While perms and relaxers may never go fully out of style, the truth is that more and more women are choosing to forego harsh chemicals and rock their natural hair texture instead. And here at The Wanderlust Project, we’re all for it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the world of hairstyling is closed off to you, and whether you prefer a simple scrunch or a full wet set, you’ll need a good setting lotion. So we’ve compiled this list of the ultimate best setting lotions for natural hair.
This collection of lotions, mousses, and custards are sure to keep your curls sleek and bouncy, without any of the dreaded frizz or crunch.
Read on to learn all about our top picks!
Best Setting Lotion For Natural Hair Reviewed
1. Lottabody Setting Lotion
This setting lotion is a cult classic in the truest sense of the word. It’s been around for years, and generations of women swear by it. You may have seen your mother use it, and your grandmother before her.
Why? First and foremost, this product has staying power, in more ways than one. It’s known for the long-lasting styles it creates while adding a glossy-looking finish to your curls. It also lives up to its name, in that it won’t weigh your hair down, giving you, well, a lot of body. It can even help seal split ends together. What’s more, it works really well in hot and humid weather.
So, what’s not to love? Well, this product has a strong chemical smell, which some users find unpleasant. It’s also meant to be diluted depending on your hair texture, as well as whether or not your hair has been color-treated.
This can cause the lotion to become runny, which can make it difficult to work with. But overall, we definitely think it’s worth these minor inconveniences for the full, glossy curls it gives you!
2. Design Essentials Twist & Set Setting Lotion
For those who prefer a medium hold for their styles, this lotion from Design Essentials is an excellent choice. It’s suitable for all hair types and textures and is ready to use, meaning it doesn’t need to be diluted first.
The spray head on the bottle makes application a breeze. Not only is this lotion excellent for setting your styles in place, but it also acts as a detangler to promote manageability on thick or tangle-prone hair.
This product is formulated with a number of natural ingredients to promote strong, healthy hair. The best part? It doesn’t have any harmful chemicals.
Almond extract provides nourishment and adds shine while avocado moisturizes and prevents breakage. Hydrolyzed wheat protein provides added strength and protection during styling. What’s more, jojoba oil adds another boost in moisture. All of that without flaking, crunching, or leaving any nasty residue in the hair.
3. Mizani Setting Lotion
This is a high-quality product that is loved by salon professionals and consumers alike, and it’s easy to see why. It includes conditioning ceramides, which will leave your hair soft and silky and infused with moisture, as well as holding your style in place. It is a “true lotion” formula, meaning it is suitable to be used straight out of the bottle, or diluted, depending on your preference.
The formula is best suited for use with wet sets. When used with dry styles, it can leave the hair feeling a bit greasy, so be mindful of that. It is also better suited for those who prefer looser curls or waves.
If you prefer a tighter hold for your styles, there may be other products on this list that are more suited for you. But for those who like loose, bouncy, hydrated curls, this Mizani lotion is a must-have!
4. Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion
This is another professional-grade product that we’re sure you’ll love. While it is meant to be a thermal protectant product for heat styling, many women have also found success using it for heat-free styles like wet sets.
And when you do use heat tools, you’ll already have this fantastic product to reach for! Who doesn’t love a multitasker? This lotion’s alcohol-free formula means it won’t dry out your hair, and since it’s a foaming product, you may find it easier to use than runnier lotions. It also helps to boost the volume of your hair.
There are a few things to be conscious of with this product though. It can cause some stinging on sensitive skin, and may not be suitable for damaged or chemically treated hair.
Also, it dries very fast. Some women report that it dries out before they can finish applying their rollers. But if you think you can outrun its quick-drying, we think this is a fantastic product to add to your styling routine!
5. Kinky Curly Seriously Smooth Swift Set Lotion
This is another setting lotion that truly lives up to its name. It is formulated specifically for natural, curly hair so that it moisturizes your hair without weighing it down. To do this, it’s infused with coconut oil and argan oil, two seriously hydrating ingredients that will leave your hair feeling lusciously soft and smooth.
This makes it a great choice for people with dry or highly porous hair, such as those who have had color treatments or other chemical treatments.
For best results, use this setting lotion on damp hair, and use it sparingly. A little truly does go a long way with this lotion. Meaning one bottle will last you a long time! We love a budget-friendly product that also works wonders on your hair.
6. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion
Speaking of damage, this next product is one of the best picks for highly damaged hair. Castor oil, more specifically black castor oil, is one of the most effective ingredients for strengthening fragile damaged hair.
