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What is Curling Gel?

By J. Beam
Updated May 21, 2024
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Curling gel is a type of hair styling product that is designed for use on curly hair. Sold under a variety of names and descriptions, such as curl defining gel and curl enhancing gel, curling gel won’t actually make hair curly, nor will it provide better hold for curled hair than any other styling product. Curling gel is designed for people with curly hair who want to minimize frizz and dryness and have more defined curls than they would if using no styling product.

Curling gel is different than other products used for curly hair such as anti-frizz serum or cream, but can be used in conjunction with a frizz control product. Most serums and cream that reduce frizz do not provide hold, but many curling gel brands are designed to provide both hold and frizz control.

Curling gel is typically of a consistency that is denser than hair creams and some spray gels, but lighter weight than sculpting gel. For most people with curly hair though, a medium-weight curling gel or mousse is best for styling. To achieve the best style possible, curl defining gel should be applied by hand and worked thoroughly through the entire head of hair.

Curling gel is designed to define and enhance existing curls and does help reduce frizz. To further reduce frizz, use anti-frizz serum, avoid blow drying, and try to style hair with fingers rather than a brush. If you must blow dry, use a diffuser, which is an attachment that fits over the end of a hair dryer and diffuses heat away from hair. If you must style curly hair with a brush or comb, opt for a wide-toothed comb to help reduce frizz.

As with many hair styling products, finding a curling gel that works well for your individual hair type requires trial and error selection. People with extremely dry hair should avoid products with alcohol as a main ingredient and should look for products that contain sunscreen. Experiment with different brands of curling gels and mousses to find the products that best suit your needs or ask the opinion of an experienced and trusted hair stylist.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By myharley — On May 30, 2011

One of the best things I discovered along with using a good curling gel is my diffuser. I wear my hair both curly and straight, but using gel with a diffuser is so much quicker. The diffuser really helps bring out the curl and the gel keeps it under control without all the frizz.

If I don't put some kind of gel in my hair, it is too hard to control. I am so glad we have all these choices in product and styling equipment for our hair. You can have so many fun looks without going to a lot of trouble.

By andee — On May 29, 2011

I have naturally curly hair and a lot of it. I would be absolutely lost without my curling gel. It doesn't make my hair any more or less curly, it just help manage it so much better. I have used a large variety of curl creams and gels and the gel seems to do a better job of keeping the curl.

It really can make styling your hair very easy and quick. I just put the gel all through my hair with my fingers and if I am in a hurry that is all I need to do. My hair will be curly, but it keeps it from getting frizzy and out of control.

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