As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve tried out a ton of products targeted for curly hair since getting my perm a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share here what I’ve tried, and what I liked or disliked about them. It’s not the most thrilling subject in the world, so I’m going to keep my comments about each product brief.
Keep in mind that any of this stuff could be used on whatever type of hair you have; just because it says it’s for curly hair doesn’t mean a person with straight hair couldn’t use it. The line I’m going to discuss in this post, DevaCurl, consists of all sulfate-, silicone- and paraben-free products, and the website also highlights its use of botanical extracts (even though the list of ingredients on the bottles still reads like a lab experiment -but some of the first ingredients listed are things like beeswax, soy, or olive oil). So even though none of this stuff is cheap, it might still be up your alley no matter what type of hair you have.
Also keep in mind that I didn’t try out anything but styling products for this post – I purchased some rather expensive shampoo and conditioner at the salon when I got the perm, so I didn’t try DevaCurl’s “Low-Poo” or “No-Poo” cleansers and conditioners, which claim to be the first sulfate-free (and therefore lather-free) shampoos on the market (although there are others out there now). I did try them years ago, both the No-Poo and Low-Poo offerings, and honestly I could never get into them, but that was when my hair was un-permed and basically straight, and I felt the no-poo method left my hair looking greasy and limp. As a side note, I’ve been following the no-poo method the past week, and am getting terrific results out of it so far now that my hair is permed – but I’ve written about that in a different post. And I just bought the low-poo and no-poo cleansers to try out (along with a few other products I hadn’t yet tested), but haven’t used them enough to write about them yet, so stay tuned for more about those.
Aside from wanting to try these out for the botanical aspects and lack of certain chemicals, you may love the smell of these products as much as I do. However, I’ve noticed when reading reviews of these items that not everyone loves the scents, so that may be a love-it-or-hate-it aspect of them. Personally I think they smell nice, with one exception, but it was a product I hated overall so it didn’t matter too much. But keep in mind that fragrance-free these products are not. Moving on.
Gotta Love It – Five Stars
Deva-Curl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam
This is DevaCurl’s version of a mousse. I put it in my towel-dried hair and let it air dry at night. While I don’t think it performs all that differently from any other mousse I’ve ever tried (yes, if you put it in wet hair and let it air-dry without touching it, it will dry “crunchy,” but that’s part of what helps reduce frizz, and I can use my diffuser and a few other products to de-crunch it a bit) I love the consistency of the product and the smell is fantastic. It’s more of a liquid-y foam than a true mousse, and it feels silky and downright luxurious when pumped into my hands. And did I mention the scent? It smells like lemon candy, which I just love. Even though it’s not anything earth-shattering, this is the favorite of everything I’ve tried so far.
Pretty Good – Four Stars
It’s a spray gel, which has always been a part of my hair styling routine. Mousse at night after the hair is towel-dried, then re-wet in the morning and apply some spray gel before drying. I’ve used many different kinds of spray gels over the years; they’re all basically hair gel thinned out with water so it can be dispensed through a spray nozzle, and they all work about the same way. But I do notice this one is a touch lighter than some of my other standbys I’ll discuss in an upcoming post. It’s easy to apply, and it adds the extra hold my hair needs to get through the day without allowing my curls to droop or fall, so I’ll give it the four star treatment even though it’s not doing anything unusual. And it’s got that whole sulfate-, paraben-, and silicone-free thing going for it, so there’s that. A bit of a medicinal smell to this one, but it’s not strong and doesn’t linger.
It’ll Do – Three Stars
This product is…interesting. Way back in 2004 when Lorraine Massey, who owns the DevaCurl line, first published the book “Curly Girl,” which landed her on the hair styling map, one of the things she recommended for women with curly hair was this homemade solution of water and lavender oil to spritz onto hair and re-vitalize curls throughout the day. I remember making my own batches of it back in the day, and while I never felt like it did anything magical to my hair (again, part of the problem was I was trying to use her methods to make my non-permed hair transform into springy curls, which was never going to happen) it didn’t hurt it to spray some on every now and then, and it sure smelled heavenly. I’d say pretty much the same thing about this version. It doesn’t hurt to spray it on my hair, but it doesn’t help either. It certainly doesn’t help combat frizz or give my curls extra definition if I start to get too fluffy throughout the day. A little spray bottle filled with plain old water would probably work better, actually, but then my hair wouldn’t smell like lavender. My husband loves the way this smells, and it does feel like a nice little luxury to me, something to refresh the hair if you’re out and about and feeling like you need a little pick-me-up. But that’s about all it does, at least for me. It’s actually the most-used product I’ve tried aside from the mousse and the gel, so even though it’s quite possibly a ridiculous product, it still gets three stars.
