I was born with naturally thick, curly hair. But I only recently nailed down my hair routine and figured out the best products for 3B curly hair. When I tell you I have tried almost every hair product ever made for curly hair, I mean it.
I didn’t always love my curls. In high school, I got teased for my big hair and got called awful names like Chia Pet (which I’ll never look at the same) and other names which I won’t get into. It’s no surprise that I hated having curly hair as a teenager. Up until a few months ago, I couldn’t even blow-dry my hair myself. That is, until I discovered the magical Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer which has been life-changing!
After all these years (and 4,395 products later) I can honestly tell you that I LOVE having curly hair. I feel like it’s so unique to me and my personality. I also love that I can switch between curly and straight hair, depending on my mood. The curls are fun and sassy while the straight hair is more sophisticated and polished. My curly hair is such a big part of who I am and I’ve learned to really embrace that. I have finally figured out which hair products work best for my 3B curly hair.
Hair products that work for 3B curly hair
Part of the reason why I appreciate my natural hair now is because I learned how to maintain it and which products work for my hair. While having curly hair is a lot of maintenance, your curls are only as good as the attention you give them. Having said all that, not all curls are created equally. There’s actually a curly hair chart that categorizes the type of curl you have. I’m somewhere between a 3A and 3B (although when I was a kid I was more like a 4A or 4B). So keep in mind, these are the best curly hair products that work for me and my 3B curl type. Here is the list:
- Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream
- Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream
- Kerastase Nutritive Masque
- Neutrogena T/Gel Shampoo
- Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner
- Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 Repair Treatment
- Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother
Ok, Moroccanoil is my holy grail product for curly hair. I love their entire product line. When I use this styling cream with nothing else in my hair, I get really soft curls. Depending on how much product I use, my hair will still have a lot of volume because the cream isn’t thick enough to weigh my hair down. The trick is to mix it with the Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream (see below). The texture of the styling cream is light and tends to be a little runny for me so I like the combination of the two products. It’s the best product for thick curly hair and it doesn’t make my hair crunchy either. I’ve tried the Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream but it just doesn’t have the same effect as my own custom hair concoction.
Shop: Amazon; $34
This product on its own is thick and goopy and makes my hair really stiff. If I want flowy curls, I have to mix it with the Hydrating Styling Cream for the perfectly tamed soft curl.
Shop: Amazon; $34
Curly hair is naturally really dry. Coloring my hair and blow-drying it weekly doesn’t help it either. I have to make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! My hairdresser would beg me for years to do a weekly hair mask and I can admit COVID has finally forced me to get in the habit.
Kerastase has a lot of hair masks but I particularly love this one because it makes my hair really soft. The product itself is really thick (as a mask should be) and I like to generously coat my entire hair. I usually leave it on for an hour or sometimes overnight for extra hydration and when it’s time to rinse, I don’t fully wash out the product. I make sure there is still a layer coating my hair to keep it soft when I add styling product or if I’m about to blow dry. The only caveat with Kerastase products is they have a very strong scent that might be off-putting for some people but this one isn’t as bad as some of the others.
Shop: Amazon; $37
Like I said before, my hair is almost always dry. I don’t have the oily hair issue even when my hair is straight. In fact, it gets even drier. If I notice my scalp gets itchy or flaky, I switch my shampoo to the Neutrogena T/Gel for a few days which solves the problem in no time. I only use this sparingly, as needed.
Shop: Amazon; $9
I’ll splurge when it comes to styling products but I don’t need a fancy shampoo or conditioner. I have been using Herbal Essences since I was in high school and haven’t found a better conditioner for 3B curly hair. I need a thick conditioner that’s going to coat my hair and detangle it because I like to brush my hair in the shower using this magical brush. This conditioner makes my hair feel silky smooth and if I’m ever in an emergency hair situation where I run out of styling product, I won’t wash the conditioner out completely and I just use this as a leave-in conditioner. It’s one of my favorite products for 3B curly hair.
Shop: Amazon; $6
When my hair is highlighted or I blow dry it every week, I experience a lot of breakage. I read about Olaplex from a celeb hairstylist and decided to give it a try. I can say that it has successfully repaired my damaged hair. It’s supposed to be used like a leave-in that you wash after 20-30 minutes but I always leave it on for longer. I use it sparingly and will apply it to the damaged areas, particularly around my face. The bottle is small but it should last a while.
Shop: Amazon; $28
When I’m really lazy and I don’t feel like styling my hair curly or blow-drying my hair straight, my default look is always a sleek ponytail or top bun inspired by Jennifer Lopez. But when you have curly hair, it’s not as easy to attain the slick back look thanks to baby hairs, flyaways, and curls just wanting to be curly. I use Carol’s Daughter Edge Control Smoother. It’s a hard, thick consistency (similar to pomade) that holds my hair down like Elmer’s glue.
I take a quarter-size amount and rub it in between my palms and only apply it to the hair around my face. Then, I take a fine-tooth comb to slick my hair back into a pony tail (or bun) and apply more product as needed so that all of my hair is stiff in place. It really does feel like you’re applying glue or wax to your hair but that’s what my hair needs to stay in place all day.
It’s also a great product to use to tame flyaways after a fresh blow-out. It’s very thick so a light touch of product is more than enough.
Shop: Amazon; $6
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