Followers of the Curly girl method know all about heavy, thick leave-in conditioners. Mostly marketed to people with coily hair, of course. But recently, water based products have made a big splash (see what I did there?) for all curl types as well as wavy hair.

Yes, we do need lots of care and moisture, but maybe we don’t want to deal with product build-up all the time. And, as it turns out, water-based products can help just as much – or even more – with enforcing our natural curl pattern without weighing it down!

What is a water based hair product?

When it comes to hair products, water based simply means that water, or another “watery” ingredient like Aloe Vera or tea are the “base” of the product. You can easily distinguish them from oil based products by the texture.

A transparent, water based hair gel

A shea butter based curl cream will be thick and heavy while water-based products will be rather liquid or slightly slimy. Doesn’t sound so great, but it is!

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.

How do you know if a product is water based?

So if you want to make sure if your product is water based or not, you can, first of all, check the ingredients list. If water appears right at the beginning, that probably means it’s one of the key ingredients. You know, because ingredients are usually listed in order of predominance.

An ingredient list of a hair care product, water being the first ingredient

If it instead says Aloe Vera, any tea, juice or some other watery things as the main ingredient, it also works.

Related: 8 ways to use Aloe vera gel for hair

Secondly, if you have the possibility, check out the consistency. Does it seem like a really lightweight formula? Then it’s, in all likeliness, a water based product.

If both of these things are true, you found one of the right products.

Water-based curly hair products for low porosity hair

The general agreement is that water based products for especially well for low porosity hair. People with this type of hair porosity often struggle with product buildup. This is due to their hair cuticle being not very porous and products sitting “on top” of the hair, rather than penetrating it.

So going for lightweight, water-based products and using them on wet hair, when the hair shaft is able to absorb more product can really help.

Related: The best low porosity hair products

Still, this doesn’t mean high porosity hair won’t benefit from water-based products. Especially when you don’t even need a strong hold, your hair might feel much softer and lightweight.

I recommend at least trying out some of the following items. They are some of the most popular and best products on the market!

Water-based shampoo & conditioner

One of the biggest challenges for rather fine curls is finding hair care products that won’t weigh down all of their texture.

Well, “Not your mother’s” weightless hydration shampoo and conditioner offer just that!

And even for thicker hair textures, this is one of the best curly girl products to try out if you’re new to trying water-based products and still hesitate to give up all those natural oils in your styling products!

Get the set here!*

Water-based leave in conditioner

Can’t we all agree that the best leave-in conditioner is one that doesn’t leave our hair sticky while at the same time providing some frizz control and quenching dry hair?

Well, this one can do it all!

Without doubt, the Kinky Curly Knot Today conditioner is probably one of THE holy grail products for curly hair. It makes detangling super easy, works for every curly hair type, and you don’t need to use a lot to make it work.

And, it’s one of the best water-based leave-in treatments you’ll find.

Order it here!*

Related: What’s the best leave-in conditioner for a beach vacation?

Water based hair gel

For water based hair gels, I want to show you two amazing products.

Kinky-Curly Original Curling Custard

The first, again, is by black-owned company Kinky-Curly. They REALLY know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to natural hair.

So if you’re looking for amazing curl definition without excessive heat styling, trying this gel is the first step.

By the way, this gel works perfectly well together with the Knot-Today conditioner (above).

It’s also really helpful for controlling frizzy hair, if you’re struggling with that.

Get it here!*

Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Curling Gel

Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Curling Gel is my favorite gel for curly hair of all time! (I’ve already raved about it in my list of curly girl approved hair gels…)

It certainly doesn’t give you the strongest hold ever, it actually offers a rather light hold – but you won’t miss it. The gel leaves your hair super well moisturised and bouncy without making it feel sticky or tacky.

Just make sure to use it on wet hair, and let it dry completely before crunching out the cast. You’ll get super shiny hair and healthy curls! For me, this is one of the best moisturizers for hair I’ve found so far.

Order Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink gel here!*

Hope you’ll love these water-based curly hair products!

Make sure to save this list and to try out all the products. If this was helpful, I’d be really grateful for any shares. Thank you and have an amazing day!

"The best water based curly hair products for healthy curls" written below an image of a woman with beautiful curls and above a smudge of hair gel

*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.