How To Get Your Curls To Last Through The Night Without Turning Into A Rat's Nest

And if all else fails, I've got a back-up plan for you, too!
Publish date:
August 5, 2013

At times, my hair seems like something straight out of Katamari Damacy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered an errant bobby pin trapped in there that I put in, like, four days ago. I even found a produce sticker in there once.

As much as I love having piles of curly hair, its tendency to form itself into one big tangled ball can make it a huge hassle to deal with. Once I learned a few quick tricks to care for it properly, though, I learned how to make my curls bend to my wishes.

The first major revelation was learning that I’m not supposed to wash it every day. Curly hair has a tendency to be extra-dry, so you have to baby it a little. I wash two to three times a week with a sulfate-free shampoo like Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo, and moisturize with the corresponding silicone-free conditioner. That seems to make my hair happy enough--on the days that I wash it.

But with hair that you can lose things in, the day after a wash is always up in the air. The bouncy, glossy curls you fall asleep with are already forming dreads/hiding small woodland creatures by morning.

Probably the single biggest game-changer in my hair game was when I figured out a technique to get curls to last to the second day after washing.

The process of getting good second-day curls starts the night before, with our old friend, the scrunchie. Regular elastics are a huge no. Promise me you won’t do it.

I get my scrunchies at American Apparel and also the Mary-Poppins-esque drawers of my mom’s old vanity. (Along with those colorful plastic barrettes with the animals on them--did anyone else have those?)

Once you’ve acquired a scrunchie, flip your head upside-down, gently pull your hair through, ensuring that all the curls get up on top of your head.

Loop the scrunchie around your ponytail ONCE more--you don’t want to make it too tight and leave a ponytail dent in your hair. If your hair is on the shorter side, you can stop here and rock your inner Stephanie Tanner.

If your hair is longer, like mine, you’ll want to tuck the ends back into the scrunchie in a kind of loose bun to keep the curls from getting flattened while you sleep.

Then, hit the sack. If you can sleep on a satin pillowcase, all the better.

When you wake up in the AM, the process is equally simple. Just remove your scrunchie and gently shake your hair out. It might look a little cray initially. Don’t fret about it.

To revive the limp parts, spray in a curl refresher like CURLS Lavish Curl Moisturizer, and scrunch.

For me, the top layers are the most likely to frizz and flatten, so I pin those pieces back, et voila, I’ve bought myself a second day of hair-down curls.

Though, you curly girls know that no matter how carefully you plan and style, sometimes your hair just ain’t having it. Curly hair can be so unpredictable that the slightest change--say, you slept at a slightly different angle, it’s raining out, or it’s a Tuesday--and your hair just loses its sh*t. Today is one of those days for me. This is not the first time my second-day curls were just kinda “eh” and it won’t be the last. Fortunately, messy curls look super-glam in an undone bun.

Plan B for day-old curly hair is simple: gather the length of your hair in a loose clump in your palm, twist clockwise to form it into a bun-like object.

Then secure with bobby pins (lots!). Throw on a pretty headband and no one will even know that your hair was a total fail this morning.

To all my curly ladies: How long can you extend your curls between washes? Share your best tips in the comments!