Look­ing for a prod­uct that will define your nat­ur­al curl pat­tern? There are so many gels, cus­tards and curl creams, that it can be con­fus­ing and frus­trat­ing to find the right one, so we’ve put togeth­er a list of our favorite top curl defin­ers. Remem­ber: no two heads of hair are the same, even if they fall in the same curl cat­e­go­ry. What works for thin 4b hair may not work for thick 4b hair, and what you thought wouldn’t work on your hair tex­ture turns out to be a holy grail!


1. Tigi Cat­walk Cur­lesque Curls Rock Ampli­fi­er

Tigi’s Curls Rock Ampli­fi­er has the tex­ture of a creamy hair lotion. Curlies with dif­fer­ent curl pat­terns love it and agree on one thing: you only need about a pea-sized amount to get defined hair. If you apply too much to each sec­tion, expect crunchy curls! Make sure to use your favorite leave-in con­di­tion­er under­neath so the styler doesn’t dry out your hair.

Curls Rock Ampli­fi­er; $16.95


2. Kinky-Curly Curl­ing Cus­tard

Most nat­u­rals tell us that Kinky-Curly Curl­ing Cus­tard is a tough prod­uct to mas­ter. It’s full of nour­ish­ing botan­i­cals like agave nec­tar extract, aloe vera juice and marsh­mal­low, and has a very slip­pery and goopy tex­ture. A lit­tle goes a long way, as it instant­ly clumps and smoothes your coils. Expect extreme­ly shiny and springy coils. Although it works best on very tight, coarse coils in the “4” cat­e­go­ry, it might pack too much of a punch for loose curls. Be sure to pair it with a leave in con­di­tion­er like Kinky-Curly Knot Today.

Kinky-Curly Curl­ing Cus­tard; $17


3. Ouidad Curl Quencher Mois­tur­iz­ing Gel

The Ouidad brand is on many a holy grail list and it’s because their prod­ucts don’t make you choose between defined and mois­tur­ized hair – you can have both! Mead­ow­foam seed oil helps hydrate and clump, leav­ing you with juicy curls. Ouidad Curl Quencher Mois­tur­iz­ing Gel is also great for thick type 3 curls.

Ouidad Curl Quencher Mois­tur­iz­ing Gel; $22


4. Shea Mois­ture Curl Enhanc­ing Smooth­ie

It’s dense, rich, and packed with nour­ish­ing ingre­di­ents like aloe, vit­a­min E, and coconut oil. If you don’t like the crunch of gels, Shea Mois­ture Curl Enhanc­ing Smooth­ie pro­vides a more nat­ur­al, touch­able look. Since it’s not a gel, it might be dif­fi­cult to define tighter coils and springs. Those with loos­er curls can expect soft, shiny, and light curls instead of the wet, heavy look that gels might give.

Shea Mois­ture Curl Enhanc­ing Smooth­ie; $9.99


5. AG Re:coil Curl Acti­va­tor

Re:coil is a creamy, light­weight frizz fight­er. Those who’ve had great results gush about boun­cy, shiny, care­free curls. Those who had to pass said it wasn’t heavy enough for coars­er hair tex­tures. In humid months, use it under your favorite gel to keep the frizzies at bay. As it gets cold­er, it’s great as a stand­alone prod­uct.

AG Re:coil; $18


6. Curly Hair Solu­tions Curl Keep­er

Curly Hair Solu­tions Curl Keep­er is a water-based styler fights frizz and gen­tly clumps curls, so those with thick, 3b and up hair may want to pair it with a gel for more def­i­n­i­tion and hold. It’s smooth like a serum, but cre­ates def­i­n­i­tion like a gel. If you don’t like lay­er­ing prod­ucts or it doesn’t take much to define your waves or curls, give Curl Keep­er a try. You can reac­ti­vate it with water as the week pro­gress­es!