Deva-Curl Set It Free Moisture Lock Spray
I’m on the fence about moving this one too – I still don’t see much frizz reduction with this or added shine, but it’s not horrible and actually has some uses for me. So far, I’ve found it works best to spray a few pumps into my hand and rub it through my hair when it’s looking a little too “crunchy” from the mousse, gel, and/or spray wax I use for final hold; this will add a little moisture and softness. With my baby-fine hair, generally too much of such a product will turn my curls to mush and make me look like a puffball, so I do use this product sparingly. This is another one I dumped into a little spray bottle to carry around in my purse for use throughout the day if I see fit, and as a big plus this one has the awesome lemon candy scent of the Volumizing Foam, so it gets an extra star for smelling delicious. Some of these products may become more useful as my hair adjusts to the no-poo routine I’ve only been on a few days now; we’ll have to see about that. But right now, it’s not performing any miracles.
I’ll Probably Pass – Two Stars
I bought this to try as a finishing spray, but it had zero hold for me and left my hair looking a little limp. The only product I’ve ever liked using for hold as a finisher is a spray wax, and I’ll discuss my favorite in a later post as it isn’t a DevaCurl product. I did notice, however, that this can be useful if my hair is looking a little too dry; I can spray a bit into the hair and it moisturizes it a bit, so there’s that. It also has an interesting, citrus smell that’s slightly medicinal, but still pleasant. I may use this from time to time, but I don’t know if I’ll re-purchase it once it runs out.
Deva-Curl No-Comb Detangling Spray
I forgot to take a cutesy picture of this one, sorry
My hair is much more prone to tangling now than before, so I was hoping this stuff might help with tangles right out of the shower so I didn’t have to tug on it when it’s wet. For about a week, I sprayed it liberally into my hair right out of the shower, sprayed a little more on my hands, and worked through the tangles with my fingers. I think it might have helped with tangles a little bit, but ultimately I didn’t see too much difference between using this and not (nor did I see too much benefit to trying to work through the after-shower tangles with my fingers as opposed to a comb). I certainly don’t feel like my hair is coated with anything after using it, and have tried using a little more in the mornings when I re-wet my hair to style it, but it never did wow me with its effectiveness. It has a faint scent I’d describe as “lotion-y” for lack of a better word – not unpleasant or long-lasting. Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s coating my hair, it isn’t effective enough to justify applying it every time I shower and adding one more layer of product I’ve got to deal with later. That said, it didn’t have any negative effects on my hair that I could tell.
I know, you guys. I know. Look at that thing. But it looked so insane, I figured it must have the ability to do something fabulous to curly hair to justify how silly it looked, as well as how much it cost (I got it for $44 at an Ulta store, but found it later on Amazon for $25). The truth is, though, I don’t get near the amount of curl from using this as I do from my regular diffuser, which came as a free attachment for my hair dryer. I guess if I want more toned-down curls I can use this, but that’s not likely to happen. One decent use is that it does give me a little bit more lift and volume if I mash the “hand” right up against my head and aim some heat directly at the roots, and that is nice, so it isn’t a total loss. It fits awkwardly onto my hair dryer and occasionally pops off, however, so it’s a bit of a pain. Overall it’s much easier for me to use my normal diffuser – with that one I can use the highest heat setting and a low speed to give my curls the right amount of definition and spring.
Ugh – One Star
DevaCurl Set Up & Above Versatile Styler
This stuff claims to add volume, texture, hold, and definition to curls, and interestingly, it did all that for me while simultaneously making my hair look horrible. How this is possible I am still unsure, as you would think a product that did all those things would make curly hair look fabulous, but it also created more frizz than all the humidity in Texas could accomplish. The results of using this stuff were just…weird. I had some random tight, deadlock-y curls, and then acres of frizz between that curl and the next one. I was almost in Roseanne-Roseannadanna territory whenever I tried to use this, and I tried applying it both to wet and dry hair. I had curls all right, but zero hold, and it made my hair way too soft for its own good. I looked awful both days I tried this, plus it smells like molding clay and in the jar it looks just like a green Jell-o mold without the marshmallows (mmmm…marshmallows). Fail.
