Complaining about how difficult it is to tame my curly hair has become something of a pastime for me. I know everyone thinks their is the most difficult to deal with — the grass is always greener, yada yada — but from where I’m standing, if you have naturally straight hair, in the immortal words of Justin Timberlake, cry me a river. Hear me out: At least you, straight-hair-havers, can turn to dry shampoo to help extend your style. Dry shampoo, in my experience, is a nightmare on curly hair. It creates an unworkable, chalky texture and tends to weigh down and flatten my hair.
My curl pattern is somewhere between a 2C and 3A, depending on the day, and my usual routine begins with a regular shampoo and conditioner, followed by a leave-in or after-shower styling product (I’m currently obsessed with Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer and Moroccan Oil Curl Defining Cream) before air-drying. Then, I’ll clip the top half of my hair up so that it doesn’t get weighed down by itself while it’s air-drying. And finally, I go in with a water bottle to get any strands or areas that may still be a little lifeless. Now that I’ve gone through all of that, you can empathize why I may not want to do this every day or two.
But alas, I’m not here to just complain. I have good news: There is a solution, and it’s called resetting spray! Though it’s not exactly new, this product category still doesn’t seem to be quite as popular or widespread as it should be. As far as I’m concerned, these mists, which revive curls and reduce frizz without the need for a whole multistep routine, are the best thing to happen to curly hair since Shirley Temple. They’ll get you through the two (three, four, five…) days between hair washes by correcting curls that have stretched out, fallen flat or lost definition.
Below, I’ve outlined four of my favorite picks within the category, and shown photographic evidence of what each one can do for day-after-wash curls. They’re pretty game-changing.
Bumble and Bumble’s refreshing spray was the first curl resetter I came across in my quest to extend the life of my hairstyles. It gets the job done. It’s an easy place to start if you’re not exactly sure about how to categorize your curl texture or what you’re really trying to correct. I picked it up for the first time on a whim because I wanted something stronger than water, which this is — thankfully, because otherwise, what are you paying money for?
That being said, the biggest draw of this product is that it doesn’t leave a weird residue behind, like many resetting sprays can. That means it’s an ideal option for the beginning of your hair-wash cycle.
This formula is lightweight, so I like to really douse my hair in it. Sometimes I’ll even unscrew the spray mechanism, pour some in my hands and dab it into my roots to lend just the right amount of stiffness or adjust for overly soft, textureless hair. I reach for Ouidad’s spray on days when I’m hoping to channel Donna Summer or Chaka Khan vibes, because it’s amazing at infusing volume. It does, however, make my hair feel slightly stiff, leaving it slightly less malleable than it is with the Bumble and Bumble formula. The effect isn’t so noticeable that you’ll be forced to do a proper hair wash the following day, but it’s definitely there.
This mist is on the more fragrant side, so you may way to steer clear if you’re sensitive to scents. With that as a disclaimer, I’m a fan of the vaguely coconut-milk-and-sunscreen aroma, personally, because it makes me feel like I’m on vacation. The formula itself is one of the thicker, more tacky-textured setting sprays I’ve used. I spritz it on day-three curls (or day-two, if I already know my wash cycle is going to be shorter).
It’s especially useful for those times when your hair starts out pretty lifeless from the beginning of the wash cycle, since it lends more structure than the other resetting sprays I’ve encountered. In other words, it’s best for when you want to Do More. The downside is that it is pretty heavy, meaning you won’t get much volume, though I do imagine it works magic on de-frizzing curl patterns that are denser than mine.
I spent a long time overlooking this pick because apparently I’m not a big critical thinker. When looking for resetting sprays, I tend to seek out words like “resetting” (duh), “restyling” and “refreshing,” so Devacurl’s Detangling Spray, which contains none of those descriptors, flew under the radar. It’s essentially the closest you’ll ever get to washing your hair without actually washing your hair. Now I know what straight-hair-havers feel like when they use dry shampoo!
Its genius is that it fixes everything. If your hair gets knotted into an owl’s nest overnight (mine does) this spray imbues enough moisture (read: not wetness) that you can very easily comb through any snarls with your fingers for looser, less ratty hair. Beyond the detangling aspect, the leave-in-treatment quality of the product goes a long way toward bringing hair back from the brink of lifelessness.
Of course, these four options aren’t the only resetting sprays out there, but they’re the ones that helped me up my second-day-hair most significantly. If I had to pick a winner, it would be Ouidad. I often regard it as my Desert Island Hair Product and have found myself relying on it so heavily that I now have trouble thinking back to what my hair ever looked like before I discovered it. I use it when my hair is too clean; I’ve even begun to carry an emergency touch-up stash (poured into a small Muji spray bottle) with me most of the time.
Different hair textures and curl types may not respond to each of these like my hair does, but I hope my adventures in resetting spray testing can be of some help to all my fellow curl-havers out there. Go forth and mist freely, friends!
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