Curly Hair Solu­tions Curl Keep­er; $9.99


7. Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls

Give Quick Curls a try if you have waves and loose curls or fine, thin curli­er hair. It’s a light cream, so it won’t weigh down your hair. If your hair reg­i­men has more scrunch­ing than metic­u­lous rak­ing and fin­ger styling, your hair might love this prod­uct.

Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls; $9


8. Curl Junkie Cof­fee-Coco Curl Creme

Curl Junkie Cof­fee-Coco Curl Creme com­bines the mois­tur­iz­ing ben­e­fits of a leave-in con­di­tion­er with the smooth­ing and hold­ing prop­er­ties of a gel. It’s lighter than dense creams or stiff gels, and can act as your leave-in and styler in one! Those with 3c-4a hair seem to love this prod­uct. Give it a try if you want a light, boun­cy wash and go.

Curl Junkie Cof­fee-Coco Curl Creme; $22


9. Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue

A lot thick­er than Quick Curls, Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue is meant for dense, thick heads of high­ly tex­tured hair! The Miss Jessie’s web­site says this medi­um hold styling cream is per­fect for “pogo stick oingy boingy curls”. Rake and smooth it onto your hair sec­tion by sec­tion and watch the curls bounce back!

Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue; $7


10. Curls Curl Gel-les’C

Curls Curl Gel-les’C is a very light­weight, serum-like gel, per­fect for pre­vent­ing frizz on loos­er curls and defin­ing fine (as opposed to coarse), tight coils. If you need high hold and stay­ing pow­er, this might be bet­ter to use on top of a con­ven­tion­al gel.

Curls Curl Gel-les’C; $25

Ladies, what prod­ucts do you use for curl def­i­n­i­tion? And do you have reviews for any of the prod­ucts list­ed here?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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58 Comments on "Top 10 Curl Defining Products for 4A/4B Hair"

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I actu­al­ly find that I get great def­i­n­i­tion with Kinky Curly’s Knot Today–the Cus­tard process is just too much work for too lit­tle reward for me. And Miss Jessie’s prices are absolute­ly ridiculous–I feel like I hear them laugh­ing at me when­ev­er I even look at a jar!


I have a tapered hair­cut sim­i­lar to the blog­ger “Faint­ly Mas­cu­line” some of you may know her, oth­ers may not. But, any­ways! I use the shea mois­ture curl enhanc­ing smooth­ie a my mois­tur­iz­er and Gio­van­ni styling gel. They are a great com­bi­na­tion for my 4a/4b hair!


Are there any prod­uct arti­cles about 3A 3B and 3C hair? All I see are arti­cles per­tain­ing to 4ABC hair

Mel Stevens

I rec­om­mend the pro nat­u­rals argan oil lave-in treat­ment. I think it works great for either curly or straight hair!


I stay in a coun­try far from my home land and most of the prod­ucts meant for Afro hair are not easy to found here espe­cial­ly good qual­i­ty hair prod­ucts. I did come across Black like me Mois­tur­iz­ing gel and Mois­tur­iz­ing spray, both are curl enhancers and they works real­ly well. 

I hope some day those prod­ucts you men­tioned get to this place, they seem to be promis­ing…


I went to a Ouidad salon to go nat­ur­al and my styl­ist rec­om­mend­ed their Curl defin­ing gel. It works great! I’ve been using it to do my twistouts and it leaves no residue and my twistouts last a while. My only com­plaint is that at $23 a bot­tle it’s pricey so I use it spar­ing­ly. Shea Moisture’s curl­ing smooth­ie works well too and it’s cheap­er but it tends to leave a white residue in my hair.

joseph caron

very use­ful prod­ucts you have defined here.


My fav is Curls Curl Gel-les’C. I have 3c/4a/3b fine/med/coarse strands. I actu­al­ly do get a light hold from the gel/serum. I’m find­ing I much pre­fer gel/serums over creams which tend to give me more of an afro twist out with much less hang

palesa selepe

I am from and live in south africa. I have your typ­i­cal black per­son hair (i think its type 4) and i have start­ed grow­ing it out nat­u­raly. which would be the best prod­ucts for me to use.

