Unraveled: All You Need to Know About Curl Definers

If there’s one thing girls with curly hair dream of, it’s hair that slays and curls that pop.

But as us natural girls know, our hair sometimes pops in the all the wrong places with frizz, split ends and annoying knots getting in the way.

For those days when your curly style could use some serious help, you may find it useful to reach for a curl defining cream, jelly or custard to help bring out your hair’s natural coily beauty.

These products can help define and manage the curls you already have making it a perfect way to appreciate your hair in its natural state. But before you go out frantically searching for products that will hopefully get you the curls you desire, we’ve taken some time to explain the basics of curl definers and what to look for when buying them.

Curl Definers Unraveled

Curl definers are products that help intensify your natural curl pattern, making curls bouncier and fuller. There are many curl defining products out there, but buying the right one depends on your hair’s type and needs. At the end of the day the best curl definers help you achieve the ultimate curly look while keeping hair moisturized and healthy.

What is the Difference Between Curl Defining Creams & Gels?

Thicker products such as creams and custards are great for moisturizing hair. For example, if you have thicker curls you may find custards more useful than gels. Because of their dense nature they provide a lot more coverage, congealing hair strands together in order to produce lush curls that stand out.

Curl defining gels or jelly are generally known for providing great hold. This means that hair stays in a defined curl pattern for longer. If you have looser type 3 curls, you will want to use a curl defining gel that won’t weigh down your hair. Many curlies like to use a combination of gels and creams for the added moisture.

The downside to using gel as a curl definer may seem pretty obvious. While keeping curls in place, defining gels can also make hair stiff to the touch. Not to mention the sea of flakes it can send cascading down your shoulder and back. If using a gel is the route you want to take when defining your curls look for products with zero alcohol and moisturizing ingredients like aloe to reduce dryness.

Do Curl Definers Help Protect My hair?

While we love letting our curls hang loose every once in awhile – constantly wearing a curly style may cause your hair to dry out and turn into a knotty mess, eventually leading to breakage. Twisting or braiding your hair over-night is a great way to keep your curls fresh while preventing damage. To refresh curls you can always add more curl defining products.

How Do I Know Which Curl Definer to Buy?

Finding the right curl definer is all about finding out what your hair needs to be its healthiest. Generally speaking a great curl definer contains these three things:

  1. Moisturizing Ingredients

    The best curl defining products are made with moisturizing ingredients that make your hair subtle and soft while creating defined curls. Look for ingredients such as coconut oil and avocado oil in your curl definer. These oils contain fatty acids that make them able to enter the hair shaft and retain moisture. Other ingredients such as aloe and shea butter, are also known for their moisturizing properties.

  2. Tight hold

    To lock your coils into ringlets of curly glory, you’ll need a product with great hold. Typically, finding the right hold means matching the thickness of the product to the thickness of your hair. If you have thick 4c hair for example, you might find it helpful to use a thicker custard or jelly with a denser texture than gel. Gel is useful for those with looser curl patterns.

  3. Controls frizz and fly-a-ways

    Anyone with curly hair knows the struggle of trying to keep strands in place. Curl definers are meant to take care of this problem by congealing hair together and reducing stray hair so curls can stand-out. But as we also know, not all products are created equal.

    When looking for a curl definer to tackle your frizzy hair, look for something designed to tackle the problem. For example, look for a product that has ‘frizz control’ in its title.

How Have Curl Definers Helped You?

Top 10 Curl Definers for Natural Hair

Curl definers are a great way to bring out your hair’s natural texture and curl pattern. The best curl definers are those that moisturize your hair while adding shine and taming fly-a-ways. There are a ton of products out there for you to try, so finding the perfect curl-definer for your hair might involve some trial and error. One thing’s for sure, getting awe-inspiring curls doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

Whether you need a care-free ‘wash-n-go’ or a super defined twist out, these curl definers have you covered and some for less than $10:

  • Agadir Argan Oil Volumizing Styling & Sculpting Gel

    Amazon 5 star review: “This product is amazing. I have fine hair and when I use Agadir Argan Oil Volumizing I feel like I have so much hair even though it’s fine. After washing my hair I squeeze a few drops in my hand and then massage it into the roots. A little goes a long way. After blowing my hair dry my hair feels very natural and full. It not only works it smells wonderful. I love this product.”

