• 10 Best Curl Defining Creams in 2022 (Curly Hair Blogger-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Curl Defining Creams in 2022 (Curly Hair Blogger-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Curl Defining Creams in 2022 (Curly Hair Blogger-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Curl Defining Creams in 2022 (Curly Hair Blogger-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Curl Defining Creams in 2022 (Curly Hair Blogger-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Curl Defining Creams in 2022 (Curly Hair Blogger-Reviewed)

Do you ever look in the mirror halfway through the day and wonder what happened to your beautiful, shiny curls? Curls are great. But if you’ve had them your whole life, you might have a love-hate relationship with them. When hydrated and nourished properly, you’re left with beautiful curls. But when it’s 90% humidity or you’ve bleached your hair, the result might not be so flattering.

It can be a bit overwhelming and quite frankly, costly, to figure out which cream, gel, spray, or mousse works best for your hair. So, in this guide, we’ll show you how to find the right curl defining cream for you. We've also prepared a list of our top 10 favorites, with Ouidad's Curl Quencher taking first place.

Featured in this article

Curls Understood
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-16-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Curl Defining Cream – Buying Guide

If you’ve got curls, you’ve probably tried dozens of curl-defining creams to help you nourish and maintain them. And you still might not have found the right creams for your hair. There are just so many products out there, so we decided to ask Sylvia to help us sort through the good and the bad.

Decide Between Gels, Mousses, or Creams

A cream will give you lots of moisture and bounce, but if you’re looking to keep your hair styled up and in place all night, it won’t do the job–you’ll need to add a gel. Let’s take a look at when you should use gels, mousses, and creams.

Choose a Curling Gel for a Strong Hold

Choose a Curling Gel for a Strong Hold
Gels typically provide a stronger hold with more control. However, they offer less body.

If you do prefer a curl-defining gel, be careful not to apply too much; otherwise, it’ll leave your hair looking quite wet and crunchy. And if you have fragile hair, gel might be too harsh. There are also spray gels, which gives your hair a little more bounce.

Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

Most curly girls use gels for finishing a style. I think it works great for women who have a looser curl pattern or beach waves, as opposed to someone who has an afro. If you have an afro, you can't actually see the curls until you get really close, which means the curls are smaller. 


For those smaller curls, gels don’t work as well. People who have kinky hair or who are in the 4a, 4b, or 4c scale probably don’t have as much success using gels.

For Added Volume, Go with a Mousse

For Added Volume, Go with a Mousse
Mousses are for you if you’re looking for added volume and bounce. They provide a light to medium hold, so they work great with finer hair.
Unfortunately, though, a lot of mousses contain drying alcohols, so if you choose a mousse to help define your curls, make sure it doesn’t contain those alcohols.
Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

You would use a mousse to encourage softer curls. After it dries, the hair isn’t going to feel as crunchy. But more so for people with looser curls, as opposed to afros. 


I don’t know many people with the 4a, 4b, or 4c hair who would use a mousse. If you have thicker curls, you’d have to use more product. If you have looser curls, it makes your hair softer and bouncier and light.

Look for a Cream for Ultimate Moisture

Look for a Cream for Ultimate Moisture
The rule typically goes like this: the tighter your curls are, the dryer and more fragile they are. If you’re a type 3 or 4, you know this fact all too well. But, if you sufficiently nourish and hydrate your curls, you’ll be left with soft, manageable, defined curls.
Creams generally provide the most moisture, but only offer a light hold. They can be advertised as leave-in-conditioners, as well. They can even help add some volume and bounce, but only if you avoid applying at the root. They’ll add control to any curl type; however, if you’re looking for a strong hold, they probably won’t deliver.

Make sure that when you’re using a cream, you apply it when your hair is still damp. Get one with moisturizing botanical ingredients, like chamomile, jojoba, or olive oil. Sylvia also mentioned to look for water as the first ingredient and something that isn’t drying as the second ingredient. She likes glycerin because it’s moisturizing.

Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

Creams are great for enhancing the curl. You would have to spray water to activate the curl, then you would use a cream to enhance the curl, and then maybe a little gel to hold. If you want a strong hold that lasts, you'd use a cream and then a gel. Some of the creams that I use are even marketed as leave-in conditioners. 

