Over the last two and a half years, I feel like I’ve perfected my styling routine for my curly hair using The LMG Method. No matter what brand I use, or whether I mix and match products from different brands. I get consistent, long-lasting results and great wash days every time, using a Leave-In Conditioner, Mousse and Gel.
The LMG Method: Leave-In, Mousse, Gel
The LMG method follows three simple steps of my styling routine to moisturise. Using a leave in conditioner, define – using mousse, and create hold – using gel. I like to mix and match my products across a few brands, especially when I’m testing out new products. But I always stick to the LMG method. And when I say mousse, I also mean foam. The only time I don’t use this method is when I’m using MopTop Curly Hair Custard – CURLMAVEN for 10% off And Bouclème Super Hold Styler, also a custard – CURLMAVEN for 20% off are my favourites.
Mousse – not just for the 80’s & 90’s
I’ve been using mousse to style my curly hair for 20 years! For 17 of those years, I used Pantene Defined Curls Mousse, and buy one get one half price! It’s still one of my all-time favourites. So I feel like I know my stuff when it comes to mousse. Although admittedly, it wasn’t until I discovered the curly girl method that I realised I was supposed to scrunch out the crunch once my hair had dried.
For all those years I’d been walking around with crunchy curls on wash day! Wondering why I always preferred my hair on day 2 and 3 – after I’d SOTC in my sleep! But mousse is not just a thing of the 80’s and 90’s, don’t let those mental images and flash backs put you off!
Switching out & testing new products
Since discovering the curly girl method – which you can read about here if you’re new here. I’ve tried many different styling products and combinations. The LMG method means I can switch out different products with confidence. Knowing that the combination of a leave-in, mousse and a gel works every time.
Whether I’m testing new products, or using products with more or less protein, depending on what my hair needs that day. Some foams can feel quite gritty and drying on the hair, which is usually because they contain protein. But by layering it over a leave in conditioner, and under a gel, curls stay hydrated and moisturised, with a good protein moisture balance.
Consistent results, every time!
The LMG method means wash days aren’t such hard work. It doesn’t feel like a gamble, playing Russian Roulette with your styling products, cocktails and combinations. Never quite knowing if it’s going to be a success or not! If you’ll make it until the next wash day, throw it up in a pineapple for the rest of the week. Or do the whole thing again tomorrow!
You can play around with different products within the LMG method, and get consistent results every time. I advise changing one thing at a time to see what works best for your hair. Eg: try pairing different leave in conditioners with the same mousse and gel combo. I’ve got some LMG product combination suggestions at the end of the post.
Every time I use this method for my styling routine, I get hydrated curls and juicy clumps. With long-lasting, frizz-free curl definition that lasts for days! I can go 5-7 days between washes now, with no refreshing in between! I’ve been working on a really exciting project all Summer with a good curl friend of mine. We’ve been testing out the top 10 curly girl friendly mousses and foams. I’m looking for good definition and my curl friend (can you guess who it is?) is looking for volume. That’s coming next week so if you haven’t subscribed, make sure you do so you don’t miss it!
The LMG Method Product Combinations
I’ve recommended this method to so many people, and they have all said it’s been a game changer! Giving them great wash day results. As well as curls, clumps and definition like they’ve never had before! Here are a few of my favourite product combinations for the LMG method if you want to try them yourself. If your hair is feeling a little over-moisturised, just skip the leave in conditioner.
Mix & Match Budget LMG Method: Leave in conditioner: Giovanni Direct Leave In Conditioner – CURLMAVEN for 20% off. Mousse: Pantene Defined Curls Mousse. Gel: Aussie Instant Freeze Gel. See my Amazon USA and Amazon UK shops to purchase these products.
Mix & Match LMG Method: Leave in conditioner: Flora & Curl Leave In Detangler – CURLMAVEN for 20% off. Mousse: Dippity-Do Curls Boosting Mousse (I get mine in TK Maxx or Naturalistic Products). Gel: Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly – CURLMAVEN for 20% off.
All-Giovanni Budget LMG Method: Leave in conditioner: Direct Leave In Conditioner. Mousse: Natural Mousse Air Turbo Charged Hair Styling Foam. Gel: LA Natural Gel. See my Amazon USA and Amazon UK shops to purchase these products. Or get 20% off when you shop on Look Fantastic, using the code CURLMAVEN.
