11 Best Curl Activators To Buy Online In 2024

For some great hair days where your curls stay lively and bouncy all day long

Reviewed by Danielle Wilkinson Brucklacher, Licensed Cosmetologist
Written by Oyendrila Kanjilal, MA, Certified Skin Care Coach
Edited by Shiboli Chakraborti, MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach
Fact-checked by Eshna Das, BA, MSc  • 

Thick curly hair can go from fab to drab in a matter of minutes, depending on various environmental stressors. Danielle Wilkinson Brucklacher, a licensed cosmetologist, says, “Curly hair needs a deep drink of moisture to stay lively and vibrant.” That’s precisely why you need to get your hands on the best curl activators available in the market. While naturally curly hair can get dry easily, a curl activator helps balance the moisture, tame the frizz, and add bounce and shine back to your curls. It also rejuvenates and revitalizes your hair making it easier to detangle and style. If you are keen to know more about them but wondering where to start, we got you covered with the 11 best curl activators shortlisted and reviewed for you to choose from.

Top PicksCheck Price
Best Affordable:Cantu Shea Butter For Natural Hair Moisturizing Curl ActivatorPrice on Amazon
Best Non-Sticky Formula:AG Hair Care Re:coil Curl ActivatorPrice on Amazon
Best Anti-Frizz:Sofn’Free Curl Activator LotionPrice on Amazon
Best For Conditioning:SoftSheen-Carson Care Free Curl Curl ActivatorPrice on Amazon
Best For Split Ends:Lustrasilk Curl Max Curl Activator MoisturizerPrice on Amazon
Best For Instant Results:Worlds Of Curls Curl ActivatorPrice on Amazon
Best For Thick Hair:Urban Therapy Twisted Sista Curl Activator CremePrice on Amazon
Best For Detangling:Creme Of Nature With Argan Oil Curl Activator CremePrice on Amazon
Best For Breakage:Luster’s S-Curl “No Drip” Curl Activator MoisturizerPrice on Amazon
Best For Volumizing: Lottabody Coconut & Shea Oil Activate Me Curl ActivatorPrice on Amazon

11 Best Curl Activators To Check Out

1. Best Affordable:Cantu Shea Butter For Natural Hair Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream

4.4

Cantu Shea Butter Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream is the most affordable curl activator cream. It is formulated with shea butter that smoothens your hair and enhances its natural curl pattern. This curl activator cream activates frizz-free curls, increases volume, and imparts bounce to your amazing curls. It defines, moisturizes, and restores your soft and natural curls. This curl activator works to tackle dandruff and remove the excess oil on the scalp. Check this video to learn more about a reviewer’s experience of using this product.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Offers frizz control
  • Enhances the natural curl pattern
  • Increases volume
  • Adds definition
  • Moisturizes the hair
  • No mineral oil
  • Sulfate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • Leaves white residue

protip_icon Pro Tip
If you have curly hair, comb through your hair to distribute the product before scrunching up palmfuls of hair. But if you have wavy hair, do not comb it but simply smooth and scrunch it in sections.

2. Best Non-Sticky Formula:AG Hair Care Re:coil Curl Activator

4.4
AG Hair Care Re:coil Curl Activator Image: Ag Care

If you want your curls to remain intact, without any stickiness or stiffness, pick the AG Hair Care Recoil Curl Activator. It creates bouncy, springy, and pronounced curls. The curl cream is formulated with a curl-creating complex which is rich in amino acids and tomato extract. The bio-fermented tomato extract creates curls by shrinking the cuticles. The amino acids keep the hair hydrated while reducing frizz. This curl-forming formula also increases hair strength and elasticity while smoothing out the texture. Keratin and silk proteins promote hair growth and elasticity. NaPCA in this formula, provides intense natural moisturization. Reviewers on Amazon have praised this defining cream for its control in keeping the best bouncy-looking curls in place!

