Monday, 11 February 2019

curly haircare products i've tried - a working list

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 curlsbot.com), 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 ;)

Shampoo
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
Conditioners
  • 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.
  • 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 approvedI 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.
  • 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.
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Gels/Stylers
  • 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!
  • 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.


things i've got sat on my shelf waiting to review:
  • Noughty Wave Hello Curl Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave-In
  • Giovanni Weightless Moisture Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in & Gel
  • Only Curls UK Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in & Gel
products i'd like to try in the future:
  • Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Conditioner
  • Matrix Biolage Conditioner
  • Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle, Curlsmith Moisture Memory Reactivator, Curlsmith Style Balm
  • Trepadora Quinoa Repair Deep Conditioner, Gojiberry Hair Rinse, Papaya Slip Taming Potion
  • Flora + Curl Superfruit Oil
  • Innersense I Create Volume, I Create Hold, I Create Lift Volumizing Foam, Quiet Calm Curl Control
  • Meow Meow Tweet Shampoo Bar Rosemary Avocado
  • Bounce Curl Hairspray
  • The Curly Co Diffuser
  • John Masters Scalp Spray
  • Mielle Hair Mask
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 i 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