10 Hand-picked Best Setting Lotions for Natural Hair

If you prefer to use roller sets over heated stylers, you’ve probably dealt with how stiff and frizzy your hair can get after it dries.

This is where hair-setting lotions come in.  Not only do they help your curls to set perfectly, but they also keep your hair in shape for longer by preventing it from absorbing too much moisture.

In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about this timeless beauty product to help you pick out the perfect setting lotion for your hair.

Read on for a quick look at our top three picks, followed by a few “Need to Knows”, before a full review of the 10 best setting lotions for natural hair on the market right now.

Best Setting Lotions for Natural Hair

Let’s dive right in and take a look at the leading setting lotions on the market right now.

1. Design Essentials Natural Twist & Set Setting Lotion – Best Overall

Design Essentials Natural Twist and Set Setting Lotion is a ready-to-use product that helps with hair styling by reducing frizz and creating long-lasting curls, waves, and braid-outs.

It’s ideal for a medium hold and dries fast without leaving your hair feeling hard or crunchy.

We love that it also helps detangle stubborn hair which makes quick hairstyles a breeze. It comes with a spray trigger to make application quick and easy.

It contains great ingredients including almond, avocado, jojoba oil, and silk amino acids.

To use this lotion, you simply section off your hair, spray the lotion, comb through gently and set it with your curling set or Flexi rods.

We’d recommend shampooing and conditioning your hair before using this lotion for the best results.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It holds up hair very well while making it appear natural
  • It’s gentle on the hair and scalp
  • It doesn’t feel stiff or sticky
  • It smells great
  • It’s reasonably-priced
  • It’s easy to use
  • It works great on curly hair
  • It doesn’t leave any residue on hair after it dries
  • It doesn’t flake up

What could be improved

  • It can feel a little bit greasy on thick hair if left too long

Overall, the Design Essentials Natural Twist and Set Setting Lotion is a great all-around product that works well on all natural hair types, especially curly hair. It’s affordable and easy to use and has great texture unless left on for too long.  The pros outnumber the cons considerably.  It’s our top pick and the number one choice of thousands.

 

 

2. Lotta Body Setting Lotion – Best Value for Money

Lotta Body Setting Lotion is ideal for both natural as well as relaxed hair.

It’s the perfect hair styling companion whether you want to wet set, blow style or create big, voluminous waves.

In addition to this, it also helps soothe split ends by bonding and sealing them together.

The hold it creates is easy to comb through despite being firm. It’ll also help provide your hair with a great body and a smooth, silky sheen.

To use this lotion on normal hair, you simply mix 1 part of it with 2-3 parts of water. For colored hair, use 4-5 parts of water instead.

Remember to apply it to damp hair. If your hair happens to dry before you’re done setting it, simply add more depending on how much you require.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It provides an exceptionally long hold
  • It’s an economical buy as a little of this lotion goes a long way
  • It’s lightweight and easy to apply
  • It dries quickly
  • It doesn’t leave hair feeling sticky or crunchy
  • It works on fine and thick hair equally well
  • It’s a great lotion to create vintage waves

What could be improved

  • It has a sharp smell that may not appeal to everyone

Lotta Body Setting Lotion is great value for money and works well on natural, colored, thick and thin hair impressively well.  It provides great, long-lasting hold without leaving hair sticky.  Although we wish it had a slightly more subtle scent, all in all this product is highly recommended.

 

 

3. Shea Moisture Jamaican Styling Lotion – Best Alternative

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion is an oil-based lotion, as the name suggests.

It’s designed to protect your hair follicles by restoring lost moisture and shine to damaged or chemically-processed hair.

Castor oil in general, and black castor oil in particular, is one of the very best oils that strengthens hair from within, allowing it to grow stronger, thicker, and healthier.

If you treat your hair regularly using color or heat to get perms or to straighten it, this product would help set it while soothing it at the same time. It works great on natural hair types.

This formula also contains peppermint and shea butter that helps increase your hair’s resistance to breakage. You can also use it to protect your hair from heat damage before you style it.