Pros

  • Bio-fermented ingredients
  • Non-sticky formula
  • Hydrating formula
  • Offers frizz control
  • Offers Intense moisturization
  • Increases hair strength

Cons

  • Strong odor

3. Best Anti-Frizz:Sofn’Free Curl Activator Lotion

4.2
Sofn’Free Curl Activator Lotion Image: Murphy's

Sofn’Free Curl Activator Lotion is the best curl enhancer for all hair types. It is enriched with glycerin for softness and sheen, vitamin E to promote healthy hair, and panthenol to condition and restore moisture. This 2-in-1 moisturizer and activator moisturize your hair for healthier and thicker curls. This curl-enhancing cream leaves your hair soft while maintaining its natural bounce. It forms and enhances soft curls and controls frizz. This curl activator is infused with a fresh botanical fragrance. Check out this YouTube video that details a tester’s experience of applying the product.

Pros

  • l Moisturizes the hair
  • l Controls frizz
  • l Imparts shine
  • l Fresh botanical fragrance
  • l Easy to apply
  • l Easy to use
  • l Suitable for all hair types

Cons

  • Poor quality
Cantu Shea Butter For Natural Hair Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream
Best Affordable
AG Hair Care Re:coil Curl Activator
Best Non-Sticky Formula
Sofn’Free Curl Activator Lotion
Best Anti-Frizz
Rating
Reviews22,192-2,002
Price$5.69$24$16.54

4. Best For Conditioning:SoftSheen-Carson Care Free Curl Curl Activator

4.3
SoftSheen-Carson Care Free Curl Activator, 16 fl oz Image: Softsheen-carson

SoftSheen-Carson Care Free Curl is the best curl activator for natural-looking styles and waves. This curl activator rejuvenates your curls. It locks the moisture in your strands without leaving your hair looking oily. The built-in conditioners maintain the proper moisture-oil balance necessary for soft, healthy, and moist curls. Reviewers on Amazon have lauded the formula for repairing split ends, revitalizing lip curls, and conditioning individual strands. SoftSheen-Carson Care Free is formulated to protect your hair from dryness and keep it curly.

Pros

  • Repairs split ends
  • Maintains moisture balance
  • Non-crunchy formula
  • Conditions the hair
  • Enhances the natural curl pattern
  • Revitalizes the curls
  • Suitable for all types of curls
  • Pleasant fragrance

Cons

  • Sticky formula

5. Best For Split Ends:Lustrasilk Curl Max Curl Activator Moisturizer

4.3
Lustrasilk Max Curl Activator Moisturizer, 20 Ounce Image: Lustrasilk

Lustrasilk Curl Max Curl Activator Moisturizer is the best conditioning and softening product for normal, thick, and coarse curls. It is infused with nourishing ingredients like argan oil that creates a silky soft texture while repairing split ends. This curl moisturizer hydrates your brittle locks and restores their elasticity. It controls frizz, prevents flyaways, and imparts bounce to curls. It gives a natural shape, control, and definition to your curls.

Pros

  • Revitalize the curls
  • Quick penetrating formula
  • Controls frizz
  • Prevents stubborn flyaways
  • Moisturizes the hair
  • Alcohol-free
  • Non-greasy
  • No build-up
  • Suitable for all types of curls

Cons

  • May make your hair dry and crunchy

protip_icon Pro Tip
Use a wide-teethed comb to brush your hair before shampooing. Never brush your wet curly hair after a wash, as it is more prone to breakage and damage.

6. Best For Instant Results:Worlds Of Curls Curl Activator

4.3
Worlds of Curls Curl Activator for Extra Dry Hair, 16 Ounce 1.01 Pound (Pack of 1) Image: Worlds Of Curls

Worlds Of Curls Curl Activator is the best split-end and damage repair hair care product for extra-dry curly hair. It prevents stubborn flyaways and frizz and adds shape, control, and definition to your curls. This curl activator works instantly, helps enhance texture, and is specially formulated to moisturize and condition your hair. It also promotes hair growth. This instant curl activator stimulates and locks your hair into lustrous curls. Worlds Of Curls Curl Activator leaves your hair tangle-free, soft, and curly with a healthy sheen. However, it is recommended to conduct a patch test before committing to this product for regular use.

