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research & curation process
Hair styling products are stereotyped as the primary reason for causing toxic build-up and damaging hair. Based on our observations, we found out that many people avoid experimenting and trying out new hairstyles because they fear that it may trigger the process of deterioration and cause the decay of the hair follicles in the long run. However, the best curling activators formulated with the most natural and skin-friendly ingredients can strongly challenge that fear and distrust.
Curling activators not just help boost the natural intrinsic volume of an individual’s hair but also may act as armor against external pollutants, internal oxidative stress and physical tangling.
While hair stylists and hair care professionals are always vigilant and picky about the products they implement while putting their art to practice, the campaign to educate people about the unseen benefits of a curling activator is a long battle to fight.
After thorough research and a series of detailed analyses, we present before you a curated list of the best curling activators suitable across varied age groups and hair and scalp types.
Our top picks
Best Non-Greasy Formulation
Best For Color-Treated Hair
Best Long-Lasting Formulation
13 Best Curl Activators That are More than Just Pomades
An amazing curl activator that sheaths frizz, curbs dryness, heightens natural luminosity, works great on dry and wet hair, and elevates volume is this product by Cantu. It is power-packed with the properties of 7 essential oils that help maintain the scalp’s natural health and prevent loss of nutrients. This curl cream targets dry and damaged hair and preserves the natural curl pattern of an individual’s hair and helps tame frizz. It also contains shea butter, a treasure trove of oleic acid which has superb anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties (1).
- Repairs damaged shafts
- Seals moisture
- Protects against sun damage
- Great for bouncy curls
Best For Coily Hair
Soft-Sheen Carson Carefree Curl Gold Curl Enhancer Activator
Allow us to introduce you to the care-free curl activating gel by Soft-Sheen Carson which has continued to remain a favorite of hair care professionals. It has miraculous detangling properties with a creamy formula as it detangles the hair strands without leaving any residue. It provides invincible round-the-clock moisture and boosts hair luminosity. It is best suited for natural and coily hair as it restores and lubricates hair follicles and bestows soft curls without disturbing the natural construction of the hair.
- Great for all types of curls
- Enhances bounce
- Strengthens hair shafts
- Easily absorbent
- May feel sticky during application
Best Non-Greasy Formulation
CURLSMITH – Curl Defining Styling Soufflé
For all those who wish to keep their hair care styling minimal, the Curl Smith creme curl activator is the best choice. This curl creme has a lightweight jelly-like texture and efficiently performs the functions of a styling gel and a curl activator. It establishes a medium hold onto frizzy curls and prevents them from losing luster. It is blessed with the properties of red algae that help to eradicate scalp acne and andiroba that stimulates blood circulation in the scalp (2), (3). It has a lightweight formula and a non-greasy texture that provides gorgeous curls and hence is a savior pick for beginners.
- Reduces scalp build-up
- Tames dandruff
- Enticing essence
- Can be used as a hair mask
Best for Sensitive Scalp
CREME OF NATURE Pure Honey Shrinkage Defense Curl Activator
An all-in-one superstar product that acts as a moisturizer, a hair primer, and a curl activator creme for dry hair is this product by Creme of Nature. It comes in a bewitching natural honey scent that has made it pick up momentum among social media influencers. It contains coconut oil, which is a favorite among naturopaths and dermatologists for treating hair care concerns such as scalp zits. It also helps shield hair from hygral fatigue (damage due to excessive moisture) (4). It defines and provides refreshing curls and is free of chemicals, sulfates, parabens, and all harsh ingredients and hence considered one of the most preferred curl activators for sensitive scalp.
- Minimises breakage
- Sheaths against sun damage
- Restores curl definition
Best For Color-Treated Hair
sofn’Free Curl Activator Lotion
Hair stylists and hair care professionals consider this product as one of the most invincible curl activators for natural hair as it contains Vitamin E that helps prevent epidural loss of moisture from the scalp and is a powerful aid in combating alopecia and hair thinning (5). It has a creamy absorbent texture, making its application hassle-free. It is a true boon for color-treated and biracial hair as it enhances hair porosity and promotes the better absorption of nutrients. It has robust moisturizing properties activates the natural coils and oversees untamed frizz.