Hi every­one, I’m from Lon­don, UK so most of the prod­ucts here are not avail­able over here. Is there some­one out there from Eng­land or even your­selves BGLH that have test­ed prod­ucts in the UK. As when you go into the shops there’s so many prod­ucts the work­ers don’t usu­al­ly know that much so your con­fused. Cus­tomers are usu­al­ly buy­ing weave or exten­sions so no one can shed a lit­tle light & it just gets daunt­ing hav­ing so many hair prod­ucts as I’m a walk­ing exper­i­ment! If some­one could help with what prod­ucts are good for curl def­i­n­i­tion or sham­poos… Read more »
Tieska Jumbo
Hi Kay­la, I’m a nat­ur­al hair styl­ist in Lon­don and I used to work in a salon in Cam­ber­well. There is a shop called Zara that has a big range of nat­ur­al hair prod­ucts. There are also ladies who cre­ate prod­ucts that are local to Lon­don but ship all over the UK and var­i­ous parts of the world. Try Almo­ca­do and BeU­nique Hair Care.  Also, I’m host­ing a work­shop in Lon­don on 26/4/2014 on DIY Nat­ur­al Hair Styling. I teach how to cre­ate a per­son­al rou­tine and how to style your own hair using corn­rows and/or flat twists. Here’s the link:… Read more »

Hi Kay­la,

I just ran across your post about hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting Amer­i­can hair prod­ucts in the UK. I am in Texas, and if you are inter­est­ed, per­haps we could go estab­lish a busi­ness, where I sup­ply you with prod­ucts from here and you in turn sell them there.

Reply here if you are inter­est­ed.

Abi Ola

Hey, I’m based in Lon­don so I had a look at this web­site. Haven’t ordered from it as of yet but maybe have a look?
They sell Afro prod­ucts for all types of curly hair so maybe it might help! Hope this pro­duces a fruit­ful result :)

Do they have Shea Mois­ture prod­ucts? I have 4a hair and used Shea Mois­ture coconut and hibis­cus curl enhanc­ing smooth­ie and it makes my hair soft and the curls pop. I also heard mak­ing your own flaxseed gel makes your curls pop, pro­vides mois­ture, and nour­ish­ment. I’m going to try it today. When I first start­ed my nat­ur­al jour­ney I tried every­thing under the sun but I soon real­ized my hair thrives on all nat­ur­al prod­ucts (so does my skin I real­ized to). Also are there any brands of hair care for nat­u­rals that you’ve been see­ing? We all can… Read more »
The Poster Girl_Shar

How did your Flax Seed Gel come out? Is it mois­tur­iz­ing? I have been think­ing about doing this.

Michael Kors tote

this is good post.welcome you to oak­ley sun­glass­es online store.thanks!


Stick with buy­ing from Tar­get or Wal-Mart. That way, if you don’t like it, you can return it. Just make sure to keep that receipt. There are absolute­ly NO hair prod­ucts col­lect­ing dust under­neath my bath­room counter, because if it doesn’t work and wasn’t worth my mon­ey, I GO GET MY MONEY BACK. All it real­ly takes is one use to know if you like it or not.


I have type 4 hair and just tried that Lore­al ever­curl because i want­ed more frizz con­trol. the results aren’t that bad. Of course i did a twist out so I’m not sure how it defines curls. My coils are coily though, my twists are twist­ed, and my hair feels pret­ty mois­tur­ized. I got the con­di­tion­er, the leave in and the creme gel for 20 bucks at Wal­mart. Before that, i was just using con­di­tion­er, then twist­ing with man­go but­ter, which kept my hair pret­ty moist, but still frizzy.


i wouldn’t try­ing these out but they’re not worth the cost to me. i have a huge jar of eco-styler gel at home (about 32 oz.) for only $3 from my local beau­ty sup­ply store. as long as i don’t put too much, my hair won’t get crunchy. 

but hope­ful­ly some­one will be able to find a prod­uct they like from one of these list­ed.

