Finding a good, inexpensive hair gel that doesn't dry out my hair or make it crunchy has been a continual struggle for me. I had been using Ulta's brand for a while, but I found out they discontinued it the last time I went to the store and I was forced to pick something else, much to my dismay. I eventually went with Garnier Fructis' Pure Clean Styling Gel because the words '99.9 percent all natural' piqued my interest as I'm all for products that try to stay away from harmful chemicals.
I was hesitant at first because the bottle was marked extra strong and those are usually the types that leave my hair a crunchy, dried-noodle feeling mess. However, I was surprised to find out it wasn't very strong at all. In fact, it's a little too pure, as some parts of my hair feel as if they don't have any product in it at all. The areas that are gel-less feel smooth, but unfortunately it then does nothing to control the frizz or create curl definition and I'm left with a puffy, frizzy mess.
By the second or third time I used it, I noticed something else that seemed a little odd: while some of the areas got no gel like I described above, other areas were completely stiff. It was hard to get my fingers through and by the time I finally did, the curls were long gone and replaced with a tangled mess. I noticed this happens mainly in the under part of my head near my scalp, which is the area where I start putting the gel in, even though I painstakingly comb it through my hair with my fingers to ensure I'm applying it evenly.
Another factor I'm not too crazy about is the feel of the gel itself. I'm assuming since it is almost one hundred percent natural that it is primarily water-based, but it has a slippery feel to it and I always grimace after squirting it in my hands and having to rub it between my palms to distribute.
One pro I do have to mention is that the scent is refreshing and is not an overpowering fragrance thanks to the absence of damaging chemicals. The extra strong hold factor, however, is misleading when put to the test; I work in an office where I'm never directly in the sun or heat, yet my hair has wilted by the end of the day and much of the curl I started with is gone. I now hate running errands after work because I'm not pleased with how my hair looks when 4pm rolls around.
If you're looking for something inexpensive that tames just the frizz but won't give much curl definition, this gel might work for you. It runs about eight dollars in your local grocery store and won't dry out your hair. However, if you're looking for something to keep your hair shiny, soft, and hold curl, I would recommend forking out a bit more for something a little bit more substantial.
What's your favorite gel and why? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org... I'm always looking for new products to sample and review!