The Best Products to Hold Curls in Straight Hair for 2021

Don't go for that in-salon perm just yet.

It’s always a grass-is-greener situation, isn’t it? Those blessed with curls straighten; those with straight hair, curl. As a proud—and sometimes, very frustrated—member of the latter camp, I must say that finding the best hair curling products for stubbornly straight hair wasn’t always a walk in the park. They were either too harsh or not effective at all, or at least not on my hair type, which was a freakily temperamental mix of Asian texture with Caucasian density. Curling straight hair is one of the biggest hair-related challenges out there. Because the hair shaft is so smooth, it can be challenging to bend it at your will.

See below to find the best products to hold curls.

best hair curling products redhead tight curls
Mousse is one of the most effective curl pre-stylers. Photo credit: Verity Jane Smith

Fortunately, technology has long since come to the rescue and offered up a lot of options for those in the same boat. From wash and care systems to styling products, the best hair curling products have never been so ubiquitous. Now, for your curling pleasure:

1. Pre-Stylers

The best curling products come in the form of sprays, crèmes, and serums. These are applied to the hair before the use of hot tools and can help urge in some texture. These are your mousses and texturizers such as salt sprays or foams: They all work to create a bit of grit and texture on your strand, which helps it adhere to a new shape (say, a curling iron or hot roller) with the help of heat. A product like Bed Head by TIGI Foxy Curls Mousse is an effective foam to scrunch in to create a solid curl.

2. Curl Enhancers

Now that you’ve got that hard-earned curl, the next step is to keep it on lock! The best hair curling products also include curl-enhancers, which come into play after the fact. These include shaping and defining gels and creams, such as TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel, which works to keep your ringlets shiny, separated and frizz-free. Shapers such as Bed Head by TIGI On the Rebound Curl Recall Cream are like curl rehab for rebellious curls—these products help snap your spirals back into a bouncy, more defined shape.

3. Curl Sprays

Styling sprays that are made specifically for protecting hair against frizz, such as TRESemmé Flawless Curls Hair Spray, are also key products that girls with finer hair can benefit from. Their humidity-proof formulas help curls stay defined, and leave spirals with a non-crunchy look and feel.

4. Permanent Solutions

For the committed, going in for a permanent curling treatment (or a “perm”) at a salon is also an option. Like straightening treatments, these processes involve changing the structure of your hair permanently, or until it grows out. Then “rebonding” it into a new shape entirely—in this case, with the help of curling rods instead of a flat iron. However, just like any other permanent treatment, the process can damage hair and leave strands vulnerable to breakage and dryness, so best look before you leap and go with a reputable stylist.

5. Curl Revivals

Try Nexxus Between Washes Revived Curls Shape & Moisture Crème Spray to revive your new curls or waves and give them a fresh dose of definition. Spritz this spray onto dry hair and separate your strands into small sections. Using your fingers or curling iron, re-shape and re-style curls until they get back their original bounce. Remember to always let the product dry before using your favorite heat tool!

Thinking about trying out one of these products? Snap a picture of the results and tag us @AllThingsHairUS!

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