To use this product, you have to squeeze a small amount onto your hands, apply it to wet or damp hair and start working from ends up to the roots.

After this, simply allow your hair to dry naturally or blow dry it as you normally would.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It’s easy to apply as it glides on smoothly
  • It has a lovely scent
  • It adds moisture to dull locks
  • It’s a cruelty-free product
  • It works very quickly on wet/damp hair
  • It has a subtle scent that gets absorbed into the hair quickly
  • A dime-sized amount of this lotion goes a long way

What could be improved

  • It can leave a little residue, especially on oily hair, if not properly worked in

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion is a reasonably-priced, easily-to-use setting lotion that not only helps set your hair but also makes it stronger and smoother over time. If you work it in properly it will be your best friend.  Highly recommended also.

 

 

4. Lotta Body Texturizing Hair Setting Lotion with Keratin/Carrot

Lotta Body Texturizing Hair Setting Lotion is the product you should go for if you have colored hair that requires a great hold and dollops of shine.

It’s especially great for dry hair that you can moisten section by section before setting it with rollers.

Along with setting your hair, it also helps condition your hair and improve its overall texture.

Despite its ultra-firm hold, you’ll find your hair still easy to comb through and manage.

It contains an ingredient not commonly found in hair care products: carrot seed oil and we love it.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It provides a very long-lasting hold and can make curls stay for days
  • It works great as a leave-in conditioner as well
  • It works well on any type of hair
  • It makes hair appear soft, shiny, and smooth
  • It works wonders for color-treated hair

What could be improved

  • It doesn’t work very well on fine/thin hair

Overall, the Lotta Body Texturizing Hair Setting Lotion is a great formula that’ll help keep your curls intact for days together. We love the refreshing addition of carrot seed oil to this lotion and how well it works on color-treated hair.

 

 

5. AG Hair Curl Spray Gel Thermal Setting Spray

AG Hair Curl Spray Gel Thermal Setting Spray is carefully designed to create a long-lasting hold that’s flexible and leaves your hair shiny.

You can use it with curling irons, and rollers of blow driers to create soft, voluminous curls.

The addition of silk and keratin in the formula allows it to strengthen your hair while also acting as a thermal protector that doesn’t stick to irons and other heat styling tools.

To style natural hair into firm or flexible curls, you simply spray the mist onto damp or dry hair and style it.

If you want your curls to last longer, section them off and spray each section individually before using hot irons or rollers.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It doesn’t leave any sort of residue on the hair
  • It makes hair appear healthy and shiny
  • It adds volume to fine hair while being lightweight and non-greasy
  • It’s a great product for heat protection
  • It has a subtle, pleasant scent
  • It’s easy to use
  • It’s great at controlling frizz, especially in humid temperatures

What could be improved

  • It’s a bit pricey
  • It can make hair stiff if left on for too long
  • It doesn’t moisturize hair very well

Overall, AG Hair Curl Spray Gel Thermal Setting Spray is a great product when it comes to protecting hair from heat damage and controlling frizz. However, we’re not convinced it merits the hefty price tag with the sizable drawbacks we’ve listed above.  It is however a best-seller, and many users love it.

 

 

6. Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion

Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion is a professional-grade formula that is versatile and facilitates many different types of hairstyles.

It helps maintain the pH balance of your hair while preventing it from drying and adds a glossy layer of sheen.

It contains a conditioning thermal lubricant that protects your hair from heat styling that requires the use of a curling iron or blow-drier.

It keeps your scalp from drying out and leaves your hair looking and feeling voluminous and bouncy.

This formula is careful to not cause any flaking or residue.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It works on natural, virgin hair
  • It leaves hair feeling soft, silky, and bouncy
  • It’s great for taming down frizz
  • It makes hair styling easy
  • It doesn’t flake up or cause any kind of residue

What could be improved

  • It can sting a bit on sensitive skin
  • It’s not very well-suited to color-treated or damaged hair

Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion is best suited to natural hair that hasn’t been chemically treated or colored. It prevents the hair from drying up and controls frizz, but we wouldn’t recommend it for color or chemically treated hair.