All Innersense LMG Method: Leave In Conditioner: Sweet Spirit Leave In Conditioner. Mousse: I Create Lift Volumising Foam. Gel: I Create Hold Gel. If you’re in the USA, you can get 15% off your first purchase by signing up to their email list. And FREE U.S. shipping over $75. If you’re outside the USA, you can buy Innersense from The Clean Beauty Edit. They ship worldwide and get 10% off using code CURMAVEN.
You also get additional discount if you purchase 3 or more Innersense products. For the rest of the world, or any of the territories mentioned above, you can purchase Innersense from Cult Beauty. They do FREE world wide shipping on orders over £40. And you get a FREE Innersense Hydrating Hair Masque when you spend over £50 on Innersense.
If you have any questions about the LMG method, or you’ve tried it and want to share your product combo and how you got on. Please share it in the comments below and we can all help and inspire each other. Gabriella xoxo
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If you’re new to the curly girl method, or feel like your hair looks worse than before you started. Check out this post that documents my first year following the curly girl method and why you shouldn’t give up.
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Thank you for the post! I’m just starting my curly girl journey. I’ve always worn my hair curly but I’ve never paid attention to ingredients until now. I think I’ve figured out that I’m low porosity but still trying to discover what products to use. This sounds like a method I should try.
Thanks Nicole, this is a great method no matter if you’re new to the CG method, or been doing it for years. It’s also great for all porosity types, curl patterns and hair lengths. Hopefully it works great for you too x
Rachel Diamond says
Hi Gabriella. I am very new to this all and so far mixed results, but loving the experimenting!!
Quick Q’s if you have time.
Have you tried any of the Noughty products?
I am pretty sure I am low porosity, so on a wash day (once a week?) do you recommend low-poo, conditioner AND leave-in? (Obvs then followed by mousse and gel)
I just bought some co-wash. As a low porosity am I right in thinking this is for a wash inbetween my Low-poo wash days?
Would you recommend a conditioner after a co-wash or just go straight to mousse and gel? Think that’s all for now. I have found your blogs really excellent btw. X
Hi Rachel, I have tried the Noughty products but not enough to give an opinion on them just yet. Wash your hair as often as you need to, but aim for one or two times a week unless you’re working out every day and need/want to wash your hair more often. You can buy a separate leave in conditioner, or you can use some of your conditioner as a leave in, or simply don’t rinse all of your conditioner out – leaving some in. You can co wash every time you wash your hair, or do it every other wash, alternating between a low poo. There’s no set rules, you need to experiment and see what works best for your hair. I always condition whether I’ve co-washed or used a low poo. So cleanse, condition, then the LMG method. Hope that helps and answers your questions. x
Rachel Diamond says
Thanks so much! Looking forward to your next post x
Hi Gabriella! I am new to the CG method and living in the UK so I was so happy when I came across your website as a lot of the youtube curly girls are American and promote American products!
I am so keen to try the LMG method, I was just wondering how you apply them? Do you rake them through one by one and squish as you go? Do you plop and if so is it after applying all 3?
Sorry for all the questions, as you can probably tell I’m very new and keen to get the correct method down!
Hi Phoebe, thank you! Actually almost all of the American products can be got in the UK, just mostly online. I apply all products to wet hair, upside down using my hands. I’m going to do a wash day video soon, using this LMG method so people can see exactly how I do it, as I get a LOT of questions to do wash day and refresh videos. I apply each product one by one, I squish after leave in, but not after mousse. Then I gently cup my curls towards my head after gel, but don’t actually squish or scrunch – if that makes sense.
Hiya! Thank you for all your blogs, they’ve been so helpful!
I have bought a few products from your recommendations now and feel like I’m finally getting somewhere.. yesterday I did a co-wash, condition, then LMG and my results were amazing! Finally combatted that frizz!
However, I’m really struggling with day 2 hair, the frizz starts creeping back in.. what’s the best way to refresh?
Thank you ☺️
Try using more product, if not, I have a refresh routine on Boucleme’s IGTV on Instagram. Hope that helps x
Thanks for a great post. Would you use this method if using the yellow boucleme gel? Is it just the purple gel you class as a ‘custard’? Would you skip the mouse if using a custard? Thanks!!