It strengthens the hair shaft from within, allowing it to grow thicker and longer while restoring the health of your hair. The product in question contains black castor oil galore.
Other powerhouse ingredients in this setting lotion are shea butter and peppermint, which help lock in moisture and prevent breakage when heat styling. This is a fantastic product for color-treated and permed hair. It’s also great for strands treated with a hair relaxer, or just hair that is regularly being fried by heat styling tools. It’s like a spa day for tired, damaged locks.
The only thing to be mindful of is that, because of all the moisture this product delivers, it can leave your hair a little greasy if applied too heavily. This is another product where a little goes a long way.
7. Dr. Miracles Healing Wrapping & Setting Lotion
Another fantastic setting lotion for natural hair is this one from Dr. Miracles. While it provides a looser hold for hairstyles, its real strength is in moisturizing and softening the hair.
It can be used to detangle and condition the hair, leaving it silky soft, and wonderfully manageable; many women say this product leaves their hair the softest out of any setting product they’ve used.
In addition, this lotion can be used for wet or dry styling and can be used as-is, without any dilution needed, to streamline your hair styling process. And though it may not hold your curls as tight as some other products on this list, it will keep your style in place all day.
This lotion does have a much more “perfume-y” scent than other products, which can be a blessing or a curse. While some users prefer it to the chemical scents common to setting lotion, others reported that the smell was a bit overwhelming. Your mileage may vary.
8. tgin Honey Curls Custard for Natural Hair
The last product on this list is a slightly different formulation. It’s a custard, rather than a lotion. What this means is simply that it has a thicker, more creamy consistency than lotions tend to have.
This makes it well suited to thick, coily hair consisting of tight ringlets. It makes the hair smooth and easier to work with while enhancing curl definition.
The honey in this product provides hydration for the hair, while agave nectar adds shine, and the frizz-fighting formula ensures your style will stay in place even in humid conditions.
This is another product to use a light hand with. It spreads well, so you only need to use a small amount. And if you notice that the product is drying out as you style your hair, simply spritz it with some water to rehydrate it and make it easier to work with. Simple, easy, and effective!
Setting Lotion Benefits
So what exactly is a setting lotion? It works similarly to a hair gel or mousse – but without the “crunch” that gels often bring to hair when they dry. A setting lotion coats the hair and, when dry, prevents the hair from absorbing moisture, which can change the curl pattern.
The benefits of using setting lotion on your natural hair are numerous. It allows you to style your hair using little or no heat, and we all know that excessive heat can damage the hair shafts. Then it locks in moisture, preventing frizz and giving you bouncy, silky smooth curls.
What’s more, it won’t weigh your hair down. Plus, you won’t need to touch up your style much at all until you wash or comb it out.
And even if you forgo the foam rollers, it can give your natural curl texture a boost and some definition.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Setting Lotion
Of course, not all setting lotions are created equal, and not all products work equally well for every head of hair. So here are some things to keep in mind while choosing the perfect setting lotion for you.
How hard do you want to lock your style into place? A high hold product will keep your style in place, but it can give your hair a stiff appearance since it allows for very little movement of the hair strands. A medium hold product, meanwhile, will allow for more bounce and movement, creating a more natural look.
This is important for a few reasons. Of course, you should avoid any ingredients that are known allergens for you, but you should also keep an eye out for moisturizing ingredients such as coconut or jojoba oil, as they can be quite beneficial for your hair. They moisturize your strands while adding a protective layer.
You should try to avoid products containing alcohol, or excessive harsh chemicals, as this can dry out and damage hair. Pay the closest attention to the first three or four ingredients listed, as these are the ingredients present in the highest concentrations.
Your hair’s specific needs
Your hair is as unique as you are, and your styling products need to reflect that. You should also consider whether your hair has been relaxed or permed, whether it has been color-treated, whether it’s thick or thin, what your texture and curl pattern are, and more.
All of these will affect which formulation will work best for you. And don’t despair if you don’t find a setting lotion you fall in love with on the first try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different brands. After all, if you don’t like one lotion, you can always return it.
Whether you opt for wet sets, twist-outs, heat styling, or simply wash-and-wear curls, there’s a setting lotion out there for you! It’s a versatile product that helps lock in moisture, lockout damage, and keep a variety of styles in place for as long as you want them.
Whether your hair is thick or thin, damaged or healthy, naturally curly or chemically treated, the benefits of a good setting lotion are hard to deny. So take some time, find out which lotion will work the best for your specific ‘do, and then get out there and rock your gorgeous curls!