The arti­cle title made me think the prod­ucts would most­ly be for type 4B hair but many of the descrip­tions are for type 3 hair. I once read an arti­cle (I believe on BGLH) that talked about not wast­ing mon­ey on curl defin­ing prod­ucts because there are some things that your hair just won’t do. I use eco-styler gel but my wash and go’s don’t leave my kinky 4B hair as defined as I’d like it and I accept­ed that. I stick to 2 strand twists/twist outs and pin­ups. If any­one knows any curl defin­ing prod­ucts for true 4B please… Read more »

The key for dry hair is mois­ture so for 4 type hair that is key.

Vati­ka Vir­gin Olive Hair Mask
by dabur

This deep con­di­tion­er will make hair mois­turised and when that hap­pens my hair’s pat­tern will show up when wet.When my hair dries unstretched its not curly but a FRO so I make sure I use it with a cheap heat cap and have good results.
We have to embrace what our hair can and can­not day it might be dif­fer­ent but is nonethe­less beau­ti­ful in its own right. 

The arti­cle to me cre­ates curl envy and is a mar­ket­ing ploy I am not falling for.


First of all Kinky Curly prod­ucts are a goopy mess. I did not like them! Sec­ond the Miss Jess­es prod­ucts they fea­tured at that price are the small sizes that is why they were so cheap. And last the best thing to define curls is hair con­di­ti­in­er and a den­man brush. Works for me!


I have 4a hair, water and con­di­tion­er & gel defines my hair with­out much fuss!


I didn’t read all the com­ments so if I don’t know if any­one men­tioned how they felt about Curls Unleashed Curl Boost­ing Jel­ly. It’s about $13.95 on avearge on most places. I like how it left my hair.
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I love their prod­ucts too!


Am I the only curly-coily low poros­i­ty girl that hat­ed the curl enhanc­ing smooth­ie. It did noth­ing for my hair,I do how­ev­er like the souf­flé but hate my sticky neck, fin­gers and clothes after its dried. I give up I recent­ly found some Shea but­ter whip that is the truth and I will stick to that and a tiny bit of what­ev­er gel I have if I want defined hair.


I’m low porous mul­ti 4 hair and i don’t care for the Shea mois­ture smooth­ie or souf­fle. I like prod­uct hunt­ing but not buy­ing, so i don’t real­ly know which prod­ucts do what for my hair because I’m not will­ing to spend the mon­ey! Lol. I do how­ev­er know that oil caus­es unnec­es­sary prob­lems. A lit­tle, a lot, as a rinse out, just doesn’t work. It’s not worth the dra­ma in my opin­ion though


For me the shea mois­ture smooth­ie real­ly works.i kin­da hate the souffle…atleast on its own. I find the smooth­ie makes my hair sooo soft once its dried into my hair. I have com­bo hair from 3a-4a. There isn’t one prod­uct that sat­is­fys all my mul­ti­tex­ture issues but I accept that.the souf­fle is sticky and quite dry­ing on its own in my hair. It dries tacky and real­ly lacks mois­ture reten­tion for me.
Love shea mois­ture curl & styling milk. For me ‚its great for dai­ly use. The smooth­ie is only for wash day bc of its heavy texture.I like the 9.99 pri­ce­point.


my hair hates pro­tein so most of the Shea Mois­ture prod­uct line is a no go for me


I think I’m high poros­i­ty, and even so. the curl enhanc­ing smooth­ie did noth­ing for me but make my hair smell nice. I agree on the curl souf­flé too–overly sticky and it gets every­where :\

The only Shea Mois­ture prod­uct I have suc­cess with is the Raw Shea But­ter Deep Treat­ment Masque… and I don’t even use it for its intend­ed pur­pose. I use it for the “cream” step of the LOC method.

