Best Curl Cream for Curly Hair

If you’re looking for a styling product that will define your curls without drying them out, a curl cream may be the perfect addition to your hair styling routine! In today’s post, I’ll discuss the benefits of curl creams, how to choose the right one, and leave you with my top recommendations!

What is a curl cream?

A curl cream is a cream-based styling product whose primary function is to enhance your curls! It provides extra hydration to the hair while increasing definition and reducing frizz.

Don’t be confused by the name! Several haircare brands also refer to their curl creams as curl milk, curl activator, curling cream, or styling lotion.

Curl creams are the perfect styling solution to achieve touchable soft hair without the crunch that gels, mousses, and hairsprays can leave behind. However, it’s important to note that curl creams have a lighter hold than other styling products.

The best Curl Cream for Curly Hair

  1. CurlsmithCurlCream_150x150 Kopie

    01 Curlsmith Hold Me Softly Style Balm Curl Cream

    Curlsmith’s Hold Me Softly Style Balm It’s an excellent curl cream designed for all curl types with a medium to coarse thickness. It provides a lightweight hold that’s soft to the touch. If you have extremely fine hair, avoid using this curl cream as it may be too heavy.

    Brand: Curlsmith
    Size: 237ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  2. Ouidad Curl Shaper Pumping + Defining Curl Cream

    02 Ouidad Curl Shaper Take Shape Plumping + Defining Curl Cream

    Want to define your looser texture but need a boost of hydration? This lightweight curl cream will moisturize and plump dry strands while encouraging your natural texture to clump. It won’t leave a crunchy feel behind, and your hair will be soft and touchable. This is why the Ouidad curl shaper belongs to the best curl cream for curly hair.

    Brand: Ouidad
    Size: 277 ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  3. InnersenseCurlCream

    03 Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control

    If you’re suffering from a lot of frizz, Innersense’s Quiet Calm Curl Control can help. It will smooth away frizz with hydrating ingredients such as honey, shea butter, and rice bran oil. It’s also packed with antioxidant ingredients such as rooibos tea, lotus, and ginkgo biloba to protect the hair from free radicals and environmental damage. 

    Brand: Innersense
    Size: 295ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  4. Curlsmith Feather Light Protein Cream

    04 Curlsmith Feather Light Protein Cream

    If you’re experiencing damage or breakage and want to enhance your natural curls, Curlsmith’s Feather Light Protein Cream will be excellent for you. It’s suitable for all curl types of any thickness but best for high-porosity hair. This unique formula combines a cream-based product’s hydration with a traditional gel’s hold. It’s enriched with a blend of hemp seed and rice protein, which will strengthen the hair and increase elasticity. 

    Brand: Curlsmith
    Size: 237ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  5. CantuCurlCream

    05 Cantu Shea Butter Moisturizer Curl Activator Cream

    The Cantu Shea Butter Curl Activator Cream is an excellent curl cream that is extremely rich! It’s formulated with rich shea and mango seed butter and a blend of coconut, olive, and macadamia blend of hydrating oils. Because it has a very heavy texture with extremely rich ingredients, it’s best suited for tighter curls with high porosity.

    Brand: Cantu
    Size: 355ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  6. Boucleme CurlCream_150x150

    06 Boucléme Curl Cream

    Boucléme’s Curl Cream Is an excellent curl cream safe for curly hair. It’s also fragrance-free, which is excellent if you are very sensitive to fragrance. In addition, it’s lightweight in texture, so it will be suitable for all curl types, and you can easily use it to touch up your curls after styling.

    Brand: Boucléme
    Size: 300ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes          

  7. Camille Rose

    07 Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl Cream

    Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl Cream will be perfect if you have low to medium porosity. It’s a lightweight gel texture, so it’s not too heavy, and it contains nourishing avocado and castor seed oil for a moisturizing boost.

    Brand: Camille Rose
    Size: 240ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  8. HairLust Curl Crush Defining Cream

    08 Hairlust Curl Crush Defining Cream

    This curl-defining cream is formulated for all curl types. It’s also enriched with a ton of potent antioxidants that will protect the hair from environmental stressors. It’s formulated with pullulan, which is a natural starch that provides the formula with an excellent hold. It’s water-soluble and can easily be washed out without harsh shampoos.

    Brand: Hairlust  
    Size: 150ml  
    Curls Girl Method Suitable: Yes

What are the benefits of using a curl cream?

Curl creams are an excellent styling product if you suffer from dry hair but want to achieve definition.

The benefits of using a curl cream are:

  • Increased curl definition
  • Increased curl hydration
  • Reduction of frizz
  • Shine booster

What hair types should use a curl cream?

Any curl type that experiences dryness can benefit from a curl cream. However, the product’s texture and thickness will depend on your hair’s thickness and porosity.

