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

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.

Deep-cleanse and moisturize

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

In the Shower

Rahua
Hydration Conditioner
goop, $38
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Post-shower

Crown Affair
The Leave-In Conditioner
goop, $48
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Comb

Crown Affair
The Comb No. 002
goop, $38
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Detangling Brush

Manta
Pulse Healthy Hair Brush Therapy
goop, $69.95
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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.

Hair wrap

Aquis
Copper Sure Rapid Dry Hair Wrap
goop, $21
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Hair towel

Crown Affair
The Towel
goop, $45
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Dryer with diffuser

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

Define curl

Innersense
Quiet Calm Curl Control
goop, $26
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Enhance texture with
light hold

Innersense
Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer
goop, $22
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Shine-boosting oil

Kreyol Essence
Haitian Black Castor Oil Light
goop, $50
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Frizz-obliterating cream

Grown Alchemist
Smoothing Hair Treatment
goop, $49
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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.

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

Moisturize with hyaluronic
acid and shea butter

Dr. Barbara Sturm
Repair Hair Mask
goop, $65
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Restore with
plant-based oils

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

Hydrate with tsubaki-seed
oil and yuzu extract

Crown Affair
The Renewal Mask
goop, $58
SHOP NOW

Nourish with rahua
and sunflower-seed oils

Rahua
Omega 9 Hair Mask
goop, $44
SHOP NOW

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