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curl

Fact: Finding the right curl cream can make all the difference when styling curly or natural hair. Not only do they help to define and style your curls, the right curly hair products will also strengthen, nourish, and moisturize your mane from the inside out. 

Unlike gels or mousse, curl creams provide hold without leaving your hair looking crunchy. A good curl cream will enhance your natural curls by encouraging curl formation, and allowing them to be the best version of themselves. 

To get the scoop on why every curly girl needs a curl cream we turned to celebrity hair stylist, Anthony Perez. “Curl creme is great to properly hydrate, moisturize and define the natural texture,” says Perez. He reaches for curl creams when he’s trying to enhance his client’s natural texture and add some moisturize to dry strands. “Curly hair the majority of the time is prone to dryness, due to the shape of the cuticle, so having something coating each strand helps beautify the curl pattern,” says Perez.

Curl creams tend to work best when worked through wet hair, evenly coating each strand. This helps to lock in moisture and hydrate your curls. After you shampoo (here are some of our fav shampoos for curly hair) and condition, apply the cream to slightly dripping hair and comb through. Once you’ve distributed the cream through your curls they should start to clump together in their natural curl pattern. Once all of your hair is fully coated, scrunch excess water out and diffuse for bouncy, shiny curls.

Not all curl creams are made equal. Those with thicker hair should look for thicker creams that are formulated with rich ingredients. If you have finer hair, check out lighter formulas like gel-cream hybrids so that they don’t weigh your curls down. If you find that products don’t penetrate your hair well, you can add water to help dilute so that your hair can soak up all the moisture. If your hair is super parched, pair your curl cream with an oil to lock everything in. 

If you’re ready to add a curl cream to your hair care routine look no further. We’ve rounded up 15 drugstore curl creams that won’t break the bank but will leave you hair looking like a million bucks. 

kinky curly curling custard

Behold, the ultimate cult favourite. There’s a reason this curl gel has amassed thousands of five star reviews, the Kinky Curly Custard gel never disappoints. It conditions hair and eliminates frizz, leaving you with shiny, defined curls. The weightless formula is great for all curl types. It’s a bit of a splurge but a little goes a long way. 

cantu-coconut-curling cream

Finding the right curl cream for thick hair is tough, you need something that’s heavy enough to do its job without weighing down your curls. Cantu Coconut curling cream is the reliable hair product your curls can always count on for days you want to wash-and-go. Coconut oil teams up with Argan oil and Shea Butter to define, moisturize, and strengthen strands. 

cake curl defining cream

Second or third day hair can be left looking limp and lifeless. Instead of throwing your hair into a messy bun, bring your curls back to life with this moisturizing styling cream. The lightweight formula is infused with shea butter, which treats your hair as it styles. 

Maui Curl Cream 

Turn your bathroom into a tropical vacation with Maui Moisture’s ultra-hydrating curl smoothie. Coconut oil, papaya butter, and aloe vera come together to de-frizz and define your curls, transforming lackluster locs into shiny, bouncy curls. 

Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La Defining Curl Custard

If limp and lifeless curls have you down, fret no more. This curl custard will bring your strands back to life. Key ingredients shea butter and olive oil work to tame unruly hair and leave you with frizz-free, manageable curls. Whether you’re doing a twist out or wash and go rest assured that your style will be well moisturized, without caking or flaking. 

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

A staple in every curl girl’s hair routine, the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie leaves you with the shiniest, bounciest curls. The rich formula hydrates and protects hair, while adding volume and definition to full lifeless curls and coils. For the best results, apply this to super-wet hair and it through section by section, which will make sure you get every last drop of moisture and provide maximum definition. 

Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Curl Cream

If you have fine hair and curls it can be hard to find a product that won’t weigh them down. This featherweight formula is enriched with Vitamin E to calm frizz, refine ringlets, while replenishing lost moisture 

Moroccan oil Curl Defining Cream

For a do-it-all curl cream look no further than Moroccan Oil’s Curl Defining Cream. It’s formulated with nourishing Argan oil which leaves your curls defined, frizz-free, and silky smooth. Best of all, this curl cream can be used on all curl types from tight coils to loose waves. 

