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Curl Cream vs Curl Lotion/ Serum: Which One is Right for Your Hair?

Also known as a "Filler product" - this is the curl product you use between your leave-in conditioner and sealer/gel. If you have curly hair, you know that finding the right products can make all the difference in achieving happy curls. For the middle step of your styling routine, there's 2 popular options - acurl cream and curl lotion / serum. But what's the difference between the two? In this post, we'll explore the good and the possible not-so-good of each and help you decide which one is best for your hair type and styling needs.

What's the difference between curl cream and curl lotion/serum?

Curl cream and curl lotion/serums are both designed to enhance and define curls, but they have different consistencies and benefits. Curl cream is typically thicker and heavier, providing more moisture and weight for drier, thicker hair that tends to frizz easily. Curl lotion/serum, on the other hand, is a lighter and more liquidy consistency, providing lightweight moisture, definition and flexibility for looser curls or those who are easily weighed down. It's important to consider your hair type (not just your curl type) and the results YOU enjoy.

What to consider when choosing between curl cream and curl lotion/serum.

When deciding between curl cream and curl lotion/serum, there are a few factors to take into account. First, think about your hair type and texture - are your strands thick or thin? Is your hair damaged and/dry? Do you have thin hair that often appears limp and/or oily and is easily weighed down? If you have dry curls or coils, super thick hair or don't enjoy lots of volume, a curl cream may be more suited as your filler. If you have looser curls or waves, hair that is weighed down easily or love volume, then a curl lotion/serum may give you more of the look you prefer.

Finally, consider any other hair products you may be using and how they will interact with the curl cream or lotion/serum eg - are you using a super rich leave in that already hydrates your hair enough meaning a lotion may be better than a cream?

Recommended products for different curl types and textures.

You probably get the point now, that when it comes to choosing the right product for your curls, it's important to consider your texture first and then your curl type.

For those with loose waves or fine hair, you'll be looking at our lightweight curl lotion or serum options. The most popular options with our TLC Curlies include:

  • Treluxe Reflex Serum - this is like liquid silk. Even on my dry, thirsty curls it brings everything together, provides amazing "slip" and leavs my hair super soft.

Jessicurl Rocking Ringlets Curl Styling lotion
  • Jessicurl Rocking Ringlets - perfect for those looking to really add definition and bounce. This is known to turn waves intocurls and curls into ringlets!

  • Innersense I Create Volume - Originally created as a volumising blow-dry lotion, ICV was quickly claimed by the curly world. It gives moisture, a soft hold and helps hair to expand for volume yet keep it's definition. This was my most used product on clients when I had the salon and it pairs beautifully with Orange Marmalade for those who want firmer hold or with the I Create Lift foam for those who want all out volume! Those with drier curls or thicker hair may enjoy a heavier curl cream to provide more moisture and weight. This can help keep definition and avoid fluffy frizz. Some of the most popular options with our TLC Curlies (including me with my extra dry, thirsty curls!) include:

  • EverEscents Universal Styling Cream - The cream that started my TLC journey! (no really, this product is pretty much the reason TLC exists today.- you can read about it here). It's super hydrating, moisturises my hair for days and a little goes a long way! I use maybe a 10c blob all up! This is great for that hair that expands as though each strand wants to be no where near it's neighbour.

  • Clever Curl Curl Cream - sister brand to EverEscents Organics, Clever Curl curl cream gives ample moisture and definition. It's become a top favourite for so many curlies. TOP TIP: - If you have a senstive scalp or are prone to itching/flaking, the fragrance free version would be best for you.

  • Flora & Curl Curl Activating Lotion - Flora & curl is a relatively new range to our shelves and I don't give this product the attention that it deserves. This is a botanically derived curl cream created to activate your curls, giving them shape, body and shine. This would be a great option for those who might feel they need an in-between of a cream vs lotion.

How to apply your curl cream and curl lotion/serum for best results.

For those with dry/thick curls needing a curl cream: I find applying your curl cream whilst still in the shower, on soaking wet hair, gives the best results. I like to flip my head upside down, take a small blob (approx 5c coin size) of cream, rub between my palms thoroughly and then apply using the prayer hands method. Smoothing my curls downwards, pressed between my palms. Add more product to your hands and work through as needed. Follow up with your favourite gel/ sealer then scrunch, scrunch, scrunch and dry using your preferred method. For those with finer/ more easily weighed down curls: Depending on your hair type, you may prefer to style on very wet hair or only damp hair. My theory is - the more dry and thirsty your hair is, the wetter you need to style on. For example - you have fine, thin curls however you bleach them often and they're quite dry. Styling on really wet hair, but using lighter weight products, can help to keep your hair hydrated and defined. Another curly has the same type of hair but has never coloured it, they may get better results by squeezing out some water with a curl towel before applying their lotion/serum. Take a small amount of your chosen product and rake it through your curls. Raking your lotion/serum through can help to define your curls while creating smaller curl clumps. Smaller curl clumps can give more volume once dry - it's not all about those big juicy clumps you see on instagram you know! You can then follow up with a firmer hold gel if you like max strength hold, or go in with a curl foam if you're looking for max volume. Still not sure what filler would suit you best? Pop a comment below and I'll get in touch to help you choose! *If you found this blog post helpful and enjoyed reading it, we would love if you could let us know! Either pop a comment below, share with your curlfriends or simply leave a little heart. Please feel free to let me know what curly hair topics you'd like to see covered as well!


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