We only live once, but once is enough if we do it right. Live your life with class, dignity, and style so that an exclamation, rather than a question mark signifies it” ~ Gary Ryan Blair
At some point in your hair journey, you may embark on an endless quest for the ideal hair product. You will most likely cross a bridge from the land of puddings to a field of hair gels. Even more challenging, this field includes a vast plain called Eco Styler Gel. Have no fear! My Curly Mane is here as your guide.
Eco Styler Gel comes in a variety of rainbow-colored lines geared towards a wide range of hair needs – from color-treated tresses to active, sporty manes. Some variations even contain argan and olive oil, and each gel type has a holding strength that ranges from 1 to 10 (the strongest hold). From my experience and those of my friends, Eco seems to works for different hair types and styles. It can be used for braid/twist-outs, wash-and-go’s, or to “get that hairline laid!” LOL!
If you read my hair story, you’ll know that I first became acquainted with Eco Styler Protein Gel as the “black gel” that saved my life. I used Eco for several years until my foray into straightening addiction. Once I tried to embrace my curls again, Eco didn’t give me the results I desired due to my poor hair health and improper routine for wearing my hair out (as opposed to my former trademark afro pigtails).
With a 32oz jar of Eco Protein still decorating my bathroom cabinet (it’s crowded in there!) and one curlie’s questions about the gel (yes, I’m looking out for ya), I decided to revisit this gel. In fact, I’m comparing three of Eco’s most popular gels:
- Eco Styler Protein – Although it looks like “black gel” upon initial impressions, this gel is actually dark brown in color and packed with Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. It has a level 7 hold and comes in two versions—super protein (has a black lid) and regular protein (has a white lid). I’ve always used the regular version, but if your hair is really weak or desperately over moisturized (click here to read my post on moisturizing natural hair), you may want to test out the super protein version.
- Eco Styler Krystal – This gel is clear in color and has a level 10 hold, the strongest holding level. This version was recommended to me by another curlie who gets incredible results from it … and will be featured on this site soon!
- Eco Styler Curl and Wave – I snagged this product from the shop because of… its pretty pink color. Yeah, I admit that I’m sometimes a sucker for bells and whistles. The bonus is that this gel is specifically formulated for textured hair. Uh, huh. There was a method to the madness. It also has a level 8 hold, one notch above my “black gel.”
Price – How much?
No need to wait til pay day or rummage through your clothes’ pockets for extra change. Eco is extremely affordable (relatively speaking). Sizes include:
- 8 oz for approximately $1.39 – This is a prefect trial size.
- 16 oz for approximately $2.50 – Once you’ve committed to one of the gel types, you may want to purchase this size.
- 32 oz for approximately $4 – Okay, now you’ve gone a little haywire like me and decided you need to stock up for winter! This size is perfect if the product works for you and you’re not prone to switching or experimenting with other products. It’s also ideal if you are traveling overseas and can’t find this gel, going away for college, or just dislike frequent shopping trips.
Ingredients –What’s in this stuff?
Hard to believe but Eco’s formulation appears to be quite simple, and it is water-based (1st ingredient in the list).
Ingredients are: Water, Carbomer, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, PVP, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Polysorbate 20, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance, Love and Pride (nice). This product is free from:sulfates, silicones, and alcohol.
Take caution if you are:
- Protein sensitive
- Need to UV protect your mane (try the Krystal or Curl and Wave versions)
- Health conscious -According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are moderate concerns for allergies and immunotoxicity and low concerns relating this product to cancer. Click here to read more from EWG.
Scent – Run or relish?
Overall, Eco has a light scent, but each product line differs.
- Protein (black/brown version) – It smells like yummy grape. This is my favorite out of the three.
- Krystal (clear version) – With this, fresh laundry or soap comes to mind. Ranks #2.
- Curl and Wave (pink version) – Think of chemically infused strawberry gum … if there is such a thing. This is my least favorite out of the group.
Application – How to work it?
- Start with freshly washed hair.
