The best curly hair creams for every texture

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A great curly hair routine can look completely different from one hair to another. Maybe you stick to the classics with one amazing gel and some leave-in conditioneror you might be a big believer in mousses or hair oils. Regardless of your curl type, chances are you can benefit from using a great curl cream. When looking for a curl cream, a few key components are essential. It should hydrate and add bounce to limp, dry hair. The product must also release enough to figure out and define as you style and it should hold your curls in place without a ton of extra weight or excess greasiness.

While this may sound like a lot to ask, it is not an unreasonable expectation. We’ve put a lot to the test and know firsthand that there are options available that offer just the right level of definition, hold and moisture to suit every type of curl. And we’ve also consulted some curly geniuses Julissa Pradothe founder of Rizo’s curlsand celebrity hairdresser Mitchell Cantrell to answer some of our burning questions. Here you will find the 16 best curl creams that meet our standards.

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Best for a budget

Moroccan Curling Perfection Defining Cream


Best for curl definition

Curl Power Nourishing Curl Cream


Best for hair growth

Pomegranate & Honey Curl Smoothie


Best for hydration and definition

Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Cream


Best for soft curls

Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie


Best for frizz control

Be Curly Curl Enhancer


Best for damaged hair

Coconut curl cream


Best fragrance free choice

Curling cream


Best for flake-free hold

Texture Setting Cream Gel


Best for brittle hair

Coco Creme Curl Shaping Cream Gel


Best for lightweight teams

Curling gel


Best for stretching curls

Twist Elongating Style Cream


Best for the LOC method

Almond Jai Twisting Butter


Best for very dry hair

Curl Quench+Coconut Oil Curl Smoothie


Best for curls without frizz

Curl Defining Cream


Best for moisture

Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream

What do curl creams do?

“A curl cream helps create definition and hold without leaving hair brittle, creating defined, bouncy, shiny curls,” says Prado. “Curls tend to get dry, so each step of your regimen is a chance to add some much-needed moisture from the shower to your styling routine,” adds Cantrell. “That’s why an extra boost of intense hydration in the form of a curling cream is so important. Curling creams envelop each strand with moisture and create a soft, naturally defined curl. Plus, a great curling cream works to restore the inner weight of curls, encouraging optimal formation and a more uniform curl pattern.”

Can all curly textures benefit from using a curl cream?

“100%,” Cantrell says. “For example, thicker curls can benefit from using it to lengthen and moisturize the curls. For finer curls, curl creams can add definition and volume.” Prado adds, “All textures can benefit from a curling cream, as curling creams tend to be very moisturizing and hydrating.”

What ingredients do you recommend in a curl cream?

“Look for nourishing ingredients that hydrate hair like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and extracts like sunflower seeds and chia seeds,” says Cantrell. For Prado, she recommends aloe vera, coconut oil and shea butter in curl creams.

Is curl cream the same as conditioner?

Curling creams and conditioners work in a similar way, as both moisturize, filter and nourish curly hair. However, conditioners are rinse-off products, which means you use them in the shower before rinsing your hair. A curl cream is a leave-in product, which means you apply it to washed hair out of the shower and don’t need to rinse it out.

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