How To Use Curl Cream To Enhance Your Mane

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

The special characteristics unique to curly hair make it a blessing — but also a responsibility.

If you’re a curly-haired girl, you know you need a small arsenal of tools to whip your glorious mane into shape.

You’ve got your curl-friendly hair products and your diffuser, hooded dryer, and the like.

But did you know that your collection also needs to feature a curl cream?

If it’s your first time hearing of it, congratulations!

You’re about to learn how to use curl cream to achieve your hair goals.

What Is Curling Cream?

As its name denotes, a curling cream is a cream that is formulated to help define curls.

A white jar of cream with eucalyptus leaves on a piece of wood.

At the same time, it can provide conditioning to your tresses to boost shine and volume while lessening dryness, frizz, and even hair breakage.

It’s a lot like other products meant for curly hair but with some differences. 

Curl Cream vs. Curl Jelly

A curl cream is similar to a curl jelly since it’s also a lightweight product that offers light hold for your styling needs, so your curls stay in shape and look great longer.

But curl cream is creamier and thicker in consistency, whereas jelly is more watery. Jellies also tend to form a cast on your hair; curling creams do not.

Curl Cream vs. Curl Soufflé

If you’re used to using a curl soufflé, you’ll find that a curl cream is similarly effective at hydrating your locks. 

On the other hand, a soufflé offers more in terms of hold, which also makes it more susceptible to forming a cast. Curl creams, on the other hand, don’t make curly hair stiff or crunchy.

In addition, a soufflé is a bit more custard-like in texture, whereas a curl cream has a smoother texture.

Curl Cream vs. Curl Gel

If you’re more of a curling gel gal, curling creams work like gels in that they can help prevent frizz and protect your hair from humidity.

But a curling gel can form a much harder cast and hold than a soufflé or a jelly. Some gels can also be rather drying, unlike curl creams.

A curl gel can be tacky too, while a curling cream just feels creamy and smooth.

What Does Curling Cream Do?

Curling creams feature formulations made of nourishing oils and other ingredients that are good for the hair to provide a wide range of benefits. These include the following:

Hydrates Curly Hair

Curly hair has low tensile strength and high porosity. This means that it has lower resistance to stress before they break. 

Additionally, it isn’t as good as low-porosity hair types at retaining moisture.

Curls also have a spiral pattern that makes it difficult for oils produced by the scalp to be evenly distributed throughout your tresses.

As oils can’t travel down each hair strand as quickly and as smoothly as they do on straighter hair, curly hair is predisposed to dryness.

Curling creams nourish your locks with the moisture that they need to not only look good but also to stay healthy.

Reduces Frizz

Since curling creams can be moisturizing, they help prevent every curlie’s dreaded enemy: frizz.

Frizz occurs when moisture inside your hair shafts escapes — while moisture from the surrounding environment penetrates the hair shaft and causes it to swell.

With a curling cream, you get a coating of moisture for each strand, which nourishes the hair shaft and causes it to lay flat.

And according to experts, healthy hair lays down flat.

Additionally, a curl cream typically contains protein, which is important for strengthening hair shafts so they don’t easily break open and allow moisture to escape.

So over time, as long as it’s not overused, it might help protect curly hair from frizz even after the treatment.

Preserves and Enhances Curl Patterns

The same moisturizing thin-film coating that prevents frizz from forming on your curly hair is also responsible for maintaining the integrity of your ringlets.

Curls lose their volume and shape when they’re dehydrated or when they lose elasticity (and thus can’t return back to form when dried), among other causes.

With a curl cream, you seal moisture into your locks while boosting elasticity and reducing stretch and breakage.

As such, you can better preserve the way your curls look and feel.

Meets Various Hair Needs

Finally, curl creams can address multiple hair issues.

If your curly hair lacks shine, for instance, a curling cream can bring gloss to your mane due to the presence of oils that are typically found in such a product.

