moisturizing curl cream and anti frizz gel for curly hair
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Curl Cream vs Curl Gel

If you have naturally curly hair, should you use a curl cream or a gel to style your curls?

Many factors come into play when deciding how to care for your curls such as diameter, density, and porosity of your hair, for starters. Plus—there is your natural curl pattern, which may change on different parts of your head. Choosing between a curl cream or a curl gel can depend on all of these factors. To keep things simple, here are the top three issues our stylists find when caring for curly hair.

The 3 Most Common Problems with Curly Hair.

  1. Your curls are thirsty. The natural oil produced by your scalp (sebum) is supposed to travel down hair to keep it moisturized and protected. The swerves and turns in curly hair, however, make that journey a long one. Sebum typically doesn’t make it to the ends of curls, making curly hair feel dry.
  2. You are susceptible to breakage. The S shape of curls creates irregularities in the cuticle (the outer covering of the hair shaft). This means curly hair can break more easily—especially if it has been color treated. 
  3. You get more frizz. We didn’t even need to tell you this one. Curly hair simply has more issues with humidity and lack there of.

The good news is, as you address these issues, your curls become the bouncy, defined, healthy spirals and loops they are meant to be.

Curl Cream vs. Curl Gel – Styling Curly Hair

NUVO gel and WAVE curl cream have both been formulated to meet the specific needs of curly hair. They both provide moisture, definition, and shine. They keep hair healthy and eliminate frizz. So, how do you decide between a curl defining gel and a curl defining cream?

There are certain benefits — like hydration and frizz control — that the best products for curly hair should always deliver. To make the choice between a curl cream or a curl gel (or other products like mousse, leave-in conditioner, and more) ask yourself a few quick questions:

  1. Do you want to amplify volume or tame it?
  2. Is your hair fine, coarse, or somewhere in between?
  3. Do you want tighter ringlets or looser ones?

If the diameter of your hair is thin, if you want to amplify volume, and if you want to encourage chemically flattened hair back to its naturally curly state, NUVO curl activator gel should be your first stop. On the other hand, if you have coarse hair, want to tame volume and prefer a looser lilt to your curls, WAVE curl cream will likely be your speed.

More Styling Tips for Curly Hair from our Experts

Know your hair’s porosity

The porosity of your hair will dictate how much product your hair needs. Highly porous hair will drink product up, while less porous hair might not need much at all.  Do you have porous hair?

Generally, if your hair has been lightened or feels really dehydrated, it is porous. Also, after washing, if it holds water and takes a lot of time to dry, it is porous. If your hair is overly porous then you will have some trouble getting your hair to curl in its natural curl pattern. Your hair will take on a lot of water and moisture, but will not be able to hold it in.

–Natalie Rose, Stylist

To help, you’ll want to consider deeply reparative conditioning treatments, and always prep hair with products—such as SEAL spray—that seal the cuticle after infusing it with just the right amount of moisture.

Go with the flow.

When styling, follow your natural curl pattern instead of fighting it. Apply your products of choice and then, working from root to ends, twist sections of hair the direction that they want to go. The tighter the curl the smaller the section. Air drying is often the best option for curls, but not always the most practical one. When you need to speed up the process with a diffuser, remember that the more you move and touch the curls the more you invite frizz to form. Gently rest curls in the diffuser, and nestle it towards your scalp, holding it still until the hair is dry. Resist the temptation to “scrunch” with the diffuser.

“If you are looking for easy, steer clear of trying to make your hair do something other than what it really wants to do in its natural state.”

–Eric Barras-Johnson, Stylist & Texture Specialist

More ways to style and manage curly hair:

We have way more to say about styling and managing curly hair. Our experts have built an entire library on it. The following links take you to additional resources on hardcore curl care:  

How often should you wash your curly hair?

What are the best product ingredients for curly hair?

Tips on styling naturally curly hair

Related products
WAVE curl cream - a sumptuous styling cream that provides definition and hydrated softness
CUBICA® WAVE curl cream
NUVO hair gel - moisturizing, alcohol-free styling gel for curly hair