Desert Essence curly girl approved hair care products
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Desert Essence sent me hair care products to review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve been using the curly girl method on my hair for about 16 months now. My whole life I had assumed my hair was straight but I was brushing it straight out of the shower and wondering why it was often poofy and frizzy. After learning natural curly hair care methods from the curly girl method I found that my hair is primarily wavy with some “true” curls (meaning full 360 degree spin ringlets). However, I had still struggled with finding the best products to use on my hair so I had my hair porosity and other aspects of my hair microscopically analyzed which you may remember from my My Mane Bio review.

One of the more important aspects of feedback from that testing showed that my hair was lacking protein. It recommended that I either add a daily hair styler that included protein or use a weekly mask that has protein. I came across Desert Essence and learned that most (though not all) of their hair care line is curly girl approved and include protein. I was sent Desert Essence Soft Curls Cream, Desert Essence anti-breakage hair mask and desert essence coconut shine & refine hair lotion. All of these are “curly girl approved” based on their ingredients. They all include protein as well.

Desert essence hair lotion

I’ll start with my least-favorite. I didn’t find much use for the Coconut Shine & Refine Hair Lotion. It is said to be good for taming frizz. I tried using it while my hair was still wet, and after my hair was dry to tame frizz and like most products I’ve tried specifically for frizz, it helped at first but my hair slowly went back to looking frizzy over the course of the day. I tried it in a dime-sized amount as the bottle suggests, and I tried using a lot more than that because I often find that my hair is so thick it requires a lot more than recommended of hair care products in general. Addin a lot of it made my hair feel weighed down. I think it may be a bit too heavy for my hair.

Desert Essence soft curls cream

I think my favorite product is the Desert Essence soft curls cream. I had tried a variety of curl creams with hopes of finding curl enhancement and/or hold (meaning to replace gel) but I found that most curl creams just weigh my hair down so not enhancing my curls, and they’ve never had anywhere near enough hold to give me curl definition either. I tried using this cream as directed (about a dime size amount) at first and noticed nothing. So the next time I washed my hair I used as much as felt ‘right’ to me, enough where I could feel it slightly across most of my head – roughly a walnut amount. This resulted in defined, (mostly) soft curls! I did ‘scrunch’ some areas to soften the hold but I had never found curl definition or hold without a gel before so this was exciting for me. This only gives me one day of hair, if I pineapple my hair, it will have fallen flat the next day which is a bummer for me as I try to only wash my hair about every third day. However, I also found that this allows my hair to dry much faster than when I use gel. So while I typically want 3 days worth of hold out of a product and this doesn’t meet that standard, it is something I would use when I need nice-looking hair and only have a small amount of time to do my hair. I think it cuts 20-30 minutes off of my drying time. I also found that it’s nice to use for refreshing. Sometimes even with gel, I will get a frizz, flyaways, or my curls will get flattened or stretched out. Adding a little (quarter size amount, maybe) to my entire head and scrunching, allowing it to dry will refresh my curls. Prior to this product I had never found an ‘easy’ refreshing product, I had only been able to add a lot of water (Basically re-saturate my entire head!) with water and dry it again in order to refresh my curls before.

I did want to point out one area of improvement I’d like to see. I think the bottle tops used for the lotion and soft curl cream are not well made for squeezing product out. When I first opened both, they squirted out teeny-tiny streaks of product – they would squirt out a line of cream smaller than the tip of a pen. I had to squeeze the bottles extremely hard to get much product out at all. I assume this design is to help people get the dime size amount recommended, but even getting a dime sized amount requires a lot of effort and in my case, I want to use more tha is recommended. After a while, the seal broke a bit so now it comes out a bit thicker, but they still require a ton of force to squeeze the bottles where it hurts and shakes from squeezing so hard! I think these bottles would be unusable for people with arthritis in their hands or similar issues. I’d love to see the bottles redesigned to allow for an easier flow or to not require such a hard squeeze. The mask of hair tube was easy to use though.


Desert Essence anti-breakage hair mask

I try to deep condition my hair about once a week. I do so by washing my hair and then letting a deep conditioner sit on my hair for about half an hour before rinsing it out.  That’s how I used the Anti-breakage hair mask for review. I was a little surprised at the smell of this product, it had a smell sort of like what I’ve noticed from hair dying kits in the past, but not as strongly. Thankfully, the scent didn’t hang around after I had finished using it. I felt like my hair felt strong and moisturized after using this product. It didn’t stand out to me as very unique from other hair masks or deep conditioners that I’ve tried in the past, but I think sometimes it’s hard to tell from a couple of uses what benefits a product may have long term.

Which brings me to an important point. I tried taking before and after photos before and after using each of these three products individually. I was surprised to find that the curl cream gave me nice-looking results when used instead of a gel, but the other products, I didn’t see any surprising results at first. However, I’ve been using the hair mask weekly and the curl cream as a refreshing product probably once a week for about 6 weeks now. I’ve definitely noticed that my waves/curls are tighter recently. I can’t say for sure if this is the result of these products but I have to think that it is the benefit of the added protein in my routine. Here is a photo from a couple of months ago on a god hair day:

Before desert essence

Here is a recent photo of my hair:

Before desert essence

I’ve always had a curlier side and a flatter side, with most of my better curls falling on the side of my hair with my bang. However, my curls appear to start “higher” on my head and this is because they are tighter. I definitely think that My Mane Bio was correct, my hair needed a bit more protein in my routine and I think Desert Essence has given my hair what it needed.

Curly girl method after protein

I find their products to be reasonably priced. My area doesn’t have these readily available, but they can be found online pretty easily. For example, the Soft Curl Cream is about $9 on Amazon. I will definitely be purchasing more Soft Curls Cream once mine runs out! With it working well to refresh my curls, and being able to give me quick curls when I don’t have time to diffuse for over an hour, it offers benefits that I haven’t found in any other product.


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This post currently has 6 responses.

  • Lauryn R

    These sound like great hair products for curly hair! I bet they smell amazing too, I love the smell of coconut! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  • ellen beck

    You do look curlier on the after photo. I think if I used these products I would end up unscrewing the top to use it it does sound a bit tough! Maybe the design is as you say to control use? I think my hair would benefit from protein also, I am a frizzy mess some days.

    • I do think the top was designed to control how much comes out, it just works too well, haha. I might try unscrewing the entire lid but I would be afraid that it might come out too thick then. It’s a thicker product (similar to a thick hair conditioner in consistency). I suppose that texture issue may be why the brand had a hard time finding the right bottle & top for it.

  • Peggy Nunn

    You seem to have found what is just right for you. I love your hair. The style is just right for you.

  • Alice F

    I also have curly hair. Sometimes my hair is uncontrollable and I want to scream with frustration. This looks like a good line of products for me to try.

  • Dana Rodriguez

    You have really pretty hair. I have never used this particular Desert Essence product because my hair is very straight and fine however I have used their skin care and love it.

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