Monday, 11 February 2019

curly haircare products i've tried - a working list : leave-ins, stylers, gels, mousses

Here is a working list of all the leave-in conditioners, creams, curly girl gels, and hair mousses I've tried, and I'll be adding to it any time I try a new one...

Leave-in Conditioners/Creams
  • A’Kin Leave-in Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I loved this conditioner, and I will likely buy and use it again. It isn't too heavy, you need very little product, and it makes a noticeable difference even used just by itself.
  • Boucleme Curl Cream - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    My current fave, although not my HG, this curl cream does the job and is totally reliable under pretty much any gel.
  • Flora & Curl Curl Activating Lotion - (International)
    *****, CG approved
    Light, fresh and smoothing. This is a go-to product to mix with other gels.
  • DevaCurl Wave Maker - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I find this to be so very similar to a lot of the above mentioned products, it is light and yet adds definition. My only hesitancy is with the price and the availability of this product.
  • Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Crème - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I really like this creme - it's sort of a cross between a leave-in and a gel, and so I included it in this category so you know not to double layer it. Otherwise it works so beautifully at holding you curls, adding hydration and it's a great one-and-done product.
  • Andalou Naturals Styling Cream - (US/UK)
    ***, not CG friendly (amodimethicone)
    This isn't my favourite, and I found it a little heavy. The ingredients list isn't the best. The A'Kin one is a much better buy for the money.
  • Briogeo Rosarco Milk Leave In Conditioning Spray - (USUK)
    ***, not CG friendly (isohexadecane)
    I like this product, but it's not love, like any other spray conditioner I feel it's good on refresh days but I'm not convinced it actually does anything for my hair.
  • Calia Purifying Leave-in Conditioner Spray - (US/UK)
    **, not CG friendly (cera alba)
    I don't find this does much for my hair.
  • Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    The 3rd ingredient is shea butter, so I think this is why this product sits so heavily on my fine hair. I really didn't get on with this, when I use it (I hate throwing things away) I use a teeny tiny pea sized amount mixed with gel.
  • Only Curls Hydrating Curl Creme - (International)
    **, CG approved
    This weighs my hair down, and is therefore unusable because the following day my hair is flat and full of product, however little I seem to use.
  • Giovanni Weightless Moisture Leave-in Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    This does nothing much to my hair at all, which is a shame, because I wanted to love it as so many others do. Instead it just seems to add frizz.
  • Flora + Curl Floral Hydration Hair Mist - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    Smells so bad, leaves my hair sticky... perhaps this is intended for much thicker, denser hair types? I cannot figure out who would benefit from this product.


  • Jessicurl Spiralicious Styling Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (alcohol)
    I really love this gel, and I always get super tight ringlets when I use it.
  • Boucleme Curl Defining Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I love the way this smells and feels, and it provides just the right amount of hold for me. I will always go back to this.
  • Calia Organic Styling Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    Probably my HG gel, I love this for the price, the quality of the ingredients and how nice my hair looks and feels when I use it.
  • Kinky Curly Curling Custard - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    This is so similar to the Calia gel, in that the ingredients list is super similar, so whichever you get you'll be happy with, lovely tight curls and great longevity. I love this!
  • Flora & Curl Curl Defining Gel - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    Lovely fresh scent, perfect hold and definition.
  • Not Your Mother’s Naturals Blue Sea Kale and Coconut Water Weightless Mousse - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I love this for a very easy and quick drying wash and go style. The curls aren't as defined, but I like it that way, they're looser and more romantic but with lots of volume still. The smell is gorgeous as with the rest of the line. The only trouble is that it really doesn't keep any hold to the second day, meaning a completely new wash or new product application.
  • Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I really love the longevity I get with this one, it keeps the curl structure overnight better than any of the other gels I've tried. However, it can be easy to add too much, you only need a tiny amount, and it isn't always friendly with leave-in cream products.
  • Biotera Ultra Gentle Clean Gel - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I like this one for refresh days - it's really light and therefore will work better in some climates than others, and in certain seasons. This is a really reasonably priced product as well, and layers brilliantly.
  • Giovanni L.A. Natural Styling Gel, Strong Hold - (US/UK) & Giovanni Natural Mousse Hair Styling Foam - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    These products only seem to work well enough when used together, otherwise apart they don't seem to do enough. The scent isn't great, but they sure do provide some hold and definition, without the need for a refresh.
  • Ecoslay Orange Marmalade Flax Seed and Aloe Curl Definer - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    This trendy creamy gel has to be stored in the fridge. That's its first downfall for me. I mean I get the reason why (it's ingredients are super pure), but it get's easily forgotten about in there. Second, it's too moisturising for my hair, and leaves it frizzy without much definition.
  • Only Curls Enhancing Curl Gel - (International)
    **, CG approved
    This needs the Curl Creme from the same range to work well, but it still leaves my hair too weighed down. It doesn't have much hold, it's more of a moisturising product. Perhaps better for thicker hair.
  • Aussie Instant Freeze Gel - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    This is an example of an 'approved' product that actually just isn't very good for your hair. It does have a strong hold, but easily builds up, and leaves my hair drier after I wash it out. It's super cheap for a reason folks.

