In my search for the perfect styler, I’ve tried mousses, gels, creams, even plain old oils (and every combination of quartet). I’ve settled on gels as just the right formula for me. My 3C curls are fine, and gels don’t weigh them down but still define the ringlets. I’ve mostly been a Kinky-Curly Curling Custard devotee but have come across some new gels lately and decided to compare and contrast.

First up, Duafe Hair Slicker, an aloe vera gel enriched with jojoba, almond and grapeseed oils. Grade: A- It’s light, almost fluffy and not at all sticky. The gel distributed evenly throughout my curls and helped me remove some of the most stubborn knots while finger styling. Two hours of air drying later and my hair was shiny, springy and fresher than ever. The texture felt soft and light—no crunchy curls. The only negative was that this gel didn’t do much to stretch or hold my curls. Unlike the next gel I tried…

Beautiful Textures Curl Definer Custard, a gel-meets-mousse formula with an aloe vera gel base. Grade: B. I quickly fell in love with this curl definer because it did just that—elongated and held my ringlets. No crunch and the scent is delightfully fruity, but not overwhelming. The texture was an interesting jelly consistency, like Jell-O removed from the fridge about an hour too soon. When rubbed between your hands, the jelly seemed to turn into a light mousse and glided easily into curls. The drawback on Beautiful Textures was it dried white when I applied it to my second-day hair, hence, the B. Otherwise, the light, fluffy gel received a thumbs up. When I re-wet my hair the whiteness disappeared so perhaps I’d oversaturated it with product? Was the flakiness user error? Perhaps.

Kinky Curly Curling Custard, my long-time favorite, all-natural styling gel. Grade: B+. The formula has amazing hold, but does leave my hair slightly ramen noodle-y after drying. The crunch is easily eliminated post-dry, if I tug and shake my girls a bit. The result is shiny, manageable locks that stay frizz-free for up to three days. 

I’ve found that finding the right products is somewhat like dating. I wish I could take all the best elements from each product and combine them into one (alas, in stylers as in men, no one is perfect). I have this strange idea that using the same product on my hair for too long results in build-up or some type of resistence (like the body to antibiotics)—a completely unscientific theory. But because of that, I’ll probably keep all three gels in rotation—with a slight preference to Beautiful Textures for its immediately elongating results.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these stylers?