Mixed CHicks Leave-in Conditioner

Use this curl-defining leave-in conditioner to add shine, hydration, and definition to your curls. It works on all curl types and is safe to use on your human hair or synthetic extensions. While it’s definitely a higher price point than most drugstore products, it’s worth every penny. 

Pantene Curl Defining Pudding

Want to run your fingers through your curls without feeling any crunchiness? This curl defining pudding provides a lightweight hold that will leave your curls frizz-free and touchably soft. It also delivers major shine and frizz control. 

L'oreal Ever curl 

For many curly girls washing your hair everyday is not a thing.This cream gel hybrid is perfect a day or two after washing and helps get frizzy, curly hair under control. Use a spray bottle to rewet the hair, apply the cream, and scrunch to reform your curls. It’s formulated with intensely nourishing coconut oil, which treats and styles curls without weighing them down. It’s also great for those with finer hair that feel like curl creams are too heavy for their curls. 

Aussie Miracle Curls Cream

Made with coconut oil and jojoba oil, this curl cream is perfect for smoothing curly hair and adding shine. Comb a few squeezes into your curls whenever they’re feeling a bit dry or you need to tame frizz. 

Quenching Coconut curls OGX

Thirsty strands won’t know what hit ‘em with this hydrating hair butter. This versatile hair treatment can be used as a moisturizing leave-in conditioner or rinsed out for use as a deep conditioner. 

Tresemme Curl Hydration

If you struggle with frizz and flyaways, you need to start using this leave-in for your curls ASAP. The humidity resistant formula enhances your natural curls, and leaves your hair looking soft and bouncy. 

GArnier Fructis Sleek and Shine

Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Leave-In Conditioner is proof you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get great results. It’ll smooth, hydrate, and style your hair all in one sweet smelling product. *Adds to cart*

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This is how I fixed my curl pattern

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When it comes to my waves, the more texture the better. So when I noticed my natural Type 2 wave pattern losing its shape, I had to do something about it. 

With a few tweaks to my hair care routine and a total switch up of my product line-up I was able to give my hair its bounce and shape back. It’s the type of hair glow-up that has to be shared. And the best part? A lot of the advice I’m going to share with you already exists on the Luxy Hair Blog. For me, it was time to put these proven tips to practice, and did they ever work!

How to fix your curl pattern

My hair type

As mentioned above, I have naturally wavy, Type 2A – 2B hair. The texture will depend on the season (living in Canada, we get a dose of all four). I have noticed that in more humid environments, like tropical locations, my hair naturally transforms into more of a Type 2C (curlier) pattern, which I love. If you’re wondering, I got it from my mama.

For full context, my hair density is thick, and the diameter of my hair is medium. I tried the hair porosity test and found that my hair is of normal or healthy porosity (yay!). Another new test I tried was the elasticity test. I found that my hair strands are stretchy, meaning my hair is of high elasticity. Finally, my scalp is also in the normal range most of the time. However, I do suffer from eczema and occasionally experience breakouts on my scalp which can create dry, itchy patches.

I highly recommend learning your full hair type to help you deal with your hair-specific issues. Trust me, you will see how this helped as you read on.

The loss of my curl pattern was gradual, it took some time for me to notice the changing texture of my hair. Looking back at photos, it seems the change took place over the last 11 months during COVID-related lockdown and restrictions. As I spent most of my time at home over the past year, a few things about the environmental influences on my hair also changed. For instance, my home air is mostly dry, and my hair wasn’t getting its regular humidity fix to bring out my natural waves. 

How to fix your curl patternBefore: dull, lifeless waves

How I lost my curl pattern

Additionally, I had tried out a new shampoo and conditioner, which was unusual for me. I consider myself a hair product monogamist; when I find products I like, I stick to them. I also hate wasting product, so when I try a new product, I commit to finishing it before switching, if necessary. However, during the lockdown and restrictions, my go-to shampoo and conditioner were no longer accessible, and I tried a new brand.  I was using the Phillip Adam Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner. It claimed to have all the good stuff you’d want in a hair product and none of the bad stuff (sulfates). The reviews were also quite good and so I tried it. 

Remember, I am a serious hair product monogamist, so trying something new was a big leap for me and unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped.

