Curls more frizz than curl more hot mess than glam?
At times does tumbleweed feel softer than your hair?
Dealing with stringy strands that refuse to clump?
It’s no news that curly hair is seldom the same two days in a row. Plus we all have days where we feel like putting a bag over our head to hide what’s passing for stylish tresses.
Which is why you may be exploring squish to condish.
Have you tried it?
Do you understand what it is and how to apply the technique so you leave no curl behind?
What Is the Squish to Condish Method?
So yeah. What does squish to condish mean? Well, it’s a game changing technique for deeply moisturizing your curly hair. It uses water and conditioner to super hydrate your strands. First distribute conditioner through your wet locks. Then cup your hands to collect more water and press that water into your hair. The idea is to infuse your tresses with water and conditioner to plump them up from the inside out.
Think of it as a different way of looking at hydration that recognizes it takes both water and product to do the job. Yes, water is as important here as the conditioner is.
This method takes you beyond using conditioner alone to moisturize your hair. Here are some common questions asked about it – in no particular order.
Quick Section Navigation
- How To Properly Squish To Condish Curly Hair Step By Step
- How Long Does It Take to Squish To Condish?
- Any Science Behind Squish To Condish?
- What Does Squish To Condish Do?
- How Do I Dry My Hair After Squish To Condish?
- How To Get Volume At The Roots?
- How Long Should You Plop Your Hair For?
- Super Soaker Method Vs Squish To Condish
How To Properly Squish To Condish Curly Hair Step By Step
Here’s the big idea in 8 steps. Naturally you’ll want to customize this routine for your own hair based on the results of experimentation over time.
But it’s easy to get started. Plus the video that follows shows squish to condish in action.
Step 1) Wash your hair as normal whether you co wash or use shampoo
Step 2) Flip it over your head
Step 3) Make sure you hair is soaking wet
Step 4) Apply a generous amount of conditioner – for some almost like you’re icing a cake
Step 5) Squish (scrunch) it into the hair all over your head from the ends to the scalp
Step 6) Comb or brush out any tangles
Step 7) Rinse a handful of water at a time. Let the water run down your strands which will result in some conditioner being left behind
Step 8) Plop your hair
Step 9) Optional: Diffuse until dry
So much for the highlights.
When it comes to the important stuff it bears repeating that you want to make sure you’ve got a good coating of conditioner. Yet that will be more for some, less for others.
From there the most common approach is to kneel next to the tub, cup your hands to catch the water then squish it into your hair. Repeat. This will aid curl formation.
What you’re doing is slowly diluting the conditioner with each handful of water you add.
Repeat as necessary tilting your head from side to side to get all the strands.
How many handfuls it takes depends on how thick, long and porous your hair is. Or how thick the conditioner is. Stuff like that.
How Long Does It Take to Squish To Condish?
Here’s a big hint. One way to know when enough is enough is your curls will stop dripping or not drip as much.
Sounds more than a little crazy I know. Not real precise either. But that’s one sign it’s good to go. (Now if your hair is extremely dehydrated you may not get to that point until after doing there a few times.)
From there some will layer on their styling products.
But done right your curls will be super hydrated from the water and conditioner. Let me repeat that. The water is as important to the method as the conditioner.
I read where someone on Reddit condensed squish to condish down to this. Cup. Squish. Cup. Squish. Cup. Squish as you gently rinse the conditioner away.
Oh and before you ask there is no magic conditioner. Fact is products don’t matter as much as your technique.
Some start with a thicker conditioner loaded with goodness that your thirsty locks will drink in.
Others have their fav conditioner that’s not so lush.
And you need to detangle. Some use a brush. Others a wide tooth comb.
So yes, there are many variations of squish to condish. This video demonstrates one way.
Did you catch all the valuable tips shared? I hope so.
You can see how she uses a comb to detangle around 1:24 claiming adding that move alone made a huge difference in her hair. Here’s the amazon link to that wide tooth comb if that’s of interest.
Okay so having seen the process you may be wondering if there is …
Any Science Behind Squish To Condish?
Actually there is.
One of the early proponents of Squish to Condish, Melissa Sites made this observation on her site in 2013:
“You can’t believe any longer that conditioner alone moisturizes your hair. It is the water / conditioner mix that gives your hair moisture.”
That’s now the pillar this technique stands on.
She says the idea is to use enough conditioner so your hair feels slippery like sea weed. (Yeah it’s a thing.)
The squishing then pushes all the moisturizing goodness into the strands which results in better clumping.
You rinse out most but not all the conditioner with the goal of attaining superior hydration.
Why is hydration important?
Anyone with curly hair knows it tends to be dry. Dry hair tends to be frizzy and out of control. The hydration helps with that.
Leaving a touch of conditioner behind helps with clumping.
Combined the water and conditioner actually change how your curls behave.
