1. Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Defining Creme (8.5 oz. $29) - This was the first product geared towards curly hair that I ever tried. I used it for years with good results. I love the smell, and my curls were very defined with little frizz. However, I didn't love the feel. Perhaps my middle-school self was using too much product, but my hair often felt a little heavy after use.
2. Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue (8 oz. $22) - I first tried this product through a free sample from the Miss Jessie's website (while I don't see any free samples now, many of the products are available in cheap trial sizes). It's very moisturizing and kept the frizz controlled but didn't have a strong enough hold for my hair.
3. Garnier Fructis Style Curl Construct Mousse (6.8 oz. $3.49) - This product is obviously much more affordable than the two above, which is why I picked it up initially. I can't always afford to buy my favorite hair product (see number 5!) and this is my replacement. It's definitely on the side of a lighter hold, so when my hair is long it is much less effective and I have to use more product.
4. TRESemmé Styling Aid Curl Enhancing Mousse (10.5 oz. $3.29) - Another product at an affordable price point, I found this mousse to make my hair a little sticky and flaky. Many, many people swear by it, so perhaps it just doesn't like my hair. It did hold the curls and frizz very well, though!
5. DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel (12 oz $19.95) - DevaCurl products are my savior. I use the conditioner religiously, nearly always use the shampoo, and their gels are my defining product of choice. The smell is spectacular--lemongrass--and I never have issues with crunch or stickiness or flaking, even when I put too much product in. I also use their Lite Defining Gel, although that works best when my hair is at its shortest. At about $20 for 12 oz, it's a tad expensive but more affordable than some products. And it works, which for me is the key factor.
When shopping for a curl-defining hair product, keep an open mind. Shop around, ask for samples, and don't forget about your budget. While I love DevaCurl gels, those may not be the best fit for everyone. If a product has a great hold but makes your head feel heavy or has an overwhelming scent or puts a hole in your wallet, you ultimately won't be happy with your curls. Loving my curls is a huge part of my personality--I don't know who I would be without them!
What products do you use on your hair? Do you swear by anything?