How do you 'freshen up' curly hair during the day?
September 19, 2016 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Since school, I have had the problem of starting the day out looking put together and ending it looking like I had a fight with an angry pooch. Why is my curly hair failing me?

I start the day with curls like this and end up with them looking like this (these people are not me). This does not really happen when I am out on weekends but it does happen when I go to work. I think it might be the air con? I also have a very long walk into work in the morning. Either way, I need to find a way to fix the mess at the end of the day without having to completely wet and restyle my hair again. I wet my hair every morning and I use a normal conditioner and sometimes a leave-in conditioner. I alternate between these products. What else can I do? Should I be adding some sort of hold spray or mousse???

It seems easy to 'freshen up' straight hair as you just need to brush it but you can't do that with curly hair. Any tips?

posted by ihaveyourfoot to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, there are products for curly hair that help keep it looking good. I have hair that can go from pretty curly to wavy to yucky. I use either a mousse for curly hair or a curling balm, depending on the humidity. And I use a non-aerosol spray, lightly. Since my hair is quite different from yours, I can't recommend products, but I am pretty sure that there are products out there that will help your hair keep its gorgeous curls all day.

The second photo made me laugh, sorry!
posted by Dolley at 10:27 AM on September 19, 2016

It doesn't look like your products have any holding power. My curls are looser than yours, I have fine hair, and I don't use a hairdryer, so YMMV. I have to use some kind of styling lotion or gel or else my hair turns pretty fuzzy. It helps the hair clump together and stay clumped.

To freshen up my hair, I usually dampen my hair by using wet hands to scrunch it. I generally keep wetting my hands and scrunching until it's evenly damp with no dry spots. Then I'll scrunch in a bit of product, usually also mixed with water in my hands. I like Kevin Murphy Easy Rider for this. I take a pea-sized amount and emulsify it with water in my hands, then scrunch in. The Deva Curl gels and lotions are also good.
posted by cabingirl at 10:28 AM on September 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

i have 2a hair - 2nd gel, cut with a bit of water.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:29 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

You may need to look into an oil non-cream* product that won't degrade or evaporate in climate-controlled (dry) air.

Hair sprays - most of them - are actually oily and might do the trick, but they're sticky and that's not necessarily what you want when you have a tight curl like that - you run the risk of Pharaoh Head where it all moves in a single unit.

*I have real trouble with "cream" type products in my wiry hair, and that looks like mostly what you're using at this point. Leave-in conditioner as well (especially as I get older and my hair gets stiffer) goes waxy and strange in my hair in dry climates or AC. I have given in and started using *cone products again so I use a silicone serum with argan oil, especially on the ends, while I'm still dripping in the shower, and then do the rest of my product at the sink. You might find that a tiny drizzle of just coconut or jojoba oil skimmed or scrunched through at the end of your shower or after the rest of your product is applied might be enough.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:29 AM on September 19, 2016

A little argan oil, a drop, goes a long way.
posted by parmanparman at 10:31 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Look for a curl refresher and see if that helps.
posted by mogget at 10:53 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

My hair is as exactly curly as those in the pictures. One thing I do, depending upon the weather (e.g. extreme humidity/wind/rain), is a pre-emptive strike: tie my hair up (e.g. with something decorative and fun like this) when I'm outside (during my commute) and then let it down and fluff when I'm inside. That way, I minimize the impact of the elements. I manage 5 day curls like this.

Also, you might check to see if your products contain any glycerin. Depending upon the relative humidity, glycerin can be a blessing or a curse for curly hair. I find that glycerin generally does not work in my hair at all, be it in shampoos, conditioners, or leave-in products; I get a fuzzified mess when I use them. But even glycerin lovers can discover that during extreme weather conditions, glycerin can gum up or fuzz out your style. Another thing to check for is wheat protein. As with glycerin, I end up with fuzz with products containing wheat protein. You might be similarly affected.

Barring the above, I agree with cabingirl about upping the holding power of your products. You might give a strong holding gel (e.g. Proclaim or EcoStyler) or mousse a shot, then spritz with water and scrunch to refresh. I find that that tends to work pretty well for me.
posted by skye.dancer at 12:27 PM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thirding that you need a second product. Try a mousse, gel, cream, or spray for curly hair. I have a different kind of curl than you but these three products have worked for me. I put in the leave in product when my hair is wet, comb through, towel dry, and then add the curl product.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 12:43 PM on September 19, 2016

Your curly hair will respond to ambient humidity as in sweat from your scalp and humidity from the air. Let it set cold with a gel, don't get sweaty when you walk to work, and minimize exposure to ambient humidity by keeping it bound when possible. Silk works nicely since it's a protein and breathes.
posted by effluvia at 12:54 PM on September 19, 2016

I have wavy hair rather than curly, but one thing that makes a huge difference (and may be curly hair 101 and I'm just late to the party, in which case forgive me), is that touching your hair during the day has as much to do with bringing it down as gravity -- once I realized how often I dealt with stress, boredom, fidgety hands, etc by running my fingers through my hair in various sprunchy ways and got myself to stop, my hair started holding its shape much better.
posted by Mchelly at 1:09 PM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Two things create frizz: moisture and movement.

