5 Hair Gels That Won’t Leave Your Curls Crunchy or Dry

Finding a hair gel that leaves my curls perfectly defined without the crunch or dryness has always been a challenge for me

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Finding a hair gel that leaves my curls perfectly defined without the crunch or dryness has always been a challenge for me. Even in 2019, some of the most effective ones still don’t leave me with the soft, silky, and bouncy results I’m looking for, often drying my strands out even if they don’t have alcohol in them.  This is why when I do find a good performing gel — I stock up. Anyone that knows me, knows that for years I only used the cult-favorite Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker Jelly. It’s made up of natural ingredients that leave my curls soft and nourished, all while adding definition. It’s so good it even made my curls look bouncy when I was transitioning from heat-damaged hair. But this year, I decided to branch out and see if there are any other gel formulas out there that are just as good and to my surprise, I found quite a few. Here’s a look at some hair gels that will have your curls poppin’ all year long!


Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker Jelly

I can’t do a roundup of great curly hair gels without including this miracle worker. It’s a serious game changer and I have to thank beauty and fashion influencer Farah Pink for putting me on to it. After applying a light-weight curl cream or leave-in conditioner, I follow by scrunching in a quarter-sized amount of this gel that instantly gives my curls bounce and definition. I air-dry for a few hours then turn my head upside down and gently massage my scalp. Afterward, I run my palms down my strands to break the “the hard gel cast.” The final result: my hair is silky soft and voluminous. Did I mention it’s made with natural ingredients including marshmallow and agave leaf extract? I’m obsessed!

Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker Jelly, $22, target.com


Botanika Beauty The Protector

Dominican beauty influencer Ada Rojas never ceases to impress and her new natural hairline, Botánika Beauty, straight up exceeded all my expectations. I was especially taken by the gel formula that perfectly defined my curls and gave me more volume — all while leaving my strands smooth and soft. The best part is, it’s a lot more affordable than a lot of the really good hair gels on the market right now. You really have nothing to lose with this one — just gain!

Botanika Beauty The Protector, $11, botanikabeauty.com


Honey Baby Naturals Hold It Honey Styling Gel

There is so much to love about this oil-infused luxurious gel. For starters, it’s alcohol-free while still providing you with bounce and flexible hold. It’s formulated with honey, jojoba oil, and flaxseed oil that work to both set hair while deeply nourishing and hydrating it. My hair feels so conditioned after I apply this gel, which isn’t something I ever experience using ordinary gels that often leave my curls hard, crunchy, and dry AF. It also smells so delicious that I get compliment’s on my hair’s scent every time I use it.

Honey Baby Naturals Hold It Honey Styling Gel, $11, honeybabynaturals.com


Garnier Fructis Style Curl Treat

This is another example of how you don’t have to break the bank to find good and effective curly hair products anymore. I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see how bouncy my curls looked after styling with this jelly. I had little to no frizz and the coconut oil infused in this formula left my curls super soft and moisturized — all for less than 8 bucks!

Garnier Fructis Style Curl Treat, $7, target.com


amika Curl Corps Enhancing Gel

I’ve been a loyal fan of amika’s Soulfood Nourishing Mask and the Kure intense repair mask for a while now. They transform hair instantly, repairing it of damage. It took me a while to dive into their styling products but once I did — I was sold. Their enhancing gel works on all curl types from loose waves to tight coils, giving you a bouncy shape without the annoying crunch factor. For best results, layer it over the amika Curl Corps Defining Cream. 

amika Curl Corps Enhancing Gel, $25, sephora.com

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