Your curls giving you a bad case of PTSD where you’re stressed to the max at the mere thought of styling them anytime your Prozac prescription is running low?
Or do you really try hard only to end up with unruly curls that devolve into a frizzy poofy mess in a few hours?
Probably not your best look.
It can be embarrassing at best.
Mortifying at worst.
Leaving you to wonder “Where’s my beanie?”
Now I get that we all want to do as little as possible when it comes to hair care.
But c’mon. Is walking around looking like a human Brillo pad really a worthwhile tradeoff for saving a few minutes of bathroom time?
Besides it goes without saying gorgeous curls that are hydrated, frizz free, perfectly defined, and shiny all stem from healthy hair.
Then too, the inconvenient truth is our curly hair can only be as good as the products used. It can be a night and day difference.
If you’ve had a bad experience with gel or have heard of others who have, maybe it’s time you revisited this life changing product. Because as the video that follows shows defining gel isn’t always synonymous with crispy, untouchable curls.
Quick Section Navigation
- Video: Battle of High End Defining Gels
- Brief Defining Gel Q&A
- Rake N Shake: Everything You Need to Know In 20 Seconds
- Three Highly Recommended Defining Gels to Try
Okay so up first is a side by side video comparison of two premium curl defining gels DevaCurl vs Ouidad in action. Let’s cut to the video.
Battle of High End Defining Gels
Now I have to admit that it was surprising to see the difference products can make.
Shocking it more like it.
This is also the video for you if you sometimes feel like God hates you for blessing you with your curls.
If that’s you don’t despair. You got this. As this demonstration shows no Houndini-like magic moves are required to get a totally glamified outcome. All it takes is a little product knowledge and (sometimes) a lot of product.
Which also suggests you always want to be open to testing even drug store or lesser known brands against premium brands because you NEVER know how things will work with your hair until you actually try it a time or two.
The Styling Process:
With DevaCurl: Added DevaCurl Wave Maker to wet hair first then the Ultra Defining Gel. She went ahead and scrunched everything together and finished by finger coiling the top layer of hair.
With Ouidad: Started with Quidad Featherlight styling cream followed by Ouidad Heat & Humidity Stronger Hold. Then as before she scrunched then finger coiled.
She pointed out she would need less of the Ouidad products since her hair was immediately saturated. This suggests they are better moisturizers and have more “slip” to them.
Then she diffused both sides. (Wait? Not a diffusing diva? Check out these hair dryer diffuser tips and tricks.)
Any Differences In the Curls?
With DevaCurl: Was clearly more voluminous but with somewhat more frizz. Which proves the point that to get more volume you may have to tolerate a bit more frizz.
With Ouidad: You could see more curl definition with more shine but somewhat less volume. This would be the product for you if your curls tend to be drier.
Did you catch it? She pointed out that the DevaCurl side dried noticeably faster than the Ouidad side. That’s likely because Ouidad is more hydrating making for a better moisturizing experience albeit with a longer diffusing time.
Tip for Banishing the Crunch: You want to understand that these products are designed to leave some crunch, aka cast, behind. But it’s easily dealt with once your curls are 100% dry. Simply tilt your head forward to get your curls to fall forward and fluff, scrunch or loosen them up with your fingers. This will break up the cast eliminating the crunch and freeing totally touchable curls.
Since “better” comes down to preference, you can use the slight differences between the two to your advantage when styling.
For example you could use Devacurl when going for a big hair look because of all the volume it created.
Or you might use Ouidad when facing more humid weather conditions and want to “ix-nay the izz-fray” like anytime in the summer.
All that hydration not only gives you sleeker curls but would make frizz fighting so much easier. No frizz halo for you.
Then just flip that around during the winter months when indoor air is more parched. Then you could switch up to the Deva Curl line when frizz is less of a concern but dryness is.
Of course you can simply ignore the results because no one is saying you must use products on your hair. Or that you have to use them every time.
Because you’re likely going to put a serious dent in your gel supply each time you style. Which may end up putting a serious dent in your wallet too.
Tip: Remember there are routines some follow religiously depending on their curl type. But whether YOU want to go with a LOC or LCEG/LEG or ROFL (just kidding) cocktail depends on your curls, not theirs.
In the case of this video she used creams and gels in concert. That was her test routine. That may or may not be what you want to do. Which is to say your results may vary depending on what products you use together and how they work with your hair.