Still waiting for review:
 - Innersense I Create Lift Volumizing Foam

It takes a long time for me to review, because it takes a long time for me to test each product fully, so I thank you for your patience.

Thanks for reading x

curly haircare products i've tried - a working list : treatments, oils & deep conditioners

Here is a working list of all the treatments, oils, & deep conditioners I've tried, and I'll be adding to it any time I try a new one...

Treatments/Deep Conditioners

  • Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (isododecane - form of wax that may cause buildup)
    My absolute HG deep conditioner, always leaves my hair feeling moisturised and cared for. I think it helps the curl pattern.
  • Rice Water Protein Treatment DIY - see my video for full instructions
    *****, CG approved
    A great way to add structure back into your hair, and the price to make it is so low! I love to do this at least once a month these days, and it always gives my curls extra bounce.
  • Jessicurl Deep Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I like this blended with rice water to make a moisturising protein treatment for my hair. Otherwise, all by itself, it's a little too heavy for my hair type.
  • Boucleme Intensive Moisture Treatment - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    The most mega list of ingredients, the nastiest smell. Also doesn't seem to hydrate my curls?!
  • The Innate Life Herbal Hair Mask - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    I required so much of the bottle to saturate my hair, as the consistency is very thin without much slip at all. Therefore, cost per use is extremely high. I also felt that it didn't make much different to my hair, other than adding shine.

Oils & Scalp Treatments
  • The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    My HG hair oil, for refreshing, for eliminating frizz, for providing shine, for scrunching out the crunch. It smells divine too.
  • Righteous Roots Hair RX - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    The perfect oil for both scalp massage, adding shine, and also an all-over hot oil treatment - I love this stuff, and I see it staying in my routine for a long long time.
  • Living Libations Scalp Tonic - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    This is a great oil for nourishing your scalp, goes in easily, washes out easily and leaves your scalp feeling fresh.
  • Nurturing Soul Nourishing Herbal Hair Oil - (International)
    ****, CG approved
    This gorgeous smelling oil, comes in cute packaging, and is handmade in small batches in the UK. I love this for my scalp and it's got fab ingredients for scalp condition and hair growth. I only use a couple of drops of this and give it a really good massage in before a brush out.
  • Flora & Curl Superfruit Hair Oil - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    Gorgeous chocolate-y scent, rich and moisturising. Perfect for winter, but can easily add too much weight to my hair.
  • Forest & Shore Hallelujah Hair Oil - (US n/a /UK) *gifted
    **, CG approved
    Lovely scent, natural product. The packaging is also nice, and has a great pipette dropper to make it easy to get just a small amount. I just don't find this does much to my hair, and it seems to break me out a little around the nape of my neck, so perhaps the choice of oils is simply too heavy to be absorbed?
  • Evolve Beauty Nourishing Hair Elixir - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    It's started to refer to itself on the website now as a 'serum', and that's much more accurate. This oil sits on top of the hair providing shine for a short while but not penetrating the shaft.
  • The Innate Life Scalp Treatment - (US/UK)
    *, not CG friendly (cera alba)
    I expected so much more from this, and perhaps it just didn't suit my hair/scalp type? It was difficult to apply, difficult to wash out and made very little noticeable difference.

