Curl refresher sprays are the fastest way to perk up parched, flat, frizzy curls without washing them – we tested out the best of a growing bunch

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If your hair is naturally curly or wavy and on the fine side, the recent trend for curl refreshers just might give your locks a whole new lease of life – they certainly have mine. But how exactly do curl refreshing sprays work? And can they really refresh your curls without going through the whole washing-and-styling process first? With a glut of new options out there, it’s important to find the right one to suit your hair type. 

How do I refresh my curls without washing them?

We all know that textured hair lacks moisture, particularly when there’s little humidity or after a blow dry, which can leave your curls looking limp, frizzy or static, instead of glossy and defined.

If you find that your curls look best fresh out of the shower, you'll be grappling with the fact washing too often can strip always-thirsty coils of much-needed hydration - plus, you won't always have the time to wash and style for your curls  to shine. Sometimes you just need a quick fix that revives and restores springiness to second-day curls.

Unfortunately, not all stylers are suited to the specific needs of curly hair types. Classic glossing serums and mists are often silicone-based, which can make hair even drier - invariably weighing waves and curls down. Hair oils can leave them stringy: the finer your hair, the less it gets on with oils. And leave-in styling creams, however light and moisturising, do little or nothing  to reboot and define natural wave patterns, at least not for my fine, wavy hair.

What does a curl refreshing spray do?

So hurrah for the latest trend for clever curl reviving mists: they really are the ultimate shortcut to keeping your curls refreshed. They help re-hydrate your hair by delivering just the right balance of water-based moisture (such as aloe vera and glycerine) and oils (think squalene and other natural oils like baobab).

But they’re particularly effective because of the no-touch application: simply spritz onto your ends, or all over (depending on where you want your movement) - and watch your waves fall into place naturally. Depending on the product, you can apply them to towel-dried or dry hair. Some will even add volume or gloss, but all of them will infuse bounce.

We have the recent focus on coily hair types to thank for the gact that these once practically non-existent curl refreshing sprays are now available everywhere. Whether your hair is coily, wavy, coarse or fine, there really is one to suit everyone.

Our contributing beauty editor's verdict: 13 curl refreshers for every textured hair type 

The universal hair reviver: Color Wow Money Mist, £30

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"The liquid equivalent of a ten-in-one ‘everything’ styling cream, this fresh water-scented, silky-feeling mist is meant to be sprayed on damp hair pre-styling to weightlessly detangle, hydrate, condition, de-frizz, strengthen, volumise, add bounce and even support healthy hair growth. Once blasted dry, hair emerges with its natural texture amplified: my waves come out looking groomed, soft, and voluminous without me making any effort to style it. Spraying it onto dry ends boosts the curl further, without weight or tackiness."

The no-fuss curl refresher: Hair by Sam McKnight Cool Curls Revive Hair Mist, £28

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"This light, watery mist feels weightless - but gives you glossy beachy waves, or tight coils in a jiffy.  You can spritz onto wet or dry hair, then scrunch or twist the curl for extra definition. It's like a  drink of water for my dry lengths, which spring back to life after blowdrying leaves them flat. The aroma of tree sap and figs is lovely - exactly how you'd imagine McKnight’s beloved garden smells ."

The nourishing mist for thicker hair: Gisou Honey Infused Leave-In Conditioner, £26

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"Beware, a little of this goes a long way: this creamy-scented, milky spray is  richer than others, with nourishing argan oil and honey. Misted onto dry ends (you can also apply it pre-blowdry), it teases out defined curls that have a bit of weight to them. If you have fine hair, don’t get it near your roots or hair will go flat. Leaves hair somewhat tacky-feeling but with the most defined, mermaidy curls of all, and wins the prize for sexiest bottle."

The rich mist for dull, dry coils: Function of Beauty Curls with Benefits, £13

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 "This mango-scented milky mist is sprayed onto towel-dried hair and blow-dried in. It has a high level of nourishing coconut oil, so is better for coarser curls that need consistent hydration. It's best for thicker hair, as it's likely to weigh down fine hair too much and can leave it looking a bit too oily." 

The weightless steal: Lily & Loaf Conditioning Hair Mist Unisex, £7.95

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"This little-known hydrating mist is a revelation. It's so light that it feels like water, but is packed with nourishing plant oils and strand-strengthening proteins. Even the finest hair will lap this up without being weighed down. Spray it into damp or dry hair, and natural waves appear in seconds - plus it's brilliant for detangling and volumising."

The hair-fortifying milk: Windle Lab Invisible Day & Night Spray, £19.75

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"Boasting a wealth of natural oils and water-based hydrators, you have to give this one a good shake to mix up the rich milk before misting. Yet, it's not too rich even for my fine hair - and gives me springy waves, with a good level of volume and texture. Plus, it's packed with additional scalp-soothing ingredients, a UV filter and a bond-building complex to further strengthen your hair."

The do-it-all-curl fixer: JNV Hair Complete Conditioning Mist, £10

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"Another shake-it-to-wake-it milky mist, this one helps to detangle and prime curls, by protecting them from styling heat when you spray it onto freshly washed hair. If spritzed onto lacklustre dry hair, it instantly wakes up the waves. A real standby for fixing misbehaving locks, whether they’re fine or thick."

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"Smelling of the brand's Cheirosa 62 vanilla and salted caramel perfume (if you're not a fan, beware as it lingers), this pre-styling mist shapes natural waves as you blow dry, without the help of a curling brush. Even fine hair emerges soft and not weighed down, despite the formula being rich in conditioning Amazonian nut oils and butters."

The between-washes curl creator: Christophe Robin Curl Mist, £15

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"Designed specifically to re-kindle coils hair between washes, this has curl shape-setting properties and is advised to be scrunched into dry hair to take it from flat to bouncy (but just misting it on and combing it through works great as well). It has flaxseed milk and plenty of oils but is  lightweight enough for fine hair, while capable of nourishing and reviving coarse hair. "

The best-kept curl secret: Grow Gorgeous Curl Revival Mist, £10.50

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"A silky, watery mist that comes out  without any splattering (unlike many of its counterparts), this is meant to be sprayed onto dry hair, which it leaves with the finest moisture veil to do its curl-reviving work. Has plenty of plant extracts  and amino acids for gloss, and wheat extract and acacia gum to give definition and staying power to waves and curls. Leaves hair smelling freshly laundered." 

For high-end beach waves: Ouai Wave Spray, £12

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"Designed to give you California beach waves without the crunch and (sometimes) oiliness of sea salt, this employs rice protein and polymers instead to shape and set tousled natural waves, simply by misting it on your dry hair. Added hydrating ingredients and proteins pamper hair and add volume at the roots. To top it all off, this smells like a Dior perfume."

For sweet-smelling fluffy curls: Amika Power Hour Curl Refreshing Spray, £26

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"This candy store-scented, watery mist brings your curls back as if you’ve been standing in a fresh rain shower. There are oils, conditioners and proteins to look after your hair, and silicones and tapioca starch for definition and hold. It can be sprayed at the roots for mild lift. It’s better for fluffy curls than gentle waves, and probably best avoided if you have very fine hair; silicones can make fine strands go static." 

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"This light mist is a master moisture trapper, locking water into your strands to allow your coils (but also much looser waves) to spring back in to shape. Its rather brilliant suggested use is to mist it into hair every morning after 'pillow friction': if you’ve got coily hair, its promise is to get bed head done with in a few quick spritzes. It leaves hair sexy-sweetly scented (it’s an almost straight -and very good- dupe of Baccarat Rouge perfume) to boot."