How To Use A Hair Sponge & Why Your Should!

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I have always been a big fan of natural hair, although I haven’t always worn my own hair in its natural state. Sometimes I want to get my locks styled, to do something new, to break the mold. This post is about something which is a mixture: it allows natural hair to do its thing with fairly minimal intervention. This is the hair sponge explained.

We use sponges for washing dishes, floors, and even our own body. We use sponges to apply and remove makeup, dirt, and other beauty-related substances from our face and neck. And we can also use a sponge… for our hair?!

Yup. Apparently we can.

What Is A Hair Sponge?

Woman with curly hair in field with eyes closed.

Hair sponges are for those with curly hair.

The obvious question: what is a hair sponge? Hair sponges are precisely what they sound like, not surprisingly. A hair sponge is an item that literally looks like a big holey sponge, and it is used by those who are interested in styling their hair with defined coils, curls, or quasi-dreads without too much of a hassle. They come in different sizes, shapes, and holey-ness. The prices are relatively cheap, and depending on your needs, you will be able to find one which suits you.

A sponge like this will not work on straight hair. You need to have a curly or coily type of hair for this product to work its spongy magic on you. Straight or wavy hair does not have the right texture, since this is about creating friction and there is nothing for the sponge to really bump along with when it encounters straight or wavy hair.

This product is unisex. And although there are probably more women using it, the number of men who are discovering its benefits is growing on the daily. And rightly so! It’s a product which is easy to purchase, easy to use, easy to store and carry, and the list goes on.

Benefits Of Hair Sponges Explained

Slowly but surely, the advantages of using a sponge to define your hair have caused this item to break through to mainstream hair care. What began as a tool used primarily by professional hairdressers at various shows or industry conventions has become a popular method of styling.

The obvious benefit of hair sponges is that there are ZERO chemicals involved in using the sponge. Water and a good sponge are all you basically need. Moisturizing the scalp can be done DIY-style with natural ingredients if you want to stay away from factory-made products. Another great and very much in-your-face benefit is the price, which is sometimes as low as several bucks.

But wait – there’s more!

There are many different types of sponges, though their design is roughly the same. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of item, and that allows for more creative freedom and styling options. Furthermore, it is a process that – when executed properly – can take place on a daily basis, without causing any harm to the roots or hair follicles. Firm and gentle movements are the key.

How To Use A Hair Sponge

Woman with red curly hair.

The length of your hair will determine which type of sponge you use.

Over time you may find techniques that work for you more so than others when it comes to how to use a hair sponge. Essentially, the idea is to apply water or some kind of moisturizer or conditioner to your hair, let it sit for a minute or two, and then begin using the sponge. Another method is to apply the product directly onto the sponge and then use it on your hair. It could go either way, really, and it simply depends on your preferences, your product, and the results.

Going from one section of your hair to the next, use the sponge in a firm, circular motion. Maintain the same speed, angle, and movement throughout the entire head. That will generate a more cohesive and uniform look. Don’t feel tied down, though. Experiment to see how it looks best on you. The longer you move the sponge around, the more twisted the hair will become.

Those with shorter hair will often use a sponge with smaller holes. This will make the hairs somewhat thinner and more dread-like. Sponges with larger holes are usually more effective with longer hair, and they will often make nice uniform coils. Either way, you can try this or that sponge and this or that gel/conditioner and see what works best for you.

Some sponges are dual-sided. They’re equipped with holes on one side and with ridges, pyramids, or grooves on the other. The holes are there to curl and twist. The ridges are there to add texture and volume to the hair. Learning how to use them both takes patience, and it’s not something that can be taught using text. It takes hands-on application and experience to get to know the sponge of your choosing.

Not interested in a sponge to get those twists and kinks?

How To Twist Your Hair Without A Sponge

There are reportedly so many methods and techniques for getting twists to settle into your hair. But from the most ridiculous and over-industrialized practices to the most natural and forgiving, you don’t necessarily need a sponge in order to twist your locks. When it comes to twisting and kinking, your hair type and routine – if it exists – play a crucial role.

