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Which curl cream for straight hair is best?

If you’ve ever tried a curl cream before, then you probably already know that even the best products aren’t going to magically make your hair curly. They are designed to boost the health and appearance of naturally curly or wavy hair — not make your straight hair suddenly look like you spent an hour and a half with a curling iron before you left your home. Using a curl cream, such as the Briogeo Curl Charisma Leave-In Defining Cream, in combination with such a tool will, however, lead you to longer-lasting and more luscious results.

What to know before you buy a curl cream for straight hair

Hair type

Most curling creams are designed for use with a specific hair type or types, though some can be used on any.

  • Thick and coarse hair needs a thick cream in order to be fully and properly coated. Also look for creams with plenty of moisturizing properties.
  • Thick and fine hair needs a medium cream that can coat all of your hair without adding too much weight. You may also need strong frizz-reduction elements.
  • Thin and coarse hair also needs a medium cream, preferably with moisturizing properties. Creams that add volume and definition are also strong choices.
  • Thin and fine hair needs a light cream with plenty of volumizing properties. Avoid creams with large quantities of oil to prevent your hair from looking and feeling greasy.

Finish and texture

The finish and texture of curl cream for straight hair describe how your hair will look and feel once the product is applied and styled.

  • Finish: Most creams add at least a small amount of shine to your hair, but those with more oil add more shine.
  • Texture: Hair texture after curl cream is applied is more varied. Some creams add a smooth, soft feeling to hair while others go too far and turn the hair greasy. Other creams add definition, but at the cost of rigidity and a crunchiness that comes from being too stiff.

What to look for in a quality curl cream for straight hair

No parabens and sulfates

Parabens and sulfates are common low-cost ingredients added to low-cost creams. They make the cream smooth and easy to apply but can lead to dry and damaged hair over time. These ingredients should be avoided at all cost.


Most curl creams for straight hair have some kind of scent as a result of their ingredient makeup. Many are subtle or even unnoticeable unless you directly sniff the bottle. Others can be strong to the point of distraction. Check the user reviews to see how the scent is commonly received.

How much you can expect to spend on a curl cream for straight hair

Low-cost curl creams for straight hair can cost as little as $10 or less and still be healthy and effective. The priciest picks usually run $25-$40. Most cost around $10-$25.

Curl cream for straight hair FAQ

How do I properly apply curl cream for straight hair?

A. Properly applying curl cream for straight hair is a long process — be prepared to sit around for quite a while. Firstly, you’ll need to apply the cream to wet hair fresh from the shower. Wring out all the excess water you can, but don’t towel dry it. You then need to wait for the cream and your hair to fully dry — while resisting the urge to touch your hair at all for maximum results later. Once it’s finally dry, only then can you safely use your curling device and other styling techniques to set your new curls.

How much curl cream for straight hair should I use at once?

A. That depends on the cream and your hair. Start with the amount suggested on the bottle, increasing the amount slowly as needed until you have full coverage. Longer, coarser hair will require more product to fully coat than short, thin hair.

Is there a difference between curl cream and curl gel?

A. Curling gel offers a stronger hold than curling cream but can lead to drier hair and a stiff, uncomfortable texture. Curling cream also offers increased hydration and decreased frizziness.

What’s the best curl cream for straight hair to buy?

Top curl cream for straight hair

Briogeo Curl Charisma Leave-In Defining Cream

Briogeo Curl Charisma Leave-In Defining Cream

What you need to know: This top-quality pick is difficult to beat.

What you’ll love: It’s sulfate-, paraben- and gluten-free. The company does not engage in animal testing and 94% of its ingredients are naturally derived. It leaves no residue and contains no artificial dyes and it reduces frizz and boosts hydration. It’s safe for color-, keratin- and chemically-treated hair.

What you should consider: The avocado scent doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some consumers reported receiving damaged bottles. Others reported this cream to dry out their hair.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Top curl cream for straight hair for the money

Cantu Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream

Cantu Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream

What you need to know: This is effective and costs so little it’s practically free.

What you’ll love: It includes no silicone, gluten, parabens, sulfates or mineral oil. Shea butter adds creaminess and moisturization properties naturally. Coconut oil protects hair health as well as reduces frizz, adds volume and helps keep curls bouncy. It’s perfect for any hair type and thickness.

What you should consider: It can be too heavy on thin hair. The shea butter and coconut scent isn’t enjoyed by everyone. It includes alcohol.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Cream

Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Cream

What you need to know: This is a strong top-dollar pick.

What you’ll love: It protects your hair from the drying effects of the sun. It decreases frizziness and adds shine and definition. It’s useful to all hair types but especially coarse hair. It contains no parabens, mineral oil or artificial dyes.

What you should consider: Some consumers felt a recent change in formula led to a lesser product with an unenjoyable scent. It’s on the pricey side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty


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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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