How to Refresh Curly Hair Between Wash Days, According to a Hairstylist

Keep your curls looking their best.

How to Refresh Curls Between Wash Days

@_thehalfrican/Design by Cristina Cianci

Most people with curly hair understand how hard it can be to make your freshly washed curls last a while before having to go through the process again. It feels impossible, to be honest. You might spend hours washing your hair and layering it up with expensive products, only to see it become dull, dry, and flat during the week. After all the work you put in to make your curls feel hydrated and healthy, it can feel disappointing if the result doesn't last.

Several factors can determine how long freshly washed hair can last before you need to repeat the process, but you can only control so much in reality. The weather, your workouts, scalp health, and the products you are using can all affect the longevity of your wash day. Especially during the warmer months, finding a way to keep curls fresh and revived between wash days is necessary. The heat can not only dry out your curls but deteriorate your wash-day care in a way that’s going to require more maintenance than you intended.

We sat down with texture specialist April Kayganich to get her tips for maintaining your natural curls between wash days. Keep reading to learn them all.

Meet the Expert

  • April Kayganich is a hairstylist, educator, and texture expert based in Austin, Texas. She advocates for embracing your natural hair texture with styling and care that helps it to shine.

Apply Products to Wet Hair

"The more moisture you have in your hair, the more spring and definition your curls will get, making your style last longer," Kayganich says. "Curls are also at their smoothest when wet, so applying products when your hair is in this condition helps it remain more defined after it dries."

Style Your Curls in the Shower

"Rather than waiting to do all your styling in front of your bathroom mirror, put your products in the shower and start the process after you rinse the conditioner out," Kayganich says. "If you have a shower that doesn't have a low water pressure option to add more water to your curls, try styling out of the shower using a continuous spray bottle or mister to add a generous amount of water to your hair before applying the product. You can find these at any beauty supply store or on Amazon."

Sleep with a Silk Pillowcase or Satin Bonnet

"I always tell my clients to make sure they invest in a silk pillowcase, a satin bonnet for short to medium lengths, or a silk scarf for medium to long lengths," Kayganich tells us. "Silk and satin are great materials as opposed to cotton pillowcases and scarves. Cotton roughens up the cuticle, which makes curls less defined and can actually cause breakage. Since curls are already prone to dryness and damage because of the cuticle structure, we have to do all that we can to protect our hair."

Use an Aerosol Spray Bottle or Mister

"First, you will want to mist your hair generously to reactivate any product you used before. This is why it is so important to use only water-soluble products so that when you spray them, you can reactivate the product, and it won't cause too much buildup when and if you want to refresh.  

So mist your hair until your curls start to look smoother and more defined due to the moisture. For wavy, curly, and coily types with fine texture, you can scrunch in some volumizing foam and finger-coil some of the curls to reform them, or work one of my favorites, Hairstory's Hair Balm, through the hair by finger-coiling or scrunching in as well. Feel free to air dry if you please, but I prefer to diffuse on a low heat and low-speed setting.  

I usually recommend misting the hair lightly with water to reactivate the product for those with coily, curly, and wavy types. You could use a little gel to finger coil into the hair or a curly detangling brush to work through (though this might be more time-consuming). You have to be careful when refreshing curls with low porosity or a coarse texture because when the hair doesn't absorb that water, the product can bead up and sit on top of the cuticle."

Skip the Shampoo and Co-Wash Your Curls

Sometimes, changing your wash day routine can make a major difference in how long your result lasts. "Instead of reaching for the shampoo, co-wash your hair with your favorite conditioner (get the hair wet and use the conditioner like you would a shampoo) or opt for a dedicated cleansing conditioner and do your whole styling process from scratch," Kayganich says. "By skipping the shampoo, you allow your hair to retain more moisture, which results in your defined, healthy finish lasting longer."

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How Often to Refresh Curls Between Wash Days

"If you prefer a low-maintenance hair care routine, focus more on a preventative route when styling your curls, so you don't have to do too much in between," Kayganich explains. "On the other hand, if you are okay with a little bit of work between your wash days, then refreshing using a co-wash or re-activating product should be done one to two times if you go a week to 10 days between washing in my opinion."

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