When you follow the curly girl method, many things improve. Your curls are more defined, you have less frizz and generally feel more confident about your hair. If it wasn’t for the biggest challenge: finding curly girl approved products… Because I’ve been there and because I know how much work it can be to find the right products to use, I’ve made this list of 7 curly girl-approved gels for you! 

Related: Your complete guide to the curly girl method

Related: 10 curly girl approved conditioners

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

1. Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel*

Image of a container of 'Aunt Jackie's Flaxseed curl gel'

Aunt Jackie’s “don’t shrink” gel* is my holy grail of curly hair gels! Seriously! I could write a love song about it!

(Which I am going to do now. This list used to be a list of 7, but now that I’ve discovered this gem, it needs to be on here, and in the first spot!)

Not only is this hair gel free of drying alcohols, silicones, or any other not curly girl-approved ingredients, it also is the only hair gel I’ve used so far that gives my curls shape and shine WITHOUT feeling like hair gel!

I use it in wet hair, directly after washing. Once everything’s completely dry, I scrunch out any leftover “hardness”. And then I have super soft and shiny hair.

Sigh. I love it so much!

Image of my hair after using Aunt Jackie's curly girl approved hair gel, it is shiny and the curls are well defined.
Just tried to snap a quick picture of some of my hair after using the hair gel. I know, the picture is bad, but can you see that shine? (I’ll update the picture once I’ve gotten a better one.)

If you are like me and don’t like your hair feeling too stiff or “sticky” after using gel, give this one a try.

You can get Aunt Jackie’s curling gel here*!

2. The dippity-do Girls With Curls Gelée*

The dippity-do Girls With Curls Gelée* deserves the first points for having such a cute name. But it doesn’t only shine when it comes to branding.

This gel is absolutely curly girl-approved: No silicones, parabens, mineral oils or drying alcohols.

It does contain some proteins. Proteins are amazing for many people with damaged hair. But for others, it could be too much.

So if you notice your hair being somehow “stiff”  and getting drier after using this gel, you might be suffering from “protein overload” or your hair might be generally protein sensitive.

However, this product only lists one protein, so the total amount is likely not an issue.

It also contains humectants. Those things are awesome for helping your hair with moisture balance. Unless you are in a hot and dry place, where humectants can actually dry your hair out more!

In conclusion, this is a pretty neat product for any time but your beach vacation.

(For protecting your hair at the beach, check these tips out instead!)

You can buy this Curly girl-approved gel here*!

3. Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Frizz Control Sculpting Gel*

Image of a white and purple tub of Not your mother's curl talk frizz gel

This curly girl-approved hair gel* is perfect for you if you are struggling with frizz.

It will help you define your curls without weighing them down. It also contains a protein, so again, watch out for your hair getting dry after using it.

You can buy the Not Your Mother’s Frizz Control Gel here*!

4. Om Botanical Conditioner and Styling Gel*

This hair care product by Om Botanical* functions as both a conditioner and as a styling gel. 

Honestly, there are no ingredients here you need to worry about. No humectants, no sulfates, no parabens, no silicones, no alcohol.

Instead, the formula focuses on various Ayurvedic herbs, aloe vera, and various oils. While this is great for your hair health, it will also mean that you’ll get a rather soft styling effect.

Related: 8 ways to use Aloe vera gel for hair

If you are looking for a super-strong hold, this might not be your perfect product. But if you love your curls soft and bouncy, try it! In the worst case, you have still gotten an amazing conditioner!

You can buy the Om Botanical hair gel & conditioner here*!

5. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Conditioning Shine Gel*

Image of a tube of Shea Moisture Shine gel

Shea Moisture is well-known for producing lots of curly girl-approved products. This conditioning gel is no exception.

It will be perfect for you if you are looking for a light-textured hair gel, but not so much if you want a strong hold.

Get the Shea Moisture Conditioning Gel here*!

6. Shea Moisture Max Hold Gel*

Image of a container with Shea Moisture Max Hold Gel

The Shea Moisture Max Hold Gel* does exactly what the name promises: it gives you max hold!

As with all strong things, it’s easy to go overboard with it though. So make sure to only use very small amounts, or you’ll see flakes!

With its strong hold, this gel can not only function as a curl styler, but you can also use it on your babyhairs and flyaways.

It does contain a couple of humectants, so don’t use it in hot and dry environments. But other than that, the ingredients are all curly-girl approved and you can use this hair gel without worry!

Get the Shea Moisture Max Hold hair gel here*!

7. MopTop Curly Hair Mustard Gel*

Image of a green MopTop Curly Hair Gel container

The MopTop Curly Hair Mustard Gel* is another perfectly Curly girl-approved gel without any of the ingredients you want to avoid for shiny, defined curls.

It contains several moisturizing ingredients together with some leaf extracts and oils, which will give you the styling effect.

If you use it in wet hair, it will leave a cast, which you’ll need to scrunch out. After that, you’ll be able to enjoy soft, well-defined curls!

You can buy the MopTop Curly Hair Custard here*!

8. Kinky Curly Original Curling Custard*

Image of a container of Kinky Curly Curling Custard

The Kinky Curly Curling Custard* is one of the most well-known curly girl-approved hair gels for kinky hair.

Related: Your ultimate guide to the 4 hair types

And, of course, it contains no parabens, sulfates, silicones, mineral oil, or other not curly girl-approved chemicals.

Fans of this curl custard praise it for its frizz-preventing and curl-enhancing abilities. 

You can buy the Kinky Curly Curling Custard here*!

Make your own DIY hair gel

homemade hair gel in a glass

Of course, you can also simply make your own hair gel at home. All you need are water, linseed, and some patience.

I explain the exact steps for making your own homemade hair gel (without gelatin) here!

Got any more curly girl-approved gels?

To make sure everyone can get these products, I focused on curly girl-approved gels you can easily get online. If you know of any good ones you’ve tested and loved, let me know and I’ll add them to this list!

And as usual, pin this to your hair care Pinterest board!

Struggling to find curly girl-approved gel? I got you! These 7 hair gels are free of silicones, mineral oils, drying alcohols and all these other chemicals. And they are perfectly curly girl method approved products!

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.