curly haircare products i've tried - a working list : shampoo & conditioner

someone on Instagram asked if i had a working document of products i’ve tried and my thoughts on them. so, today i thought i’d start it, for you to reference whenever you like.

if you’ve got similar hair to me then you’ll know that products can be hit or miss, and that a lot of them can weigh it down or make it feel greasy.

if you don't know what type of hair you have, then check out my YouTube video about figuring out my hair porosity, density, thickness and curl type, because all of these play a factor in which types of products work for your hair - and if you're similar to me then you'll find this list super useful, and i hope you save it somewhere so you can keep it as a reference guide (i'd also love for you to recommend products that might work in the comments below!).

i've also added links to where you can pick them up, just to make it a bit more convenient for you to find the exact thing i've tried. some of these are affiliate links, which means they throw me a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to yourself, and that enables me to continue making content for you.

for each product, i'll give it a star rating, tell you if it's 100% Curly Girl approved (i've put it through, and also give you my opinion + thoughts based on using it with my hair type. i've ordered them by my most favourite to my least favourite, so if you want to know my HG, you'll find it at the top of each list!

ps. HG stands for 'Holy Grail', and I've listed which my current top HG products are in the mini reviews ;)

below you'll find my favourite and least favourite shampoos and conditioners, i've now separated (because it was getting SO long) the other products into new pages:
  • Calia Purifying Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    Cleanses beautifully, lovely ingredients and fab brand, my HG shampoo - a little pricey but worth the investment, also a little hard to source in the UK (I get it shipped from the continent).
  • Rye Flour Hair Wash - see my Youtube video for rye flour shampoo tutorial
    *****, CG approved
    I love this easy-to-make, DIY natural hair wash, made simply out of rye flour and water. It gets my hair as clean as a standard shampoo but at a fraction of the cost, plus it's zero waste.
  • Not Your Mother's Naturals (NYM) Blue Sea Kale & Coconut Water Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    I love how this doesn't strip the hair, but yet gets it feeling really clean. The smell is divine too. It lathers great, much like a conventional shampoo, and adds great shine.
  • Bentley Organic HydraVitality Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (sodium coco-sulfate, alcohol)
    This is a cheaper option for those who still want a 'natural' brand - it cleanses well, lathers a good amount, and doesn't leave a residue at all. My hair loves it. The only problem is that the pump dispenser doesn't work perfectly.
  • Shea Moisture Black Castor Strengthen & Restore Shampoo - (US/UK)
    *****, not CG friendly (hydrolyzed vegetable protein pg-propyl silanetriol - a silicone)
    This works great for my hair, and is so easy to find around the globe. The silicone included is one that is a protein and silicone blend that helps fortify and strengthen the bonds in the hair - so if you don't mind silicones (and your hair doesn't) then this is a great one.
  • Only Curls All Curl Cleanser - (International)
    *****, CG approved
    This is a fab cleanser, not cheap, but it cleans without stripping the hair, and doesn't leave any frizz.
  • Childs Farm Strawberry & Mint Sensitive Shampoo - (US/UK)
    ****, not CG friendly (sodium coco-sulfate, alcohol)
    I find this shampoo works beautifully on my hair as a clarifying shampoo (which I use most wash days tbh), but it got demoted for its ingredients list - it will likely dry my hair over time.
  • Beauty Kubes Shampoo for Normal to Dry Hair - (US/UK)
    ****, probably CG friendly (sodium cocoyl glutamate)
    I actually love these shampoo cubes for washing my hair. They're light and portable, easy to use and plastic free.
  • Boucleme Curl Cleanser - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I don't find this washes deeply enough, but it's certainly better than the below Boucleme alternative. High cost-per-use.
  • Rhassoul Clay - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I did a video with my brother and niece where we washed our curly hair with just plain clay - one of the best things to remove product build up and give some definition to your curls, plus it absorbs oils really beautifully afterwards. But it's hard to use and can be drying for the hair.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    Left a residue that meant that my hair needed to be washed more regularly, but looked great on wash day.
