Having been a mostly faithful Curly Girl Method follower (I color, so it lets me out of the club, but I follow it 95% of the time) for over a decade, I foraged through my bathroom cabinets to line up all the hair products I’ve bought this past year.
Why? So I can tell you what works for my hair, and what still sits, nearly full, in the very back of the cupboard because it didn’t do rad things for my locks.
So let’s talk about my favorite Curly Girl hair products, especially what works, and what doesn’t.
Update: See below for a few comments on the Deva Curl controversy.
All My Curly Girl Products
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I’m going to give you my honest-to-goodness review of the following hair products for use in (my version of) the Curly Girl Method:
- Kinky Curly Knot Today Detangler and Leave-In
- Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Defining Cream
- Giovanni Reconstructor
- Garnier Fructis Hair Treats with Papaya
- Aussie Instant Freeze Mousse
- Aussie Instant Freeze Gel
- LUS Brands All-in-One
- Hask Coconut Milk and Organic Honey Curl Enhancing Lotion
- Twisted Sister Mousse
- ECO Style Black Caster and Flax Seed Gel
- Mixed Chicks Daily Hair Dress
- Aunt Jackie’s Nourish My Hair Flaxseed and Manoi Oil
- Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Styling Mousse with Imbe Oil and Aloe
- Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Curl Envy Curl Cream
- Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La Defining Custard
- CurlSmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle
If you haven’t read my curly-locks-hair-care story, start here: How to Do the Curly Girl Method (the easy way).
Alrighty then. Here’s the loot:
This doesn’t include shampoos and conditioners. I’ll try to recall from memory ones I’ve tried/tossed/used up this past year.
Let’s rate all these on a scale of 1-5, shall we?
Giving a product a “1” would mean it made me look like Justin Timberlake taking Brittney to the 2001 American Music Awards, and a “5” would mean I nearly achieved Curly Girl Influencer status.
Some Random Photos of My Results
For reference, the one on the left is me:
So, if your hair looks to be the same texture (coarse, but fine), porosity (medium), length (bra level when straight, slightly below shoulders when curly), thickness (not), and so on and so forth, as mine, these products might help you too!
Hey there! Yes, you! Have you read my books yet? You should! Check out my works here.
My Favorite Curly Girl Products: What Works, What Doesn’t [Curly Girl Hair Product Reviews]
Product #1: Kinky Curly Knot Today Detangler and Leave-In
This is considered a Holy Grail product for a lot of curlies out there, and I would have to agree.
My fine, thin, hair is super prone to “fairy knots,” (those tiny tangles at the very end of your ringlets that are so small and twisted that only magical fairies could have made them), so when my hair is being crazy-pants, this is what I reach for.
I also like it as a refresh tool for when I wake up and the bottom of my pineapple (messy bun to sleep in) is frizzy and making me regret my life choices.
Kinky Curly Knot Today gets a 5 (out of 5) from me. Top marks!
Product #2: Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Defining Cream
Second item: Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Defining Cream.
I’m not a huge fan of curl creams – I find they tend to weigh my hair down and make me look like I just crawled out of a well and then through your television set to steal your soul.
But this one is dearly beloved in the curl community, and hey, it’s totally affordable, so I gave it a go.
I was not a fan.
It’s a little heavy for me and I found my curls didn’t care for it in any way (or weight), shape (lifeless), or form (too stretched out).
However, sometimes what I don’t care for in one season, or at one hairstyle/length, can come back as a favorite later on. So, I’ll keep it around and try it again maybe in the summer.
Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Defining Cream gets a 2 (out of 5) from me.
Product #3: Giovanni Reconstructor
Next: Giovanni Reconstructor.
This is a deep conditioner that is very heavy in proteins. So, either my hair didn’t NEED protein when I used it, or my hair doesn’t LIKE protein. The jury is out. This left me confused, and left my tresses super limp and stretched out; especially on Day 2 when I couldn’t even refresh the curls back to life. I had to do a whole ‘nother wash day. Grr.
I may try it again after coloring or straightening, when my hair is tired and needs a protein boost. But I’ll likely just give it away.
Giovanni Reconstructor gets a 2 (of 5) from me.
Product #4: Garnier Fructis Hair Treats with Papaya
Another affordable product easily found at Walmart, Target, and probably even your grocery store, I bought the little mini jar for a couple of bucks since I didn’t know if I’d like it or not (and didn’t want to spend a whole $7.99 or whatever on the bigger one. I’m cheap).
I ended up loving it, and will totally purchase the big one next.