Tame the Frizz and Keep Hair Shining

Tame the Frizz and Keep Hair Shining
You’ll need an anti-frizz curl defining cream with natural oils to give you added shine, define curls, and help reduce frizz. You’ll typically find a variety of gels, mousses, and creams that contain these properties.
All curly girls probably deal with frizz, but if you’ve got tighter curls, it’s typically harder to tame frizz, especially in humid climates. Women with looser curls typically will find more success using an anti-frizz curl defining product.
Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

If I have to wear my hair out, I will maybe use more gel and a lot of water while styling my hair, to encourage the curl pattern. Some people use frizz control serums. I would say if you have a looser curl, then frizz serums or a light natural oil are really good. Gel is definitely more effective for frizz control than cream. 

Avoid Heavy Creams and Further Damage With UV Protection on Permed or Bleached Hair

Avoid Heavy Creams and Further Damage With UV Protection on Permed or Bleached Hair

We all know we have to protect our skin when we go out on a sunny day. But UV rays can be just as detrimental to hair as it is to skin–chemically-treated hair in particular. UV rays can dry out the hair, resulting in brittle, frizzy hair. Not to mention, they can disrupt chemical processing in permed or colored hair.

Also, avoid creamy formulas, since they can weigh the curls down. Mousses and light creams complement a permed do. If your hair has gone through chemical processing, or if you simply spend a lot of time out in the sun, look for a lightweight curl defining cream containing SPF.
Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

With permed curls, you would still use a water-based cream—the same as someone whose curls are natural. It's necessary to deep condition when you bleach or perm your hair so you can put moisture back in and limit chemical damage. For straight hair, the natural oils that our scalp secretes just runs down. 


But for curly hair, it's harder for those natural oils to get from the scalp to the ends, so a lot of us suffer from dry ends. If you're worried about sun damage to your hair, look to see if it specifically says that it helps with UV. Otherwise, most curl creams won't protect you from the sun. 

Stay Away from Silicones, Non-Natural Oils, and Waxes

Stay Away from Silicones, Non-Natural Oils, and Waxes
A lot of curly girls tend to skip a day or two of shampooing, to keep their hair moisturized. But in between those washes, we tend to use curl-defining creams. So to avoid build up and itchiness, try to stay away from silicones, waxes, and non-natural oils. If you must, look for a clarifying shampoo to get rid of the build-up.
Silicones typically end in suffixes like -one, or -xane, like dimethicone, so they can be easy to find. Mineral oil is a common non-natural oil that you should avoid if you can. Additionally, waxes like bees wax or candelilla wax can build up in your hair quickly.
Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

If you must use a lot of products, maybe use lighter products; gels are always bad for build-up, but creams are better. Mineral oil has no nutritional benefit to hair at all. Beeswax isn’t the best because it's very sticky and hard to get off your hair, but people love it because its an alternative to gel. 


Silicones have gotten a really bad reputation in the curly community, but as long as its one of the kinder silicones that isn’t as stripping, it should be fine.

Understand Which Alcohols are Bad and Which are Good

Understand Which Alcohols are Bad and Which are Good
For products that are going to be rinsed out, like shampoo, drying alcohols might be okay. But you’re probably going to use a curl-defining cream all day, so it’s important that you avoid drying alcohols. They include SD alcohol, isopropanol, ethanol, propyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and more.
That being said, some alcohols actually help keep your hair moisturized, so look for them when shopping. They include stearyl alcohol, lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, and others.
Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

It's hard to find products without alcohols. Some of them are also in there to help preserve the products. The reality is, if it doesn’t have some of these ingredients in there, by the time the products get from the factory to the store and someone buys it, it's going to spoil. 


But, if a drying alcohol is not one of the first 3 to 5 ingredients on the list, it should be okay. 

10 Best Curl Defining Creams

If you need a little push in the right direction, here are our top 10 picks for curl-defining creams, including some of Curls Understood Sylvia Kerali's favorites!