Are you touching your hair during the day? DON'T.
Are you adding any moisture to it (spray, humidity)? Try not to.
posted by spockpuppy at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2016

I have curly hair, too, and used to have a mess by the end of the day. I was washing and conditioning my hair every day and using some heavy hold gels, but they didn't work. On the advice of a stylist friend, I switched to using a conditioning cleanser instead of shampoo+conditioner. I really like Pantene's (ignore Amazon's pricing: the same bottle is $4.97 at Walmart).

I then use Tresemme Gel (again, ignore that pricing... boy, Amazon is not the place to shop for hair care products!) and a bit of Fructis Power Putty (seriously... bad pricing!).

Now I get frizzies only when I've used a curling iron to dry my hair - which is generally a really bad idea.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2016

Are you using a diffuser to dry your hair, or letting them air dry? My curls are not compatible with air drying anymore and end up looking limp-poodle-status midday (if not earlier).
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:28 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing Mist-her Right from mogget's link.
posted by brujita at 6:03 PM on September 19, 2016

Don't ask me to explain the science but I lock in curls this way: a terry cloth turban on my head after shampooing until my hair is just slightly damp. Remove and there they are, like a grazing sheep in the field, curlier than ever. I push it into shape and use a "curl fixer" product which looks like gel. I've even gone to bed wearing the turban, woken in the morning to long-lasting curls. I wash my hair every 4 days. I only use a pick after shampooing, never a comb or brush. I have those English/Irish curls. Reenergize with a spray bottle of water or hairspray with your head turned upside down while you scrunch.
posted by Lornalulu at 6:59 PM on September 19, 2016

I know they don't have a great reputation these days in certain circles, but have you tried any leave-ins with silicones? I cut out silicones for a long time, and recently began using them by chance, and I have to say that a silicone + protein leave-in really helps my hair with frizz-free body rather than limp frizz.
posted by ClaireBear at 11:45 PM on September 19, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for the awesome responses!!

To answer some questions:
- I let my hair dry naturally. I have tried using a diffuser before but it gives me volume I don't want (I already have a LOT of hair)
- I have moved towards products which are silicone and sulfate free. I'm wondering if the products that people say are too cloying and/or crunchy for their hair might actually be good for mine.
- God, yes, I do touch my hair. I probably do it more when i'm at work. Thanks for making me aware of that.
- I'm pretty sure glycerin is in every product I use, so thanks for that tip.

I will try gel first and if it doesn't take, i'll try mixing it with putty. Failing that, i'll try the other recommendations. I take it hairspray is not something worth using?

I have a question about this:
I put in the leave in product when my hair is wet, comb through, towel dry, and then add the curl product.

The leave in product + my wet hair is usually what gives my curls shape. If I towel dry after, it will ruin the curl. How do you add gel to dry curls? Do you have to twist each curl or just comb it through? I will try it on wet curls first.

Folks with straight hair don't understand how many products we have to try before we find something that works!!!

Thanks peeps!
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 4:29 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in, here, from one extremely curly girl to another:

-- Kinky Curly Curl Custard is the gold standard for clumping and holding your curls together. It's expensive, but a little goes a long way. You can apply it by hanging your dripping wet head of curls upside down right after the shower, rubbing your leave-in into your palms, and smoothing it down your hair between your flat palms, sort of like you're praying. Do the same thing immediately afterward with KCCC, then...

PLOP YOUR HAIR. Always do this with a tee shirt or tee shirt material...NEVER let terrycloth get anywhere near your hair.

Then you can air dry or diffuse upside-down, if you're into that. Scrunch out the cast when everything's good and dry. It'll hold all day and lock in moisture.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 2:29 PM on September 20, 2016

P.S. as for refreshing, I've personally never had any luck with products marketed specifically for this. Or much luck with this generally (Fridays are updo days for a reason). Sometimes wetness helps with a little diluted conditioner, like Suave.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 2:33 PM on September 20, 2016

I have super curly hair and I wear it down maybe three times a week. I like to think it looks like the first picture all day long, but I actually don't mind the look in the second photo so keep that in mind I guess. I don't use any products at all (except shampoo every second day). I wash my hair before bed then braid my hair on both sides of my head to sleep. I debraid in the morning, ruffle it a little and then my hair keeps during the day. Sometimes I debraid at work if I have a long, hot commute.
posted by eisforcool at 6:43 PM on September 20, 2016

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