African American gorgeous woman with curly hair

These include coconut, jojoba, olive, and argan oils.

Additionally, these oils can help promote better volume as they can preserve the hair’s mechanical integrity while boosting body and bounce.

Transitioning from a perm to your natural hair? Curling creams can also help ease the stress on your hair by strengthening your hair strands and helping out with the keratin structure of your locks.

There are different types of curl creams for various curl types too, even for twist-outs

So if you need something that works for your specific hair, you won’t be disappointed. 

Finally, curling creams do all these things without forming a cast. While it isn’t harmful, a gel cast does make your hair less attractive and touchable, which is something that some curlies don’t like.

With a curling cream, you get a light hold that sets your curls in place without making them crunchy.

How To Apply Curl Cream

Ready to finally see what curling cream can do for your hair? 

Here’s how you apply it:

1. Start with wet hair. 

2. Put a little of the product into your palm and rub your palms together. You can either do this straight from the shower or after coating your strands with leave-in conditioner.

3. Section off your hair and work your way through each of the sections to make sure that you’re properly working the cream into all of the strands.

It’s also recommended to start from the back of your head toward the front. When coating your hair, do it from just above the roots toward the ends.

When applying the product, curl your fingers around your palms to lessen the chances of frizz once your hair has dried.

4. Next, gently scrunch your hair to clump your curls together.

5. You can also follow up your curling cream with other styling products, such as these Curly Girl Method-approved products.

If you’re using your curl cream alongside another product, simply decant a bit of the other product into your hands and work it into your strands.

6. From there, you can either wait for your hair to air-dry or opt to use a diffuser or hooded dryer.

Using Curl Cream: Additional Tips

How Much Curl Cream To Use

When it comes to using curl cream, a little definitely goes a long way.

Start with a pea-sized amount and emulsify the product by rubbing your palms. Then when applying it to your hair, make sure that your locks feel wet to the touch.

But be careful not to use too much of the cream as it may detract from its benefits instead of strengthening and fortifying your curls.

How To Use Curl Cream on Wavy Hair

If you’re wondering how to use curl cream on natural hair like wavy hair, the process is essentially the same as applying the cream to curly hair.

The only difference is that you should choose the right type of preparatory products (shampoo, conditioner, etc.) suited to wavy hair instead of curly hair.

How To Use Curl Cream on Short Hair

If you have short hair, you’ll be pleased to know that you won’t be exempted from seeing what curl cream can do for your curls.

And as with short wavy or natural hair, you follow the same steps listed above. 

However, since your hair is short, you want to make sure that you’re getting the product evenly throughout the strands.

So what you’d need to do after decanting the cream into your hands is to lift your hair and get right at the roots from under your tresses. 

Start with the back and make your way to the front and the top of the head.

After that, coat the rest of your locks with the cream, working toward the ends of the hair.

Watch how this process looks in real life here:

How To Use Curl Cream on Straight Hair

Now can a curling cream work on straight hair?

The long and short of it is no.

Curling creams are meant to enhance already existing waves or curls; they cannot create them.

So if you have super straight hair with no kinks or ringlets, you can’t benefit much from this product.

The most you can get if you’d really like to put curl cream on your straight locks is volume and texture.

And if that’s all right with you, just follow the procedure outlined above.

How To Choose a Curling Cream for Your Hair

Keen to start shopping for curl creams?

There are certain factors that you need to consider so you can find the right one for your hair needs.

But also, there are some key features that you absolutely must have, regardless of your hair specifics.

First off, your curl cream should be able to provide both hydration and volume. It should also impart shine to your mane and offer a good amount of slip to ease detangling.

On top of these, you’ll want a cream that is tailored to the following.

Your Specific Hair Type

There are various types of hair and curl patterns; finding the right curl cream depends on yours.

For instance, if you have high-porosity hair that is prone to dryness and frizz, your curl cream should have both proteins and oils. 

