Several months ago, my then-favorite Not Your Mother’s curl cream stopped giving me the results I had come to know and love.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.
I’ve found as my hair gets healthier and continues to evolve, the way my hair responds to products also changes. Even a year and half into the Curly Girl Method, I still feel like my hair is changing. (You may have even had had a similar experience.)
I still wanted my curl cream to be affordable, and I’d heard really good things about the Cantu Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream. So I decided to give it a shot.
Ultimately, this cream has become my new favorite curl cream, and today I’m going to break down why.
This review will cover the pros and cons of this cream, how I use I use it, and my bottom line impression.
Keep in mind, I can only speak from my experience with my 3a/3b hair. My hope is that this review will be a good guide for all the curly girls out there, but your results may be very different from mine.
Side note: This page does contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase something using the product links on this page, I may get a small commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps keep this site running. Thank you!
Also, I follow the simplified version of the Curly Girl Method most directly derived from the Curly Girl Handbook. This means the only ingredients I look to avoid are sulfates, silicones, and drying alcohols. If you have more ingredients that you look to avoid, it would be a good idea to check the ingredients for yourself before making a purchase.
A little goes a long way
I was really pleased with how little of this product I needed for it to be effective. When I’m styling I use about a fingertip amount (maybe a little bit more) for my whole head.
With my previous cream, I was using a fingertip per side, so I’ve basically halved the amount of cream I’m putting in my hair.
And since there’s 12 oz in each bottle, it should last a good long while.
The frizz control I get with this cream is pretty fantastic. My curls stay frizz free all day (and beyond!).
One reason I was looking to change creams was in part because I was feeling like my curls weren’t quite as defined with my old cream as I did when I started using it.
This Cantu cream gave me some great curl definition that lasts better than any cream I’ve ever tried.
This was a massive reason I wanted to try this cream. I’ve never been able to refresh my hair.
And while I do think part of this approach was my technique (which I’ll talk more about when I share my refresh routine next week), I also think part of my problem was my cream.
I don’t know if my old cream wasn’t moisturizing enough to work beyond a day, or what. But after watching this video about the product with Curly Suzie on YouTube, I decided to give this Cantu cream a try because of her next day results.
As far as refreshing goes, this curl cream is a game-changer. My curls hold exceptionally well overnight in a way I have never experienced before. I get three days out of each was, which is amazing to me.
To me, this is the biggest pro of this product.
My hair feels lightweight, defined, and soft when it dries. There’s no heavy build up or coating.
Smells good (and not too strong)
The smell is light and refreshing (at least, I think so). It’s also not too strong, which I always appreciate. I really don’t smell it at all once my hair dries.
This product is less than six dollars on Amazon! That’s a good price for a product in and of itself. But when you consider it does, how long it lasts, and how little you need to use, it kind of feels like a steal!
It’s really easy to use too much
This product works really well in small amounts, but I’ve found it to be a very fine line between what’s a good amount and what’s too much.
When I use too much of this cream, my hair does feel heavy, weighed down, and coated in product.
If I’m ever unsure, I air on the side of using less and running the risk of my hair be a little drier. It’s never come out bad for me with this approach.
How I use this cream
I apply that fingertip amount to my hair after a leave-in conditioner every wash day. I use the praying hands technique to coat my hair, then scrunch to encourage the curl.
You can read more about my wash day routine here.
I apply half a fingertip amount (or less) to my hair after a leave-in conditioner. I spread the amount between my palms, then gently coat my hair with the product, with a special focus on the canopy. Then I scrunch to encourage the curl and spread the product.
You can read more about my refresh routine in next week’s post!
The bottom line
The bottom line is I love this product, and it’s my new favorite curl cream.
While there isn’t any single product on the market that will work well for everyone, Amazon reviews indicate that this product seems to be used and loved by a wide variety of curly hair types.
And at a price like this, with the success rate it has, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to lose in giving it a shot.
Get this product on Amazon here!
If you do try this out and find your hair feels weighed down and product heavy, give it another try using less. And be sure to share your experience in the comments so other curly girls can benefit.
Click here to find more curly girl approved product reviews.
To check for yourself if a product is curly girl approved, you use isitcg.com.
Looking for more guidance on your curly hair journey?
If you’re new to curly hair care and looking for some help, you should check out the No-Stress Guide to Curly Hair Care!
After spending two years learning and caring for my curly hair, I wanted to create my own, in-depth guide to help fellow curlies create incredible curls in the easiest way possible.
It took me a while, but I eventually found an approach that helped me create a curly hair routine that fits into my life in the simplest way possible. And now I want to help you do the same!
For more intermediate/advanced guidance
If you’ve been on your curly hair journey for a while but still have some struggles, check out Curly Hair Problems!
After spending hours scouring the internet looking for solutions to my own curly hair problems, I found myself wishing for an easier, more comprehensive guide to the most common problems.
So that’s what I created!
Curly Hair Problems offers you 78 total solutions to the five most common curly hair care problems, including frizz, curl clumps, limp curls, product issues, and scalp issues.
Sound off: Have you tried this curl cream? Tell us about your experience! Be sure to tell us a little about your hair type too!
Hi, your hair looks great! I’ve been using this cream for 3 years now, and having a hair texture similar to yours, I think you’ll love the cream for a long time. My experience has shown that occasionally I need to reduce the amount of products I apply to the hair, just to let it breathe a bit. So, my go to method has become to use a leave in conditioner plus the Cantu cream during the colder days, and during summer I switch to using just the leave in conditioner. My hair has never been healthier!
That’s awesome! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂
Hello, just starting curly girl method, the problem I am having is that I have very fine, thin hair. I also, dye it regularly. I am 71 and have a bit of gray. Any advise on products would greatly be appreciated. Thank you, Eugenia
Hi Eugenia! It sounds like we have very different hair types, so I don’t think I can speak too specifically to products that might help you. However, I do have several posts on curly girl approved products–including a handful of lists–that might be helpful to you. You can find them here. I wish I could be more help, but I hope this gets you in the right direction! 🙂
Aloha! I’m about two months into my CGM experiment. My hair can get weighed down easily. Can the activator be used as a leave in conditioner? If not, is it leave in first, then this product, then do you use a gel afterwards?
Hey! 🙂 Yes, when I use it I do leave in, then the curl activator, then gel. If you’re finding that your hair is easily weighed down then you absolutely may find that the curl activator works well for you in place of a leave in or, if you find that your hair is too frizzy without the leave in, you may find that you can get away with using a lot less leave in when you pair it with the curl cream. Ultimately, you’ll have to play around with it to see what works best for you! I hope it works well for you if you give it a shot!
Hi, Just wondered if you used the Cantus gel or custard, or something else entirely! trying to get an idea of good products as I’m new to this whole thing! thanks
I haven’t tried their gels, but I love their scalp soothing shampoo! If you’re looking for some products to check out, I have a post on some good beginner products that might be helpful. I also have a post with my favorite shampoos and conditioners, my favorite styling products, and my current products. And you can check out the Curly Girl Approved Products tag for even more product posts! 🙂
I hope this is some help!