It smells DIVINE. Like, so delicious. And the scent lingers, so you notice it all day.
If it competes with your perfume, this could be an issue, but I don’t wear perfume so I was perfectly content walking around feeling like Carmen Miranda.
It definitely leaves my hair shiny, detangled, and with less behavioral problems than it had before.
Garnier Fructis Hair Treats with Papaya gets a 5 (of 5) from me.
Product #5: Aussie Instant Freeze Mousse
Next: Aussie Instant Freeze Mousse.
I love mousse for its volume boosting capabilities, though I usually add a hard-hold get over it when scrunching.
This is a great mousse: it’s not expensive, easy to find, and serves as my go-to product.
Aussie Instant Freeze Mousse gets a 4 (out of 5) from me.
Product #6: Aussie Instant Freeze Gel
Next: Aussie Instant Freeze Gel.
Gels are probably the most used product for people who follow the Curly Girl Method.
They’re tried and true, and when used on soaking wet hair, allowed to dry, then scrunched until the crunch softens, are the best options for curl definition and hold.
This is a perfectly good gel at a decent price.
Aussie Instant Freeze Gel gets a 3 (of 5) from me.
Product #7: LUS Brands All-in-One
Next up: LUS Brands All-in-One.
This is the most expensive hair product I’ve ever bought, at the time I purchased it the total was over $25 when you include shipping costs.
I was suckered in by their video demonstrations and good reviews, but sadly had instant buyer’s remorse. While the product isn’t BAD, it’s nothing special, and I’ve found other creams/lotions/potions that work exactly the same for a fraction of the price.
It has a nice, light scent. If you layer gel over it (because there is literally no hold to this product at all IMO), it’s okay.
But for that price, my hair better look better than okay. I better look like Shakira.
LUS Brands All-In-One gets a 2 (of 5) from me.
Product #8: Hask Coconut Milk and Organic Honey Curl Enhancing Lotion
I think I picked this up at TJ Maxx, but not being a lover of curl creams in general, it sat in my cupboard forever.
I dug it back out and have been digging it hardcore lately!
This is my favorite product at the moment, but it’s hard to find. Walmart and other online places often list it as Out of Stock, but I did find it at Express Beauty USA online.
This makes my ringlets shiny, frizz-free, and bouncy. Like with most creams, lotions, or jellies, I add some gel over the top.
Hask Coconut Milk and Organic Honey Curl Enhancing Lotion gets a 5 (out of 5) from me. Love it.
They also have this in a shampoo & conditioner set that is supposed to be really good.
Product #9: Twisted Sister Mousse
Next: Twisted Sister Mousse.
This brand pops up once in a while at discount stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, and that’s where I found this mousse, along with the matching brand shampoo and conditioner.
I didn’t love any of them, but I didn’t hate them either. The mousse is a little heavy compared to most, so a little goes a longer way.
This sits in the back of my cupboard, but I may pull it out again and give it another shot.
Twisted Sister Mousse (and shampoo and conditioner) gets a 3 (of 5) from me.
Product #10: ECO Style Black Castor and Flax Seed Gel
Next up: ECO Style Black Castor and Flax Seed Gel.
This one isn’t pictured (above, towards the top of the post) in my pile of Curly Girl products, but that’s because I had literally just used it so it was on the other side of the sink.
ECO gels are fabulous!
This tub is ginormous so my hubs and I share, and it’s super affordable. I like this gel for it’s shiny, shimmery glow, nice elongating properties, and hard hold.
Definitely a Holy Grail product for me.
ECO Style Black Castor and Flax Seed Gel gets a 6 (out of a possible 5) from me.
Product #11: Mixed Chicks Daily Hair Dress
I was excited to find this one on sale (that brand can be spendy), but I was pretty well let down by the results.
My hair felt oddly unmoisturized, dry, and straw-like. I’ve only used it once and have been nervous to try it again.
Mixed Chicks Daily Hair Dress gets a 1 (out of 5). Not impressed.
Product #12: Aunt Jackie’s Nourish My Hair Flaxseed and Manoi Oil
Another Curly Girl product I lucked into at Marshall’s, this has been an absolute life-saver as a pre-poo treatment!
One of the hardest things about the Curly Girl Method (for me anyway) is the itchy, upset scalp I sometimes (i.e., frequently) get because of the build-up.
The gentle shampoos, or no shampoos at all, just don’t take care of the dry scalp.
I have extremely dry skin so I don’t know why it took me so long to realize my scalp is duh, also skin, and it was thirsty.
