11 best curly hair products to hydrate, moisturise and define locks | THE INDEPENDENT

11 best curly hair products to hydrate, moisturise and define locks | THE INDEPENDENT

There is a complexity to curly hair that most people often forget. What separates curly hair from straight tresses isn’t just based on the visible appearance. The complexity is rooted deeper than that, and it’s also down to the molecular structure.

As curly hair doesn’t grow straight or evenly from the root, it requires extra care and attention. The amino acid and lipid production (lipids prevent humidity loss and act as a barrier to water diffusion) ensures that curly hair can often feel dry, brittle and in some cases easier to split and break.

Not only that, the cuticle of the hair lifts at each bend, which means the lipid distribution is uneven resulting in less shine and hydration across the hair completely. If the molecular structure wasn’t complex enough, the curl pattern also ranges from curly, wavy, kinky and coily.

In industry terms this starts at Type 2, wavy and goes right up to a Type 4, coily and kinky, which is otherwise known as as afro-textured hair. We’ve broken this down here:

Type 2 (wavy) where waves are bendable, ranging between fine and course, and have a definitive “S” pattern laying close to the head.

  • Type 2A: Fine and barely-there tousled texture that can easily be straightened
  • Type 2B: Lying flatter at the crown with a defined “S” shape wave often starting from mid-length with slightly thicker strands than 2A
  • Type 2C: Thick and more susceptible to frizz, the “S” bend is well-defined and begins directly at the root as opposed to mid-length

Type 3 is often referred to as curly and can range between loose and bouncy loops to tight corkscrew curls.

  • Type 3A: Strands tend to be shiny with a larger and looser curl pattern
  • Type 3B: A springy ringlet that is similar in size to a marker pen
  • Type 3C: Tight corkscrew curls that can range in circumference to a densely packed pencil, giving lots of volume

Type 4 is known to be coily and kinky or otherwise known as afro-textured hair. Naturally rather dry and sponge-like in texture but is also extremely soft, with a range between tight and small curls to zig zags.

  • Type 4A: “S” patterned curls with a dense spring to the volume and vibrancy of the curls
  • Type 4B: Bent in sharp angles, the curls are often in a “Z” pattern that are densely packed and buoyant
  • Type 4C: Similar to 4B however, coils are more fragile and hold an extremely tight zig-zag pattern

With common properties (across type 2 to 4), such as frizz, lack of moisture and hydration as well as a lack of definition and vibrancy, it can be difficult for those of us with curly hair to maintain healthy and happy tresses and considering our hair and scalp health, the journey with our curly hair can be a long one.

We put products and routines to the test to see what would help us in maintaining the moisture, hydration and definition in our curly hair and reduce the frizz all in one. From styling creams to silk hair ties, we tried and tested the products that those with curly hair need in their arsenal.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Davines love curl cream, 150ml

Admittedly, we never knew how beneficial applying a serum to our hair (once dry) would be or how it’d transform our styling routines. The love curl cream is a leave-on serum that you can apply to wet or dry hair and it helps to hydrate, define and detangle our hair during styling. Used with a wide tooth comb, we were able to comb through our hair without losing our curl definition or pulling on our hair which we know could lead to damage or breakage down the line.

Ultrasun UV face and scalp mist SPF50

Whilst SPF should be worn every day, as the summer months come around, the change in humidity affects our hair and especially those with curly hair. The increase in humidity can leave hair flat, lacklustre and frizzy. Whilst one way of protection is to increase moisture, protecting our hair from the sun will help to prevent dry, brittle and dull hair strands that will lead to breakage overtime.

We love this SPF because it is not only designed for the skin but the scalp also. In a fine mist (resembling a fine hair spray) you can even distribute the formula across the hair without it leaving any white cast, tackiness or crunch in the hair. We certainly can see this being usefully implemented in our day-to-day routine as a way to protect our scalp (and hair) from UV damage.

Omorovicza scalp reviver, 50ml

Like skin and its microbiome, healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. We have discovered overtime that once our scalp is healthy, free from build-up and harmonious, our curls are stronger and more resilient.

We loved using the scalp reviver in between washes as a way to remove any product build-up, unblock hair follicles and refresh our scalp. We found that adding a few drops to our scalp and then massaging in the oil, worked as a home treatment to soothe and calm the scalp. Formulated with salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and oils such as cypress and lemon, our scalps felt the effect immediately.

We recommend this especially for those with slightly drier or irritated scalps to help restore a balance between the scalp and our roots. Don’t be concerned with running oil through the roots of your hair, non-sticky and lightweight, it doesn’t make hair look greasy.

Price comparison

Colorwow dream coat for curly hair, 200ml

If there is one thing that those with curly hair need more than most, it’s moisture. Due to the DNA and molecular structure of curly hair our hair can feel dry, brittle and even more prone to damage than straight hair. Combatting this, we found that applying a moisture mist every other day helped to restore any lost moisture throughout the day.

We loved this weightless moisturising spray as a way to spritz our locks with the moisture it required. Not only providing the moisture we needed but also helping to redefine our curls with zero crunch or weight left to our hair.