  • OGX Moroccan Curling Perfection Defining Cream

    Amazon 5 star review: “Saw this product on a tutorial for curly hair. Thought I would give it a try and what a nice surprise indeed! This actually works! I have curly but thining hair, so it’s extra frizzy and this product kept it under control. It feels greasy but it doesn’t leave your hair greasy. I actually used this with another product (deva curl) and they both work amazing together! My hair actually has shine and looks smooth and defined curlys! It’s been years since I have seen my hair like this.”

  • Miss. Jessie’s Quick Curls

    Amazon 5 star review: “This cream is my main staple in my hair care regime. Please note I follow pretty simple care guidelines… No shampoo, a good conditioner, and Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls cream. That’s it. If I “plop” my hair overnight or cleanse and apply in the morning to air dry, this cream keeps my curls manageable and soft without weighing them down or any crispy crunchy stuff. I love it!”

  • ORS Curls Unleashed Aloe Vera & Honey Curl Boosting Jelly

    Amazon 5 star review: “The best I’ve tried yet. It doesn’t coat,flake or cause film on the hair or scalp. At least on mine. I use it with the jelly and the results are great. Nice natural curls and waves.”

  • EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Curl Defining Cream

    Amazon 5 star review: “I have kinky curly biracial hair and have used many curl defining products but this is by far my favorite. It gives soft curl definition and keeps my hair smelling great.”

  • Curl Keeper Original

    Amazon 5 star review: “I have naturally curly hair that 98% of the time I straighten it. Never really comfortable with my hair curly…and yes, it’s because I was made fun of as a kid. But now, people pay an arm and a leg for the curl I have!!
    Anyway…I was told about this product by a friend who has curl troubles just like I do. So, I fully trust her opinion. I read reviews, thought for the size, the price was right. Although it’s been a little over a week since I ordered it and the price has magically doubled…
    Finally got to use the stuff yesterday, watched a video or two suggesting how to use. Did my normal routine with application and drying…this stuff is AMAZING!!!! It’s beyond amazing!!! It’s the most spectacular product I have ever used for curl!!! This product provides exactly what it promises and MORE!!! I couldn’t wait to leave the house with curly hair today!!!”

  • AS I AM Smoothing Gel

    Amazon 5 star review: “Absolutely love this smoothing gel as an edge tamer that’s not too stiff. Sometimes I wet my hair slightly before smoothing it on with my hands (or a boar bristle brush), and sometimes I don’t. Either way, I follow with a satin scarf for about 10 minutes and my edges look smooth and shiny without that stiff hard look. Doesn’t build up and I’ve never had a problem with flakes and I use it daily with a weekly wash. In the cooler months, this will hold all day. In the summer not so much, but I haven’t found a product that can keep my edges perfectly smooth when it’s humid.”

  • Aphrogee Curlific

    Amazon 5 star review: “I have tried several different products that promised that it would define my curls -,the search has ended – this product loosened my natural curl anyone with natural hair knows the shrinkage problem we have once the hair is washed and conditioned – I rubbed the product in/on my hair and to my surprised my hair took on a satisfying style – swag ‘I was claiming it’ – If I was on a island stranded I could live there forever if I had my ApHogee curl definer and one credit card so I could purchase more definer when I ran out.”

  • Texture My Way Keep it Curly Stretch and Set Style Foam

    Amazon 5 star review: “I loved this product, I thought it was going to be sticky and drying but was pleasantly surprised. It feels like regular foam setting lotion when you first get it on your hands but makes your hair fell soft and moist when working it in. I used it on my dry hair (pressed for time) and it worked great and dried fast. I have only used it once, but so far I’m pleased with the results and hair is not greasy or dry.”

  • Cantu Comeback Curl Next Day Curl Revitalizer

    Amazon 5 star review: “I will admit I tried Cantu products previously on my hair and I did not like them (4B texture). Saw this and out of curiosity based on name viewed ingredients. I saw water and glycerine listed as first 2, Shea butter and castor oil in top 5.
    Immediately I opened and smelled the product (smells soooooo good) and I decided to try it.
    I am blown away! This is not only good for twist outs but also good as an “all in one” sprays on mornings when styling.”

  • What are Your Favourite Curl Definers?