Get ready for defined spirals.
If you have curly hair, chances are you want to define your curls without weighing them down or causing frizz. Finding a product that works for curls is harder than it seems. If you've tried every curly hair product in the books and are still looking for something with a little extra oomph, it may be time to consider using a hair gel.
"A gel will provide that separation that you like to see when you have curls, and it's also going to give you a little bit more definition," says Leigh Hardges, a Chicago-based hair stylist. "Because of the way it coats the hair, it's going to help prevent frizz." According to Hardges, hair gel works best on 3A (loose, springy ringlets) to 4A (tight, defined, S-shaped curls) hair types.
Hardges says to apply when your hair is still soaked. "You always want to layer gels: You never want to mix them with anything in your hand because they’ll curdle." Opt for using a leave-in conditioner first, then following up with a gel. Hardges likes to squeeze in an oil after her gel has dried to get rid of any gel cast (the hard coating some gels can leave behind) and add extra moisture.
From there, the way you apply hair gel depends on what type of hair you have.
While the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has never tested hair gel specifically, we constantly test hair products for all types of different hair, and hair gels have been included in our Beauty Awards in the past. Below, the best curly hair gels, according to the GH Beauty Lab, expert advice, and top-rated products loved by online reviewers: