Drugstore Products That Work & Don't Work For Summer Curls

How Taliah Waajid Drugstore Beauty Stands Up Against The Salon Brands

 Photo: Taliah Waajid


Summer brings out the worst challenges for all hair types, often creating a necessary upgrade or maybe even a complete re-haul one’s daily haircare routine.

This is probably even more true for curly hair. I’ve committed to a quite a few salon brand products that, until now, have been satisfying my hair needs. However through extreme heat and humidity they’ve let me down, leaving me with frizzy, dry hair. To end these hair woes I decided to go in a new direction.

I tried Taliah Waajid’s Curly Curl Cream, Curl Gello and Nutrient Rich Shine Butter to tackle summer curl shrinkage, lack of definition and diminished shine. Here’s what worked and what didn’t.

(A little caveat: I didn’t try any of the shampoos or conditioners. I used my go-to Deva Curl Decadence Ultra Moisturizing Milk Cleanser and Conditioner.)

Keep clicking for all the tea on these affordable beauty buys! 

The Good

Taliah-Waajid-Curly-Curl-CreamTaliah Waajid Curly Curl Cream, $11, naturalhair.org

Taliah Waajid’s Curly Curl Cream is a “non-greasy cream that easily shampoos out with no build up, helps to define curls and eliminate frizz, condition and nourishes hair by providing moisture and shine”, according to the brand. It can be used on wet or dry hair and styles like spiral sets, two stand twists and braid outs. I used it on wet hair the day after wash day. I wet my hair in the shower and added a bit of leave in conditioner before applying the curl cream with my hands before letting my hair air dry. I have to say it worked really well! 

I can honestly say in terms of appearance it gave me just as good results as salon brands. This cream gave great definition, even in some of more challenging, excessively dry areas around the hairline. It had a pleasant but strong sweet scent that dissipates as it dries. The greatest success of this curl cream is it definitely kept curl shrinkage at bay. I didn’t lose any length in my curls as they dried even with a hot subway commute! There was no need to check in and stretch and pull my curls to elongate them throughout the day.

The one drawback is my hair felt a little dry. It had that crunch, straw feel in some places. I added a little oil to add softness once it was dry which worked but made me question if there was a drying quality to the product. I checked the ingredients and there was nothing distressing like alcohol or sulfates. It’s definitely not a deal breaker by any means, just not something I  haven’t experienced with my salon grade curl cream or even those like Shea Moisture.

Head to the next page to see what I thought of this line’s curl gel.

The Not So Good

Taliah Waajid Curly Curl Gello, $10, naturalhair.org

The Curly Curl Gello is a conditioning hydrating gel that’s supposed to cover everything – definition, frizz, shine, shape and seal for any hair type all without crunch or flake. The latter I can definitely attest to, there was no crunch or flake with this cloudy serum not-quite-gel product. I wanted to like it but it did nothing for my hair, not even hold.

Once I applied the gello after the curl cream, my curls looked dry and undefined. I tried the product on another day without any curl cream in case the two products didn’t work well together and the results were worse. My curls shrunk to above my ears.

Ultimately it was just too light and the cloudy texture to the styler affected how it looked in my hair. The “gello” never really absorbed, instead it sat on top leaving a thin white layer over my curls. I had to use extra water to really work it in. I’ve tried other alcohol free gels and had similar lack luster effects but I usually get some shine or shaping out of it. Perhaps it is better suited for another hair texture.

Click to see what product I absolutely loved and totally recommend.

The Stand Out

Taliah Waajid Nutrient Rich Shine Butter, $15, naturalhair.org

Waajid’s Nutrient Rich Shine Butter is formulated to target dryness for both hair and skin. I didn’t try it on my skin but the wow factor for this is right in the name. The shine this product gave my hair is unprecedented. The priciest of the bunch I’d have to say it’s worth it. I have never been able to achieve a super shiny look without losing volume or having to do a set under the dryer. I used this butter as the last step after using a curl cream and it left my hair sparkling. I’d use it everyday!

A few things to know before you try it is the texture is different. It’s kind of gooey with exfoliating beads in it as it for both hair and skin. The beads don’t absorb very easily. I definitely saw one or two on my scalp that I didn’t work in. For me it helped to apply to my hair while it was still damp. The waxy texture makes it hard to get all over too. You have to treat it almost like a wax, rubbing as instructed allover the palm of the hands and then applying. Luckily it’s not greasy so there’s no mess or gunky build up. It goes on smooth once you get used to it. It has a similar candy like scent as the Curly Curl Cream chewy sweet tart but doesn’t linger too long.

Taliah Waajid’s curl cream and shine butter are worth buying. The shine and curl definition is on par with more expensive brands and priced under $20 they give great bang for your buck. Bonus is availability. You can find these styling products just about anywhere. The gello however is best left on the shelf.

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