How to choose the best wax for curly hair

The happy medium: shiny and not-so-pasty.

Hair wax is a truly ingenious product: it provides texture, control, and that lived-in feel, all without looking like you tried too hard. When it comes to looking for wax for hair for curls, the challenge lies in finding formulations that define your ringlets without deflating them or imparting a prissy, crispy look that just screams ‘done’.

best wax for hair curls
Best wax for hair. Credit: Dvora

The best wax for hair for curls

First off, how do you know whether you need a wax (or a gel, or a mousse) as a styling product? Well, it all essentially boils down to how much time you have to style your hair, and what look you’re going for. Gels and mousses can be applied to wet hair almost directly after towel-drying; waxes and putties, on the other hand, are harder substances that are more effective on damp-to-dry hair.

In terms of end results, gels give a wet, slick-back finish with the ability for extreme, all-day hold, whereas waxes and pomades are more pliant and malleable throughout the day, giving a more matte or velvety-looking finish. They also don’t make hair feel sticky, which is one of their main advantages.

hair wax for curls
Hair wax for curls. Credit: Dvora

What to look for in a hair wax

Those who like enhancing the natural texture and shape of their curls usually turn to a curl-defining cream or even just simple leave-in conditioner instead of wax. Since curly hair is often on the drier side, creams and conditioning products can provide this hair type with much-needed moisture. These formulations also help seal down its cuticles and protect it from frizz, especially when the weather changes or when humidity spikes.

Although considered a more unusual choice, using wax on curly hair isn’t unheard of. Mostly used by men, or women who want a more controlled look with their updos, wax can give curls a controlled, more manageable look.

The best wax for hair for curls is one that is more rubbery or tacky in texture (like the VO5 Classic Styling Soft Moulding Wax, £2.99*) rather than hard or pasty. Look for formulations that separate easily between your fingers, with a slight stickiness, but with an overall lightweight feel — anything that looks and feels too much like lard in a tin might drag on your spirals and give them a half-baked, almost limp shape.

If you’re in the market for a hair wax that also imparts shine, look for formulations that have an oilier feel. We have to caveat: these won’t provide as much hold and control as a harder, more matte wax will, so best preserve these latter formulations for the guys, or if you want to keep a shorter hairstyle under tight rein.

wax for hair for curls
Best hair wax for curls. Credit: Dvora

Hard wax hacks

If you really want to get some mileage out of your hard hair wax, it’s best to take a finger-swipe of the product and rub it between your palms so it warms up and effectively softens. Concentrating the product more on your fingertips, coil sections of curls around your fingers, coating them with the product as you do so. You can also scrunch hair with your fingers, lightly packing on the product as you texturise your coif.

You can also employ this trick when you want to refine and smoothen down the base of a curly updo. After gathering your hair into a ponytail or bun, take a small amount of warmed-up wax in your palms and pat down any frizzies or stubborn flyaways that go against the grain for a pristine, locked-and-loaded finish.

Which wax for hair for curls or wavy hair would you try?

*RRPs are Unilever suggested retail prices only, it is at the discretion of the individual retailers to set the actual price.