There's nothing wrong with getting your hair relaxed or permed. However, if you've decided to go natural, then you've decided to ditch chemicals and heat tools to give your beautiful natural hair a break it deserves. To help you make the most of your natural locks, we've chosen the five best setting lotions for natural hair.
What Is A Setting Lotion?
When you have African-American or extremely coarse and curly hair, you know that "wash and go" are usually not an option. Since this hair type tends to be pretty rebellious when left to its own devices, you need products that are going to keep your hair in place, even if you're not using heat tools.
A setting lotion is a thick lotion that is used for two main purposes. First and foremost, it can be used for "scrunch and go" curls, if you want to give your natural hair some added definition.
However, it can also be used for when you style your hair in foam rollers. While many of today's setting lotions are meant to be used as-is, traditionally, African-American women have diluted their setting lotions. By mixing the setting lotion with water, it's easily applied to the entirety of the hair, without causing the hair to become too stiff.
The actual function of a setting lotion is, well, to set the style. When used on natural curls, it simply boosts the curls' natural texture, giving them more definition. When applied to the hair before using foam rollers, setting lotion ensures that the hair stays in place.
Many people often wonder what the difference between a setting lotion and a gel is. While gels certainly hold hair in place, they can also cause that "crunchy" look that most women with coarse and ethnic hair types loathe.
The goal of any look, natural or otherwise, should always be to have hair that stays where you want it, but that has natural movement and bounce. A setting lotion locks a style in place without creating that "helmet head," frozen look. It's the best option for any natural curly look.
How To Use Setting Lotion
The setting lotion will truly end up being one of the more versatile products that you have in your beauty arsenal. Remember, it can be used not only for heatless curls but for giving definition to your natural curls as well.
If you ever choose to abandon your natural hair and return to relaxing or perming your hair, you'll still be able to use setting lotion for styling your chemically treated hair.
When using setting lotion to add definition to your natural curls, dilute the setting lotion and rub it between your palms before working it into your hair.
If you have specific areas that could use a touch-up, apply setting lotion and then twist the area around your finger, twisting until it springs into a curl. It's advisable to finish with a glossing serum or coconut oil, as setting lotion on its own is not particularly moisturizing.
Another excellent use for setting lotion is when doing overnight twists. Twists create a look that is somewhere between what's achieved by scrunching the natural hair and using foam rollers.
The curls look pretty natural but have more definition than most women could hope to achieve by simply scrunching their hair. Here's lifestyle guru West African Baby explaining her twisting method, which utilizes setting lotion to keep the look set in place.
Of course, there's also the classic, tried and true option of using foam rollers. Foam rollers will create slightly larger curls than twists. While they might look "styled," they still look extremely natural.
The effects of setting lotion and foam rollers can be achieved quickly by sitting under a dryer and allowing the rollers to sit for 20 minutes to an hour. Otherwise, if you want to be a bit gentler on your hair, you can go the heatless route, as demonstrated here by YouTube beauty guru Shlinda.
Setting lotions aren't just useful for these natural, daily looks. They can also be used for special occasion or night out looks. An application of setting lotion is a great way to prep the hair before using large velcro rollers.
In this tutorial by hair expert JayHairBigga, these big voluminous curls are achieved by putting the hair into large rollers and then sitting under a dryer for an hour and a half. It's certainly a time-consuming hairstyle, but if you want something elegant for that special event, it's completely worth it.
Now that you understand how setting lotions are used let's look at the five best setting lotions available on the market.
All setting lotions do essentially the same thing: They help to hold wet and dry curl sets in place. However, there's some variance between different setting lotions. While some are designed purely for heavy-duty hold, others put more emphasis on conditioning the hair and creating a shiny, glossy finish.
All of the setting lotions on this list are great choices and will help you to achieve a wide array of styles. But if we had to declare a clear winner, it would be the Lotta Body Setting Lotion.
Why did we choose this old school, cult classic product over its newer and fresher alternatives? It's pretty simple. The Lotta Body lotion does everything a setting lotion is supposed to do.
It holds both wet and dry styles, it conditions the hair, and it adds bounce and shine. It's easily diluted to fit your personal preference and works for just about every hair setting technique.
Sometimes newer products fix the issues that older versions of the same beauty product failed to address. Other times, there's no improving on a classic. When it comes to finding the perfect setting lotion, Lotta Body got it right the first time.