You can use the Boucleme Curl Defining Gel if you want, absolutely. The Super Hold Styler, although marketed and designed as a strong hold gel, is for me a strong hold custard. I still like to use a mousse even if I’m using a custard, for extra curl definition. But play around and see what works best for your hair.
Hello! Do you apply mousse on soaking wet or damp hair? I have low porosity hair and it takes forever to dry.
Hair that takes ages to dry is actually high porosity, not low. I’ve learned that in recent months and need to edit my Hair Porosity post. After I rinse out my conditioner, I squeeze all the excess water out of my hair, apply my leave in, squeeze excess water out again, then apply my mousse, and then gel. I don’t go near my hair with any kind of towel or cotton t shirt. So it’s still quite wet. Hope that helps. x
Hey there! I find this post very helpful and am frustrated in trying to nail a CONSISTANTLY good hair routine!! I thought I’d determined quite assuradly that I have low porosity hair till I read this above. I’m even more confused!
I have LOTS of hair that is also very thick! Each strand (when clean or clarified) is smooth and it will float in a glass of water for days without sinking!
My hair takes forever to dry. Like I get lots of moisture out with a microfiber towl, then product (much as you describe), then I should be dry by lunch (so at least 5 hours). I feel like if I don’t dry at all, I would be damp by dinner!
Ack!!! Suggestions?? I’ve been avoiding protein to some extent, and I think I’ll experiment with the suggestions you have about over-moisturized (I use catu cream and shea moisture products, though not at once) 🙂
2c/3a curls I think!
Hi Brooke, don’t pay any attention to the glass test for porosity, it’s not accurate. By the sounds of it, you have high porosity hair. Stop using Cantu and Shea Moisture products – they’re not good products and I don’t recommend them. There’s no need to avoid protein. Hope that helps.
Gabby exactly how much mousse should I pump out into my hair? I’ve been trying the CG method for almost two years and still can’t get it right and I’m an avid follower of yours so I’m down to try this now. I guess I don’t have the patience to know what works. Thank you for always giving me hope. At 57 maybe one day I’ll get a good hair day.
Hi Laura, if I’m using foam I use 3 pumps for each section, and I apply products in about 4 or 5 sections, and then graze about 2 pumps over the top canopy of my hair to tame any halo frizz. So I use quite a lot, but I also have a lot of hair! Hope that helps, Gabriella
This is my go to method! I’m all for simplicity and this always works.
SAME! Love a good simple method that works every time!
Thanks for the great info. Will definitely try it out! Can I just ask, do you recommend applying products to soaking wet hair? Thank u! ♥️
Yes, I apply to wet hair. I squeeze the excess water out of my hair using my hands, but not a towel, so it’s still pretty wet, but not quite soaking, dripping wet.
I was introduced to hair straighteners when I was 21 and have used them daily !!! ever since. I am now 47 and on Saturday at the hair dressers I finally took the courage to go back to my roots and be a curly girl. I have been reading your articles for most of the day today, and to be honest they are fascinating, but frightening, I had no idea I would have so much to learn about my own hair.
So, I think I’m getting the gist of where I need to start, and the reason I’m jumping on to the back of this post is about the whole wet hair no towel thing!
So, once I have co-washed my hair, I rinse that, then condition, then rinse, then squeeze the moisture out. Then add my leave-in conditioner and scrunch, then add the mousse in sections, don’t do anything and then add the gel and cup to my head. all upside down. If I can’t use a towel or t-shirt, how do I dry my hair? I don’t want to use a hairdryer, but I also don’t want to walk around with my hair dripping wet?
Hi Juliet, you can of course use a cotton or microfibre or Aquis towel or cotton t shirt to dry your hair, or a diffuser with a hairdryer – which you said you didn’t want to do. The alternative to that is air drying. But not everyone gets the best volume or curl definition from air drying, it just depends on your hair.
Not sure if you’ll see this since it’s about a year after this post, but when you apply mousse, do you glaze it over your hair? I see that you don’t scrunch it in. Just not sure how you actually apply it if you don’t scrunch or rake? Thanks!
Excellent post – thanks so much! 🙂
I’ve been doing leave in, foam, curl activator and gel my curls are great but my hair still feels very dry. What’s your thought?