- Elevates shine
- Improves hair luster
- Smoothens rough texture
- Combats UV rays
- May feel greasy if applied on wet hair
Best Long-Lasting Formulation
Lustrasilk Max Curl Activator Moisturizer
Make your curls bouncy and lively with the Lustra silk curling activator cream. It contains argan oil that acts as armor against oxidative damage and prevents the loss of structural protein (6). It moisturizes and elongates hair locks and provides an unmatched definition to curls. It has a simple composition that makes its penetrating within the hair shafts insanely easy. It eradicates lip curls, curbs frizz, and acts as a shield against sun protection. It is free of alcohol, mineral oil, parabens, and SLS and is not guilty of animal testing.
- Soothes inflammation
- Protects against heat
- Promotes hair porosity
- Prevents flyaways
Best For Dry Hair
Luster’s SCurl Curl & Wave Jel Activator
An all-climate curl-enhancing product, this activator offers a strong grip, accentuates definition, and shields against humidity. It has a gel-based texture which is water soluble, paraben, and additive free. It has robust hair-volumizing properties that eliminate all signs of hair shrinkage, hydrates and nourish lifeless hair, smoothens dry and brittle hair, and reduces frizz. It is formulated with an undefeatable duo of argan oil and olive oil that not just help to elevate moisture levels but also helps to combat oxidative stress (7).
- Leaves no greasy residue
- Boosts hydration
- Smells well
- Best suited for color-treated hair
Best for Regular Use
LONG AID Curl Activator Gel
An elixir best suited for quenching thirsty and parched curls is the Long Aid curl activating gel. It is a high-performance curl definer that accentuates the natural cascades of an individual’s hair and prevents moisture loss from the keratinous bonds of the hair shafts. It contains hydrolyzed collagen which is a treasure trove of collagen peptides that boost the overall hair growth index and dried aloe vera powder that soothes scalp inflammation (8), (9). For best results, it is advised to generously apply the product over damp hair before proceeding with the styling.
- Non-messy application
- Provides a clean appearance
- Great for texturized styling
- Quick drying
eufora Curl’n Perfect Curl Activator
The search for a spray curl activator that domesticates frizz, sheaths against excessive heat, and keeps flyways at bay is over as the eufora curling spray is one such product. It adds shape to lifeless curls and combats unwanted odors and prevents the growth and thriving of scalp-threatening bacteria. It provides a non-clumpy textured grip that facilitates styling and provides an overall revitalized, rejuvenated look. It combines rice water that helps to maintain the PH level of the scalp with tomato ferment extract which is an ideal choice to fight alopecia by encouraging collagen synthesis (10).
- Conceals hair thinning
- Hydrates dry follicles
- Shields against external pollutants
- Paraben free
- Not recommended for naturally straight hair
CREME OF NATURE Argan Oil Moisture & Shine Curl Activator
Specifically formulated for curly hair, this product is a boon for all those who wish to flaunt their Julia Robert-like curls. It diminishes frizz, rehydrates hair, and provides an unmatched exotic shine. It is one of the best curl activator products for curly hair as it effortlessly establishes a subtle and amendable hold over tresses without weighing them down. It has a sulfate-free formulation that gently cleanses hair tresses and the scalp while gracefully detangling tangles.
- Value for money
- Maintains water balance
- Revitalizes dry curls
- Conditions lifeless hair
Best For Oily Scalp
HAWAIIAN SILKY CREAM MOISTURISER CURL ACTIVATOR-
The Hawaiian Silky curling activator cream is the go-to choice for achieving those exotic spiral-like coils like that of Brazilian beauty. It volumizes hair shafts and feeds your hair with essential proteins that reenergize dull and lifeless locks. It facilitates easy management of curly locks and provides a mesmerizing shine, body, and wave to ill-shaped tresses. The easy-penetrating formula of the product makes its way through each pore of the hair shaft ensuring cellular-level nourishment and bringing out the natural intrinsic shine of an individual’s follicles.
- Eases hair snarls
- Elevates definition
- Increases hair elasticity
twistedsista Farewell to Frizz Curl Activator
Now it’s easy to style your way to loose waves or tight curls with the twistedsista curl activator. It contains organic ingredients like avocado oil which has invigorating anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory properties and almond oil which is a treasure trove of vitamin A and helps to fight aging hair-related problems like thinning and low porosity (11), (12). It revitalizes saggy and tired curls without making the hair sticky and provides a long-lasting curl effect. It is one of the best curl activators for thick hair as it not just aids in styling but also minimizes the risk of breakage and provides natural intact hydration.