 

 

7. Lotta Body Wrap Me Foaming Mousse with Coconut and Shea Oil

Lotta Body Wrap Me Foaming Mousse with Coconut and Shea Oil is meant to deeply hydrate your hair from the inside out leaving soft, healthy, and nourished hair with a lustrous shine.

This mousse dries out quickly leaving your wraps or curls feeling voluminous and full of body. It’s best suited to relaxed and natural hair.

You can use it for quick styles, well-defined curls, and to control frizz. Coconut oil and shea oil are great ingredients for healthy, conditioned hair.

In order to use this mousse for wraps, you can either wrap, mold, or set your hair and style it as you like.

For curls, you’d have to apply a good amount of mousse to towel-dried hair from roots to ends for best results.

After this, you’d have to allow your hair to air dry or diffuse.

What we liked about this mousse

  • It dries nicely on the hair without flaking or crunching
  • It makes hair smell great
  • It’s great for everyday use
  • It makes curls appear tight and well defined
  • It’s lightweight and non-sticky
  • It’s easily affordable

What could be improved

  • It can dry out naturally dry hair even more
  • The packaging could be better

We love how affordable Lotta Body Wrap Me Foaming Mousse is and how much it offers for the price. Even though it’s not an ideal choice for dry hair, it works great on all other hair types and is a great all-around styling companion.

 

 

8. Jane Carter Solution Wrap and Roll

Jane Carter Solution Wrap and Roll is a setting solution that’s designed for all kinds of smooth hairstyles.

This mousse is so soft and light, that it makes twisting, wrapping, and rolling hair a breeze.

It contains natural glycerides, rosemary essential oil, and nettle extract that moisturize your hair leaving it soft and glossy.

It dries well without causing any residue build-up or flaking and so doesn’t require much cleaning.

Due to its lightweight texture and great ingredients, it makes hair more manageable with frequent use.

To use this mousse for best results, you’d have to apply it on wet hair for double-strand twists and natural styles to give your hair a smooth and shiny finish.

It’s also a great product for re-twisting hair.

What we liked about this mousse

  • It leaves hair feeling shiny, defined, and bouncy
  • It moisturizes hair well
  • It’s great for curls and double-strand twists
  • It tames frizzy hair as and when it dries
  • It doesn’t make hair stiff or crunchy
  • It doesn’t cause flaking or leave behind any noticeable residue

What could be improved

  • It doesn’t hold curls very long

Jane Carter Solution Wrap is great for natural hair and does a great job of taming down frizz and moisturizing hair. We love that it doesn’t leave behind any residue and leaves hair feeling soft.  It doesn’t have a stronghold – the first thing we’d look for in a setting lotion – but it’s a fan favorite and deserves to be on our list.

 

 

9. Design Essentials Natural Honey Curl Forming Custard

Design Essentials Natural Honey Curl Forming Custard is a great setting lotion to add definition and flexibility to curls and coils.

It also helps add shine and control frizz for textured styling.

It’s perfect for finger coils, double-stranded twists, and bantu-knots. It helps provide your hair with a long-lasting hold and prevents shrinkage by elongating tight curls.

This formula does not contain any parabens, paraffin, petroleum, or mineral oil. Instead, it’s infused with natural ingredients such as almonds, avocado, honey, and chamomile.

In order to use this lotion, shampoo and condition your hair as usual, then section your hair and apply the foaming custard to each section.

Then, comb through your hair and use a twist set or flexi rods. Once you’re done with this, sit under a hooded dryer to either dry hair halfway or completely.

What we liked about this lotion

  • It makes curls appear long, voluminous, and bouncy
  • It has a great texture that’s not sticky and doesn’t it dry out hair
  • It provides medium hold without causing hair to go stiff, even after hours of use
  • It has a light, pleasant honey scent
  • It provides great definition not only for curls but also for wrap or twist hairstyles

What could be improved

  • It can leave a slight white residue if not properly worked in
  • It doesn’t work on taming down frizz, especially for curly hair
  • The hold it provides could be better

Design Essentials Natural Honey Curl Forming Custard is a viable product in terms of providing good medium hold and keeping hair moisturized and sweet-smelling. However, there are a couple of drawbacks when compared to other Design Essentials Products.