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Umberto Giannini banana butter nourishing superfood co wash, 250ml

When it comes to co-washing, we understand that there are two camps – some are for and some are against. But from our testing we have discovered how to make the most out of it. While co-washing should only be used in between your usual cleansing and conditioning routine, we found that still introducing an initial shampoo treatment – to strip the dirt and build up from our hair first – before going in with this nourishing superfood co wash did wonders for our hair.

By introducing it as a second cleanse, the nutrients could reach our hair with more impact. Formulated with banana extract (rich in potassium and vitamins A, B & C) our hair was still receiving the nourishment it needed, while the natural oils intensely moisturised and hydrated our hair. We loved this co-wash treatment as a way to cleanse our hair with the nourishing and moisturising properties of a conditioner, all in one.

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Hershesons almost everything cream, 50ml

With our curly hair being prone to losing moisture and definition, experts have shared that introducing hydrating masks into our hair routine will help as a deep treatment that restores and hydrates our hair. We have been through and tried a number of hair masks but there are some that do tend to miss the mark. The almost everything cream was tried and tested – but we reaped its benefits best as a hair mask left on the hair for 5 minutes before rinsing.

Pumping two-three pumps on clean but wet hair, we started at our mid-lengths before combing the mask through our hair with our fingers, left to permeate in a microfibre towel for five minutes, once rinsed our curls immediately felt softer and hydrated. Formulated with nourishing coconut and jojoba oil, it helped curls that may be looking lifeless or in need of some TLC to get a boost. It’s a mask we recommend using when your hair is in need of some care and attention.

Holy Curls shampoo, 300ml

We never want to compromise our curls and so when we think about our shampoos it is vital that it strips the dirt and build up, without stripping our hair from the vital nutrients it needs to stay hydrated and healthy.

Avoiding silicones and harsh ingredients was a priority for us. So, when we came across this shampoo that highlighted the benefits of cleaning our curls, without compromising on moisture, we were intrigued. Immediately the creamy texture lathers in the hair while coating each strand. After rinsing, not only were we able to see a bounce come back to our curls, but the ingredients of baobab oil, aloe vera and a mix of essentials oils helped to hydrate the hair and scalp while cleansing simultaneously. We loved introducing this into our hair wash routine to cleanse, hydrate and refine our curls all at once.

Aveda be curly curl enhancer, 200ml

Our hair can always do with a boost and we found the best product to give us what we need is an enhancer, booster or cream that is dedicated to enhancing our curls either on a day-to-day basis or in between washes. We loved this curl enhancer for its ability to intensify our curls, control frizz throughout the day and enhance the shine that we so often lose due to the environment. The gel-cream texture is lightweight without holding any stickiness in our hair.

Easily absorbing into the hair, it not only acts as a moisturising cream, but as an enhancer for our curls. After several uses, we found that our curls held better in between washes and appeared more vibrant and shinier as if it had just been washed that morning – that’s a win in our books.

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LilySilk soft silk small scrunchie

We found that using traditional hair ties, no matter their size or quality, once caught in our curls either meant we were pulling at our hair to set the hair tie free, or it would become tangled in an array throughout the day. We found that on days when we wanted to tie our hair up, silk scrunchies and hair ties were the best solution to our problem.

We recommend these scrunchies not just for their hair benefits but quantity, price and range of colours. Made from 100 per cent mulberry silk, these hair ties prevent friction and tension building in our hair throughout the day and are gentle on our curls. We also found they helped prevent the potential onslaught of headaches by applying a softer grip to our hair strands and slid out in an instant at the end of the day without pressure due to its natural soft composition.

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Afroani shower comb

Now we all know how frustrating it is to maintain the definition of our curls without sacrificing a tangled mane. A wide tooth comb that is designed for wash day (can be used safely whilst submerged in water) or post-wash day when wanting to detangle your hair.

Curly hair is more prone to breakage because of its unique curl pattern but this wide tooth comb helps to overcome this concern. We used this on both wet and dry hair, and while extremely gentle on our curls it helped to evenly distribute the product from root to tip.

We absolutely loved introducing this into our hair routine for its ease but make sure to wash it after (especially if using hair product) but as it’s made from acetate, you will have no problems with a swift wash. Available to pre-order for delivery after 24 May.

Slip pure silk turban

We found that when we slept without anything protecting our hair, we would wake up with frizzy, tangled locks but introducing the silk turban to our night routine was game changing.

Slip’s pure silk turban is not only made of 100 per cent mulberry silk but the soft composition throughout the whole design ensures no elastic around the trim is gripping to the hair causing any weakness or damage. With the silk covered elastic towards the back of the turban, the flexibility ensures it stays in place all night whilst you toss and turn. Reducing friction, frizz and breakage, we love this for minimising damage and easing the styling of our hair in the morning.

Price comparison

The verdict: Curly hair products

While each curl journey and pattern is different, it really is about finding the right routine and products that work for you. The Davines love curl cream was truly game-changing in our routine as a serum to hydrate and treat our hair before introducing any cream or curl enhancer.

To minimise breakage we recommend introducing LilySilk’s silk scrunchies into your mix and Afroani’s shower comb for daily use. And to magnify the beauty of your curls you can’t go wrong with the Aveda be curly curl enhancer too.

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