Cantu Curl Activator? If so, that’s most likely what’s drying your hair out. I don’t advise using Cantu or Shea Moisture products.
Will you please do a step-by-step video on this?
Hi Belle, yes – it’s on my list of things to film. I’ve just got the tiler in atm and I’m waiting for him to get the bathroom finished so I can film it. x
This has been my go-to method since early summer when your posts inspired me to give mousse/foams a try again (like you I used them back in the day!)
I have two questions:
1) how much leave in conditioner do you recommend? I feel like I may not be using enough, but I don’t want my hair to get producty.
2) Which of the 3 products do you use for refresh, when water alone isn’t working?
Thanks for all the information you share!
Hi Roberta, yes I’ve been talking about these products and this way of applying them and styling for a long time now, I’ve just never called it anything until now. I don’t use that much leave in conditioner because I don’t want my hair to get weighed down as that’s the most moisturising out of the 3 products that I use. As for refreshing, it depends. If I’m doing a full wet refresh I’ll use all three products again, if it’s just a few curls, I’ll usually just use the gel. Hope that helps x
Stephanie N says
I just discovered your website and am finding it SO helpful! Have you posted on how you apply these products to your hair? I’m at a loss on if I’m using too little or not enough and if scrunching them in is good enough. Thanks!
Hi Stephanie, aww thank you so much! A lot of time and effort has gone into the content on this site so it’s always so nice to hear people find it helpful. I have some info on my highlights on Instagram, but I’ve yet to film a wash day tutorial – bit I will be doing soon. Just waiting for the tiling to be done in my bathroom. ha ha. Personally I don’t think scrunching the product in is going to be good enough. I use praying hands and a raking method and then gently scrunch. Hope that helps x
Do you you wrake through both the moose and the gel and then “pulse”?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Louise, please see this YouTube video for how I apply my products: https://youtu.be/b3y593StTcA
Hey Gabriella. Love this post and realise this is what I’ve been doing too, without knowing it’s a actually a thing! (Must have picked it up somewhere in your posts!)
I also get that halo frizz, do you do grazing on top after you’ve put in all 3 products and then just use the mousse? And do you flip your head back up to do that? I’m determined to get this right next wash day!
Thanks for all your tips and tricks!!
Hi Nicola, I have certainly mentioned this way of using styling products before, I’ve just never given it a name before. Regarding your halo frizz, have you read the post I wrote on that? There’s some great tips and tricks in there, as it’s probably not what you think it is that’s causing the halo frizz. But yes, I graze some mousse and gel over the top, I also flip my hair back up the right way to do that. Hope that helps! xoxo
Can I use an oil such as Argan oil after the leave in conditioner but before the gel, or is this something you would not recommend?
Personally I don’t apply oils to my hair. If you want to, you would have to determine if it’s a sealing oil or a moisturising oil. If it’s a sealing, you’d add it at the very end to seal everything else in. If it’s a moisturising one, you’d want to do it after your conditioner/leave in conditioner. Hope that helps x
With the innersense range, With the LMG, is it best to apply on wet soaking hair then plopping or just normal washed wet hair then plopping? Hope this makes sense. I have seen a few people apply gel to soaking wet hair to help with clumps, but I just wanted to know if it worked well with putting mousse on the same way before the gel x
Hi Sheryl, yes I prefer to apply all my products to wet hair. Not dripping wet, but wet hair. Hope that helps x
Thank you, Gabriella! I’m always excited to try new methods and this will be a great way for me to use up my DevaCurl Foam (it’s not my favorite product but I’m stuck with it). I think this will also be a good routine for fall since I don’t need as much gel as the dew points dip. I like my results from my first attempt: Alikay Lemongrass leave-in for a protein boost, DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam (probably 8-9 pumps total), and Aussie Instant Freeze Gel. Then plopped with t-shirt while eating breakfast and then diffused. Great definition and decent volume (for me). Thanks again, I will definitely be using the method again.
