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Best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

Despite newer formulations and styling products being introduced every year, nothing beats the good old setting lotion. It’s still one of the most preferred hair products for African American hair. When I transitioned a couple of years ago, I had to look for the best setting lotion for natural 4c hair.

If you are still on the fence on whether or not to get a setting lotion, I will tell you this: setting lotions are the best for hard-to-curl natural hair.

They have a way better hold and don’t have the crunchy look that gels have.

Let’s delve deeper into what exactly a setting lotion is, its benefits, and how to use it.

What is setting lotion?

Setting lotion is a wet styling product that works similarly to styling gels and mousses. It is used to set hair into a desired shape or style.

It achieves this by coating strands of hair, ensuring that they do not dry out, for instance when you are setting in your rollers.

Once your hair has dried, the setting lotion prevents the absorption of moisture so that it doesn’t lose the curls, waves, or whatever style you had set.

Setting lotion is the best solution for hard-to-curl African American hair.

It defines the curls and helps them stay in place.


What are the benefits of setting lotion?

For any naturalista, the biggest benefit of setting lotion has got to be the fact that you require very minimal heat to achieve a curly look.

It also helps you to get a lot of moisture to achieve bouncy, shiny twist outs, curls, and waves.

Moreover, because your hair dries up while being set, the style tends to last longer and hold better.

You will require very minimal touch-up and upkeep until your next shampoo day – or until you comb it out.

The setting lotion also gives wash-and-go hair a sudden boost in texture, appearance, and curl definition.

Other benefits of setting lotion include:

  • Eliminates frizz when correctly applied
  • Doesn’t leave any residue because the lotion is lightweight
  • Can also be used on relaxed/permed hair
  • Leaves hair soft and manageable


Best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

There are various brands of setting lotions in the market that are perfect for natural hair.

I’ve reviewed seven of them below. I’ve personally used these brands that also happen to be some of the most recommended styling products in the natural hair community.

Lotta Body Setting Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

This is the first setting lotion I used after transitioning to natural hair. It worked perfectly on my 4c mane!

Lotta’s body setting lotion is a “vintage” product so to speak.

Its been with us for years, I can bet your grandma used it.

There is a reason it has stood the test of time. It must be the lotion’s ability to create long-lasting styles with a shiny finish.

It also gives hair some good volume and does not leave it looking crunchy as though you just fried your hair.

Lotta Body setting lotion is most ideal for wrapping, wet styling, or when blow-drying.

It can also be used on relaxed hair.

To use it, you need to dilute it for hair type. If your hair is dyed, you’ll mix four to five parts water to 1 part of the setting lotion.

If your hair is not color-treated, mix two to three parts water to one part lotion.

For the best results, apply this lotion to damp, towel-dried hair.

You’ll then comb it through the hair evenly before styling the hair as desired.

In case the hair dries before you’re done setting the hair, you can add more setting lotion.


  • It has a long-lasting hold
  • Does not flake or leave residue
  • Adds body and volume to the hair
  • It adds shine to hair
  • Prevents hair from getting frizzy
  • Dries pretty fast
  • Helps to seal split ends


  • Having to dilute with water first isn’t appealing to some users


Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion is a heat styling setting lotion but can be used heat-free on both natural and relaxed hair.

You can apply it when doing your overnight twists or curls.

Among the things that make it stand out is the heat protectant formulation.

This protects your hair from excess drying when heat styling which is the biggest culprit for breakage and split ends.

The fact that it’s alcohol-free also helps protect your hair against dryness.

If you are specifically going after volume and body, this shine formulation is a must-have.

I can guarantee that you will love how soft it feels on your hair and how manageable your hair instantly becomes.

It added sheen to your hair is a great bonus.


  • Prevents hair and scalp from feeling dry
  • Creates significant volume
  • It doesn’t flake
  • Dries pretty fast
  • Leaves hair looking smooth and shiny
  • Ideal for all hair types


  • May dry up in between application before you’re done setting your hair


Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Strengthen & Restore Styling Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

This Jamaican black castor oil styling lotion does much more than setting your styles – it also strengthens and restores extremely damaged hair.

And since its oil-based, with a combination of black castor oil and shea butter, it does a good job of keeping your hair moisturized by locking in moisture.

The setting lotion can be used on color-treated hair as well as permed, straightened, or heat styled hair.

It’s suitable for use on all hair types and textures.

This formulation is also great for protecting your hair against heat damage when using heat styling appliances.

For best results, use regularly before heat styling your curls or waves.

To use the product, squeeze a little bit onto your palm and gently apply on damp or dry hair, starting from the ends and working your way to the roots.


  • Great styling product, provides good hold
  • Increases resistance to breakage
  • Restores moisture to dry hair
  • Increases body and volume
  • Tames frizz
  • A little goes a long way
  • Leaves hair soft and manageable
  • Helps in detangling the hair


  • If a lot of product is used, it can leave your hair looking greasy


Design Essentials Natural Twist & Set Setting Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

This non-greasy setting lotion is a hit with the naturalistas.

I personally apply it on damp hair just before setting my flexi rods.

This product contains almond extract that adds shine and deeply nourishes the hair.

It also contains avocado that provides moisture and strengthens the hair, thus preventing breakage.

Wheat protein – another ingredient contained in this product – helps to strengthen and protect the hair during styling.

Moreover, the jojoba oil in this setting lotion also protects the hair against dryness.


