As someone who has spent nearly all of her twentysomething years trying to perfect a curly-hair routine, I think I know a thing or two about products. I’ve tried innumerable combos, from oil-based serums to lightweight gels and even dry shampoo. I’ve shampooed, co-washed and conditioned before cleansing. Some of Hollywood’s smartest and most popular experts have given me advice.
My curl pattern also falls somewhere in the middle; it’s not super kinky, but also not loose and wavy. This means I’ve been able to test-drive a wide range of products that work for all types of curls; not just one specific texture. Over time, the only conclusion I’ve come to is that finding what actually works for you takes a lot of trial and error, as well as an emphasis on keeping your hair healthy. I also realized that just because something is marketed toward a specific type of texture, doesn’t necessarily mean I should forgo it all together.
Every curly girl’s routine is unique to them, but if you need a starting point, these are the tried-and-true products I’ve sworn by over the years. Ahead are all of the products I’ve sworn by over the years.
The Tried-and-True Products That Enhance Naturally Curly Hair | @stylecaster
For Soft, Defined Curls: DevaCurl B'Leave-In Curl Plumper
Google "best brands for curly hair" and this brand will be at the top of your results page. I've sworn by DC product since doing my big chop years ago and this curl plumper (not a gel) is one of the few finds that actual turns my waves into spirals without leaving them crunchy. However, if you are looking for more definition, I recommend mixing a dab of this with the Ultra-Defining Gel.
$40 at DevaCurl
For Soft Hold: OGX Beeswax Texture Spray
Finding a hairspray that won't turn my curls white and flaky has literally taken years to accomplish. In early 2018, I finally landed on this spritz, which not only smells like a dream, but keeps my hair from poufing up in humid weather. Plus, beeswax is said to naturally stimulate hair growth.
$6.97 at Walmart
For Dry, Damaged Curls: Briogeo Super Moisture Shampoo
During those weeks when I don't have time to condition my hair everyday or eliminate build-up with a scalp cleanser, this shampoo is a godsend for dirty and dry hair. The best part is that it doesn't leave you with the sticky build-up afterward, so if you only have a dime-size amount of conditioner to work with--no problem!
$36 at Briogeo
For Adding Volume: Cantu Apple Cider Vinegar Dry Co-Wash
Apple cider vinegar is the MVP of eliminating bacteria and build-up, so when my scalp has really been put through the ringer, I treat it to a few spritzes of this co-wash. My day-old curls also get a nice boost of shine.
$4.99 at Sally Beauty
For Defining Wet Curls: DevaCurl Decadence Leave-In
When I have time to condition and style my hair, this is a must-have part of my routine. I think of it as a styling security blanket because on those days when I've run out of my curl plumper, this leave-in does a great job of adding definition on its own. Plus, it smells amazing.
$26 at DevaCurl
For Wash and Go Days: Living Proof In-Shower Styler
If you're rocking super short curls and don't want to weigh your hair down with products, this shower styler adds definition to wet curls and holds them in place, even after they've dried down. Perfect for those lazy days when you have very little time to get ready.
$25 at Living Proof
For Adding Sheen: Oyin Handmade Juices and Berries
I keep a bottle of this at my desk for when my hair just needs to be revived in the middle of the day. It adds moisture without making my curls look completely wet.
$13.99 at Oyin Handmade
For Shiny Curls: Sexy Hair Curling Creme
If you're less concerned with definition and more concerned about adding shine, this lightweight styler checks off both boxes. Combine with the brand's Anti-Humidity Spray to lock in your look for the day.
$17.95 at Ulta
For Wash and Go Definition: SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
I tried this styler after seeing countless positive reviews within the natural hair blogosphere...and it more than lived up to the hype. For those who are opposed to gels, this is a great alternative.
$13.99 at SheaMoisture
For Curl With a Little Crunch: Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic
We're constantly talking about products that don't leave your hair with that crunchy feel, but if you're part of the minority that actually enjoys that type of hold, this heavy-duty gel is a must-try; especially for tighter curl patterns.
$15.99 at Target
Uncle Funky's Daughter
For Drying Wet Curls: Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban
This towel dries wet curls with the same speed of a oft-recommended microfiber towel, without completely disturbing the curl pattern.
$30 at Aquis
For Lightweight Shine and Sheen: Kerastase Huile Sublime Oil
On top of giving my curls a healthy-looking shine, they also feel moisturized and easier to manipulate.
$50 at Kerastase
For Nourishing Color-Treated Curls: L'Oreal Ever Pure Conditioner
When I experimented with lavender and blonde hair, this was the only cost-effective option that kept my curls intact, even after hours upon hours of bleaching to lighten the shade.
$7.99 at Ulta
For an Itchy Scalp: Mielle Organics Mint Almond Oil
When your scalp is feeling irritated beyond belief, this is the best post-cleansing treatment for sweet, sweet relief. The mint delivers a cooling sensation, while the almond nourishes your hair without weighing it down.
$13.99 at Mielle Organics