Hi Gabriella, thank you for your detailed post about the LMG method. As being very interested in the curly hair care world and also an avid of trying new methods of styling my natural hair, this article could be very useful, and it is well explained so as it could easily be reproduced at home by any natural hair person. The product listing combination is very useful as it could suit different types of natural haired people due to this wide range of product. However, in the products section where all the products that should be used for this styling method, mousse is one of them. According to my own knowledge, mousse is favorable to be used when having type 2 and type 3A hair type because it is lightweight, and it encourages volume. Could the mousse be replaced in this method or we could use the mousse alongside the other products with other hair types like 3B or even type 4 hair? Is this styling method suitable for all-natural hair types or it is for a specific hair type? I could give this method a try and could the wet plop method be used after being done after styling?
Hi Béatrice, this LMG method can be tried out by anyone with any wavy, curly or kinky hair type. The mousse in this method is use as a curl enhancer and definer, so if your hair is more coarse and kinky coily and you’d prefer to use something else instead of the mousse, I would suggest using a custard, or if your hair is dry and needs lots of moisture, then use a curl cream. However, then it’s not technically the LMG method, as the products used are different. But the principle is the same: something to moisturise (leave in conditioner) something to enhance and define (mousse) and something to hold (gel). You can of course use other methods such as wet plopping, diffusing etc afterwards. It’s totally up to you and what works for your hair. Hope that helps x
While using this method do you still follow the other CG steps such as: deep conditioning?
If you use a leave in conditioner do you use any other conditioner first? What shampoos are you using?
I was just going to order products and now I’m not sure what to order.
Hi Brittania, yes I still deep condition. My hair hates me when I don’t regularly deep condition. I still use a conditioner, always! But I always rinse it out when I know I’m following up with a leave in conditioner. My favourite cleansers (shampoos) are from Bounce Curl (use code CURLYCAILIN10 for 10% off). Hope that helps.
I really would like to try the LMG method. From your Amazon shop I bought the As I Am leave in condition, Aussie gel and the Pantene mousse. Is this a good combination for the LMG method? Thank you! Belle
“I don’t advise using Cantu or Shea Moisture products.”
Why don’t you advise Shea Moisture? I thought that was a pretty safe product line?
I would disagree, as do many, many hair professionals and long-term followers of the curly girl method and Lorraine Massey herself. They are made using incredibly cheap, poor quality ingredients, loaded with heavy oils and butters, which suffocate the, preventing moisture and hydration from penetrating the hair causing damage and weighing it down. Almost every single dm, email or question I get about hair problems, frizz, build up, limp lifeless curls that are weighed down and losing their curl pattern, the person has been using Shea Moisture or Cantu products. As soon as they do a deep clarifying shampoo to get rid of all the build up of heavy oils and butters, and start using other, better products using better quality ingredients in better formulations, their hair and curls are much much healthier, less frizz, more definition and volume. I hope that helps clarify why I continually say throughout this blog, that I don’t recommend using Shea Moisture or Cantu.
Thank you, that’s really interesting stuff. Given that some of the budget options you suggest on this blog are CHEAPER than Shea Moisture products, I’m really surprised to hear this. What heavy oils and butters do you recommend avoiding?
because it’s not always necessarily about price, but also about the quality of the ingredients. Giovanni is very affordable, but their ingredients, in my opinion and experience, are much much better. I don’t recommend using any heavy oils and butters. But well formulated shea, coconut, castor and mango butter are good if you have high porosity hair or like to use oils and butters.
You mentioned mousse prior to gel. In your Bounce Curl review it sounded like you put mousse AFTER the gel. Could you please “clarify” (lol). I just received my Bounce Curl products and can’t wait to try them.
Yes, this is the only time I apply my mousse after gel. I’ve just found it’s what works best for my hair, as the Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel has a lot of protein in it.
Where and how do I buy one of your cute heat caps? Are you out?
Hello! I’ve desperately searched for the Pantene Defined Curls Mousse No. 5 in the states to no avail! I can find a no. 5, but it’s not for curls, or I can find a curl mousse that is not No. 5. Would the Innersense be your next go to recommendation? Or the Giovanni? I’ve tried some budget brands that are CG friendly, like Herbal Essences Totally Twisted, but the alcohol content is too high and it makes my hair a little dry and brittle. Really wanted to try the Pantene, but since I can’t find it, I’m now feeling stuck. Thoughts? Thanks!
Jessica Moncada says
Would you consider leave-in basically the same as a cream?
No. They do two different things in my opinion, and creams are usually much heavier than leave in conditioners. I would never use both a leave in and a cream though, as that’s too much moisture on the hair. Hope that helps x
Do you know if the Pantene curl mouse is different in the US…asking because the bottles don’t look the same?