Set­ting aside the slight­ly mis­lead­ing title (since some of these pur­pose­ly say they don’t work for 4a/4bs)…I’m sur­prised Eco Styler gel isn’t list­ed. Maybe that’s because it’s cheap? ;) I also agree with the woman upthread who sug­gests rec­om­mend­ing prod­ucts for bet­ter twistouts and braid­outs. Some of the prod­ucts list­ed here could be used to cre­ate a curl/wave pat­tern in hair that doesn’t have a a pat­tern. With all that said, I’m here to give two enthu­si­as­tic thumbs up to the KCKT/KCCC combo…especially now that I know how to use it. :) It does take some practice…KCCC may be expen­sive but a… Read more »

I could care less about curl definition,my 4c hair is gorge even with­out product,i just want my hair mois­tur­ized. $22 for a hair product,for me that’s R176,as a uni stu­dent i could buy gro­ceries for a fort­night! I just want you ladies to love your hair and not obsess over it and waste mon­ey on products,we didn’t lib­er­ate our­selves from the creamy crack to be bound by curl defin­ing creams.

Bridget J

Nor were we freed from the creamy crack for oth­er nat­u­rals to tell us what we can do or not with our own hair. Free­dom is just that. Free to do as we choose. Some choose to define and oth­ers choose not to. I think either option is beau­ti­ful. I sim­ply love the free­dom and ver­sa­til­i­ty of nat­ur­al hair.


But no one is say­ing that your hair isn’t gor­geous with­out prod­uct, it’s just a hair­style for some peo­ple to define their curls some­times.


thank you Dream­girl, this ‘curl def­i­n­i­tion’, ‘defin­ing curls’ ‘stretch­ing the curl pat­tern’ god! can we not like our hair how it grows out of the scalp…why does 4BC get so much flack, get a perm why don’t you…this is get­ting tired and old. Please bring in some­thing new oth­er than curl defin­ing creams


But what’s wrong with cre­at­ing curls? Our hair does it ‘nat­u­ral­ly’ when twisted/braided. We don’t use chem­i­cals to do so, does it mat­ter? I don’t know many women (of ALL races) who just wash their hair and don’t put any prod­uct in it to cre­ate a spe­cif­ic look; but peo­ple dis­ap­prove of black women doing the same thing? The prob­lem is forc­ing your hair to look like some­thing it can’t.

I love the soft­ness and mois­ture shea mois­ture curl enh smooth­ie gives. Per­fect all year around. But one of my sea­son­al favs is qp elas­ta feels like silk styling gel for the sum­mer months. Its high in glyc­erin so I have to be care­ful I’m not wear­ing it in dry cli­mates. Elas­ta qp gel is slip­pery, thick con­sis­ten­cy and makes my curls POP! I like that I can just spritz the hair for 2nd & 3rd day reac­ti­va­tion of the gel. I don’t have 2 slather it on mix­es well with my shea mois­ture smooth­ie but not their styling… Read more »

Curl defin­ing prod­ucts are con­sis­tent­ly the most over­priced hair prod­ucts out there. It looks like hair com­pa­nies are exploit­ing our desire for the per­fect curl :/


sup­ply and demand… they can only charge what youre will­ing to pay


cant blame the com­pa­nies for that. it has to get a point where every­one accepts the curl/ coil/ mix curl-coil-wave pat­tern that they have and not spend end­less hours/ days going after that “per­fect curl, per­fect coil or per­fect wave” that just may not exist for them. every­one does not have that “per­fect” coil, or per­fect “loose curl”, or per­fect “afro” or per­fect “wave”… just embrace whichev­er one has


