Of course, Ouidad is the queen of curly hair. I've actually gotten her patented "carve and slice" cut twice, and it's undoubtedly the best cut I've ever had. (Then I faced the reality that I couldn't keep flying to Ft. Lauderdale and shelling out three figures for a haircut, so I found a good curly stylist here in Memphis.) Ouidad's products are wonderful too. I used the Climate Control gel and the Botanical Boost conditioning spray for a long time, and they're now available at Sephora, which makes them much easier to get. Still, they're pretty expensive. So when my last bottle of the gel ran out, I tried this instead...
After hearing about Biosilk for years, I snatched up a bottle of their Glazing Gel from the deep clearance section at Kroger (I am not ashamed of this :)). It's a worthy replacement for the Climate Control - really helps with curl formation without too much crunch, and smells great! I only use it on fresh hair, to establish a good anti-frizz "base," so one bottle is lasting me a long time.
Tresemme Bouncing Curls has been my "everyday" gel for several years now. Like the Biosilk, it holds pretty well without major buildup or gunkiness. I've tried most moderately-priced gels currently on the market, and this is consistently the best for me.
Believe it or not, I have to use a finishing spray gel too. I'd used the Pantene spray gel since college, through all its incarnations, but the most recent revamp seems to have eliminated it completely. So I'm currently test-driving Herbal Essences and liking it a lot. It's in a teal bottle.
On the conditioning side, my current love is Marc Anthony Strictly Curls lotion. I get it at Ulta, but I think it's also available at Walgreens. Just a small amount on clean hair makes my curls silky and consistent. Plus I can entertain myself by imagining the other Marc Anthony (i.e. Mr. J.Lo) acting all Vidal Sassoon.
Finally, my friend Laura told me about this Organix Coconut Milk shampoo and conditioner, and I'm about to finish off my second bottles. It's moisturizing, natural, and smells so good that you'll want a pina colada or coconut cream pie immediately.
Straight-haired readers, just take this post as a thankfulness reminder for all the money and time you save. :)