7 editor-approved curl defining products that actually work

·3 min read

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We all want what we can’t have, and if you know me, that’s pretty much how I describe the love/hate relationship I have with my hair. Unlike the stereotypical thick, pin-straight hair Asian women have been illustrated to have, I was given the genetic gift of curly hair. And because I’ve always longed for the complete opposite, my once-luscious locks have gone through hell and back with harsh chemical treatments and countless heat styling tools throughout the decade and a little bit to counteract its natural texture. So I’ll let you imagine how frizzy, limp and brittle my split ends are.

But thanks to the many long months of living in quarantine, I’ve decided to give my hair a break from styling. While I’ve seen a huge difference in length and feel, I knew that shampoo, conditioner and the occasional hair mask wasn’t enough to revive the volume and definition of my natural hair. So like the many beauty hacks I’ve learned this summer, I relied on TikTok for tricks on how to take control of my curls. And what has surprisingly worked for me and millions of beauty-loving TikTok users is one technique called “plopping.”

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A curl-enhancing, heat-free way to dry your hair, plopping consists of priming your damp hair with leave-in cream, scrunching and wrapping it with a T-shirt (it dries the hair without absorbing the necessary moisture) for about an hour. Iit sounds very simple but it does the job!

To enhance the volume and definition of my hair’s curl pattern, I then like to finish my look off with a quick run of Dyson’s Supersonic Hairdryer and diffusing tool when the hair is 80 per cent close to dry.

And while plopping my hair has changed the way I look at my curly hair, the key to defining your curls is with a good leave-in cream. As a beauty editor, I’ve been fortunate to come across a handful that does absolute wonders to my hair without weighing it down.

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Here's me and my hair
Here's me and my hair

Finding the best curl creams comes with a lot of trial and error and ultimately comes down to understanding your curl type, structure and condition of your hair. My hair type falls somewhere between medium and dry with my curls being a mix of 2C and 3A. What works for me may not work for you, but below, I’ve rounded up a couple of the cult-favourite curl-defining creams that I love and are said to work on all hair curl types.

Kérastase Crème de Boucles Curl Definer

Kérastase Crème de Boucles Curl Definer
Kérastase Crème de Boucles Curl Definer

SHOP IT: Kérastase, $44

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave–In Defining Cream

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave–In Defining Cream
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave–In Defining Cream

SHOP IT: Sephora, $26

Function of Beauty Custom Leave-in Treatment

Function of Beauty Custom Leave-in Treatment
Function of Beauty Custom Leave-in Treatment

SHOP IT: Function of Beauty, $20

OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream

OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream
OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $10

Gold Series from Pantene Sulfate-Free Hydrating Butter Cream

Gold Series from Pantene Sulfate-Free Hydrating Butter Cream
Gold Series from Pantene Sulfate-Free Hydrating Butter Cream

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $10

SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

SHOP IT: Ulta, $8 (originally $13)

Living Proof Mini Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

Living Proof Mini Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment
Living Proof Mini Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

SHOP IT: Sephora, $21

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