Nope. Had to learn the hard way but that stuff costs too much and not even worth it half the time. Just a way to get your hard earned mon­ey and under the sink it goes. I’ve said it before. Back to basics ladies. Sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, oil and mois­tur­iz­er.

there are plen­ty of cheap­er prod­ucts out there… but cant knock the mar­ket­ing depart­ments of these com­pa­nies for try­ing. every indus­try has high end and low end prod­ucts that are mar­ket­ed to var­i­ous con­sumer groups. its up to the con­sumer to deter­mine if they want to go broke on prod­ucts because of the “brand” even if they cant afford it or stick to sim­ply cheap­er brands… if one can afford the high end prod­ucts go for it but i dont encour­age those who cant to buy any­thing they cant afford. over the years ive used high end and low end… Read more »

Meh for this list. I’m a col­lege girl w/ medi­um length hair (my hair soaks up prod­uct). I’d love to find cheap­er prod­ucts aka under 10 bucks WITH a fair amount of prod­uct. Oh and no to Shea Mois­ture, I’m cool on any­thing they’re sell­ing. While I’d love to help out small busi­ness­es many charge wayyy too much for so lit­tle. Hey maybe I’m too cheap but I refuse to pay 20 bucks for a dc or 20–40 dol­lars for Miss Jessies grease.


most hair but­ters con­tain Shea But­ter and Coconut Oil. Just buy those two ingre­di­ents and use them.


@hmm, I’m a col­lege girl with medi­um length hair too. I pinch my pen­nies by buy­ing nat­ur­al oils and but­ters in bulk on Ama­zon, because I’m too cheap for Miss Jessie’s too :D


I plan to also, thanks :)


just stick to basic bud­get friend­ly prod­ucts from wal­mart or wal­greens (most hair prod­ucts are less than $10 and they have dozens of brands for all hair types) or try lusti prod­ucts (dol­lar tree) — not all nat­ur­al but they work. if you are on a bud­get then use bud­get friend­ly prod­ucts…
prod­ucts are not as impor­tant as rou­tines as tech­niques.…


not a fan of most of those because they cost too much! lol. i use leave in con­di­tion­er and oil when i do a wash and go and how­ev­er that turns out is how my hair intend­ed to look. and hon­est­ly, you get the true nat­ur­al curl i actu­al­ly have. i’m good with that. some days its tight coils, some­days it big­ger spi­rals and some days it’s a fro. but i pret­ty much love it all days so i don’t com­plain!
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We are hair Twins! I am in total agree­ment. Keep it sim­ple don,t spend too much on ‘sil­ver bul­let snake oil curl creams’ that promise a head full of curls!


yes. no “defin­ing” let the hair do what it do… love a nat­u­ral­ly formed fro…


Agreed. Love that you let your hair do what it wants to do! :)


This arti­cle was def­i­nite­ly infor­ma­tive, how­ev­er I don’t feel that I was well served by it. As a mul­ti-tex­tured type 4 (C at the tem­ples, A at the crown, B for the rest), curl def­i­n­i­tion = shrink­age for me, and shrink­age = tan­gling –> break­age + length set­backs. It would be real­ly cool if BLGH could do an arti­cle sim­i­lar to this one on the best prod­ucts for defin­ing twist-outs/braid-outs (if they haven’t done so already), as this would be more applic­a­ble and help­ful to me (and oth­ers like me, if you exist!).


I agree.…I wear my hair stretched and when I didn’t I got a wash n FRO! Lol


None of the above


Who is sell­ing Miss Jessie’s prod­ucts for less than $10?

Nappychique for the small­est jar


I use Kinky Curly Curl­ing cus­tard when I want to keep my twists frizz free longer and to add more longevi­ty to my twistouts. I don’t do wash and gos so I don’t use a curl defin­ing prod­uct per se.


I love Shea Mois­ture Curl Enhanc­ing Smooth­ie as a mois­tur­iz­er for my kinky, coily, Afro-tex­tured hair.