Pros

  • Works instantly
  • Non-sticky
  • Moisturizes the hair
  • Prevents split ends
  • Minimizes breakage
  • Controls frizz
  • Provides curl definition
  • Suitable for extra-dry hair

Cons

None

7. Best For Thick Hair:Urban Therapy Twisted Sista Curl Activator Creme

4.4

Urban Therapy Twisted Sista Curl Activator Creme is a salon-inspired hair care product for complete curl hydration. It is infused with nourishing ingredients like avocado, coconut, and almond oils that deliver volume, bounce, and definition to your curls. Coconut oil imparts moisture, avocado oil strengthens the curls and controls frizz, and almond oil imparts shine. This curl-defining creme is perfect for thick curls. It provides soft to medium hold without making your hair sticky. Also, it breathes life into tired and saggy curls.

Pros

  • Controls frizz
  • Moisturizes the hair
  • Strengthens curls
  • Imparts shine
  • Adds curl definition
  • Adds volume
  • Suitable for thick hair

Cons

  • Unpleasant fragrance

8. Best For Detangling:Creme Of Nature With Argan Oil Curl Activator Creme

4.5
Creme Of Nature With Argan Oil Curl Activator Creme Image: Creme Of Nature
Now 53% Off

Creme Of Nature With Argan Oil Curl Activator Creme is a high-quality curl activator for natural hair. The creamy formula of this curl activator defines and smoothens your curls while leaving them springy. Some reviews on Amazon have mentioned how the product offers a soft and flexible hold to defined curls. This curl-defining creme controls frizz and rehydrates your hair to give you defined, bouncy, and healthy curls with an exotic shine.

Pros

  • Reduces frizz
  • Shine-boosting formula
  • Good for detangling the hair
  • Revives dry curls
  • Sulfate-free
  • Silicone-free
  • No mineral oil
  • No petrolatum

Cons

  • Thick formula
  • Difficult to use

9. Best For Breakage:Luster’s S-Curl “No Drip” Curl Activator Moisturizer

4.5
Luster's Image: Luster’s S-curl “no Drip” Curl Activator Moisturizer

Luster’s S-Curl “No Drip” Curl Activator is a great curl moisturizer. This coily curl activator is infused with vitamin B5 and glycerine that eliminate breakage and keep your curls soft with a healthy sheen. It is suitable for curly, wavy, natural, and textured tresses. This long-lasting hairspray is formulated with the special No Drip Formula that allows you to use it without fear of residue.

Pros

  • Reduces frizz
  • Eliminates breakage
  • Imparts long-lasting shine
  • Paraben-free
  • No mineral oil

Cons

  • Greasy formula

10. Best For Volumizing:Lottabody Coconut & Shea Oil Activate Me Curl Activator

4.4
Lottabody Coconut & Shea Oil Activate Me Curl Activator Image: Lottabody

Make your curls appear bouncy, springy and full-of-life with the Lottabody Coconut & Shea Oil Activate Me. This curl activator from the professional-grade brand Revlon Professional defines and refreshes your hair coils while offering body, volume, and structure to them. It keeps the curls moisturized and frizz-free while adding a healthy shine. The coconut and shea oils in this formula penetrate each pore and hair shaft, nourishing them and making them soft. Many reviewers on Amazon also adore this formula for its detangling properties. It prevents hair breakage and keeps the natural hydration of the hair intact. If you want to experience the best weightless curl revival, this is the product for you!

Pros

  • Offers volume
  • Revives curls
  • Frizz-free formula
  • Detangling formula
  • Sulfate-free
  • Silicone-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Petroleum-free

Cons

None

11. Best UV Protection:Marc Daniels ProfessionalEnhance Define Curls Curl Control Serum

3.8
Curl Control Serum - Curl Activator - Anti Frizz Control for Curly Hair - Enhance Define Curls & Wavy Hair. Restores Moisture, Body, Bounce & Shine by Marc Daniels Professional Image: Marc Daniels Professional

Marc Daniels Professional Enhance Define Curls Curl Control Serum is a great styling product for curly and wavy hair. It is infused with chamomile extract that hydrates and repairs dry, frizzy hair. This lightweight curl reactivator locks in moisture, leaving your curly hair soft, healthy, and manageable. The pro-vitamin B5 in it promotes scalp health and encourages hair growth. This ultra-rich curl control serum infuses moisture into your hair. It also strengthens and repairs each strand and goes deep into the hair cuticle to reduce frizz without weighing your hair down. The added UV protection agents protect your hair from UV rays and free radicals. Moreover, no animal testing has been conducted to determine the product’s effectiveness, making it an ideal choice for ethically conscious consumers.