 

 

10. tgin Honey Curls Custard for Natural/Curly/Damaged Hair

tgin Honey Curls Custard is best suited to thick and coiled hair to provide it with a strong, long-lasting hold.

This custard is exceptionally good at moisturizing (probably because of the honey) and helps keep your curls soft and well-defined.

The honey and agave nectar in this formula adds shine to your hair while preventing it from getting crunchy or flaking.

These ingredients also ensure your hairstyle remains intact even through humidity by battling frizz effectively.

To get the best out of this product, make sure your hair is completely detangled and then apply it to damp sections of your and comb through before you start styling it.

If your hair begins to dry during this process, just spray some water on the dry sections and continue working on it.

You can use this custard on either wet or dry hair for twist-outs, braid-outs, etc.

What we liked about this setting lotion

  • It has great moisturizing ingredients such as honey
  • A little amount of this custard goes a long way as it spreads easily
  • It provides great definition to curls, even when left on overnight
  • It works great on thick hair
  • It’s reasonably-priced
  • It makes hair soft and bouncy

What could be improved

  • It can weigh hair down after a few hours
  • It can cause a little residue build-up

tgin Honey Curls Custard is a good product in terms of providing good hold and definition for curls and waves. However, residue build-up is one of the main issues we try to steer clear of and we’re not thrilled with that aspect here.

 

 

So, What’s The Best Setting Lotion For Natural Hair?

As highlighted in the ‘Products Reviews’ section, our picks for the top three products are the Design Essentials Natural Twist and Set Setting Lotion, the Lotta Body Setting Lotion and the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion.

Our Top Pick: Design Essentials Natural Twist & Set Setting Lotion

The Design Essential Setting Lotion is an ideal pick for frizz-free, long-lasting curls and waves. It provides a good medium hold and has a spray trigger that makes application a simple, quick process.

We were very impressed by how this spray doesn’t leave your hair feeling stiff or crunchy after a few hours of application (as is the case with many setting lotions) but makes it appear natural but well-groomed.

The only significant downside to this spray is that it tends to get a little greasy when used on thick hair.

Best Value for Money: Lotta Body Setting Lotion

The Lotta Body Setting Lotion works well on both natural and relaxed hair to create big, voluminous waves or curls. It’ll make your hair appear silky and healthy by adding sheen and sealing split ends together.

Even though it provides an exceptionally long hold and makes hair feel firm, it’s easy to comb through with its lightweight formula. It’s the perfect setting lotion for vintage waves.

The only drawbacks we could find were that it dries a little too quickly and the scent may not appeal to everyone.

Best Alternative Product: Shea Moisture Jamaican Styling Lotion

The Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion is oil-based and helps protect virgin or colored hair from damage by coating hair follicles and keeping them moisturized.

It’s also a great setting lotion to use on damaged hair that’s constantly exposed to heat styling by making it less susceptible to breakage.

We love how easy this product was to apply and how quickly it got absorbed into the hair leaving it soft and hydrated. Be careful while using it on oily hair, though as it can leave a slight residue.

Types Of Hair Setting Products

Before we get into our product reviews section, here’s a quick look at the various different types of hair-setting products there are to choose from. These products fall into the following broad categories:

Hair Setting Lotion

best setting lotion for natural hairA product that your grandmother probably had on her vanity table, hair setting lotion has been the holy grail of hair styling products for generations.

Meant to keep your hair in place in any shape and style you want, setting lotion is best suited to vintage hairstyles. Why? simply because it works great with heatless styling products such as wet sets and flexi rods.

It prevents the strands of your hair from escaping the rollers/rods and helps keep them in place until you’re ready to take them out and style your hair.