Also, it can be a much longer process to twist your hair without a sponge, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I am of the opinion that the procedure which takes the longest may also prove to be the most valuable in the long term. This is part of why I think highly of those who simply wear their kinky hair naturally and just let it do its thing. That leads to some real natty congo bongo hair (more often than not), and I just love encountering it.

How to twist your hair without a sponge – the short version:

  • Dampen your hair with water
  • Choose a soft-ish towel, not too rough
  • Towel-rub a section of your hair gently in a clockwise direction. Use the same type of circular motion you’d make with the sponge

How to twist your hair without a sponge – the long version:

  • Comb out your hair so you have a blank slate to work with
  • Moisturize the scalp with a gel or conditioner of some kind
  • Section out your hair. Make sure to watch the sizes and stay even, but only if uniformity is part of your goal
  • Dampen a chosen section with a bit of water
  • Apply a very small amount of gel to the section
  • Begin twisting using a designated comb, or your hand, or a combination of both
  • Once adequately twisted to your heart’s desire, clip the twist close to the root and move on to the next section of hair

How to twist your hair without a sponge – the longer/shorter version:

  • Put down your comb and brush
  • Put down your hair conditioner
  • Be patient

Top 3 Hair Sponges Breakdown

The BEWAVE hair sponge.

The BEWAVE hair sponge.

So, these are the top three hair sponges. Obviously, just because these are our picks, it has no bearing on what will fit you. Nevertheless, these are three of the best-selling sponges around. They will offer a good starting point for those who are looking for their first-trial hair sponge.

The three manufacturers listed here also make other kinds of sponges. So if these sponges don’t seem to pique your interests, there could be another one by the same manufacturer that does.

  • RioRand Magic Twist (2 pack)
    • Large sponge
    • Dual-sided – holes and waves
    • Dimensions: 7.5*4.5*2.4 inches
    • Hole diameter (holey side): 0.63 inches
    • Hole diameter (wavy side): 0.39 inches
    • Contains 2 units
    • Price: $20.99 on the RioRand website

This is one which I have seen an Amazon for under $10, so don’t let the $20 MSRP scare you. By all accounts, it can be purchased for significantly less than that, and remember – it’s a pack of two.

    • Single-sided
    • Large holes
    • Dimensions: 7.48*4.53*2.20 inches
    • 46 holes
    • Made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and sponge
    • Price: $6.99 on
  • NuDred
    • Single-sided
    • Small holes
    • Dimensions: 5.75*3.75 inches
    • Made in the USA with natural, active, and pharmaceutical-grade ingredients
    • For use on different lengths, locks, curls, and dreads
    • Price: $24.99 on the NuDred website

This product is also being sold on Amazon for $14.50.


Whether you’re reading this after “the Big Chop” or whether you’re simply interested in twisted lore – the hair sponge is here to stay. It’s one of those things where you go: “How did they not think of this sooner?” Well, there is a good chance that they did, but the market was less receptive. Nowadays, however, the tides are turning in favor of this precious little item. People everywhere are beginning to think of their hair as being “sponge worthy”.

For the amount of a few dollars or a bit more, you are able to purchase a product that could save you time, money, mental and physical energy, and that can keep your hair looking and feeling nice and tight. It doesn’t take too heavy a toll on your current hair, it is 100% natural in its approach to hairstyling, and it provides results pretty quickly. And if you are not happy with the results, you can change to a different sponge without breaking the bank or feeling regret for spending the money.

A quality hair sponge is an item that you can carry with you and use at your discretion. Be careful not to overuse it, of course. As natural and safe as it is, there is such a thing as overuse. Let your hair do its thing, and don’t overmanipulate it. Use the sponge daily if you want, but not multiple times a day.

Since many people use their sponge along with a dampening hair care product, you’ll probably want to limit your daily use to once. Otherwise, the gel or moisturizer will build up and cause other sorts of troubles that kinky-haired folk know all too well. Then again, if you only use product once and use just the brush at other times, it is up to you and your hair’s durability.

Own it.