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Does Sponging Your Hair Damage It? | Not Necessarily

The natural hair movement has improved accessibility to hair products and opened up an important dialogue about Civil Rights and hair in this country. It’s also spawned several hair trends.

If you’re the type of person that follows natural hair trends, then you have probably heard of “hair sponging,” and you may be wondering, “does sponging your hair damage it?” Don’t worry — we’ll show all you need to know below.

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What Is Hair Sponging?

“Sponging” is a technique for enhancing naturally curly hair. A hair sponge is a handheld tool with a sponge-like texture and many holes in the surface.

You rub the sponge in a circular motion in your hair to create curls, coils, and twists. Hair sponging works well for men and women with short, naturally curly hair and works best on hair with type 3 or 4 hair.

A hair sponge works best on damp hair. You can use it anytime you wash your hair, but for best results, us it no more than 3-4 times a week. Using a hair sponge makes styling curly hair faster and easier.

If you’re considering trying a hair sponge for your hair, you may have some questions about the safety of using it. Read on to learn how to correctly use a hair sponge to achieve beautiful, natural curls without damaging your hair.

Read Next: Learn About Different Curl Types and Take Our “What Hair Type Do I Have Quiz

How a Hair Sponge Works

Using a hair sponge is like finger-curling your hair, only much faster. It works by clumping hair together to create tight, well-defined curls.

Rough, Textured Surface

A hair sponge has a rough texture that catches hair follicles and pulls them together. In addition, the surface contains either small holes or small ridges that provide a place for the clumped curls of hair to go.

When you move the sponge in a circular motion, the surface snags hairs and clumps them together, similar to how you would finger-curl your hair. Applying curling cream or gel can improve the resulting structure and make the style last longer.

How to Use a Hair Sponge

A hair sponge works best on type 4 hair. It also works on type 3 hair, but the results may not be as crisp or well-defined as for type 4 hair. For best results, your hair should be at least one inch long.

Use on Damp Hair

Before using a hair sponge, either wash and gently dry your hair until it’s damp, or spritz it with water and conditioner. Starting with clean, well-conditioned hair is key for preventing snags and breakage.

It’s recommended not to use a hair sponge every day, as it can put too much wear and tear on your hair. Using it after each wash, or no more than three times a week is a good rule of thumb.

Apply a Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is a must for creating a long-lasting style. Giving your hair some moisture will help it to hold onto a curl for longer and will help to prevent damage, frizz, and breakage.

A leave-in conditioner won’t weigh your hair down like gel or other products might, so if you’re not a fan of using products, a leave-in conditioner is an option.

Apply a Curl Cream or Gel

This step is optional, but hair gel or curl cream is the best way to get well-defined curls that pop. Apply liberally all over your head, but don’t go too crazy, especially with creams.

You can get away with overusing gel because it will dry enough to “scrunch” some of it out, but cream stays in the hair and can cause buildup. 

Use the Sponge

Place the sponge gently against your hair and move it in a circular motion. Don’t press too hard and don’t move the sponge too fast — slow and gentle is the way to go. Continue moving the sponge in a circular motion all over your head until you achieve your desired look.

You’ll see the curls come together immediately, so it’s easy to judge when one area is done and it’s time to move on to another spot. Pro tip: smaller circles make a tighter curl pattern, and larger circles lead to larger curls.

If you have trouble with the back of your head, ask a friend to help you or use a hand mirror to check out what’s going on back there.

Apply a Holding Spray

Spray is another optional step that won’t be necessary for everyone. If you want super long-lasting curls, or you know that your hair doesn’t hold style very well, then a strong hairspray is a good finishing step.

As with all styling products, don’t go overboard. Apply a light mist and don’t put on so much that your hair gets stiff, flaky, or gunky.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Here are a few of the most common questions about sponging your hair.

Is sponging good for your hair?

Any tool that you use on your hair, including a hairbrush, has the potential to cause damage if used incorrectly (but don’t worry, it can be fixed). A hair sponge isn’t bad for your hair, but it’s not necessarily “good” either.

When used correctly, a hair sponge is a great styling tool and it won’t damage your hair. However, a hair sponge won’t benefit your hair in any way either. A hair sponge is purely a styling tool for naturally curly hair.

What do you put in your hair before sponging it?

Depending on your hair type and the health of your hair, you may not need to put anything in it before you use a hair sponge. The most important thing to do before sponging your hair is to make it damp. A hair sponge works best on damp hair.

Some other products you may want to put in your hair before sponging it include leave-in conditioner, curl cream, or gel.

A leave-in conditioner will help the hair to retain moisture while you’re styling it, which will protect it from damage and breakage. If you want your curls to pop, consider using curl cream or gel as well.

How do you properly sponge your hair?

To properly sponge your hair, first, make the hair damp. You can either sponge right after washing and drying your hair or spray the hair with water before sponging.

Next, apply your desired product, like gel or curl cream. Finally, place the sponge gently against your hair and move in small, circular motions all over your head until you achieve your desired look.

Does sponging hair cause breakage?

Sponging can cause hair breakage if it’s used improperly. To avoid damaging your hair with a hair sponge, don’t use it every day, and make sure you’re using it correctly.

Always dampen your hair down with water and a small amount of conditioner before using a hair sponge. Don’t press too hard or move too fast with the sponge.

Does sponging your hair make it curly?

Sponging won’t make straight hair curly. Sponging is a technique for styling and enhancing the natural curls in a person’s hair. It works best on hair with texture 4, and can also work on type 3 hair.

So, Will a Sponge Damage You Hair?

Sponging is a way of styling natural hair to make the curls pop. It involves using a small, handheld tool called a hair sponge as well as some hair products like leave-in conditioner, curl cream, or gel.

Hair sponges are quite cheap and can be purchased at most drug stores, on Amazon, and at many barbershops and hair salons. Sponging will not damage your hair if you do it sparingly and always use proper technique. Happy sponging!