  • Great styling product with medium hold
  • Moisturizes the hair
  • Acts as a good detangler
  • Dries fast
  • Good for all curl types
  • Doesn’t flake
  • Leaves hair looking shiny
  • Improves manageability


  • Not the first choice for people who prefer a strong hold


Kinky Curly Seriously Smooth Swift Set Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

Kinky Curly Seriously Smooth setting lotion is exactly what its name suggests – silky smooth and leaves hair super soft and shiny.

For that bouncy, shiny, and curly look, this is the product for you.

Enriched with two miracle oils – Argan oil and coconut oil – this setting lotion will leave your hair super moisturized to prevent any breakage or split ends.

It is great for people with dry hair or hair with high porosity.

For the best results, use on damp hair to lock in moisture.

You can also use it on dry hair if you are short on time and want quicker results.

One bottle can really serve you for long, you only need a dime-sized portion to apply on your sectioned hair.

One important tip when using this setting lotion is to always stretch your hair fully before you twist or roll your hair.


  • It moisturizes the hair
  • A little goes a long way
  • Can be used on both dry and wet hair
  • Makes hair extra soft


  • If a lot of product is used, it can weigh down the hair


Dr. Miracles Healing Wrapping & Setting Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

This is another great product if you’re looking for the best setting lotion for natural 4c hair.

​Dr. Miracles Healing Wrapping & Setting Lotion has a very pleasant scent that lingers on.

It’s also easy to work with and doesn’t create any mess.

You can use it to style both wet and dry hair as well as use it as a detangler and a conditioner.

And because of its moisturizing formulation, you will not be dealing with extremely dry hair that can result in breakage and split ends.

You will love how extra soft your hair will be, besides the volume, luster, and vibrancy that your hair will have.

It’s an absolute favorite for many especially because of its long-lasting hold.

However, I wouldn’t recommend it for overnight styles like twists.


  • It moisturizes the hair
  • Makes hair soft and easy to work on
  • Can be used to detangle hair
  • Prevents hair breakage and split ends
  • Great for wrapping and setting your hair
  • It doesn’t weigh down your hair


  • The scent may be overpowering for some users


Pantene Pro V Relaxed & Natural Conditioning Wrap & Set Lotion

best setting lotion for natural 4c hair

As its name suggests, this product is perfect for both relaxed and natural hair.

I highly recommended this styling lotion for wrapping and setting your hair.

It helps hold your wrap and set for hours.

The product is great at providing added volume as well as increasing shine.

It’s formulated with nutrients that enable it to transform weak and brittle hair into a healthy mane.

It contains ingredients such as coconut oil and jojoba oil that are great at sealing in moisture and enhancing luster.

For the best results, apply the setting lotion to towel-dried hair and then comb through for even distribution.

Proceed to style the hair as desired – whether it’s blow-drying, wrapping, or setting.


  • Holds hair in place all day long
  • Creates significant volume
  • Helps to define your curl pattern
  • Locks in moisture
  • Great for relaxed or natural hair
  • Can also be used to help hold twists, braids, or locs
  • Doesn’t weigh the hair down
  • Prevents frizz


  • If a lot of product is used, it can leave your hair looking greasy


How to use setting lotion to style natural hair

Setting lotion is no doubt a versatile product especially for people keen on styling their natural hair on a regular basis.

Most setting lotions can be used on any type of hair including the most coarse hair.

The setting lotions will work equally well when used on relaxed or permed hair.

The following are some of the ways you can use setting lotion on natural hair:

Wash & Go

You can use setting lotion to enhance or define your natural curls.

After shampooing and conditioning, section your hair and apply the setting lotion of your choice on damp hair.

Comb through and make sure every hair strand is evenly coated with the setting lotion.

Allow curls to form and air dry or lightly diffuse to set the curls.

You can also use the setting lotion to touch up your curls by applying a small amount and twisting out the loose curls until they spring back.

Roller setting

If you’re looking to straighten your hair without the use of direct heat, you can try roller setting.

Please note that if you have natural (4c) hair like mine, roller setting won’t make your hair completely straight, but it’s a great way to stretch your hair and deal with shrinkage.

Apply the setting lotion to your sectioned hair and work it into your hair until every strand is saturated with the product.

Set the rollers or flexi rods as desired.

Twist outs

Setting lotion is great for achieving great twist outs as well.

Apply some setting lotion to your hair as you twist each section.

When you finally unravel the twists, you’ll have some well-defined and long-lasting twist outs.

You can similarly use setting lotion on Bantu knots just the same way you do for twist outs.


Hair setting lotions can be applied to damp hair or dry hair.

Take note that it is damp hair not wet hair: applying setting lotion to dripping wet hair will dilute the lotion and affect your desired style.

Ensure that you carefully read the instructions before use to achieve the best results.

For quicker results, you can sit under a hooded dryer for 20-30 minutes.

Otherwise, letting your hair air dry is also a good option.



All setting lotions do one thing in common: help you hold your hair in one place so you can rock your hairstyle for longer.

What varies, however, is how much more the setting lotion will do for your hair.

Some will set your hair as well as condition, moisturize, strengthen, restore or add body and shine.

What you choose all depends on what your hair needs are and what you hope to achieve with the setting lotion.

This review will help you to choose the best setting lotion for natural 4c hair.

If you don’t know what to pick from our list, I strongly recommend that you try out the Lotta Body setting lotion.

The Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion is similarly another favorite of mine that I recommend a lot.

They both do a good job of holding wet and dry styles as well as moisturizing, conditioning, as well as adding shine and body to the hair.

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