Unsung Hero/Childhood Villain: Care Free Curl Gold Instant Activator

By now you should know that most of my posts are inspired by questions, and today’s post is no different. A reader asked (in general, not to me), what is the best leave in for low porosity, 3c-4b hair. There are a few obvious choices, like OGX Coconut Curls (hands down the best hair butter I’ve ever used) and SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie (I have to layer this on very thick, dries slow, but my curls always come out beautiful and flake free).

But, like any other beauty product, an unsung hero is amongst us.

But this unsung hero has a perilous tale behind it, full of childhood trauma.

Aprill Coleman
Before #she decided to ruin my hair with a Jheri curl.

Let me take you back to 1990- I’m a light skinned, black girl (2nd grade) attending a predominately white school that was totally not in my school district. My mom made me attend this school  because she did not want me in the classroom with my cousin because we were playing a lot (truth be told, it has never been in my nature to goof off, but whatever mom). Secretly, I think she wanted me at a predominately white school to have a ‘better opportunity’. Whatever. I am under the assumption that Jheri curls were very popular back then because she gave me one. Again, I think she did it to make it look like I had good hair when in fact, it did the exact opposite.

It was a Saturday morning and I should have been out playing with my friends, riding bikes and going to the candy lady’s house, but instead, I was propped up in a chair by the sink, receiving the fleecing of a lifetime. Getting a damn Jheri curl. I remember the perm rods, and the weird chemical that smelled like eggs (I have an unexpected encounter with that chemical last year when I tried to dye my hair purple and it turned black and I tried to remove the dye with color oops.), multiple washings and…..curl activator. One look at the finished product and I was devastated. I went from having semi-decent crappy hair, to funny smelling, wet, and not really curly hair. I didn’t go outside Saturday evening because I had the stench of eggs on my shoulders. Sunday was the same and Monday was D-day. The day I would go to school with this curl.

Two years prior, Coming To America was playing in theaters. I’m not sure what the turn around time was from theater to VHS, but if I had to guess, it was 1990. On the heels of that movie, and the introduction of Soul Glo, I would return to school with a curl.

“Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Aprill, what happened to your hair?”

“Did your mom give you a curl?”

*random white kid humming Soul Glo theme song* <—how the f*ck?

*the only other damn black kid in the classroom is reciting the following words: “drip…drip…drip…drip…drip…drip”* <—like damn, we the only two black kids in here, I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO STICK TOGETHER (solidarity, or whatever)

Fast forward to the years prior to going natural, I would visit a salon (yanno, to get my HURRRR done), and it has always been salon protocol in the South to get a relaxer come hell or high water. Just got your hair done two weeks ago? She’s putting a relaxer in your head again, you know, to make her job easier. And they would always say the same thing after they washed and rinsed all the relaxer away- “Girl, I could really slap some activator on your hair and you be GOOD”. The word activator left my soul uneasy, anxiety ensued…activator ruined by 2nd-grade experience. Why would I go back?

It’s 2016 and here I am, natural hair in scalp and I wanted to try something new. Digging around in hair forums, I discovered that the bane of my 2nd-grade existence is the best leave in for my hair type.

What is low porosity hair?

Porosity refers to how well your hair soaks in a product. Don’t know your hair type? Determine that here. My hair is low porosity, meaning it does not soak in much of anything well. I know this story all too well, because as much as I love to color my hair, it takes a very long time to process.

People like myself, with low porosity hair, need products that contain emollients (softeners) and/or humectants (retain moisture). Like I said above, I’ve tried a few products, they work very well, but we live in a day and age where a product will be here today, and not be here tomorrow. Plus, it’s just the beauty blogger in me to always be on the hunt for the next best thing. Also, why not use something that’s existed on earth since the 80’s. It will never be discontinued right?

Care Free Curl Gold Instant Activator

Care Free Curl Gold

Care Free Curl Gold Instant Activator (8 oz./ SRP $5.87) has become my leave in HG for soft, fully defined curls on my low porosity hair. This water, humectant based product hold moisture better than any product I’ve ever got my hands on. I find that this works better on wet hair, as a matter of fact, I would not advise applying it on dry hair, because it will not have any moisture to initially maintain, and it could cause hair breakage.

Care Free Curl Gold has an incredible amount of slip, making it excellent for detangling curls as well. Apply a quarter (or more, I use more) to each section of the hair and detangle with ease. But be gentle.

Care Free Curl Gold does come with a downside if you consider it one at all. This activator makes the hair incredibly soft, and it does make the hair shrink. I’m not into elongating my curls just yet. I’m taking baby steps with this whole natural hair thing. What is important to me right now if soft, defined, moisturized hair. This activator is giving me everything I need.

Who knew that one day, the villain that made my childhood a living hell, would one day become my hero.

More about Aprill

Aprill Coleman is an award-winning beauty, lifestyle and wellness blogger and freelance writer based in Jackson, Mississippi.

5 thoughts on “Unsung Hero/Childhood Villain: Care Free Curl Gold Instant Activator

  1. Rose

    I think nearly all of us have had our run in with Care Free Curl. I do find it funny that even after all this time it is still a go-to product for many and I have seen several woman say they tried many other products and just ended up using Care Free Curl again lol


  2. Tone S

    Ha! Love it! Although I don’t use the Care Free Curl, I do use an activator on my hair some days, and I LOVE IT! I never had the dreaded jheri curl, but my sisters and cousins did, I was vehemently opposed, and my mother knew it. ha! Hair care and beauty care are coming full circle!


    1. Hey Aprill

      Lucky girl! I feel like a curl was a rite of passage for me!


  3. MilaXX

    When I was a lose natural, my go to product was S curl gel for the very same reason. It gave me curl definition and softness like no other.


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