Are curly hair styling products different?

Nanda Has Curly Curiosity… Hi there! Thanks for your great work on your blog. I have thick curly hair, and it seems the only thing that reliably defines my frizzy curls is a little known product called Dudley’s Fantastic Body Texturizing Setting Lotion. It’s fairly inexpensive, since my hairdresser has me mix it with water before spraying it on my head. It’s water-based, and so unlike gels and creams, it doesn’t build up at all. Also, I keep hearing raves about another product that sounds very similar, called Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper. Could you help me determine if they’re as similar as they sound?

The Right Brain Chemically Corresponds:

Nanda, the products that you’re considering are quite different based on the ingredient lists. Let’s take a look:

Dudley’s Fantastic Body Setting Lotion:

Deionized Water, Polyquaternium-11, PEG-75, Lanolin, Polysorbate-60, Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance, FD & C Blue No.1.

Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper:

Deionized Water, PVP/VA Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Laureth 23, Glycerin, DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Polyquaternium 10.

The key active ingredient in Dudley’s is Polyquaternium-11. A conditioning ingredient used in many mousses. It will make your hair soft and help defrizz curls.

Curly Hair Solutions, on the other hand, contains PVP/VA copolymer which is a pretty powerful film former. This product also has the ability to shape your curls but it will leave a crispy feeling styling crust, more like a gel or hairspray.

Both products could keep your curls controlled; it depends on the type of feel you like. If you like a very soft feel, stick with Dudley’s. If you want a firmer feel, go for Curly. But in neither case should you be diluting them with water. By adding water you could inactivate the antimicrobial control agents in the formula leaving the product open to bacteria growth which is not a good thing. If you’re on budget shop around for the least expensive product, but you really shouldn’t take cut corners by taking chances with bacterial contamination.

And thanks to Beth Robinson at for the image. We LOVE her creepy custom made dolls!

Do you have problems with curly hair? What solutions have you found? Leave a comment to help the other curly-haired brains.