  • As I Am Coconut CoWash - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    When I used to straighten my hair I really loved this cowash, but now I'm curly I actually really don't love it. I find it doesn't clean well, sits heavy on my hair and is a bit too chemical smelling for me.
  • Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    I've also tried the 50/50 Balancing Shampoo, and I regret to say they're similarly bad, although the smell of the Tea Tree is much better. They leave hair frizzy, and none of us curly girls want that.
  • Boucleme Hydrating Hair Cleanser - (US/UK)
    ** , CG approved
    Did not cleanse my hair well at all, would perhaps work for someone who doesn't use much product or who has very fine hair, or who has the patience to scrub it into their roots for 5 whole minutes.
  • Tabitha James Kraan Hair Cleanser - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    The most expensive hair cleanser I've tried, and I really didn't think it was worth the pricetag (thankfully I only bought a trial size). It says 'It's not a shampoo' on the website, and it's right that it doesn't lather, but it also doesn't really clean...
  • Not Your Mother’s Naturals (NYM) Blue Sea Kale and Coconut Water Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *****, CG approved
    This is my new fave, because it's reasonably priced, has lots of slip, smells amazing, and it's only flaw is that the pump dispenser isn't that great. I love this conditioner.
  • Only Curls All Curl Conditioner - (International)
    *****, CG approved
    This conditioner doesn't weigh down hair, instead it super hydrates the hair. It's only downside is the price tag.
  • Inecto Naturals Coconut Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, not CG friendly (isopropyl alcohol)
    Demoted for it's one drying alcohol ingredient, but my hair seems to love it anyway and this is also the cheapest conditioner on the list. It's also my HG.
  • Tresemme Botanique Nourish & Replenish Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    I used this in my recent 'Trying Curly Susie' routine' video, as I probably wouldn't have reached for it otherwise. But it's a lovely conditioner, lots of slip, and washes out without leaving residue. You can't get much better for the price (and Susie agrees with me).
  • Bentley Organic HydraVitality Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ****, CG approved
    This conditioner doesn't have huge slip, but always makes my curls look healthy and shiny anyway.
  • Boucleme Curl Conditioner - (US/UK)
    ***, CG approved
    I like this product, but I don't love it. It's ok, but it's a little bit heavy. I wanted more from it for the price that I paid.
  • Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Conditioner - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    Not as bad as their 50/50 Conditioner in terms of the smell, but literally doesn't seem to do a thing for your hair - no hydration, no moisture, no definition. 
  • Bar None Hydrating Conditioner Bar - (US)
    **, CG approved
    I was supposed to love this bar, it's zero waste and easy to travel with. BUT, it just doesn't do anything for my hair but weigh it down. It is possible to use it though, that's why I gave it two stars, because if you're desperate for a bar conditioner, this does work better than some others, and at least it's easy enough to use.
  • Tabitha James Kraan 4 in 1 Conditioner - (US/UK)
    **, CG approved
    I really found this conditioner had no slip, and I needed a lot of product to coat my hair. It also left a residue on my hair.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner - (US/UK)
    *, CG approved
    Leaves too much product residue in my hair, so it gets weighed down easily. Not great for fine hair.

things i've got sat on my shelf waiting to review:
  • Noughty Wave Hello Curl Shampoo & Conditioner
If you'd like to see more in-depth reviews and routines, please hop on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe.

Please feel free to make suggestions for other products I should try! The curly girl community on the web is INCREDIBLE and there are so many products T would never have found if it weren't for the recommendations of other people, so please let me know your favourites below…

Otherwise, have a lovely day and thank you for reading x