Refreshing curly hair is the process of rehydrating or redefining your curls in order to extend the time until your next wash day. Although it might sound like a simple task, every curly girl knows that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a part of having curly hair that takes a long time to perfect, and coming to understand your hair’s needs, wants and likes is usually learnt following a lot of trial and error.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing your hair out of its bonnet or satin scarf in the morning (which you should be using, more on why here) and immediately thinking your curls need a refresh.
Before you rush into anything, allow your hair to settle into its shape for 20 minutes and then re-evaluate how your curls look. Unnecessary manipulation of your hair can cause you more problems than you had originally; if your hair doesn’t need it, don’t do it!
If your hair still looks or feels like it needs a boost after it has settled, follow these steps to get you on the road to refreshed curls:
Refreshing to redefine your curls
If the majority of your hair is still holding its curl and there are only certain sections that could do with redefining, try finger-coiling those parts.
If you used styling products on wash day that reactivate well, you might be able to do this with just water.
If not, try using a gel to add some definition and hold. Some of my favourite ultra-defining gels are featured below.
Refreshing to add body to your hair
If your hair looks limp, dull and lifeless, it probably doesn’t need gallons of added water or extra product. It might, however, benefit from some volume, body and bounce, which can be achieved with a spritz of dry shampoo or light spray. After application, give your hair a good shake from the roots and watch the transformation.
Refreshing to rehydrate your hair
If your hair feels dry and brittle, or product just sits on top of your hair instead of being absorbed, it’s time to consider re-washing it.
If you’re washing it midweek, consider using a co-wash. Co-washes aim to replace your shampoo and conditioner to both cleanse and condition your hair without stripping it. In my opinion, a midweek wash is the only time a co-wash is actually necessary, but they are a useful product to have on standby.
If you’re re-washing on or after day five, I would recommend starting from scratch and doing your normal, full-wash day again.
The reason why you need to refresh is more important than knowing how to refresh, so if you find you are needing to re-wash too often, and your curls frequently lack definition and hydration, you might need to think about swapping out your normal wash day products for a new routine that will help you achieve longer-lasting results.
The most significant difference will come from changing your shampoo and styling products – I’ve outlined the swaps you can make below to get the most longevity from your wash days.
Switch your normal shampoo for a clarifying shampoo
Switch your normal leave-in conditioner for something more hydrating
Switch your normal gel for a firmer hold product and delay scrunching out the crunch/cast for a couple of days to extend curl definition
As I said, refreshing curly hair isn’t the easiest process to master, but once you’ve figured out what works for your hair and pushes your curls to last all week, you’ll likely save a lot of time and product. Don’t get too disheartened on your way to working it all out, and for more curly hair guides and how-tos, have a look at my previous columns.