There are plenty of perks to having curly hair, which is endlessly versatile when it comes to haircuts and hairstyles. On the flip side, curls also have a personality of their own, which can make for some not-so-great hair days. One day, your curls may be full of life and volume, and the next, looking like a droopy mop. And don’t even get us started on the humidity, tangles, and styling.
Thankfully, there’s a solution to these curly hair woes that doesn’t even require washing your hair. Say it with us: curl refresher sprays. “Typically, you have to re-wet and re-style curls if you want your tight curls back, or to keep your frizz at bay,” says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Michael Dueñas. But if you have a curl refresher spray on hand, he notes that you can keep your coils looking defined and frizz-free with a couple spritzes.
Beyond reviving curls, many new stylers on the market can also smooth the hair surface without compromising the shape of your curl pattern. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King recommends looking for products with emollients like oils, which can prevent hair from drying out. “When the hair is dry, it tends to ask for moisture from the environment, thus causing a fuzzy look,” she says. Another helpful ingredient is film formers, which are polymers (either synthetic-based or starch-based) that help to shape each hair strand.
To get the most out of your second- or third-day hair, hairstylist Angela Soto — the owner of New York City’s Baja Studio — recommends starting off by gently misting the hair framing the face with your refresher spray, as well as around the crown of the head with water. “The water is going to reactivate your product, but the curls should be wet enough to where you can twist and remold them,” Soto says.
From there, an additional curl or styling cream can help add definition and shine, or you can spritz on a detangler for added moisture. “Curly girls who are tight from the root can also take a covered clip and gently pull at the root, slip the clip in, and let set,” Soto adds. This helps the frizz and tightness soften for a more refreshed look around the hairline.
As a finishing touch, Soto suggests lightly misting your ends with the refresher spray again before either diffusing or air drying your curls. For the diffuser route, blow-dry in sections without touching the curls. Use the prongs of the diffuser to move the hair around to target bursts of heat inside of each section. In both scenarios, allow your hair to dry about 80 percent before shaking out the twists, removing any clips, and letting your hair finish drying on its own.
Now that you know how to use them, here are 19 expert-recommended curl refresher sprays to help snap your curls back into formation well after washday.