Natural black hair products: Gels vs. Creams

As we know hair styling products such as gels and creams are used to change the texture as well as the shape of the hair, or simply to hold a hairstyle in place. Either way it is going to be very important as well as beneficial to know the difference between these two products seeing as they play an extremely important role in the natural hair community.

So which products are going to work better gels or creams?

Good question, but honestly that decision is solely going to depend upon a couple of  things: The type of hair you have, how you work with the product, and most of all personal preference . It could also very well depend on the results you are looking to achieve.

So with that I am going to  enlighten you on a couple of things and that way you will have an idea of which will work best or it could be a combination of both. Only time can tell as you will have to do some experimenting to see the results.

What is Gel?



Gel is a transparent, colorless, jelly-like substance that is a cross between a solid and a liquid. But not like either. Gel is considered to be closer to a liquid as it is water-based and it is more quickly absorbed by the hair. It is primarily used to harden the hair into a particular hairstyle.

What is a Cream?



Cream is an oil based substance with a thicker consistency that takes more time to be absorbed by the hair. It can be used following shampooing of the hair, it is often used to give the hair a natural looking shine once the hair has completely dried.

Difference between Gels and Creams

There will be a couple of very distinctive differences between both products:

Wash and Go using creams and gels….Which would you choose


Gels are:

  1. Transparent,
  2. Colorless
  3. Disappear when applied
  4. usually oil free
  5. can come in different colors
  6. more watery, lighter structure
  7. absorbs faster


Creams are:

  1. oil based
  2. consistency-thick
  3. color usually white
  4. absorb slower
  5. heavier on hair


Even though they both differ in a few ways the both are purposely formulated to have very distinctive effects on the hair. Gel is meant to hold the hair with some conditioning. Cream is meant to condition the hair with some hold. Gel  has a more watery consistency with a lighter structure, but this is why gels tend to provide hydration of the hair without leaving the hair with a greasy finish. Creams tend to be heavier than gels but they are good for reducing frizz and enhancing curls. If your hair is continuously battling with dryness and breakage I would definitely recommend a cream., whereas hair that only needs a minimal amount of additional moisture I would lean more towards a gel. If you are looking to obtain a balanced amount of moisture to the hair I would highly recommend using both gel and cream. Apply cream to the actual hair and gel to the roots of the hair. Many of the moisturizing gels probably won’t provide as much moisture as creams.


As we can always almost bet there is going to be an disadvantage to any product we decide to use. Unfortunately, it is all part of the hair process journey. Even though creams strengthen the roots, conditions the hair, prevents breakage, and promotes growth, this is not  the same case with gels. The problems that seem to revolve around gels is the build up of the product on the hair, flake particles in the hair, as well as the hair having a greasy feel due to overuse of product. Also,  another issue you would need to be aware of is when gel is not washed out properly this can contribute to a mix of oil and product build up on the scalp. So it is very important to remember when shopping the shelves whether in-store or online, be sure to stay clear from alcohol as it will dry out the hair. Be sure to select gel products that are glycerin free, non-drying and alcohol free.

Personal Experiences

I have been natural for almost eight years now and being a person with Type 3C/4A hair (refer to previous post for hair types) I have learned that gels/curl activators tend to work much better for my hair type versus a cream. Don’t get me wrong I am known to try creams here and there, but I don’t and would rather not choose to use them on an everyday basis for styling of my particular type of hair. I  tend to have a more softer texture of hair and with that I prefer to have something lightweight on my hair. Creams have the tendency to be extremely thick as well as greasy and it makes the hair feel heavy. So if I do use them it is very minimal. Even though it states almost everywhere how bad gels can be I lean more towards gels and activators and that is why it is important to skim through the ingredients on the labels to ensure exactly what it is we are exposing our hair to so that we can prevent having problems in the long run such as dryness and breaking.

I hope this article is helpful. If you have any questions, advice, or any feedback please be sure to drop your comments in the section below.  You can also follow me on IG: @geekedtobenatural

Yours truly,

Natural By Popular Demand




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.