Finding affordable curly hair products in Atlantic Canada has not always been an easy task.
In June 2018, I shared this post about my hair routine and the cost of embracing my natural hair.
At that time, I had been working on my curls for about a year after a lifetime of struggling against them. What worked for me: DevaCurl. For the first time in my life, my hair was, for the most part, behaving.
Fast-forward to 2019-2020. There has been a great deal of controversy about DevaCurl. While I have not been affected, the whole situation did get me thinking: what would I do if I started having trouble with DevaCurl? Or if the products disappeared from the shelves?
That started me on the path of doing something scary: trying new products.
That might sound silly but after years of searching for products that work, the idea of messing up a good thing didn’t sound appealing. Still, I knew I wanted to have more options.
More specifically, I wanted more affordable options.
So I set out to try some new products. Here’s a look at some of the products I’ve tried.
Affordable curly hair products: a disclaimer
Before talking about the products, I feel like it’s important to note curly hair is different than straight hair. It might seem like I’m stating the obvious, but if you have curls, you know what I’m talking about.
In my experience, curly hair tends to have a life of its own. Sometimes it does what you want it to do and that’s awesome.
Other times…maybe not so much.
There are a lot of people out there with strong opinions about the right and wrong way to take care of curly hair. What products to use, what ingredients are bad, and so on and so forth. It’s important to note, though, that what works for one curly girl might not work for another. Everyone’s hair is different.
When it comes to my hair, I tend to stick close to the curly girl method. In particular, I look for products that are sulfate and silicone free. That said, product is only one part of the equation — technique is also important.
Essentially what I’m saying is a lot of factors go into figuring out what works best for you hair when you have curls — and sometimes that means skipping whatever shampoo is on sale and spending a little more.
Final note! There are a lot of links in this post. These are not affiliate links nor is this post sponsored in any way. I’m talking about products I use, sharing whether I like them or not and linking them for you to check out if you want. If that ever changes, I’ll let you know.
My favourite affordable curly hair products
For this post, I have broken my favourite affordable curly hair products into three areas: shampoos, conditioners and stylers.
In some categories, I have done more experimenting than others. I’m also only talking about products I’ve used several times; one or two washes isn’t enough to judge a product, in my opinion.
For the record: my hair is a bit longer than shoulder length, fine, with a mix curls and even a few little ringlet-y pieces. If you’re into curl types, it’s somewhere between 3a and 3b.
I wash it twice a week, usually plop for a bit after the shower and diffuse a little after that. I wear my hair curly every day and try to wear it down as often as I can.
The first shampoo I tried after DevaCurl was SheaMoisture’s Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil shampoo. I paid $12 for it at Walmart and as far as a shampoo goes, I don’t have any complaints. It gets the job done.
I haven’t experimented much with shampoo, mostly because it takes me a long time to go through an entire bottle of shampoo. Shampoo always lasts me the longest of all my products because I only wash my hair two times a week. Prior to using SheaMoisture, I was using DevaCurl’s Low Poo, which was fine but expensive at $32/12oz.
I also purchased a Live Clean apple cider clarifying shampoo for $7. Obviously not a product I use as often as my regular shampoo, but it’s good when I want to give my hair a real thorough wash.
This is an area where I have not done a lot of experimenting in affordable curly hair products but I have a reason for it.
I still have a lot of DevaCurl One Condition.
Much like the Ultra Defining Gel, I typically buy my condition in the 32oz bottle ($62). Normally, I go through a lot…but over the last few months, I have been trying to reduce the amount of product I use in general. I still refresh some days, but I aim to use mostly water and maybe a little extra gel. This means my conditioner has lasted a lot longer.
One purchase I did make in this category, though, is a deep treatment. For that, I went with the SheaMoisture Manuka Money and Mafura Oil masque. Paid $14 for a tub at Walmart and I really like it! I use it at least a couple times a month and I have been pleased with the results so far.
These products both worked really well for me and I still use them from time to time. But they are also very pricey. One 6oz tube of B’Leave In retails for $27+ tax at Sephora, while the 32oz gel costs $62!
When I decided I wanted to look for more affordable curly hair products, I started with stylers.
Much to my surprise, I was able to find two products that are not only much more affordable, but also available to purchase locally.
Cantu Curl Activator Cream is a product I wanted to try for ages, so I was thrilled to find it in my city. It was about $16 for a 12oz bottle, but here’s the thing: if you have fine curls like me, a little bit of this product goes a very long way! Learned that the hard way the first time I used it. I like to use this cream almost like a leave-in; I apply it while my hair is wet, then squeeze out the excess moisture, then apply a bit more to my ends before I add a gel. Added bonus: it smells wonderful!
On the gel front, if I’m not using Ultra Defining Gel, my go-to is the Herbal Essence Set Me Up max hold gel. I purchase it in 6oz tubes, but unlike B’Leave In, it is significantly cheaper. It’s $3.28 at Walmart…and I regularly find it for $2.99 on sale. The scent threw me off initially — I find it strong — but I love the hold! Did I mention that it costs less than $5 a tube? I love it.
Other products I’m trying
Finally, I wanted to mention I’ve also been giving LUS a try.
LUS is a Canadian curly hair brand, best known for its trio of trios — three three-step systems, one for waves, one for curls and one for coily hair.
The ads for LUS popped up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds for months before I finally ordered one of their sample packs.
I’m putting this in a category of its own for two reasons.
One: as of writing this, I’ve only used it a few times so I’m still trying to get a feel for the products. The shampoo is pretty straightforward and while the application process for the conditioner was different than I’m used to, I figured it out pretty quick and have been enjoying the results so far.
The styler, though, requires some work to figure out. It’s billed as a 3-in-1, the only one you’ll need.
And it’s nice, but I don’t think I’ve totally mastered it yet. I still find myself reaching for my gel after to give my hair a bit of extra definition. That said, I am pretty sure it’s a matter of technique on my part, so I’m withholding my judgement for the time being.
The second reason this is in its own category is because it’s a bit more pricey than the others. It’s not DevaCurl expensive, but it’s also not Herbal Essence cheap, you know? I paid $35 for the sample kit which has three 2.4oz bottles. The larger kit, where all the products are 8.5oz, runs for $70 before tax. Now, a little goes a long way with these products for sure, but that’s still about $24 a product before tax.
All that being said, I’m looking forward to continuing to experiment with these products.
Finding affordable curly hair products does take some work, but it is possible.
While I have found some products I really like in my experiments, I’m not done yet. There are some products and techniques I want to try as I continue working on embracing my natural hair. It’s definitely a journey, but one I have been enjoying.
Do you have curly hair? If so, what are you holy grail products?