How to Revive Curls Between Wash Days
Expert-approved secrets to keeping them fresh.
If you have curly hair, it can often feel as though your curls have a mind of their own: twisting, bouncing, and frizzing to their heart’s content. As a result, you might spend wash day carefully giving your curls and coils the attention they need and deserve.
But after a night’s rest, they can quickly wander off course. Though the bedhead look can certainly be embraced, there’s a fine line between lived-in hair and a tangled mess. Luckily, restoring your curls' glory doesn’t require a full shampoo reset. Read on for advice on how to refresh your curls in between wash days.
Related:The Best Curly Haircut Ideas For Summer
Start With Wash Day
It’s possible to retain the shape of your curls after wash day, but it does start with how you approach your in-shower regimen. “Particularly for type 3 and 4 curls, longevity for a wash-and-go starts way before styling your hair,” says Sophia Emmanuel, Hairitage by Mindy trichologist and hairstylist.
With curly hair, you wash less often, so “it is important to start with a shampoo that will cleanse your hair without stripping it from its natural oils," she says. "This ensures there will be no product buildup on your hair before conditioning and styling." It also allows both conditioner and styling products to work better, which can help curls retain their shape for longer.
Apply Stylers ASAP
On wash day, skip the towel-dry before styling. “Styling products should always be applied to soaking wet hair to help your products distribute evenly and provide optimum curl definition to last as long as possible," says Emmanuel. "It also helps to reduce flaking of products that have a stronger hold, such as gels, foams, and mousse." If your hair starts to air-dry while you’re styling, she suggests rewetting it with a spray bottle of water as needed to keep it damp.
Also, don't be afraid to go for products that have extra hold. “Products with hold give curls definition and help you avoid having to reapply more through the week,” she says. If long-lasting curls are the name of the game, consider Bread Beauty Supply Hair Gel: Long-wear Curl Capturing Gloss, which locks in wet-set curls with a medium-to-strong hold.
Use Your Diffuser
How you dry your hair after styling is also strategic to making defined curls last. “Instead of air-drying your hair, use a diffuser to allow your styling product to set into your hair," Emmanuel says. "This helps avoid frizz and prolongs the life of your wash-and-go." And, in setting your style, your curls will keep their shape that much longer.
As tempting as it might be to zhush your newly styled hair, “to avoid frizz, product flaking, and disrupting your curl pattern, try not to touch your hair while your hair is drying," she says. And once they're dry, definitely do not brush or comb your waves, since doing so can both cause frizz and wreck your curl pattern.
Related:Plopping Is the Secret to Smooth, Frizz-Free Curls
Consider Your Between-Wash Stylers
In the few days post-wash, your curly hair styling products should focus on hydration and “should be lightweight to avoid flaking that will force you to wash your hair sooner,” says Emmanuel. “A wash and go can last up to 10 days, depending on the technique, product used, and overall condition of the hair." For instance, the level of hold of your product can extend your curls' lifespan by several days.
For types 2 and 3 curls, try Hairitage Have It All Curl Enhancing Foam. “It is a weightless foam designed to define your curls without crunch,” she says. For types 3C to 4C, try Pattern Beauty Styling Cream, which delivers hold and moisture.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive rule on how often you should style your hair between wash days. It’s a matter of the strength of styling products you use (how much hold are you using?), active lifestyle (do you do sweaty workouts every day?), climate (hello, humidity), and your hair texture.
“For instance, if you use a styling product with a good amount of hold, you shouldn't have to refresh your curls in between wash days that often,” says Emmanuel. And remember: “Reapplying more product to your hair can cause product buildup, and styling products may begin to flake off your hair, causing you to shampoo your hair a lot sooner,” she cautions.
Reactivate and Refresh
When you're a few days beyond wash day, a simple spritz of water can “wake up” the existing styling products in your hair without the need to pile on more. “Your hair does not need to be sopping wet or damp," Emmanuel says. "You shouldn’t need more product once you spray it, but if there are some curls you feel look under-styled, add product where needed instead of the entire head."
Also, “refreshing second-day curls will be very different from day five because, by this time, the definition of the curls begins to fade as the product used evaporates or laying on your hair flatten your curls," she says. A lightweight mist like Ouidad Curl Shaper Bounce Back Reactivating Mist for type 2 or Pattern Beauty Hydrating Hair Mist for types 3 or 4 will revive hair while protecting them from environmental stressors.
Prep Hair for Sleep
At night, use a frictionless pillowcase like the Kitsch Satin Pillowcase, “which helps minimize your curls rubbing against your pillowcase, causing frizz. In addition, satin bonnets can work for more voluminous curls by helping to preserve the shape of your style and helps keep curls more uniform,” says Emmanuel.
How you style your hair for sleep also plays a big factor in how they look come morning. For instance, try pineappling your hair at night. "This technique can be used for long, curly hair to keep your hair controlled and minimizes your curls from getting flat as you sleep," she says. Alternatively, "if you don’t have a product in your hair with a lot of hold, you can twist or braid your hair at night to maintain a uniform curl pattern the next day," she adds.
Invest in Frequent Trims
There’s a good reason our stylists are often our best friends, and those with curly hair should be seeing them regularly. “Schedule haircuts every three months to get rid of split ends and prevent knots and tangles," Emmanuel says. "This helps curls look their best if you have a good haircut shaped for wash-and-go styles."
Related:10 Expert-Approved Tips for Taking Care of Curly Hair
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