Image
1
Ouidad Curl Quencher Moisturizing Styling Gel 1

Ouidad

2
Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Curl Defining Creme 1

Eden BodyWorks

3
Ecoco Eco Styler Black Castor & Flaxseed Oil Gel 1

Ecoco

4
Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie 1

Shea Moisture

5
TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier 1

TIGI

6
Adhope Briogeo Rosarco Leave-In Conditioning Spray 1

Adhope

7
Curls Blueberry Bliss Control Jelly 1

Curls

8
DevaCurl SuperCream Coconut Curl Styler 1

DevaCurl

9
Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse 1

Shea Moisture

10
Curls Unleashed Curl Defining Creme 1

Curls Unleashed

Name

Curl Quencher Moisturizing Styling Gel

Coconut Shea Curl Defining Creme

Eco Styler Black Castor & Flaxseed Oil Gel

Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier

Briogeo Rosarco Leave-In Conditioning Spray

Blueberry Bliss Control Jelly

SuperCream Coconut Curl Styler

Coconut and Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse

Curl Defining Creme

Features

Excellent Quality, Anti-Frizz Gel That's Perfect for Tight Curls

A Little Goes a Long Way for This Anti-Humidity, Super Moisturizing Cream

Alcohol-Free, Lightweight Gel With Excellent Hold

A Dense Cream That's Rich in Nutrients

A Great Curl Definer With Strong Hold

Lightweight and Nourishing Formula Great for Brittle, Damaged Hair

Definition and Hold With a Sweet Blueberry Scent

A Volumizing Cream Disguised in a Mousse Applicator

A No Crunch, Lightweight Mousse Great for Fine Hair

Anti-Frizz and Keeps Your Loose and Tight Curls Soft

Price$24.47$8.47$9.95$10.49$10.15$20.00$15.99$17.26$11.99$12.45
Volume8 oz.16 oz.16 oz.12 oz.4 oz.5 oz.8 oz.5.1 oz.7.5 oz.16 oz.
TypeGelCreamGelCreamMousseCream (spray)GelCreamMousseCream
Works on frizzYesYesYesYes (use on wet hair)YesYesYesYesYesYes
Watch out forDimethicone PEG-8 meadowfoamate, alcohol denatBenzyl alcohol---Benzyl alcoholAminomethyl propanol, phenoxyethanolAminomethyl propanolAlcoholBenzyl alcohol
Link
1

OuidadCurl Quencher Moisturizing Styling Gel

$24.47

Volume8 oz.
TypeGel
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forDimethicone PEG-8 meadowfoamate, alcohol denat
2

Eden BodyWorksCoconut Shea Curl Defining Creme

$8.47

Volume16 oz.
TypeCream
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forBenzyl alcohol
3
Volume16 oz.
TypeGel
Works on frizzYes
Watch out for-
4

Shea MoistureCoconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

$10.49

Volume12 oz.
TypeCream
Works on frizzYes (use on wet hair)
Watch out for-
5

TIGICatwalk Curls Rock Amplifier

$10.15

Volume4 oz.
TypeMousse
Works on frizzYes
Watch out for-
6

AdhopeBriogeo Rosarco Leave-In Conditioning Spray

$20.00

Volume5 oz.
TypeCream (spray)
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forBenzyl alcohol
7

CurlsBlueberry Bliss Control Jelly

$15.99

Volume8 oz.
TypeGel
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forAminomethyl propanol, phenoxyethanol
8

DevaCurlSuperCream Coconut Curl Styler

$17.26

Volume5.1 oz.
TypeCream
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forAminomethyl propanol
9

Shea MoistureCoconut and Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse

$11.99

Volume7.5 oz.
TypeMousse
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forAlcohol
10

Curls UnleashedCurl Defining Creme

$12.45

Volume16 oz.
TypeCream
Works on frizzYes
Watch out forBenzyl alcohol

More Styling Products for Your Hair

Are you looking for something a bit stronger to slick back hair? If so, then take a peek at some of our other articles for general mousses and gels and for products to nourish hair.

Buying Guide Reviewed by Curly Hair Blogger Curls Understood

Curls Understood
Curly Hair Blogger
Curls Understood

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

  • Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more mybest recommendations! For questions or comments, leave us feedback via a Google Form on our Contact Us page.

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    Face moisturizer is essential to keep your skin healthy and vibrant. But the fragrances commonly found in moisturizers are often formulated from chemicals such as acetone and alcohol and might trigger allergic reactions in those with sensitive skin. So switching to a fragrance-free product might be a smart move for those with highly sensitive skin! Also, fragrance-free moisturizers aren't boring as they sound. Many are crafted from effective and skin-loving ingredients, and actually contain light, natural scents derived from those ingredients. Have you ever heard of La Roche Posay's Double Repair Face Moisturizer? This product is one of our favorites, as it's made with prebiotic thermal water, niacinamide, and ceramide-3 to hydrate and soften skin. Want to know other options? Scroll down to our list of the top 10 best moisturizers with no fragrances! 
    Cosmetics and skincare
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