Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Serum Brought My Damaged Curls Back to Life

It reversed the effects of salt water, chlorine, and a grimy three-day music festival.

Racked has affiliate partnerships, which do not influence editorial content, though we may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. We also occasionally accept products for research and reviewing purposes. See our ethics policy here.

Photo: @mydevacurl

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

My thick, nappy curls don't do too well in the summer. Between salt water and intense sun at the beach, harsh chlorine from the pool, and the crowded, humid air I expose it on a daily basis, my hair is beat (see: brittle, strained, lifeless) well before the end of July.

I've typically "fixed" this in one of two ways: shelling out upwards of $300 to have it professionally handled, or spending hours throughout the week deep conditioning at home, aimlessly chopping off whatever ends felt split beyond repair. Neither option is great (or cost-effective).

A post shared by DevaCurl (@mydevacurl) on

My hair was feeling the worst of it after coming home from Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival when I remembered I'd received a sample from DevaCurl's new Buildup Buster ($28). It’s a rinse-out micellar water cleansing serum that promises to restore your curls from build up and general damage; the brand suggests to use it on wet hair in place of shampoo. It was (obviously!) the perfect time to try it.

I'll start by saying that while I was gifted the product courtesy of the brand when it launched back in February, I've already purchased a back-up before finishing the first bottle. I was initially intrigued, not by its claims, but because its the first hair product to use micellar water, a makeup remover you’re probably familiar with if you dabble in the skincare world.

I was excited to see what it would do to my curls, and after trying it, I'm not sure why its never been used in this category before. The micellar water attracted the dirt and grime on my hair and scalp like a magnet, gently removing build-up without leaving my curls feeling stripped or dry like traditional clarifying shampoos and treatments typically do. The serum is the consistency of a super thin gel, which made it easy to distribute through my hair and really target my scalp; so did the nozzle on the bottle.

It's also formulated with a blend of abyssinian seed oil and jojoba, which added a huge boost of moisture and shine following the thorough clean. After my first rinse, my scalp felt so clean and my curls felt tighter, softer, and shinier than they'd ever been.

I initially used the Buildup Buster for damage control, but now I use it as recommended, once or twice a week as a routine reset to give my curls all the moisture they need. My only complaint? There needs to be a salon-sized bottle.