For a dramatization with some images showing the effects on actual hair check out this post from the Scienc-y Hair Blog. There really is a difference when, as she puts it, you hair is hydrated and lubricated properly. With real science to back it up.
What Does Squish To Condish Do Again?
When you get down it it it’s about getting correct moisture balance in your hair.
Plus it’s both science and art.
You’re infusing your hair with moisture by pressing the water into it when it’s soaking wet.
Yet you want product penetration into every strand on your head too.
The squishing, or scrunching, is also what helps the curls to form in your hair.
Problem is it takes practice to know how to read the situation. Which is what trips some up.
Like if your hair is dripping lots of water maybe your strands need more conditioner.
If you’re experiencing halo frizz around the crown of your head maybe you may want to squish using your palm more so than your fingers.
One key to learn to read is how your hair sounds when squishing.
This short clip gives you the sound you want to hear. It’s the sound that signals you’ve got enough water in your hair. So if you aren’t getting this the first thing to try is adding more water.
Each luscious, squishy sound works to deliver the hydration to every strand.
How Do I Dry My Hair After Squish To Condish?
If by “dry” you mean hair dryer assisted the only way for curly girls to go is via a diffuser. (Usually best done AFTER plopping.)
As you know diffusing is a gentler approach that keeps your dryer from blowing out the curl you’ve worked so hard to nurture.
Now it may be best to plop your hair for up to half an hour to let the towel absorb as much water as possible. That helps to keep dry time to a bare minimum.
Oh and if your diffusing skills could use an upgrade check out this article we wrote. It shares the ins and out of hair dryer diffusing.
How Do You Wash Upside Down
without ending up with all sorts of snarls when you flip back over?
As you saw in the first video lots of attention was paid to hair on the back of her head. For this very reason. You can’t ignore it and have it come out okay.
So. You want to comb or brush out all your hair including the back.
Then make sure you have product with more than enough slip on EACH and EVERY STRAND.
Finally take pains to inject the hair in the back with all the water it needs. Because (again) squish to condish is a one two punch of conditioner and water to get your strands hydrated.
Don’t be afraid to turn your head from side as you go through your routine.
Try any and all of this to see if you can’t minimize frizz, tangles and snarls.
How To Get Volume At The Roots?
We all want to avoid that dreaded flat top look, don’t we?
So if you need volume at the roots here’s one simple little trick. Clips.
Inserting clips at the scalp rescues the hair from its own weight. You want to insert clips right at the scalp perpendicular to how the curls fall. The clips lift the hair up and off the scalp just enough leaving you with just a little bit more volume.
BONUS: Being raised up a little like that will help your hair to dry a bit faster.
Once the hair is dry take the clips out, then fluff up the curls from the underside to open them up. If you do that from the outside in you’ll likely break up your clumps which will only result in frizz.
How Long Should You Plop Your Hair For?
Earlier plopping was brought up as the final official act in the step by step overview. And “how long” is a logical question you may have about it.
There are several approaches you can use.
One you can leave your hair plopped in an old cotton tshirt or microfiber towel for forever or however long it takes to dry whichever comes first.
Your second option is to sleep in the plop leaving your locks to dry overnight.
You can always give it 20-30 minutes to soak up the excess water in your hair. Then break out your diffuser armed blower dryer to speed the drying process up.
Or remove the towel and simply let it air dry.
If you have more questions we covered plopping curly hair here in great detail.
Now you may have heard of the super soaker method and wondered about the difference between that and squish to condish.
Super Soaker Method Vs Squish To Condish
Honestly I don’t see all that much difference between the two. They seem like two ways to accomplish the same thing.
The site Curls and Beauty Diary somewhat agrees and lays out the difference as she sees it.
“The main (and perhaps only) difference between Squish to Condish and Super Soaker is that Squish to Condish is a method of applying(or rather rinsing out) conditioner DURING hair wash, while the Super Soaker is a method to apply styling products and leave ins AFTER your wash.”
Seems when raking in product into your hair with your fingers, brush or comb you’re pulling your curls apart.
The fix is to gently and slowly scrunch in handfuls of cold water. Whether done over the sink or tub this will give your strands a chance to suck up the water needed to form the highly desired, juicy curls.
You want to do this because when raking your hair with your fingers, or brushing or combing it to get the product evenly distributed, you’re also pulling your curls apart.
But when you follow that up with gently and slowly scrunching of handfuls of cold water into your hair, often at the sink, you’re giving your strands a chance to suck up the water they need to form the highly desired, juicy curls.
Oh and if you’re looking for more helpful tips and tricks like this to make your curls look amazing, please follow our Curly Hair board where we share all kinds of inspiration!
Vickie Cook says
Squish to condish has done more for my curls than anything else I’ve tried. I highly recommend it!
Glad you found a game changer for your curls, Vickie. It’s so exciting when that happens, isn’t it?