Styling and caring for curly and natural hair can feel like a never-ending science class full of A/B tests, experiments, and controls. Depending on the day, the weather, what position you slept in, and what mood your curls wake up in, the texture and pattern of your hair can drastically change overnight. This is why, when someone with similar hair to your own recommends a product, it can feel like getting the answers to a test.
The best part of this year’s Curlfest (aside from the next-level hair inspiration) was being able to source recommendations from attendees in real-time. I chatted up dozens of attendees to find out what they were using on their hair. Here are their favorite products.
To Loosen Tight Curls
To Freshen Up Without Drying Out
Tingly ingredients like tea tree oil are great for stimulating and cleansing your scalp, but they can strip your hair of moisture. This very minty deep conditioner gets you that refreshing, cooling feeling with the extra dose of hydration curly hair needs on a regular basis.
To Define Curls in a Literal Pinch
If it feels like the frizz just won’t quit, this jelly (not to be confused with its stiffer cousin, gel) will help define curls in their natural state — no twist-out or flexi-rod situation required. A little goes an extremely long way. One recommender told me she bought her latest batch back in February and still has some jelly to spare.
To Do Some Damage Control
Like most precious things in life, curly hair can be very fragile. This weekly rinse-out treatment is ideal for 3B and 3C curls that need an elasticity boost. Use it to help your curls bounce back from the wear and tear that comes from detangling, drying, color, and nervous hair twirling.
To Stretch and Soften Curls
I had a long conversation with a fellow 3C-er at Curlfest about this product. This styler can be used for almost anything and everything, but if you’re looking for smooth, stretched curls, the key is knowing how to use it. Liberally apply this from roots to ends on soaking wet hair (not damp!) and it’ll lock in whatever twist-out your heart desires with zero stickiness.
To Care for Color-Treated Hair
Stylist Bari Gibson (who was rocking a bright yellow pixie cut when we talked) recommends the entire Texture ID line if you have color-treated natural hair. This leave-in spray makes it easy to keep all curl types moisturized throughout the day, especially after all the styling is done.
To Stop Shrinkage and Add Shine
As its name suggests, this foam wins in the crunch-free twist-out department. But I was also informed that it’s great for second, third, and fourth-day styling. Applying more product to dry, already-stretched hair can often make it shrink, but not with this stuff. As someone who often opts for a lazy top knot at bedtime in lieu of a proper twist out, this was very welcome news.
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