A photo of a young woman with curly hair holding a jar of cream on a gray background

These two ingredients will make sure that your tresses get the moisture that it needs plus some strengthening so that your hair strands can better stand up to frizz

Or if you have thick and dry curly hair, you’ll want something that offers hydration without weighing down your locks.

For those with finer hair textures, a product without silicones is recommended since you don’t want to be weighing down your hair strands. 

Similarly, make sure to get a cream that doesn’t lead to product buildup.

Curly Hair-Friendly Ingredients

There are many ingredients that you’ll find in a curling cream, and some of them are more suited to curly tresses than others.

When choosing, look for the following.

  • Glycerin. As a humectant, glycerin binds to water molecules and draws them into your hair. As a result, you get better curl definition, shine, and overall hair health.
  • Shea butter. This ingredient is a natural emollient with a lot of vitamin E. It keeps your curls hydrated while alleviating issues with your scalp, such as itchiness.
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil is especially ideal for curly hair that is highly porous; it gets into the hair shaft and helps restore moisture balance so strands don’t swell, which can cause frizz. Additionally, it contains anti-inflammatory properties for scalp health.
  • Argan oil. A non-greasy oil, argan oil helps boost the shine of curly hair by sealing moisture into your cuticles, as well as easing frizz and flyaways. It’s also lightweight, so it won’t bog your hair down.

Just as important as what’s inside a product is also what’s not in it. When shopping for curl creams, opt for those that do not contain the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Sulfate
  • Parabens

You should also be mindful about how much protein you’re getting from your haircare products. Protein and moisture must be balanced for optimal curl definition and health.

Your Desired Hold

In addition, choose a cream that provides the type of hold that you need for your styling goals.

Most creams provide lighter holds compared to other curl products, yes, but some curling creams provide stronger holds than other curling creams.

Your Hair Condition

How your hair looks and feels should factor into your selection process. 

If you have damaged tresses, for instance, you’ll want to go for a curl cream with restorative properties from ingredients such as argan oil and glycerin.

Color-treated curly hair also deserves some mindful maneuvering when it comes to styling products. As such, go for a curl cream that is safe for color-treated hair.

Price and User Reviews

Finally, set a budget and look for products within that range with good ratings.

Check out user reviews, make product comparisons, and research product labels to find one that best suits your needs.


What Does Curl Cream Do To Straight Hair?

Curl cream can boost volume and texture for straight hair. But it won’t create waves or curls where there are none.

Can I Use Curl Cream on Dry Hair?

It’s perfectly okay to use curl cream on dry hair.

Most curl creams contain nourishing moisturizers that don’t just provide hydration for dry hair but also help prevent frizz and breakage.

Can I Use Curl Cream Every Day?

You can use curl cream every day.

When you do, just make sure to use it on wet hair. Also, be careful about the amount of product that you use; overuse can damage your locks and create more problems.

Do I Need To Wash Off Curl Cream?

You don’t need to rinse off curl cream.

In fact, you can follow it up with other styling products that also work wonders for curly hair.

Incorporating a Curl Cream Into Your Hair Routine

Knowing how to use a curling cream and adding it to your arsenal of tools for curly hair is going to do wonders for your hair goals.

When you start using this holy grail of a product, just make sure that you choose the right one that best meets your hair needs while also strengthening and nourishing your locks.

At the same time, supplement your use of the product with other strategies that have proven to be effective in helping curly tresses shine best, such as being careful with the way that you dry your hair.

And finally, remember to approach hair care from a more holistic perspective: invest in good habits that will keep your locks lustrous and luscious and you, happy and healthy.

Loving This?

Here are related articles you may also want to check out!


  • Kat

    Kat brings a seasoned voice to our beauty blog with 13 years of dedicated writing experience. Her deep-seated passion isn't just limited to words; she's always on the pulse of emerging makeup trends. Beyond her articles, Kat crafts hand-made crochet swimwear and sundresses, and effortlessly steps in as a muse for beauty photoshoots. Kat holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *