The Best Affordable Curly Girl Method Products

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

Can you believe it was almost a year ago that I tried out this whole Curly Girl thing?! Truth be told I was really into it for like 4-5 months and then I felt that my pregnancy was affecting my hair again.

It felt so blah and lifeless! I don’t know if there is any science to that but even before the Curly Girl Method I remember thinking my other pregnancies wrecked my waves.

I didn’t give up on this method though…I am still using only approved products and I am experimenting a little bit with styling techniques when I have time.

Using Curly Girl Method approved products is key in getting your hair to a healthy state where your curls or waves can be their best. That being said, it is so hard not to jump at every miraculous product some curly girl recommends on Instagram.

And a ton of them are not cheap.

I try to be budget conscious so I have yet to buy anything nicer than just drug store products. I also refrain from having 5 half empty gels and make myself use everything up before buying more. I am proof you do not have to go broke trying this method out 🙂

Here are my favorite drug store products that meet the Curly Girl Method ingredient guidelines AND work well on my hair.

Not Your Mothers Curl Talk Conditioner 3-In-1

I like that this can be used as a co-wash, conditioner, or leave in conditioner. It has great slip and I use it while I detangle with my in-shower comb and then sometimes add a little more as a leave in conditioner. I love that it is a pump style bottle. It’s not my favorite as a co-wash because I have started shampoo-ing more with the next product!

Cantu Cleansing Cream Shampoo

I don’t always shampoo. When I first started the Curly Girl Method I actually did not shampoo at all, I just co-washed. Here lately I would say I shampoo every 3rd wash day. I’m not sure why I made this change because my hair adapted quickly to not needing a sulfate shampoo wash, but I like this product and especially like the price tag.

Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-Wash

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This is a great co-wash at another great price. Cantu is the best when it comes to budget friendly! Be careful when getting comfortable with a brand, though. I wrongly assumed all Cantu was Curly Girl Method friendly and that’s not the case. I was actually using a no-no conditioner of theirs at first. Whoops!

Aussie Instant Freeze Gel

A gel that gives a good hard crunchy cast that you can scrunch out is your friend! This is that gel. It’s inexpensive and awesome. It’s worth noting that sometimes you may find it in a clear bottle and sometimes all purple. I noticed a mild panic in the curly Instagram community and thankfully some people researched and tested it out. There has been a change in the packaging and the ORDER of ingredients but not the ingredients themselves. This is serious stuff in Curly Girl world 🙂

Cantu Curl Activator Cream

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Another Cantu, my favorite lately! Some stores have this brand set aside in another area that may even say “ethnic hair” or mean that it’s intended for African American hair. But, even the back of this Cantu bottle lists “wavy hair” (that’s me!) so I think it’s a versatile product that would work well on many hair types. I use a dime sized amount on very wet hair right after showering and love the results. If I use more of a leave-in conditioner like the first product on this list I may skip this cream so I don’t weigh down my hair.

Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse

Typically my styling starts with a leave in or cream, then onto a mousse, then finishes with a gel. Sometimes I skip the mousse but my hair looks so much better when I use it. This is the only Curly Girl approved mousse I have liked so far. I actually love it. And it’s cheap! Another warning about trusting a brand…their “totally twisted” shampoo and conditioner is NOT Curly Girl friendly.

Not Your Mother’s Curl Defining Conditioner

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This is the first conditioner I ever used when I started the Curly Girl Method and I am about to rotate back to it. The Tahitian Gardenia or pink bottle line also has a (curly girl method approved) shampoo and curl cream I plan to try!

Those are my go-to drug store products for great results without breaking the bank! Not listed but also in my hair arsenal are a clarifying shampoo and an oil.

I have been clarifying on the cheap about once a month with just apple cider vinegar from my kitchen!
My oil is not drug store or cheap so I didn’t include it. I already had it from years ago and it’s this travel size Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil (when I looked up the full size price I was shocked). Good thing I only use a teeny tiny bit when scrunching out the crunch so I don’t make frizz.

What are your favorite drug store products for curly/wavy hair?

P.S. – I do not have the banned chemicals memorized by any means. I use Curl Scan to check to see what is approved! This is super handy when I’m standing in the hair aisle wondering about a product.

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