Pros

  • Eliminates frizz
  • Hydrates the hair
  • Restores curl definition
  • Detangles the hair
  • UV protection
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Suitable for all hair types

Cons

None

Curl activators that offer restorative care are becoming increasingly popular, and there are a variety of options available on the market. If you are looking to add some waves to your hair, curl activators are a great way to do it. However, before you take the plunge and buy one, it is important to know what to look for. In this buying guide, you will learn the key points to note before purchasing a curl activator with proven efficacy in managing coily tresses.

What To Look For When Buying Curl Activators

  1. Moisturizing Properties: It is important to use a curl activator that moisturizes your hair. If it does not, then the curls may look dry and frizzy after you use it. Look for ingredients such as glycerin or panthenol, which will make your curls smooth and shiny. If you have loose curls, look for a product that defines and moisturizes the curls for a healthier appearance.
  2. Anti-frizz Benefits:It is important to look for a curl activator that helps control frizz in your hair. A good product will keep your hair frizz-free with regular use. Look for ingredients such as panthenol, which helps fight frizz. At the same time, it helps restore moisture in your hair, preventing your strands from drying out.
  3. Lightweight: Curl activators could weigh down your hair, make your tresses appear greasy or even worse. Look for a weightless product, so it will not leave your hair feeling heavy or weighed down. A lightweight activator will also ensure your hair looks shiny and healthy. It should not weigh down your hair, even if you have long, thick locks.
  4. Easy to apply: Using a curl activator should be easy and simple enough for anyone to do at home. We want to avoid products that are too difficult to manage, especially if you are a newbie. So look for products with easy-to-use instructions.

Infographic: 7 Tips And Tricks For Applying Curl Activator On Wet Hair

You can achieve bouncy and defined curls using a curl activator. But the secret to the longevity of these curls lies in knowing how to use it properly. Check out the infographic below to know more about the various points you should keep in mind before applying a curl activator on your tresses.

7 Tips And Tricks For Applying Curl Activator On Wet Hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

The Bottom Line

The best curls activators mentioned in this list allow you to keep your gorgeous curls well-defined and bouncy. They restore the shine and health of your tresses by absorbing excessive moisture and taming the frizz. The Cantu Shea Butter For Natural Hair Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream has moisturizing properties that create soft and defined curls, the AG Hair Care Re:coil Curl Activator’s lightweight formula provides defined curls and a natural-looking finish. The Lustrasilk Curl Max Curl Activator Moisturizer controls frizz, prevents flyaways, and repairs split ends. The products listed in this article add volume to your strands and leave them feeling soft and smooth. Some of them add moisture, and others repair split ends. However, some products might make your hair crunchy, and it is better to avoid such formulas.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

The author of this article, Oyendrila Kanjilal, has a keen interest in hair care. She loves to explore various hair care products and says that one should invest in the best hair care products for shiny and lustrous hair. The list of best curl activators is compiled by her after thorough research and after reading many customer reviews online. These curl activators are a great way to keep frizz dryness at bay and add a bouncy moisturized look to your tresses.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you use a curl activator?

Use a curl activator once or twice weekly.

Does curl activator grow hair?

Yes. Curl activators contain humectants that draw moisture into your hair and hydrate them. As a result, they increase hair growth and soften its texture.

Do you put a curl activator on wet hair?

Yes. Apply a curl activator on wet hair to lock the moisture, hold the curls better, and prevent frizz.

Can I use a curl activator on relaxed hair?

Yes. Use a curl activator on relaxed hair to enhance, define, and smoothen your natural curls.

Can I use a curl activator on straight hair?

No. Curl activators do not create curls or coils but enhance the existing ones. Therefore, using the product on straight hair is ineffective.

Will it be okay to bleach my hair if I have a curl activator in it?

Yes. Brush the hair properly after applying the curl activators, then bleach it to reduce the damage.

What is the difference between curl activators and curl enhancers?

Curl enhancers control frizz, enhance your waves, and hold the hairstyle. On the other hand, curl activators tame frizz, add shine and moisture to the curls, and soften your hair.


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