Brief Defining Gel Q&A
Question: Why is working the gel into wet hair so important?
Answer: As a Redken curly hair blog post points out you’re styling when wet for a reason. It’s the only way to shape the curl. Then after it dries you get the added bonus of a longer lasting style.
Question: What’s a common mistake made when working with gel?
Answer: It may be forgetting that applying gel is a two-step process. Problem is too many stop after the first and wonder why their curls are all crunchy.
The first step is obviously to apply the gel then wait until your hair is totally 100% dry.
Now all the second step requires is that you spend maybe a minute scrunching away the crunch. Viola. Doing this breaks up the cast to release your softer, fuller curls inside.
Question: What’s “Rake and Shake” mean exactly?
Answer: Good question.
You’ve obviously heard the term. It’s Ouidad’s trademark styling method. If you aren’t already aware of it the process is pretty simple. See for yourself.
This quick video clip demonstrates all you need to know.
Rake N Shake: Everything You Need to Know In 20 Seconds
Basically after emulsifying the product between your hands you do two things:
- First rake the defining gel, through a section of wet hair with your fingers.
- Then grab the ends and shake the section of hair back and forth.
What this is supposed to do. All the shaking is going to provoke curl separation – which is a good thing.
At the same time shaking kills the crunch so you end up with the softest most voluminous curls possible. Also a good thing.
No advanced degree or cosmetology school certificate required.
This is what a 10, maybe 12 minute process at the most. Just do it with all the hair around your head then let it air dry. You can also speed up the drying with a diffuser on low with heat set at no more than warm.
Tip: Usually the smaller sections of hair you rake and shake the more volume and better definition you’ll see when it’s dry.
When done you’re left with …
- Lots of volume
- Loads of definition
- Little to no frizz
There you go. Consider this your personal 20 second rake and shake guide.
Question: Anything else I should know?
Answer: Regardless of how many styling products in your curly hair routine gel goes on last.
With those questions answered and before you go a little more on gel candidates.
Three Highly Recommended Defining Gels to Try
Now since a big part of your curly hair journey involves finding the right products for your hair here’s three to consider because you’ve seen the difference the right one can make.
Two should look familiar as you’ve seen them in action. The third will not be but may be the real steal deal here.
DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel
With gels it’s pretty much, but not always, a you-get-what-you-pay-for world.
So if you want to bring your curls to life this might should be your go to product – despite the admittedly pricier reputation. It not only adds loads of definition and hold but it controls frizz without leaving you with that hard crunchy feeling. Guess that’s why so many swear by it.
Best of all its mystical powers can be refreshed with a dash of water making second day curls a snap – although not all agreed with that. Still can you say amazingly perfect curls?
While if you want something more humidity proof…
Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel Stronger Hold
Humidity can be enemy #1. If that’s you this product was created to seal your strands and fend off humidity.
If there’s any doubt the name says it all. This product is designed to give you control over your curls despite the worst humidity can throw at them. You could see in the video above this is has a somewhat runnier consistency making it extra hydrating.
Working as curl quencher it helps you to control frizziness too. Think of it like a top coat to seal your cuticles and lock out humidity before it even has a chance to do its worst.
Looking for the just right amount of hold? Without leaving your strands feeling sticky or stiff. Then this may be the one?
But let’s say those first two are budget busters for you. So for those that who love a bargain this may be the one.
L.A. Looks’ Extreme Sport Styling Gel
To say this is a bargain is an understatement. Seems to me you pretty much can’t afford not to try this just to see how it works for you.
Even better try as I might I couldn’t find a review site down on this gel product.
In fact some made it seem like this is the world’s best kept curly hair secret. (Or maybe secret weapon is more like it.)
Add to that it’s CG friendly, if that matters to you, and you may a new ultimate curly styling product.
So yeah you may not want to underestimate this last one because of its crazy cheap low price.
Word on the street is it creates a great cast…it likely will not get flakey although some point out it can…plus it has great hold.
So if you are in the “gel is gel” camp maybe you’ll find it’s every bit as good as its pricier cousins. That it will leave you with soft springy curls, with great definition, while keeping frizz in check. If so don’t be surprised if you end up keeping a spare handy just so you never run out.
Oh and yeah …
For even more life changing styling hacks for your curls be sure to follow our curly hair board on Pinterest so you don’t miss a single idea like these.