Once it’s the defined curls mousse one yes. Bottles and packaging across large companies and brands can offer differ slightly across different territories.
Hi. Thank you for your absolutely fabulous advice. I started the CGM method last Friday and I’m honestly astonished at the results having battled frizz constantly from when I moved house 5yrs ago. Today I feel my hair is too swishy/heavy. It’s still curly but lacking volume. Above you mention about the leave-in being the most moisturising step in the LMG method. I did reduce the amount today so now I’m wondering if i should skip the leave-in next time to improve volume or maybe start the routine from the beginning with a clarifying shampoo? Thanks so much x
Hi Suzanne, if your hair feels too swishy, it may be because you don’t have enough gel or a strong enough hold gel in. If it’s too heavy, it may be because you didn’t rinse out all your conditioner and then adding leave in conditioner on top is too much for your hair. If you’re having issues with volume, I suggest reading this post: https://curlmaven.ie/get-root-volume-curly-hair/ BUt yes, you can also try skipping the leave in and see does your hair cope better, use smaller amounts of each product and of course clarifying is always helpful. x
Susan w says
You are a genius! I’m just 2 weeks in so lots of experimentation and wondering if maybe cg is not right for me because of all the frizz. Some days have looked better than others. Tried your lmg method today and it’s 100% better. Just have to experiment with my mousse amount. Probably used a little too much today. Thank you!
Yay! So glad this method has worked for you too x
Do you have product recommendations for high porosity girls that have these well formulated shea, coconut, castor and mango butter you suggest? I haven’t seen them in the posts here. 🙂 Thank you!
Because I’ve not found any I’m happy to use and recommend, they’re all too heavy.
You said that you don’t follow the LMG method when using the Boucleme Super Hold Styler or other custards. What steps do you follow when using those products? I’m interested in trying the Super Hold Styler, and am wondering how to pair it with Innersense.
Hi Sally, I often use a custard as a one and done styler, if not, I’ll layer it with a mousse so just replace the gel in the LMG method, with the custard.
If I use a custard, I usually skip the leave in, and do mousse, custard and then gel. But some custards are great one and done stylers too, so I’ll either use them on their own, or do a mousse and then a custard. It just depends on my hair that day.
AWESOME!! Been struggling to find the right method and this is it! So excited to have juicy curl clumps :):):) thank you for this post!
Side note: I also read your other post about moisture/protein balance and realized I was applying too much moisture! I skipped conditioner and just lo-pooed and used a light leave-in after… amazing!! My hair has never been so defined and shiny! Thanks for transforming my hair with your advice!
Thank you so much for this post! It’s been a total game changer for my hair. I’ve never used mousse as part of my routine until reading your post. I recently started CGM and I’m starting with Herbal Essences Totally Twisted mousse since it’s inexpensive and easily obtainable. It’s made such a difference in between my leave-ins and gels (which change depending on my mood and the weather.) I have thin/fine naturally grey 3b shoulder-length curly hair. The mousse step seems to give my hair a layer of coverage for frizz protection and hold that leave-in and gel alone did not. Thank you, thank you!!
You’re so welcome! I love the Herbal Essence Totally Twisted Mousse, it’s a great alternative and the closest in formula and ingredients to my beloved Pantene Defined Curls Mousse. So glad you like it and it’s working well for you too. And yes, the mousse works great on it’s own too. I only used mousse as a styler product for 17 years and it was great!
Funny I just discovered this for my son’s hair! It does work. The one thing I do switch on occasion is if the leave in is thicker that the mousse I put in the mousse first then the leave in. Basically going from thinnest product to thickest!
Thank you for all this information – it’s really useful.
Which order would you recommend the following? I’ve just bought the Treluxe products.
Bounce Curl Silk moisture shampoo.
Treluxe hi definition.
I’d switch the gel and the mousse around if it were me, but the quickest way to find out what works best for you is to try the line up yourself and next washday switch up the order of your styling products and see if there’s a difference.
Awesome info – many thanks! Are there specific products for the LMG method you would recommend for fine curly hair? I was going to try the Innersense products (Sweet Spirit Leave in, I create Lift foam and I create hold gel) but wanted to see if these are good for fine curlies.