- Great for stubborn flyaways
- Free from synthetic fragrances
- No product build-up
- Generous quantity
Most Value for Money
RE:COIL Curl Activator
Keeping the bounciness in your curls intact all day is just a few rubs away with the RE:COIL curl activator. It creates high-definition and pronounced curls without depriving the hair texture of its natural nutritional value. It contains keratin silk proteins that elevate hair elasticity and increase surface area tension to facilitate better absorption of nutrients. It has a non-sticky formula, an alluring botanical fragrance, and spill-proof packaging that makes it one of the best portable options for people on the go. This activator provides intense moisturization that locks water within the hair cells and thus reduces the appearance of dandruff.
- Value for money
- Amplifies volume
- Repairs split ends
- Amplifies hair strength
- Brings out natural radiance
Choosing the best curl activator that suits your hair can be a real hustle. Hence, in order to ease the process of your decision-making, we bring you a buying guide that can help you with your purchase.
What to Look for When Buying a Curl Activator?
1. Composition of Ingredients: A curl activator should consist of humectants and emollients that can provide long-lasting hydration and protect against the loss of water and nutrition from the hair shafts. Emollients such as argan oil, aloe vera, glycerin, and almond oil help to maintain the turgidity within the keratin cells of the hair shafts and thus minimize the risk of breakage. It should also be free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, alcohol, and mineral oil as it may trigger inert infections and cause allergies.
2. Texture And Ease of Application: The hair curling activator should be in a gel-based or cream-based form to facilitate styling and prevent the accumulation of build-up.
3. Scalp And Hair Type: The product should be compatible with the scalp and hair type of the individual. If you have dry hair, you would need more humectants and emollients. On the contrary, if you have an oily or acne-prone scalp you would need more exfoliants that prevent dead cell buildup and grime accumulation and inhibit bacterial growth.
Benefits of Using a Curl Activator
1. Facilitates Ease of Styling: The implementation of a curling activator facilitates ease of styling hair as it shields the delicate strands from direct heat and also facilitates easy movement of styling equipment throughout the tresses.
2. Moisturises And Boosts Hair Growth: Hair curling activators often come with additional nutritional benefits that help to strengthen hair and also preserve moisture within the hair follicles.
3. Improves Scalp Health: It is always important to check the list of ingredients; it should contain natural ingredients like unsaturated fatty acids and wheat protein that help to strengthen hair roots and eliminate harmful toxins.
How to Use a Curl Activator?
Step1 – Wash your hair with a compatible shampoo and then apply conditioner
Step 2– As hair curling activators can be applied directly onto damp and dry hair start with taking a generous amount of the product.
Step 3– Run your hair through a wide-toothed comb in order to remove all traces of tangles
Step 4– Divide your hair into sections and begin by applying the product from the scalp towards the ends.
Step 5– Proceed with styling and flaunt those voluminous locks.
The presence of curly bouncy hair on an individual’s scalp tends to lend a vibe of positivity, innocence, and playfulness to the people around. But trying to recreate the same vibe time and again with the aggressive use of styling equipment coupled with wrongly formulated hair styling products can lead to disastrous and irreparable consequences. Hence using the best curl activators that can help instill an organic floaty bounce while shielding hair shafts from external damage is the way to go!
Given above are a few recommendations of the best curling activators that smoothen the process of styling without tampering with the natural composition of one’s hair. Please check out our buying guide before making a purchase.
With a keen eye for detail and a passion for hairstyling, Alvira is a certified Hair Expert who brings the latest tre More
Do curl activators really work?
A curl activator with the proper formulation of natural ingredients tends to enhance the natural curl pattern of the curls, helps improve hair texture, and boosts overall hair growth.
Is a curl activator better than curling cream?
Although curling creams have a thick dense structure, a curl activator is always a preferred choice by salon stylists as it retains curls for a long time, enhances the natural pattern, boosts scalp health, and improves hair texture.
Why Trust Pinkvilla
Alvira, our in-house hair care expert, strongly recommends curl activators for anyone who wants to level up their curl show. She understands the difference between a good curl activator and a blah product — consistency, formulation, and effectiveness matter! The products she has taken the time to meticulously curate can hydrate and rejuvenate different types of curls and improve curl patterns and bring out a natural bounce like no other!
Our product experts study the specifications of every product we suggest and try them out to bring what’s proven to be worthy of your money, time, and energy. We also have subject matter experts from various fields like Fashion, Skincare, Haircare, Home Decor, and Health & Fitness onboard to make sure our suggestions are credible and trustworthy. You can trust select to be your faithful shopping guide for all the right reasons!