Should I Use a Curling Cream or Gel? What is The Difference?

curling creams

Great question! Both gels and curling creams are popular styling products, but they serve different purposes and have distinct formulations. So what is the difference? Which one should you use?

What is the Difference Between a Curling Cream and a Gel?

Curl Cream

Besides curl definition, a curling cream has great benefits to your natural hair. For a balance between moisture/volume/hold look, try applying a curling cream. These creams are often moisturizing and provide a softer hold compared to gels. Curling creams help reduce frizz, add shine, and encourage the natural pattern of curls. They are ideal for those who want to embrace their natural texture and create a more relaxed, bouncy natural look. In a nutshell, curl creams shape and fasten textured hair in place without any stiffness.


On the other hand, Gel is a styling product that typically comes in a clear or colored, thick, or viscous liquid form. It’s designed to provide strong hold and control for various hairstyles. Gels are great for creating defined and sleek looks, and they’re often used for styles that require a firm hold, such as defined crunchy curls, slicked-back ponytails or structured updos. Gels can sometimes have a wet or crunchy finish, but there are also lighter formulations available for a more natural look.

Which One Should I Use?

The choice between a gel and a cream depends on your desired hairstyle, hair type, and personal preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Hold and Structure:
    • If you want a strong hold and a structured style, go for a gel. Gels are great for keeping hair in place and creating defined looks. Because of this great hold, it’s more likely to experience flakes from gels. So use enough water when using gels.
    • If you prefer a softer hold and want to enhance your natural curls or waves, a curling cream might be a better choice. Creams help in reducing frizz and provide a more relaxed appearance.
  2. Hair Type:
    • Gels are versatile and work well for various hair types, but they may be more commonly used for straight or wavy hair when a firm hold is needed.
    • Curling creams are specifically designed for kinky, curly or wavy hair to enhance the natural texture and provide moisture.
  3. Texture and Finish:
    • Multipurpose Gels can sometimes leave a wet or crunchy finish, especially if too much product is used. However, there are lighter gels available for a more natural look.
    • Curling creams usually provide a softer and more touchable finish. They enhance the natural texture of the hair without the stiffness associated with some gels.
    • Gels tend give elongated curls while curling creams give body and volume.
  4. Personal Preference:
    • Consider your own styling preferences and the look you want to achieve. If you like a polished and sleek appearance, a gel might be the right choice. If you prefer a more relaxed and natural look, a curling cream could be more suitable.

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