It also helps keep your hair moisturized while your rollers work their magic.

After this, as the name suggests, setting lotion helps keep your hairstyle in place for a long period of time – usually an entire day.

This is because it prevents moisture from escaping your hair.

If your hair dries, your curls can appear stiff, crunchy, and frizzy. If it’s a vintage/retro look you have in mind, setting lotion will help you get there.

Thermal Setting Spray

Hair Setting SprayWe all know how heat styling tools can damage our hair no matter how good it looks when we’re done styling it with these tools.

Heat styling products, especially those with heat settings upwards of 450 degrees can not only dry out hair temporarily but also cause long-term damage in the form of brittle, rough, and dull hair.

Thermal setting sprays and hair protectants provide the protective barrier between your hair and the heat damage.

All you need to do to get the best out of a thermal setting spray is to spritz some of it on your hair before you blow-dry, straighten or curl your hair with a heated tool.

Remember, these sprays are meant to be worn from the roots to the tips of your hair.

They also help keep frizz at bay and your hair moisturized and silky.

Hair Mousse

hair setting mousseHair mousse is a multifaceted hair styling product that combines the benefits of a voluminous spray, hair spray, and hair setting lotion.

It helps add volume, definition, and bounce to your hairstyles while helping them stay in place all day long.

Despite its many features and benefits, mousse is relatively easy to use.

Its texture is thick and foamy and spreads very easily with the help of your fingertips or a comb. After applying mousse, you simply blow dry your hair to set it.

Bear in mind to apply it from your roots to your ends.

As if the many features listed above weren’t enough, hair mousse can also treat your hair and protect your hair from heat damage.

Many of the hair mousses available in the market today help your hair free from frizz, especially in humid conditions.

Also, due to its lightweight texture, mousse won’t leave your hair flat or heavy.

Hair Custard

hair setting custardHair custard is best suited to naturally curly hair that consists of small, tight curls.

Custards have a thick, creamy consistency and gel-like texture. Custards are amazing at making hair smoother and easier to style.

They help boost your hair definition and provide good hold especially for twisting and braiding hairstyles.

If your main concern while styling your hair is controlling frizz, then you should definitely opt for hair custard.

Hair custards are able to provide your hair with great hold while also moisturizing it to keep it hydrated and healthy.

Custard is easy to apply and spreads very easily on the hair.

It can also make your hair appear shiny but you have to be careful with the amount you apply as a little too much can cause mild residue build-up and flaking.

Things To Consider for Hair Setting Lotions

Before you buy a hair setting product, we’d recommend you first consider the following factors:

Hold

Now, all setting lotions are meant to hold your hairstyles for more than a few hours; having said that, some of them just provide better hold than others.

Watch out for the description on a product’s packaging as many of them describe their holding capabilities as ‘medium’ or ‘long-lasting’.

If your lotion has a high hold, that means your hair will have minimum movement and bounce and this is generally well-suited to silky straight hairstyles.

A high hold will provide an overall stiff appearance to your hair. Hair sprays typically have this kind of holding capacity.

Setting lotions and mousses, on the other hand, provide your hair with flexibility while keeping it soft and bouncy.

Ingredients

As with all hair care products, look for setting products that have the most natural, organic ingredients.

In our ‘Product reviews’ section, we’ve reviewed many products that contain great natural hair care ingredients such as coconut oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, etc.

Always look out for the first three-four ingredients listed on the packaging as these will be the most active elements of the product.

Since a setting lotion is meant to stay on all day and keep your hair from getting frizzy and stiff, you’d want to look for those that contain moisturizing ingredients.

We’ve named some of the ingredients should you include above. As for the ones it shouldn’t, isopropyl alcohol tops the list.

This petroleum-based product is used in various hair care products, especially hair setting products. Usage of this ingredient can cause dryness, dullness, and breakage.

Your Hair Care Needs And Style

Like all hair care and skin care products, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hair-setting products.

If you have colored or relaxed hair you’ll need a hair-setting lotion that’s tailored to cater to these specific hair care needs.