My eczema was becoming more problematic, which is probably what I noticed first. I was getting more flare ups and my scalp often felt dry and itchy. My hair itself was air drying practically straight without any bend or wave. It was staticky and felt flat and dry.

Other than spending almost every moment indoors for the past year and trying a new shampoo and conditioner there were no other lifestyle or diet changes. I consider my diet to be quite clean: I am conscious of eating whole foods and limiting sugar, alcohol, and processed ingredients. 

Eliminating health factors and considering the environmental factors I had a strong feeling it was my products that were causing damage to my scalp and hair, flattening my natural waves.

How I fixed my curl pattern

When I noticed my wave pattern was more flat than flowing, I tried targeting the issue with texturizer spray and styling cream (Oribe and Verb, respectively). While the products did help to create and hold the waves, I was not a fan of having to use so much product just to try and get my current hair to resemble my old hair texture. The added styling product may have also created build-up as my eczema continued to flare up. In addition to the texturizing spray and cream, I was also still using the Phillip Adam Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner which essentially created a recipe for hair disaster. 

While being a hair product monogamist worked for me in the past, it wasn’t the solution for fixing my curl pattern or treating my scalp. It is so important to know your hair type, elasticity, and porosity and to use products specifically designed for your hair needs. Something I wasn’t doing before. 

After doing the necessary hair tests, and extensive research (thanks, Redditors!) I switched to Living Proof Curl Shampoo and Conditioner, as well as the Living Proof Curl enhancer cream. The reviews were great – especially from other wavy and curly hair girls – and I have to admit, I loved the packaging too. The Living Proof combo not only looked good but worked. This was the first time I picked and used products specific to my wavy Type 2 hair type, something I should have done a long time ago.

Apart from making the big product switch my hair routine stayed pretty consistent. 

How to fix your curl patternFirst use – waves coming back to life!

My hair routine

I wash my hair every 2 to 3 days and before hopping in the shower I give myself a nice scalp massage using the Saje Scalp Massager and applying a few drops of the Saje Peppermint Halo essential oil. This is a great technique you can do while watching Netflix or listening to a podcast. I massage my scalp for about 10 minutes, it’s a little self love that goes a long way for your scalp and your hair. It’s especially great if you have dry, itchy scalp or eczema like I’ve experienced. Peppermint helps to get rid of bacteria and soothes irritated skin.

In the shower I use the Living Proof Curl Shampoo followed by the Living Proof Curl Conditioner. Sometimes I use the Luxy Wet Hairbrush in the shower while the conditioner is in to help distribute the product further and smooth out any knots. Note, I never brush or comb my hair outside of the shower. 

Once I’m done in the shower, I gently squeeze water out of my hair with a microfiber towel. Next, I apply 3 pumps of the Living Proof Curl Enhancer Conditioning Cream and scrunch it into my hair, starting at my ends.

To help my hair air dry with a bit more volume, I use a large claw clip to clip my hair up as it air dries to about 50%. I take the claw clip out before bed and allow my hair to air dry overnight.  

In the morning, I assess my waves. If they’re even and looking good, I do absolutely nothing else. If they got a bit frizzy overnight or need to be evened out a bit more, I apply a dollop of Verb texturizing cream, scrunching it from the ends throughout my hair. 

Et voila. I noticed my waves coming back after just two washes using the Living Proof Curl products. Not only was I pleased to see my waves back, but I also felt the difference in my hair and scalp. 

How to fix your curl patternSecond use – shine and flow restored

Moral of the story…

Just because you’ve used the same product or the same routine for a long time, does not mean they have to stay in your vanity or shower forever. Hair changes and is impacted by health, environment and so much more. I couldn’t expect to maintain my hair type and hair health with the same products when my environment had changed so much.

First, I had to re-educate myself on my own hair. Then, knowing exactly what I was working with, I did the research to find the products that would work for me. Will everything be a success after two washes? Definitely not. Especially with wavy or curly hair, nailing your hair routine and product line up may take some trial and error. While I failed with my first product choices, I was able to find products that worked for my hair. 

If you’ve noticed a change in your hair, assess your environment, diet or health changes. Take our hair type quizzes then start your product research. A little leg work now, a big glow up later.

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