Also, my hair grows at the speed of snail, so a nice scalp massage with this before shampooing is wonderful for promoting growth, all while gently scrubbing away dry, flaky skin and build-up.
It smells fabulous too.
Aunt Jackie’s Nourish My Hair Flaxseed and Manoi Oil gets a 5 (of 5) from me.
Product #13: Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Styling Mousse with Imbe Oil and Aloe
Next: Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Styling Mousse with Imbe Oil and Aloe. Whew, that’s a mouthful.
Okay, it’s hard for me to rate this one because the container’s top is broken, so I can’t get the mousse to come out… mousse-like.
So it’s sorta foamy, but also drippy, and just gonna say it: snot-like.
Thus and therefore… I’m not sure what the texture is supposed to be, and when I rub it between my palms to emulsify it, it’s quite sticky.
I haven’t used it in a long while, but when I did I remember it being sticky in my hair as well.
In general, I’m not a huge fan of Shea Moisture: they tend to be too much for my stringy, fine curls. I’ll give it another try next wash day, and update for you.
Off the top of my memory and with the broken lid, Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Styling Mousse with Imbe Oil and Aloe gets a 2 (of 5) from me, but maybe take that with a grain of salt.
More Curly Girl Products I’ve Tried
Here are three more products I’ve tried recently.
Don’t judge. Two out of the three were given to me, I swear!
Hi, my name is Melyssa and I’m a curly hair product addict……
Product #14: Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Curl Envy Curl Cream
This has a delicious lemon scent so I can see myself digging it during the summer especially!
It is NOT Curly Girl Method friendly (silicone), but lately since the Deva Curl debate and uprising (see next section), I’ve been breaking the rules more frequently.
This one has good hold and bounce.
Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Curl Envy Curl Cream gets a 3.5 (of 5) from me.
Sidebar: The Deva Curl Debate
Unless you live under a curly girl rock, you’ve likely heard about the outcry over Deva Curl products.
I have never used Deva Curl, since I’m cheap (and it’s not), so I cannot speak to the allegations of hair loss, fragility, balding, and irritation.
HOWEVER, I can say that when I, say, co-wash, or am super-strict about not clarifying, I too get these symptoms.
So… I’m wary about whether it’s all Deva Curl PRODUCTS and wonder if it’s a Curly Girl Method approach that could be causing these things. Not sure.
But I do know that I now throw in a good old fashioned sulfate shampoo once a month at least, and I’ve recently tried out a few products with *gasp* silicones in them.
If anything, my hair seems healthier, my scalp happier, and I don’t seem to be losing as much hair.
Product #15: Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La Defining Custard
This is a lavender-hued curl cream that is quite thick, like a pudding. The color is off-putting since it doesn’t smell like lavender: it smells like candy.
Which I don’t love.
But I did love my curls after using this!
I would use this sparingly due to how thick and buttery it is, and brush it in.
If your hair is thick and needs some taming, give this a try. Not Curly-Girl-Method-approved, however.
Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La Defining Custard gets a 3.5 (of 5) from me.
Product #16: CurlSmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle
I’ve been wanting to try CurlSmith since it pops up frequently in the curly hair community with rave reviews, and this one was given to me by a friend who didn’t care for it.
I was a little nervous to try it because of its “souffle” (read: jelly-like) consistency, which can be a real hit or miss. Sometimes they turn out sticky and tangled and stiff (which was the case with my friend’s hair).
So I used a little less than I would with a normal say, gel or mousse or cream: about a dime sized amount per section which is exactly what the directions say to use. I was so happy with the results!
My curls were larger and plumper than normal, though the frizz was maybe a little more than typical. I’m definitely going to keep playing around with this product!
CurlSmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle gets a 4 (out of 5) from me.
Well, what are your “holy grail” Curly Girl products? Or methods?
BTW, if you haven’t read my (admittedly non-purist, but relatively easy) version of the Curly Girl method, you should.
If you’re just getting into this whole “Curly Girl” thing, I’ve discovered a course that I wished I would have had access to years ago: Fabulous Curls Made Easy. The course has everything (plans, hints, easy video modules, inspiration, etc), all in one place, to help alleviate your fears and smooth those curls into the beautiful head of hair you’ve always wanted. Seriously. So stop wishing you could copy all those curly girl Instagram bigwigs and become your own expert on your own unique, natural beauty. It’s knowledge that will last your whole life.
And – lastly – what do you think about the Deva Curl lawsuit?