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How to Do the (Clean) Curly Girl Method

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How to Do the (Clean) Curly Girl Method

Written by: Megan O’Neill

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Published on: August 16, 2022

Photo courtesy of Rachel Rebibo/The Licensing Project

Caring for curly hair (from waves to coils) once meant a daunting array of heat tools and innumerable products laden with harmful, harsh ingredients like formaldehyde, ammonia, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and more, but the 2002 book Curly Girl: The Handbook helped change all that. Written by salon owner and hairstylist Lorraine Massey, it introduced a more holistic, minimalist approach—the Curly Girl Method—encouraging those with curly hair to celebrate “the world’s most graceful beauty accessory, the natural curl.” Various iterations of the method have since evolved, as people have tweaked and experimented to find what works best for them. The best news: The method is entirely (and delightfully) doable using clean products.

CLEANSE (BUT SKIP MOST OF THE SHAMPOO)

The Curly Girl Method often starts with a reset cleanse to get rid of buildup before ditching shampoo altogether (for the most part). This invigorating, mineral-rich scrub is made with big chunks of pink Himalayan salt that sweep away buildup (and give your scalp a fantastic in-shower massage), plus cold-pressed moringa and unfiltered rose hip oils for shine, softness, and bounce.

  1. Deep-cleanse and moisturize


    goop Beauty G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo

    goop Beauty
    G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo
    goop, $55/$38 with subscription

    SHOP NOW

CONDITION AND DETANGLE WHILE YOUR HAIR’S STILL WET

Curly hair tends to be drier than straight hair, which is why extra moisture is essential. Use a luscious, deeply hydrating conditioner in the shower and try not to rinse it completely out. Because curly hair is often delicate and prone to breakage, gently detangle it while it’s still wet and soaked in conditioner. Detangle with your fingertips or a wide-tooth comb in the shower, or use a leave-in after the shower. Note that most versions of the method discourage combing or brushing dry curls; wet is the time to comb or brush.

  1. In the Shower


    Rahua Hydration Conditioner

    Rahua
    Hydration Conditioner
    goop, $38

    SHOP NOW

  2. Post-shower


    Crown Affair The Leave-In Conditioner

    Crown Affair
    The Leave-In Conditioner
    goop, $48

    SHOP NOW

  3. Comb


    Crown Affair The Comb No. 002

    Crown Affair
    The Comb No. 002
    goop, $38

    SHOP NOW

  4. Detangling Brush


    Manta Manta Pulse Hairbrush

    Manta
    Pulse Healthy Hair Brush Therapy
    goop, $69.95

    SHOP NOW

AIR-DRY IF YOU CAN

Use a microfiber towel or an old T-shirt to gently wrap wet curls; the agitating motion most of us have been taught to use increases frizz, so wrap and gently squeeze water from your hair instead. Air-drying incurs the least damage and frizz, but a hair-dryer with a diffuser attachment helps mitigate heat damage.

  1. Hair wrap


    Aquis Copper Sure Rapid Dry Hair Wrap

    Aquis
    Copper Sure Rapid Dry Hair Wrap
    goop, $21

    SHOP NOW

  2. Hair towel


    Crown Affair The Towel

    Crown Affair
    The Towel
    goop, $45

    SHOP NOW

  3. Dryer with diffuser


    GA.MA. Italy Professional IQ Perfetto Hair Dryer

    Ga.Ma. Italy Professional
    IQ Perfetto Hair Dryer
    goop, $399

    SHOP NOW

STYLE WITH TEXTURE

Since the Curly Girl Method is all about embracing your natural curl, major blowouts and straighteners are obviously unnecessary. Smooth frizz, define curl, and enhance texture with clean creams made with ingredients like shea butter, botanical extracts, and honey.

  1. Define curl


    Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control

    Innersense
    Quiet Calm Curl Control
    goop, $26

    SHOP NOW

  2. Enhance texture with
    light hold


    Innersense Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer

    Innersense
    Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer
    goop, $22

    SHOP NOW

  3. Shine-boosting oil


    Kreyol Essence Haitian Black Castor Oil Light

    Kreyol Essence
    Haitian Black Castor Oil Light
    goop, $50

    SHOP NOW

  4. Frizz-obliterating cream


    Grown Alchemist Smoothing Hair Treatment

    Grown Alchemist
    Smoothing Hair Treatment
    goop, $49

    SHOP NOW

PRETREAT FOR EXTRA SHINE

Before you wash your hair, massage this ultrahydrating serum (Gwyneth describes it as a “miracle”) from the midlengths of your hair to the ends and leave it in for 20 minutes. Vitamin C, omega-rich sea buckthorn oil, and moisturizing plumeria monoi oil help prevent frizz, hydrate, and leave hair gloriously shiny and healthy-looking, with noticeably improved texture.


  1. goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Restore + Shine Hair Serum

    goop Beauty
    GOOPGLOW Restore + Shine Hair Serum
    goop, $55/$44 with subscription

    SHOP NOW

MASK AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK

If you love the results a face mask can deliver for your skin, definitely consider doing a regular hair mask. Massage a mask into wet hair and leave it in for 15 to 20 minutes; to amp up results even further, apply heat (you can use the sun, a diffuser, a sauna, a steam shower, or simply a warm towel as your heat source).

  1. Moisturize with hyaluronic
    acid and shea butter


    Dr. Barbara Sturm Repair Hair Mask

    Dr. Barbara Sturm
    Repair Hair Mask
    goop, $65

    SHOP NOW

  2. Restore with
    plant-based oils


    Augustinus Bader The Leave-In Hair Treatment

    Augustinus Bader
    The Leave-In Hair Treatment
    goop, $50

    SHOP NOW

  3. Hydrate with tsubaki-seed
    oil and yuzu extract


    Crown Affair The Renewal Mask

    Crown Affair
    The Renewal Mask
    goop, $58

    SHOP NOW

  4. Nourish with rahua
    and sunflower-seed oils


    Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask

    Rahua
    Omega 9 Hair Mask
    goop, $44

    SHOP NOW



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