A Review of 3 Curl Activators: Shea Moisture, Miss Jessie’s, and Cantu

I have tried several curl activators, but the most common ones I’ve been referred to are: Shea Moisture, Cantu Shea Butter and Miss Jessie’s.

I tried all three and they produced very different results for my hair. But first, a little background information on my hair:

  • I have 4a/4b hair
  •  It’s relatively thin and fragile
  • I look for not too thick curl activators or moisturizers; my hair likes creams with thin consistency

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Image result for shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie

Image courtesy of TightlyCurly.com

My first natural hair product I was introduced to was Shea Moisture. I used so many of their products, and among them – the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. However, after a few weeks of trying it, I found it didn’t go particularly well with my hair.

Overall, the cream was just too thick for my hair.

After detangling my hair and applying the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave in Conditioner – I would then put in the smoothie. The smoothie kept my curl pattern on point – which was great. Unfortunately, though, the cream was just too thick to give my curls some bounce.

Cantu Shea Butter Curl Activating Cream

The first products I got from Cantu were the Curl Activating Cream and Extreme Hold Gel (the gel works wonders by the way). Cantu’s curl activator is also thick but not as much as my experience with Shea Moisture’s smoothie.

First of all – let me just say this:

Cantu’s curl activator really defines your curls

The directions on the bottle do say your hair has to be wet or damp, but I’m not the type of wash and go person. I did use a spritz bottle (that sprays water), but my hair was ultimately subject to extreme shrinkage. The product also left residue and weighed down my curls.

For more curl activator options, check out The Best Natural Hair Products to Activate Your Curls

In my opinion, for others with my type of hair (4b, thin and fragile…) the Cantu Curl Activating Cream is not the best option. Of course, everyone’s hair is different – and this is just my belief about this product.

Miss Jessie Coily Custard

Image result for miss jessie coily custard

Miss Jessie’s is expensive. No lie. The products start at $15 a bottle – like Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls or Quick Curls (which is $22). First, I was a bit anxious about buying these products as I heard mixed reviews AND they were undoubtedly pricey. Ultimately, I decided on Miss Jessie’s Coily Custard.

To put it simply, Miss Jessie’s Coily Custard and Quick Curls is amazing. 

I’m not saying this just to say it (as I’m not getting paid either) – it’s $14 a bottle. But honestly? It’s worth the money. It’s the best curl activator I had thus far.

I also recommend Miss Jessie’s Baby Buttermilk. This product is dual power – it serves as a moisturizer and curl enhancer.

I don’t recommend buying Miss Jessie’s products online (e.g. Amazon) or expensive beauty supply stores. Opt for buying them at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. – so you can save a few bucks.

Honestly, I love the Coily Custard and it includes everything I want in a curl activator:

  • A bounce for my curls
  • Minimal shrinkage
  • Not too thick
  • Smells nice
  • And the best definition I’ve had thus far

In reality, everyone’s hair is different…

Whether you’re a 4c and someone is or isn’t, sometimes your choice of hair products is going to have to take a lot of trial and error. For instance, it took me a while to get to Miss Jessie’s Coily Custard, after trying everything from Shea Moisture to Creme of Nature. In between the trials and error, even though I spent money on some things that didn’t work – hey, it was worth it. It’s all about trying new things and finding out what works best for your hair.

Again, I’ve provided an article on The Best Curl Activators for Natural Hair to give my readers a better idea of all the different options out there.

  1. lol I said the same thing about the can’t product! Like it’s doing too much haha great post.


  2. Hey I have 3A /3B hair with sum 2/C parts and I will really like to know what you would recommend out of the cantu and the Shea Moisture products for my hair, if anybody could answer I would really appreciate it .


    1. Emoijah Bridges July 30, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Hi, Alisson! I don’t really like Cantu because it has alcohol in it, which eventually dries your hair. Also, Shea Moisture has a wide variety of products for all types of hair. I would recommend the Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enchancing Smoothie and the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave in Conditioner


  3. […] With that being said, my hair type works well with more watery substances that can go through my thin looser strands. Heavy thick creams like the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie don’t do well with my hair. Here’s an article on why the Curl Enhancing Smoothie didn’t work well with my hair and a… […]


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