- Smooth the leave-in conditioner of choice through your hair. I like to use Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner and concentrate my efforts on my ends. Some curlies skip this process, but my hair dries out easily so I use a leave-in. Plus, it helps to soften the gel.
- Start at back of head and smooth gel onto hair in sections. I use the good old fashioned rake and smooth technique. This consists of literally raking the gel through a section of hair and then smoothing it down the shaft. This helps to remove excess product and encourage curl clumping and formation.
- Optional: Smooth gel on hairline to enhance overall look.
- Do not touch!
- You can air dry, but I like to blow dry my hair for predictable results. When doing so, I direct the dryer down my hair shaft and do not shake my hair about. It’s only when my hair is more than half way dry that I begin to slightly separate the hair, so I can dry the roots.
- Once nearly dried, I lightly tug on my hair and blast the air at my roots. This is in an effort to stretch my hair/gain some length.
- Once fully dried, your hair will look crunchy. If this is your desired look, you’re all done! If you’re going for a softer look, this is when you will need to scrunch out the crunch. Remember to wait until your hair is completely dried. This may be right after blow drying up until 30 minutes afterwards. Literally take clumps of hair and gently scrunch your hair. You’ll note the floating particles of product as the gel cast (crystalize coating) leaves your hair. This is also when I like to separate and fluff my hair.
Guess what. I’ve been skipping oils on the 1st day and had great results, but this may be the result of my oil infused leave-in. As always, you will need to experiment and adjust to suit your hair needs.
To preserve this look, I pineapple my hair overnight, literally piling my hair at the tippidity top of my head like a unicorn. I also sleep on a satin pillow case.
- Take down hair. I like to tie my hair back in a scrunchie while I apply my makeup.
- Smooth oil over the hair.
- To help your hair hang down further and gain some length, briefly blow dry your hair on a warm setting. I also apply the tug and stretch method to gain length.
That’s it. You’re good to go. During this day, your hair will have greater volume = big hair!
To preserve this look, see the steps above.
Repeat the steps used on day 2. Your hair will be even bigger!
This product lasts me for 3 days. Afterwards, my curls are bit frizzy and dull. You can co-wash, as the gel can be easily removed. However, I like to use a moisturizing shampoo and start again with a clean slate. Plus, I’ve noticed that there is a slight build up on my scalp when using this. I think this is the actual product, as I apply it close to the scalp.
Moisture & feel – The goodies?
All Eco gels are smooth to the touch. If you rub it between your fingers, it feels moisturizing. It does dry slightly tacking on the hands. On my hair, I don’t find it very moisturizing, although the ingredients include glycerin. If you are seeking a more moisturizing product, I recommend aloe vera gel or just layer this over a leave-in.
Also, this gel does not give you a producty feel. However, your hair will still feel slightly crunchy. It is a gel, after all. 😉
Look – Thumbs up or down?
For me, Eco does a great job of defining my hair. It does not flake when paired with my leave-in, although it can react with other brands. This will take some play to get the right combo for you. As mentioned prior, my curly mane is shinier on the first day in its crunchy form. Once scrunched, my curly mane is slightly dull. Try oils to assist with obtaining sheen. If applied properly, Eco also does not make your hair frizzy.
When comparing Eco Protein, Krystal, and Curl and Wave, I find little difference among them. Krystal dries hair very hard, so I place this one in second place. Curl and Wave tends to cause the most shrinkage out of the group, coming in third place. Eco Styler Protein reacts best to my curly mane, providing the best of all needs—length, definition, volume, and 3rd day hair!
With such great results, Eco is shaking up my hair routine. I’ve been using this more often than aloe vera gel. I’ll let you know how it stacks up in the cooler months and against other products. Hmmm … perhaps it just might make for a solid entry into another Hair/Product Battle! Stay tuned!
UPDATED (1-9-13): I’ve been using Eco Krystal more regularly than the Protein version. You can’t go wrong with these gels. Check out how Eco Styler Gel stacks up against Fantasia IC Gel in my latest Hair Battle!
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