So that’s it for this round of my DevaCurl experiment. And yes, I did purchase all these products over the course of about two weeks, which is pretty impressive as I’m not usually a huge hair-products person; I tend to use the same stuff or products just like it that I get at the grocery store on my weekly trip and I’m happy. But what can I say, with the new hair I got curious. I’ve already talked enough about hair products for one day, so in another post, I’ll share with you the other DevaCurl products I’m currently testing – the No-Poo and Low-Poo Cleansers and Conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and a dry shampoo (that post is up now – you can read Part II here). I also have some non-DevaCurl products to share – It’s just a few more, in case you’re worried you’ll have to sit through another post as long-winded about hair products as this one. And you can go here if you want to read about the results of my no-shampoo experiment, which may in fact render some of these less-useful products more useful as time goes by (although I don’t ever see that Set Up & Above working out).
*Everything I review in this post was purchased with my own money, and no one requested I write about these items. I never review products that are given to me for free – mostly because no one ever offers, but even if they did I wouldn’t do it. Just so you know.
I am going to try the first one, first and see what it does. I need something to keep the frizz out of my hair without weighing it down. I do like the Sally Kersberger or whatever sprays I got but they are not for curly hair. Right now we are having high humidity — previously unheard of in SoCal — and so it is hot and sultry around the clock. My hair is just impossible under these conditions when I try to smooth it into my preferred (and Geoff’s) style. I just have to go with wavy but want to eliminate frizz. Anything that smells like lemon candy sounds good to me although I prefer not to have my personal products compete with my perfume. I will let you know how it works for me.
I am always torn about scents too, for the same reason. But this one, and the lavender spray, smell so nice I had to include it as part of the benefits. Doug loves the lavender spray too.
The book also recommends that if you are having real problems with frizz you can put your styling products in the refrigerator, because anything cool or cold helps seal the hair shaft and reduce the appearance of frizz. I may try that with some of the sprays and see if it renders them more effective, although it won’t exactly help while out and about.
I am going to try that too. What really fries me is the money I spent on the perfect de-ionizing flat iron and hair dryers, literally hundreds of dollars. The flat iron was supposed to seal the cuticle for days, right? All it did was strip my hair of moisture and it would frizz up the minute I hit humidity. All of my in-laws live at the beach, so every time I am there, my hair has to be in a knot. Honestly, thousands of dollars have been lavished on my hair. It is ridiculous.
You might read her book…it’s written in a rather silly manner, but she is in alignment with what you are saying!
And, it could be read in about an hour. Not a long read at all as some chapters won’t apply to you. I re-read it last night. If you get the e-book it has videos too.
Yeah, I just ordered the product and saw the book on Amazon. I may get that. I noticed some people said it made their hair sticky and used it over other products. Man, either I let my hair go and hate it or have to do all this stuff, which I find so exhausting. I am going to try your method.
My goal overall is to keep this simple. Right now I am doing a lot because it’s summer, I’m not working, so I don’t mind experimenting. Plus if I have a day where I screw up my styling I don’t mind a ponytail. But the overall goal is for this to be SIMPLE. If it starts getting crazy, out the window it goes. As you can tell from this review, most of the products have not served much purpose so far beyond the basics – a mousse and a gel. That’s usually the way of it. And I tried their No-Poo Cleanser and liked that also. But again, that’s a basic. Most fancy styling products are generally a waste of money IMHO. And some of the more complicated styling stuff she mentions I will only make a regular part of my routine if they are truly useful and easy!
Amen. I appreciate this new round. I visit this topic every five years or so and am open to newer, better stuff, ideas. Why oh why didn’t I get a great mane of strong, wavy, coarse hair? So frustrating. boo hoo.
I am just glad I can finally get real curl out of mine, even if it is chemically-induced. My only regret is that I didn’t get a curlier perm! Next time, I am going full spiral.
I will look forward to that.
How long do perms last? Thanks for all the tips.
I’ve heard anywhere from 4-6 months, with some people claiming they last even longer. I’ve heard that they really are permanent, but other people say they do fade/relax with time. What ultimately happens is where new hair has grown it’s not curly, so you have to re-perm to keep the curl even.
I like how natural yours looks, it could save me time like you I have a bit of a natural wave but it’s uneven.
It is a real time-saver! But it will fry your hair a bit, so you have to be OK with that.
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