all hair and curl types

THE REVIEWS: “I can be lazy with my hairstyling, and this allows me to easily air-dry,” writes one tester. “It’s easy to apply and truly defines my curls. It hardened my hair a bit for the hold—which I don’t mind—but eventually softened. My curls haven’t looked better.

Pros Cons
Doesn’t weigh down fine curls, testers say  Dry hair will likely need to pair with another moisturizing cream

6. Ouai Fragrance-Free Curl Creme

Ahem: I. LOVE. THIS. CURL. CREAM. Omg. Not only is it free of fragrance, silicones, and waxes, but it's also weirdly customizable depending on your curl type. Although it's filled with coconut oil, which would usually leave my fine hair greasy, a dime-size dollop squished through my sopping-wet hair leaves my 3a curls defined, smooth, and bouncy. Have tighter/coarser curls? Just layer it on with a heavy hand (think: Rake it through your coils before a gel or pudding) for a moisturized, defined base.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Medium
  • Key ingredients: coconut oil, babassu oil, soybean oil, linseed oil (moisturize); glycerin (hydrates); panthenol (smooths)
  • Hair type: Best for all waves and curls that want a lightly moisturized base

THE REVIEWS: “This is a moisture treat for my hair,” writes one tester in a review. “I use it over the dry ends of my hair after I wash and condition my hair, and then mix a little into gel and smooth it all over for a beautiful hold. I love that it has no scent because I can always add my own smell…or not!

Pros Cons
Moisturizes curls with coconut and soybean oil Can make hair greasy if you apply too much
Can work for legit all hair types, depending on how little you use  

7. Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave–In Defining Cream

If your nightmare is crunchy, stiff curls, try this ultra-hydrating leave-in cream. It has avocado oil (to smooth and seal the hair cuticle to help keep out humidity) and rice amino acids (to add shine and retain moisture). Smooth it over your damp curls, from root to tip, for soft definition and hold.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Medium
  • Key ingredients: Avocado oil, soybean oil (moisturize); aloe (hydrates); hydrolyzed quinoa, wheat, and soy proteins (strengthen)
  • Hair type: Best for waves, curls, and coils

THE REVIEWS: “I absolutely love this curl cream,” writes one tester. “It defines my curls without leaving them crunchy. It’s also super lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh them down either.

Pros Cons
Helps smooth down flyaways while defining curls Protein-heavy, so may contain too much protein for low-po hair

8. Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel

I hate it when I put gel in my hair and it ends up leaving my curls feeling gunked-up and lank, even after I scrunch them out. Thankfully, I stopped having to deal with that when I switched to this curly hair gel. It’s filled with wheat proteins and styling polymers that seal your curls in place (even against heat and humidity)—but without hair feeling stiff or getting flaky.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Low
  • Key ingredients: PEG-40 castor oil (moisturizes without building up); wheat amino acids, hydrolyzed wheat (strengthen); glycerin (hydrates)
  • Hair type: Best for all wave and curl types

THE REVIEWS: “Can't function without it,” writes one reviewer. “This product is everything. I cannot style my hair without it. It makes my hair manageable, and I can get my Denman brush right through my curls to make them pop.

Pros Cons
Strengthens your hair with amino acids and wheat proteins Hold was too soft for some testers

9. Curlsmith Moisture Memory Reactivator

If your second- or third-day curls are usually relegated to a bun, twist, or braid because they’re so dry and undefined, may I introduce you to your new BFF? This refreshing spray is filled with water and six different oils oils (olive! coconut! avocado!) to rehydrate and re-clump curls, while adding a bit of definition and shine as soon as you spritz it on.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? No
  • Moisture levels: Medium
  • Key ingredients: Avocado oil, apricot oil, andiroba seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower seed oil (all moisturize and add shine)
  • Hair type: Best for curly and coily hair (types 3a to 4c)

THE REVIEWS: According to one tester, “I spray my hair with water until it's damp, spray this on my hands, and smooth it over my hair. Then, I scrunch. It does a good job of springing my waves back up. I let it air-dry on those days, and it even leaves a cast to scrunch out. I like it for an undone, wavy look.

Pros Cons
Doesn't just re-wet your curls, but actually *moisturizes* them Filled with oils, so may be too heavy for fine hair

10. Pantene Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-Wash

The MVP in this formula? Argan oil, which adds a dose of moisture to coarse, dry curls and coils without weighing them down. On wash day, massage this co-wash/cleansing conditioner through your roots, working it in with your fingertips or a shampoo brush for at least 60 seconds before rinsing to really get your scalp clean.

  • Curly Girl Method-approved? Yes
  • Moisture levels: Medium
  • Key ingredients: Argan oil (moisturizes); disodium EDTA (breaks down mineral buildup)
  • Hair type: Best for dry and/or coarse curls (see: 3b to 4c hair)

THE REVIEWS: “This cowash is light enough to not weigh my hair down or feel greasy, but it’s moisturizing enough to leave my hair soft and shiny,” writes one tester. “I never use anything else.

Pros Cons
Lightly moisturizes with argan oil as it cleanses Pump is prone to breaking, says a few testers