My Favorite Gels (and How I Use Them)

Friday, February 17, 2012

As a wash and go girl at heart, gel is an essential that helps lock my natural curl/coil pattern in place as my hair dries in its curly state. But other than curl definition and hold, there is alot more that I look for in a gel. For one, I love gels that contain moisturizing, mostly natural ingredients (I also really love it when the ingredients list is simple and/or short). I tend to stay away from gels that are super drying, packed with proteins, humectant-heavy (i.e. glycerin), or that have too much hold. I also am not crazy about gels that feel too sticky or tacky to the touch while I am applying it to my hair. Above all, I absolutely hate the feeling of dry, crunchy, hard hair - so a gel that can give me a soft hold with some definition is most ideal.

The four gels listed below are my current favorites. For my hair, all four of these gels have many of the qualities I look for in a gel even though I may use each of them for different purposes or in slightly different ways. Note: one honorable mention that's not included in the gels listed below is Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle. While I love Curls in a Bottle as a finisher, I don't typically use it on its own as my main styling gel - I usually use it on top of some of these gels if I feel like I need extra frizz control.

Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel
Ingredients: Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Gel, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Carbomer 940, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea

Where to buy: I get it on the ground from Walmart or some local grocery stores

Cost: My least inexpensive gel - the small bottle costs under $4 and the larger bottle with the pump (pictured) cost $6.99

Hold: Light to medium hold, very little crunch

This gel is my all purpose, year-round styler. I use it to do wash and gos or to slick back my edges when I am wearing a puff or an updo. Because it is so cheap and easy to buy on the ground, I probably reach for it more often than any of my other gels. It also has a pretty light hold, so I can glob it on and not really worry about my hair drying too crunchy. Usually when I use this gel my hair has a soft touchable, flexible hold once it dries.

Pros: Super cheap and easy to buy on the ground, soft/flexible hold, can use year round, pump on larger bottle

Cons: I can't really think of any major cons. But if I had to pick one con - on rare occasion this gel will sometimes turn white slightly in some areas when I put it on top of some of my leave-in conditioners, but it always goes back to normal as my hair dries.
Kinky Curly Curling Custard
Ingredients: botanical infusion of water, horsetail, chamomile, nettle and marshmallow, organic aloe vera juice, agave nectar extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e), pectic, citric acid, potassium sorbate and natural fragrance

Where to buy: I used to purchase KCCC online, but now its available at my local Whole Foods and Target

Cost: This is the priciest gel I own - the 8oz is $17 (pictured) and the 16oz is $30. But I think it is worth it because for me a little truly goes a long way and one jar of this stuff can last me for a while.

Hold: Medium, but hair can be crunchy if you use too much.

This is my gel of choice when I do wash and gos - particularly in the fall or winter months. But I could honestly reach for this gel year-round if I wanted to. The only reason I don't use it as often as the aloe vera gel is because it is rather pricey. Its one of my most reliable gels because I know that when I use it my hair will look great. I love the definition I get with this gel, and because of that I can also get multi-day hair.  However, because of its consistency (it's more of a gelly) and price, this is not the type of gel I would reach for to slick back my edges. Check out one of my favorite hair days with the Kinky Curly Curling Custard.

Pros: I get incredible curl definition and multi-day hair with this gel, all natural ingredients, can use year round

Cons: pricey, I don't like that its in a jar (makes it harder to apply than my other gels)
Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel

Ingredients: Water of Utrica Dioica (Certified Organic), Calendula Officinalis, Athemis Nobilis, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (Amino Acid derived), Faex (Yeast) Extract, Panthenol, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E) (Vitamin E), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit)

Where to buy: I can pick this gel up from Whole Foods, some grocery stores and online. When I purchase it online, I prefer to buy it from vitacost because it is dirt cheap!

Cost: I buy the 8oz bottle (pictured) online from vitacost for $5.50 or on the ground for about $8 or $9.

Hold: The bottle says medium hold, but I find that hold is a bit stronger than medium for my hair. I've gotten major crunch from using way too much.

I like to use this gel for wash and go's mainly during the warmer summer months as an alternative to my aloe vera gel or KCCC. I love that the ingredients are all natural, it has a pleasant grapefruit scent, and the consistency is very similar to KCCC. However, I find that this gel has a pretty strong hold for my hair - even though the bottle says it has a medium hold. So I have to be careful how much I use because if I overdo it I can be left with major crunchy hair when my hair fully dries. Check out my review of the Kiss My Face gel.

Pros: Inexpensive and fairly easy to find on the ground, nice grapefruit scent, all natural ingredients, great definition

Cons: Can leave hair crunchy if too much is used or if applied with a heavy hand.
Curl Junkie Pattern Pusha
Ingredients: Water, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Dehydroxanthan Gum, Corn Starch Modified, Xanthan Gum, Ulmus Fulva (Slippery Elm Bark) Extract, Camelia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance, Tetrasodium EDTA

Where to buy: Currently I think you can only purchase this gel directly from the Curl Junkie website.

Cost: 16oz (pictured) is $24 - my next priciest gel after KCCC.

Hold: light/medium hold
I've only had this gel for a little over a month, so I'm still learning how best to use it. But it's my newest favorite. It's consistency is very similar to the KCCC and Kiss My Face gels (more like a gelly). I first tried using it to slick back my edges while my hair was in a stretched state and I was sporting alot of buns and updos. I personally did not like it for this purpose because it would just flake up when my hair dried in the areas I applied it to - and having white flakes on your front hairline is a big no bueno. Since that experience though, I've been using this gel for my in-the-shower wash and gos and now I LOVE it! I literally mix 1-2 pumps full of this gel with my leave-in (per section) in the palms of my hands and apply it to my wet hair while still in the shower. So far I've been able to get decent curl definition and my hair is usually soft, fluffy and touchable when it dries!

Pros: soft/medium hold, pump bottle, good curl definition

Cons: flakes up in some areas if not evenly distributed, pricey

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  1. I am really loving your blog lady! And your YT videos are so polished! I have to say that I have tried looking for aloe vera gel everywhere and can never find it! I thinking that maybe as the warmer weather approaches I'll be able to find it easier.

    1. Hey there! Ooops...for some reason I'm just seeing your comment. Thank you so much for visiting the blog and checking out my videos - I really appreciate it :) If you can't find the aloe vera gel on the ground at your local walmart or grocery store, you can buy it from or! Hope this helps :)

  2. Hey there! Ooops...for some reason I'm just seeing your comment. Thank you so much for visiting the blog and checking out my videos - I really appreciate it :) If you can't find the aloe vera gel on the ground at your local walmart or grocery store, you can buy it from or! Hope this helps :)


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