Since wash-day does involve a bit of time and effort, a lot of us like to enjoy the benefit of “refresh days”, or days without doing a full wash, that take less of both.
Before I start with all of these ideas… having great refreshes may not happen in the beginning of applying the Curly Girl / Curly Hair Method. Your hair and scalp need time to adjust to not using silicones and hot tools. Don't forget the amount of damage that may need to be corrected will also affect your transition time.
How to Have a Good "Refresh"
Have a good wash-day
I know this is easier said than done! But take your time on wash-day because having a successful wash will create the base you need for successful refresh day(s). Try to schedule it into a day when you know you can spare hopefully an hour to thoroughly cleanse, condition and detangle, apply stylers and dry your hair. Use enough styling product on this day so that it is possible to reactivate it on refresh days. Make sure your hair is 110% dry before you scrunch out the crunch. If you are an evening washer, go to sleep in your cast! The longer your hair stays in the cast the better it will create and hold the shape of your waves/curls.
Protect your hair at night
Use a satin/silk pillowcase, buff, pineapple, bonnet – all of these will protect your hair and allow for easier refreshing. You do not have to use them all at once! Pick the one that you feel comfortable with and that won’t disturb your sleep. If you'd like to see how to create a pineapple or use a buff or bonnet, YouTube has some great videos. Always give your hair at least 5 minutes after taking it out of your buff, pineapple, or bonnet before refreshing to allow it to settle.
Wet, Damp, and Dry Refreshing
By wet I mean getting your hair completely soaking wet. There is no shampoo or conditioner this way, but you can add more styling products if needed. A conditioner can be used as a styler too. Maybe you just add in a little more mousse or gel and scrunch it in to your hair. It is okay to use a brush or comb here if you want to (gently) detangle and smooth out the hair before scrunching again. You can then re-clip and go ahead with your air drying or diffusing routine.
As it states, this refresh technique uses a lot less water. Many curlies and wavies like to use a flairisol / fine mist bottle to control the amount of water and spread it more evenly through their hair. If you have hard water using distilled water is recommended so you don’t continue to add minerals onto your hair. These can easily build up.
You can also wet your hands and press the water into your hair. Either way, after your hair is damp you will want to press your hands together and move them down your hair from root to scalp. This will lay the cuticles down, helping with any frizz. Then you can gently re-scrunch your curls. Re-clip and dry as you normally would.
Should you add product into your spray bottle? Many do but just a caveat here: you want to only make a little bit of this DIY spray at a time. Make enough that you could use up in a day or two. Once a product hits water it does affect the preservatives and it is possible to have the spray go off. You want to keep your mister clog-free too, and products can cause this, so give your bottle a good wash and let it dry periodically. It may be a good idea to replace your spray bottle yearly if you do use products inside them all the time.
Oh this is a definite fave mainly because I love it if my hair only takes 5 minutes to do! Usually this is only on Day 2 maybe 3 where I can just do a few rock star, slow-motion head moves and a good rustle of the roots and it is good to go. But it is also okay to add a bit of product over dry hair, for example a little conditioner, gel or mousse. You can just pat it over the canopy of your hair or gently scrunch a little over each clump.
A foam usually works well for a dry refresh. Innersense makes a dry shampoo in a foam-to-powder formula that not only refreshes but helps reduce oil for your second and onward hair days. If you are strictly following the Curly Girl / Curly Hair Method, you could try Innersense's I Create Lift foam instead.
Products Made for Refreshing
Many of the companies that focus on natural hair care will make a product specific to refreshing. Liquid sprays and foams seem to be the most common. If you just search the word “refresh” on the Curl Warehouse site there is quite a few to look through
If you want something that will add in a bit of hold during your refresh, the Himalayan salt in the Curl Keeper Refresh spray might be what you are looking for.
Feeling a bit dry? More moisture can be gained using the Curlsmith Moisture Memory Reactivator. It has a few more oils that will provide more flexibility to second day hair.
These roller jaw clamps are perfect to lift those areas that got a little squished overnight. They will help your hair dry quicker if you are using water in your refresh as they hold your hair off your scalp.
Experiment and Do What Works For You
Again “try” not to be frustrated if your hair won’t refresh. As mentioned it might take some time. Or…. you have done the Curly Girl Method for years and your hair just doesn’t refresh. It's okay to do a routine that may include a cleanser every day. Lower density and fine hair texture seems to be the most challenging to bring back after wash-day. Density and texture will always play a role in our results.
Some of us notice that on refresh days our hair gets bigger each day and others note that it gets flatter. I think it is fair to say that, as a rule, each day you move away from wash-day will have less definition. But I don’t know of anyone who has exactly the same hair each day after washing unless you are doing a full soaking wet refresh. And we are all individual in what we think looks okay or not. So for this I say there is no rule that states you can only do your hair routine once a week or "insert time here". There is no contest to see who can go the longest without washing our hair. Many of us might have a job or a workout schedule where we just need to wash our hair quite often. This is fine - just use a mild cleanser to keep from drying out your hair. You do you!
Gina Marie Rodriguez, writing for Curl Magazine, sums it up nicely….
“Achieving volume, definition, and multiple-day hair all together in the beginning is very tricky.
1. Frizz and definition live on opposite ends of the curl spectrum;
2. ”Volume” is subjective to the individual and typically involves embracing some amount of functional frizz; and
3. Achieving multiple days all rests on the success of Day 1, which is rooted in technique.”
1. Rodriguez, Gina Marie. (2019) The Sliding Scale of Definition to Frizz. Curl Magazine, issue 5. https://readcurl.com/