If your hair is extremely fine or you have lower porosity, look for a curl cream with a lighter texture that doesn’t contain a high percentage of heavy butter. Look for lightweight oils such as argan oil or grapeseed oil. Be sure to use your curl cream sparingly. Because the cream is extremely rich, it can easily cause build-up on the hair’s surface.

However, if you have hair of a higher porosity that needs hydration, a curl cream can be a great way to achieve more definition without sacrificing moisture! Look for curl creams that contain heavier ingredients, such as shea butter, murumuru butter, and castor oil. You can get away with being a little heavier-handed, but be careful so you don’t cause build-up.

When should I use a curl cream?

You should use curl creams on freshly washed hair that has been shampooed, conditioned, and towel dried. After applying your leave-in conditioner, rake or smooth the curl cream through your hair strands to activate your natural curl pattern. You can follow up the curl cream with a compatible gel for additional definition or leave it as is for a soft hold.

You can also use a small amount of curl cream for dry curls to retouch throughout the week. However, use it sparingly so you don’t cause product build-up!

Will a curl cream provide a firm hold like gel or mousse?

While a curl cream will give you hold and definition, it’s not as strong as a gel or a mousse. If you desire a stronger hold, consider layering your gel or mousse over the cream during your styling process.

However, remember that if your cream and gel are incompatible, it can lead to flaking. So before applying it to your entire head for the first time, test it! Mix the products you will use in the palm of your hand. If the mixture is smooth, it should be fine. However, if it forms chunky white clumps, that’s an indication that the products will not work well together.

What ingredients should I look for in a curl cream?

The ingredients you look for in your curl cream depend on the thickness and prosody of your hair.

If you have finer strands or low porosity hair, look for lightweight ingredients such as:

  • Argan oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Marula Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Avocado Oil

Try to avoid formulas that contain a high percentage of heavy butter.

If you have thicker or high-porosity hair, you can opt for curl creams with heavier ingredients. Excellent ingredients for this hair type are:

  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Castor oil
  • Hempseed oil
  • Olive oil

What ingredients should I avoid in a curl cream for curly hair?

Before using a product, it’s essential to understand what is in the formula. Certain ingredients can easily damage curly hair or coat the hair in a way that prevents it from getting the moisture it needs.

Here are the ingredients that you should avoid:


Many curl creams contain silicones which is a big no-no for curly hair!

Silicone coats the hair, which can result in a temporary smoothing effect. However, it is water-insoluble ingredients that you can’t remove without a clarifying shampoo. If you’re unaware that your conditioner contains silicone, you could be headed for big trouble! A silicone build-up on the hair shaft will prevent moisturization from penetrating the hair shaft, causing excessive dehydration and leading to breakage.

Common silicones used in hair care products are Dimethicone or Cetearyl Methicone. However, you can easily spot them on the ingredients list of the product by the following endings: “-cone,” “-cool,” “-,cane” or “-silane.”

Drying alcohols

The most important thing to be aware of is drying alcohol! These drying ingredients can easily zap the moisture from your hair, leading to excessive dryness and breakage. These shouldn’t be confused with the “good” fatty alcohols that are hydrating.

The most common drying alcohols that you should avoid include:

  • Ethyl alcohol (also called “ethanol”).
  • Denatured alcohol (also listed as “alcohol denat”).
  • Isopropyl alcohol.

However, you can identify them on the ingredient list if you see “propyl,” “prop,” “eth,” or “denatured” in the name.


Sulfates are surfactants, or cleansing agents, that bind to oil, dirt, and product residue to aid in cleansing. Conditioners shouldn’t contain sulfates, so if you see them listed on the ingredient list, steer clear!

The most common sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). You can quickly identify a sulfate by its ending of “-one” or “-ate.”

Mineral oils and wax

Like silicones, mineral oils and wax can create a lot of build-up on the hair. It can be challenging to wash away without the use of shampoos that contain sulfates. Mineral oil can also block moisture from penetrating the hair shop, waiting to excessive dehydration and breakage.

Avoid lanolin oil, mineral oil, paraffin wax, and petrolatum.

How to Apply Curl Cream for Optimal Results

To achieve the best results from curl cream:

  1. Start with clean, damp hair.
  2. Apply the cream evenly by sectioning the hair and using a downward motion to encourage curl formation.
  3. Use a diffuser or air dry your hair to set the curls.
  4. Avoid touching your hair while it dries to minimize frizz.


Curl cream is an essential product for anyone looking to enhance and protect their curly hair. With its numerous benefits, from hydration to styling ease, it’s a must-have in your beauty arsenal. Give it a try and see how it can transform your curls!

Profilbild Laura
About the author

I've been a curly girl since I was little. 💝 But it wasn't until I discovered the right curl care for me that I learned to understand my curls. I'm happy to pass all this on to you - so that you too can learn to love your curls.

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