Around this time last year, I did an article on 6 Alternatives to Eco Styler Gel for Slicking and Defining Natural Hair. One thing that makes natural hair so much fun (for me as a product junkie at least), is that things can change — new products can be discovered, old products can be re-evaluated, and DIY mixes can be redone. In the year since the first edition of this article ran, I have had the absolute pleasure of testing out, reviewing, and experimenting with dozens of gels, curl creams, and definers.If you’re looking to replace Eco Styler in your regimen, check out these 11 picks!
The first time I used Obia Curl Enhancing Custard, I fell in love. Thick and jelly-like, it glides on easily and encourages the clumping of coils, kinks and curls. Obia Curl Enhancing Custard is free from mineral oil, petroleum, silicone, paraben, and alcohol. It’s based in olive, grapeseed, and argan oil. Although it is similar in consistency to Eco Styler, the Curl Enhancing Custard leaves hair shiny, defined, and soft — no crunch or dryness here! It works wonders on slicking edges too!
Whenever I think of Wonder Curl Get Set Hair Jelly, “hold for days,” comes to mind. This aloe based defining jelly will hold your hair in place, whether it be for a wash and go, twist-out, or slicking back a bun. Get Set Hair Jelly is potent, so a little goes a long way! With this stuff, you’re guaranteed to reach *at least* day 4 hair! Get Set Hair Jelly is mineral oil, petroleum, silicone and paraben free.
For ladies with finer hair, Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker will provide hold and definition without making your tresses do a disappearing act. Based in glycerin and enriched with coconut oil and other extracts, Curl Maker provides a medium hold without drying the hair. It isn’t super thick, so it spreads easily through the hair to provide shine and definition. Silicone, mineral oil, petroleum, paraben, and drying alcohol free.
Curls Rock Amplifier is expensive. It has some pretty wack ingredients. I can’t quite see how the ingredients justify the price point. But I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face — it works. Well. So much so that it’s my #1 go-to wash and go product. I can’t afford to use it for every single wash and go, but when I do use it, my curls last for more than 5 days every time. So I guess in that way, it might justify itself price-wise. If you’re interested in ditching the gels and trying a cream with a strong hold, Curls Rock Amplifier is the one you want to check for. It adds shine, definition, and hold while gliding through and coating the hair easily. Free of drying alcohols, mineral oil, and petroleum.
Tgin Twist and Define Cream is a close second to the Curls Rock Amplifier. It provides shine, hold, definition, and smoothness. Based in coconut oil, this cream-based styler goes on smooth, has nice slip, and is versatile enough for twistouts, braidouts, and wash and go’s. Free of silicones, mineral oil, petroleum, parabens, and drying alcohols.
Another one of those thick in consistency gels, As I Am Smoothing Gel works great for slicking back styles. In addition to sleekness, it will provide a nice amount of hold and definition on wash and go styles. The aloe-based gel helps coils, kinks, and curls clump, and promotes shine while being free of drying alcohol, silicones, parabens, petroleum, and mineral oil.
Although a little pricey, Ouidad’s most popular gel is just that for a reason. For ladies that will be battling humidity this spring and summer, a gel that keeps the moisture at bay without drying the hair out is a necessity. It has a serum-esque consistency, and goes on the hair really easily with tons of slip. It helps prevent frizz, add shine, and enhance definition. Free of mineral oil, petroleum, and drying alcohols.
8. Soultanicals Afro Gel-lato
If you love Curl Blaze Hair Glaze by Soultanicals, get ready to kick that love up a notch. For ladies who aren’t particularly a fan of glycerin in styling products, this one is for you. The brand new Afro Gelato provides a touchable hold, shine, and smoothness while encouraging curl, kink, and coil clumping. Based in aloe and tons of other botanicals, Afro Gelato is formulated specifically for wash and go hair. Free of silicones, petroleum, parabens, drying alcohols, and mineral oil.
9. Kurlee Belle Jelle Coconut Styling Gel
This coconut oil based gel provides light, touchable hold and amazing shine and definition. It has a thick Eco Styler-like consistency, but with none of the crunch or dryness. It is perfect for clumping curls, kinks, and coils, and achieving bigger day‑1 hair. It also works great to create sleek updos and tame edges. Free of silicones, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, and drying alcohols.
If some of the previously mentioned prices are a little too high, this might be right up your alley. Wet Line Xtreme Gel clearly gives you the most bang for your buck. You won’t get any fancy botanical extracts or promises of being all-natural, but you will get hold, sleekness, and definition. Free of silicones, parabens, petroleum, mineral oil, and drying alcohols.
Another cost-effective option is Elasta QP Feels Like Silk Liquid Gel. When used in moderation (i.e. don’t be heavy-handed), the smoothness, shine, and definition is right on target for ladies who hate the crunch feeling of some gels. Be warned though — this one contains a lot of glycerin. So if your hair can’t handle that, I suggest staying away. But for normal/low humidity areas, this is a perfect, inexpensive (albeit awkwardly blue colored) option for any number of styles that require hold or definiton. Fun fact: this was my definer of choice back in the day (before I really screwed up my hair, and before all these natural hair products were available). Free of drying alcohols, mineral oil, silicones, and petroleum.
Ladies, have you tried any of these gels? Which works best for you?