It also depends on the kind of hairstyle you want to create. For instance, if you’re using a roller set to create curls, you’d want to opt for a setting lotion that would offer good hold and keep frizz and fly-a-way hair in check. Roller set curls would also require a setting lotion that keeps hair soft and smooth.

As for chemically-treated hair, you’d have to opt for a setting lotion that’s able to balance and restore your hair’s pH levels.

For this, you’d be better off with setting solutions that contain aloe vera.

Additionally, for chemically-treated hair, you’d want to use lotions that don’t have a high alcohol content as they can cause flaking on the hair and the scalp, especially if you’re using heat to style your hair.

Update – Check out our new article on how to choose the best detangler for natural hair here.

Best Brands for Setting Lotions

Following are some of the brands that are considered to be the best in the industry and worthy of recommendation:

Design Essentials

Design Essentials is one of the leading direct distributors of hair care solutions that cater to both salons and homes. Launched in 1990, they have been committed to addressing specific hair care needs.

In addition to manufacturing quality hair care products, they also take an active interest in providing blogs and seminars to educate their users on how to get the most out of their products.

Shea Moisture

Established in the year 1912 in Sierra Leone, Shea Moisture is committed to manufacturing beauty products that are sustainably produced and as far as possible, free of parabens and sulfate.

They ensure their products are only tested on members of their family and never on animals. This brand strongly believes in inclusivity and strives to make their products accessible to all.

AG Hair

Based in Vancouver, Canada since in 1989, AG Hair creates hair care products for all types of hair from curly, straight, full, fine, long, and short. They are committed to developing unique and innovative ingredients for all hair types. They produce everything from shampoos and conditioners to styling sprays and volumizers.

tGin

tgin or Thank God It’s Natural manufactures quality hair care products in tandem with the healing powers of nature.

They produce all their products in small batches using natural and organic ingredients that are free from any parabens, phthalates, and animal testing. They use some truly great natural ingredients in their products from shea butter to olive oil.

FAQs for Hair Setting Lotions

Will setting lotion dry out my hair?

Mostly, no. Setting lotions and other setting products are meant to keep your hair moisturized as they help your hair retain its shape by keeping the moisture locked in.

However, hair setting sprays and other products that contain alcohol in them do tend to try out the hair after a few hours of putting them on so be careful and peruse the ingredients list carefully.

How do I apply setting lotion?

As we’ve mentioned in most product reviews above, you’d have to start off by applying setting lotion to damp hair. Bear in mind: damp not wet hair. Not only will it be harder to apply on wet hair but wet hair may also dilute it.

Most setting products such as lotions, custards, and mousses can then be spread along the hair using your hands first and then a comb. After combing it through your hair, you can go ahead and put your rollers/flexi rods in.

What hairstyles can setting lotions be used for?

Even though hair-setting products can be used to hold any kind of hairstyle in place, they’re best suited for curls and finger waves. Hair setting mousses and sprays work well on braid-outs, wraps, and twist-outs as well.

Are setting lotions for heat styling or wet sets?

Both. Among our product reviews, we’ve come across many products that are thermal setting sprays and heat protectants.

These help protect your hair from heat damage by creating a barrier between your hair and the heated styling tool. However, almost all kinds of setting lotions/mousses/sprays/custards are suited to wet sets.

Best Setting Lotion For Natural Hair: Wrapping It Up

Choosing the right setting lotion for your hair care needs can be challenging – it doesn’t help that there are so many different types of products to choose from.

After going through the sections above hopefully, you’ve been able to zero down on a few options that’ll work well with your hair type.

In our view Design Essentials Natural Twist and Set Setting Lotion is the best setting lotion for natural hair.  It works really well to provide great hold and natural-looking vintage/chic hairstyles.

hair setting lotion

If it doesn’t work for you there are plenty of other options to choose from, as we’ve seen.

When you do purchase a lotion best suited to your needs, make sure you follow all application instructions carefully so as to get the most out of your investment.

Happy setting!

Leave a Comment